NAHANT — Nahant rocks.
The Johnson Elementary School had its inaugural rock fair Tuesday morning, inspired by the rocks and other natural materials that can be found in the student’s own backyards.
“I live on a bunch of rocks,” said Nola Conley, 10, who added that there is so much she never knew about them.
“There’s like 700 kinds of rocks,” she said.
Like many other students, Conley’s favorite part of the day was creating her own fossil out of plaster and shells. The plaster will harden overnight and the students will take them home on Wednesday.
The rock fair was inspired by a book detailing the many rocks found on the peninsula.
“The Rocks of Nahant and How to Become a Rock Detective” was created by Nahant Safer Waters in Massachusetts, Inc., an organization focused on protecting the waters around Nahant from pollution by implementing environmental initiatives and educating the public.
The idea came to director Vi Patek when she took some of her six grandchildren, who fall between the ages of 6 months and 13 years, to the beach and they asked her what kinds of rocks they had found.
People who visit Nahant’s beaches are often fascinated by the variety and beauty of the rocks, she said.
Unable to identify the rocks, she tried to look them up on a guide, but was unsuccessful. In addition to the guide being too complex for the children to understand, the photographs were of the stones in their best possible condition, which isn’t always how the rocks look on the beach.
Over the past two to three years, Patek and other S.W.I.M. members worked with consulting geologist Barry Sidwell and editor Ellen Antrim to put together a book to help teach people about how Nahant’s rocks were formed and explore the geological history and uniqueness of the rocks.
“Our primary purpose is to help people understand the environment,” said Patek. “We consider this part of our mission.”
The book gives readers a glance at the three types of rocks and how they are formed, and a brief overview of the rock cycle, then gets into easy-to-read charts of the most common rocks found in Nahant, like igneous rocks basalt and gabbro, metamorphic rocks quartzite and gneiss, and several sedimentary rocks, including diorite and granite.
A page is dedicated to each and includes descriptions in plain language.
Patek said it was designed so anyone, including children, could use the book as a reference.
All photographs were taken of rock samples from the town’s beaches by photographer Maria Peterson. Photographer Christopher Marks provided art for the covers.
To celebrate the book being published and to put it to good use, the Johnson Elementary School created the rock fair using the book as a resource.
“I think it’s really important for the kids to learn about the nature around us,” said Patek.
There were a total of 11 stations with each grade rotating between four that pertained to what they are learning in the classroom. At one station, students were tasked with matching the actual rocks photographed in the book with a name tag and photo.
Fifth-grade and science teacher Meredith Tibbo’s station “Living on the Rocks” taught students about the creatures and plants that exist on the rocks.
“The kids seemed to enjoy it and it’s all aligned to the curriculum framework,” said Tibbo.