The Grand Canyon: young or old?

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New study shows parts of the Grand Canyon were dug “only” a few million years ago. Let's take a closer look at what this study found about this wonder of the world, located in the United States, still very popular with tourists from all over.

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The true age of the Grand Canyon has seemed to be the subject of contention for several years. “In the right field: geologists who believe that the Grand Canyon is 'young', that it was formed six million years ago. In left field: other geologists, who believe it is "old" and has been around for 70 million years.
Source: La Presse
Scientists cannot agree on whether Colorado's Grand Canyon is very old or rather young. "The recently published study could bring everyone to agreement by determining that this Canyon began to form at least 50 million years ago but that it only completed its growth" recently ".
Source: Maxi Sciences
(Note: this article contains an error: the Grand Canyon is not located in Colorado, but in Arizona. On the other hand, it is crossed by the Colorado River. It would be interesting to point out this imprecision by the students!)
The following activities will allow students to better understand why this wonder of the world, which is part of the Unesco World Heritage, arouses so much interest.


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:
- Evaluate the arguments of geologists in relation to the age of the Grand Canyon;
- Discover what the Grand Canyon is by documenting yourself;
- Name the different types of rocks found in the Grand Canyon;
- Write a postcard detailing a visit to the Grand Canyon.

Suggested Activities

ACTIVITY 1: The debate among geologists

Before entering the age of the Grand Canyon, invite students to familiarize themselves with this world-renowned tourist site that attracts millions of people year after year.
To do this, present this video aerial view of the Grand Canyon so that your students can fully appreciate the splendor of this place, which is also one of the seven wonders of the world.
Continue the discovery by visiting the Grand Canyon in 360 degree, or appreciate others panoramic landscapes from different angles. You could also present this document Prezi or this one on Slideshare describing how it formed millions of years ago.
Debate: How old is the Grand Canyon? (La Presse, February 17, 2014)
As a large group, present the cuff then ask the following questions:
- Why do we speak of debate in the title of the article?
- What are the arguments of geologists claiming that the Grand Canyon is old?
- What are the arguments of geologists claiming that the Grand Canyon is young?
- Do you think he is old or young?
To facilitate this activity, you can use the following interactive whiteboard support material.

Download the file in SMART Notebook (.notebook) format
Download the file in ActivInspire format (.flipchart)
Download the file in PDF format (.pdf)
No BIT? Download the SMART Notebook version and open it using
of the online application SMART Notebook Express.


ACTIVITY 2: Geological section of the Grand Canyon

Ask your students if they have any idea what kind of rock this Grand Canyon in Arizona can be made of.
Present the image of the geological section of the Grand Canyon, then observe the different kinds of material that have piled up on top of each other, or only in parts of the Grand Canyon.
Put back together, in the correct places, the 16 different types of rocks presented in the interactive whiteboard support material downloaded in Activity 1.

ACTIVITY 3: Grand Canyon Postcard

Suggest that your students imagine what tourists to the Grand Canyon may write on the postcards they send to friends or family. Since this means of communication is probably not very well known to your students, you could talk about the fact that when you receive a personal writing it is more intimate than an electronic message.
So that they can write their fictional postcard with actual data, have them search the web for the information that will be named in the card.
You might suggest that your students include the following criteria in their production:
- What part of the Grand Canyon did you visit?
- At what time of the year did you visit?
- How can you describe the wildlife surrounding the Grand Canyon?
- Name one item that really impressed you during your visit.
- Name one aspect of your visit that was less pleasant.
- Why would you recommend this trip to a friend or not?
Finally, suggest that your students use one of the following pictures (royalty free) to illustrate the front of their postcard.
Here is a PDF file which can be used as a basis for making the postcard. It can be inserted into a Word document, for example, using the “Insert” option, then “Image”. We will then work on it by inserting “Text zones” whose skin is defined as “In front of the text”.

For further

All over the planet there are wonderful attractions that continue to be talked about despite the passage of time. Many of these places are the work of nature while others were invented by humans. To begin, ask your students if they know the wonders of the world, and then write their ideas on the board.
You could divide your students into teams of 4 or 5 and ask them to choose which time they wish to exploit to further deepen their knowledge of the wonders of the world.
Suggest that your students visit the new places listed as World Heritage by Unesco. They will also have to find where they are located on a world map, on which continent, in which country and find the reasons which explain the fact that Unesco declares it World Heritage.
The 19 new inscriptions of Unesco World Heritage

More about the magazine

Google Street View of the Grand Canyon
View images captured directly from inside the Grand Canyon
Informative text on the Grand Canyon of Arizona (text and images)
The world
Nik Wallenda crosses the Grand Canyon on a wire
Huffington Post
The Grand Canyon completely filled with fog
Channel D
A river of clouds invades the Grand Canyon (video)

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Designed to fill short periods or inspire larger projects, the activities offered in the SCOOP! allow the teacher to approach the subject matter in the program in addition to developing the information literacy and digital skills of the students.

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