Spring has sprung and the temperature is warming, but in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been asked to stay home to help slow the spread of the virus. School are also closed, leaving families scrambling for ideas to not only continue learning outside the classroom, but also keep kids entertained. Nigel Davies, a scientific instructional technician in the EWU Geology Department, has an idea that may help. He calls it, #ExploreOutoor.

Davies is using on the hashtag on Twitter (@EwuGeology) to highlight geological points of interest that families can explore while still practicing social distancing. “We want to give people some ideas about where to go outside; and when they get out there, what they will see,” he says.

Davies started the #ExploreOutdoor program last week. He’s already highlighted several areas, such as Cannon Hill Pond on Spokane’s South Hill. In his message, he describes the location as a great opportunity to discuss “flattening the curve” of urban stormwater and heavy metals in the soil.

Davies is also including links to additional research materials in his posts, specifically materials from EWU students, alumni and faculty when he can. In the case of Cannon Hill Pond, Davies references the case study Heavy Metal Content in Urban Residential and Park Soils by Carmen Nezat, a professor of geology and environmental science at EWU.

In another post, one featuring Granite and Willow Lakes in west Spokane County, Davies highlighted an undergraduate research project for Spokane County Parks, Recreation and Golf. The study, conducted by EWU students Austin Armstrong and Bernt Goodson—along with Chad Pritchard, associate professor of geology at Eastern—highlights the various rock formations you can examine in the area.

“The goal is to do this every day,” says Davies. “We want to share a new spot that you can take your kids to every day during the school week.”

State government officials and health experts say you can still go outside during this time, as long as you stay at least six feet away from others. Also, be sure to check with your city, county or state authorities to ensure an area is still open to visitors before you go.

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