Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Pebble Pup Wins First Place at the Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair

By Steven Wade Veatch

Jenna Salvat, a member of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and the Pikes Peak Pebble Pups won many awards at the Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair held February 24th at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.  The Awards Presentation was held on Tuesday, February 27th in the R.F. Celeste Theater in the Cornerstone Arts Center on the campus of Colorado College. Jenna won the following awards:
1st Place Senior Division Physical Science
Grand Award Runner-Up Winner (This means that she almost won the entire fair)
Northrop Grumman Excellence in Science and Engineering Award
2018 Naval Science Award for Senior Division Projects
The UCCS Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Award
Rocky Mountain AFCEA Chapter 3rd Place Award
American Association of University Women Award
Society for Women Engineers Award
United States Air Force Certificate of Achievement

Jenna also won first place in Rocks and Minerals at the Science Olympiad competition held earlier this month. Jenna has been a pebble pup since 5th grade.  Jenna is in 11th grade at Coronado High School. She plans a career in the geosciences.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Dinosaurs are Great

by Elkan Normandin

Dinosaurs are great.
Dinosaurs are awesome,
Dinosaurs are cool.
They even have scales.                           
What color are they?

A dinosaur watches an erupting volcano. 
Art by Elkan Normandin. 

About the poet: Elkan Normandin is seven years old and attends Lake George Charter School in the mountains of Colorado.  He is in second grade.  Elkan enjoys participating in the Pikes Peak Pebble Pups and playing sports, flying remote control aircraft, and looking for rocks.

A Pebble Pup Geode

Jacob Kania

At our Pebble Pups meeting, we learned many things about geodes.  The geode I worked on was found in Dugway Utah.   I sawed it in half with a diamond tipped blade!  Inside was a cavity lined with the mineral quartz. The geode fluoresced green under an ultraviolet black light.  On the outside of the geode, an eye-shaped ridge occurred on the end of the broken geode.

View of a Dugway Geode. Quartz crystals line the cavity of the geode.
From the Jacob Kania collection. Image © by the author.

About the author: Jacob Kania is a member of the Pikes Peak Pebble Pups and is 8 years old. He attends the Lake George Charter School and is in 2nd grade.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Oh, Where is my Specimen?

by Blake Reher and his mother Susan Freeman

Blake ‘s concern

I am done.
I am tired of collecting all day, 
The specimen’s I think are OK.  
That my mom throws out anyway.

She throws them outside, and there they hide.

Mom’s comeback

Rocks originate outside, they have lived since the 
Western’s Interior Seaway’s rolling tides.  

My son’s devotion are insects embedded in time 
I get it – Fossils are identified as specimens.
Throw them out will bring bad omens.

As I was sorting out my son’s room 
Aka a sedimentary site
I missed the imprint of a very small trilobite
In our yard this beetle took flight.

Now – I need to make this right
I don’t want to fight.  

What we need to dispel this gloom
Is a serious plan to add more room.

The poets pause for a photo. Blake Reher is a 
student at Cheyenne Mountain High Scholl in Colorado Springs. 
He has been with the Pebble Pups for 5 years and now helps lead the 
program. His mother, Susan Reher, has helped with the
 program since Blake joined.  Susan Freeman in on the left 
and Blake Reher is on the right.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Mysterious Blue Orbs of K2 Granite

William Wray

K2 granite, with impressive splashes of blue circles or orbs on its surface, is a rock from a rarely visited site in the Himalayas.  The blue circles are azurite inside of white K2 granite rock. The white granite is fine-grained and composed of these minerals: quartz, feldspar, muscovite, and biotite. The azurite stained parts of the granite, making blue dots, which range from a couple of millimeters to about two centimeters.  Azurite has a relative hardness of 3.5-4 on the Mohs hardness scale, but assumes the hardness of the white granite because the azurite is only a stain.  The azurite formed after all the other minerals in the granite had cooled and hardened.  With a hand lens or microscope, azurite spheres reveal that the azurite appears along the edges of mineral grains, in tiny fractures in the granite, and in feldspar grains. 

Since azurite and white granite are rarely found together, people don’t think the blue orbs are azurite, and commonly think of it as simply a blue dye added to make the rock a novelty.  Scientific tests have not been made, so the jury is still out on the blue orbs in this interesting rock.  There is lively debate on mineral forums, including Mindat.org, about the nature of the blue orbs. 

An oval cabochon made from K2 Granite  found on K2, a mountain between Pakistan and China, revealing several bright blue azurite stains. The blue azurite stains formed after the granite cooled and hardened.  Photo © by the author. Specimen from the William Wray collection.

K2 granite is found near the base of K2, the mountain it is named after, in the Himalayas. K2, also called “Mount Goodwin Austen” is the second highest mountain in the world, rising up at 8,611 meters (28,253 feet).  K2 got its name from the British surveyor T.G. Montgomerie.  The “K” comes from the Karakoram mountain range and the “2” means that it is the second tallest peak recorded. 

A view of K2, summer 2006.  At 8,611 meters (28,253 ft) this mountain is ranked second largest in the world. Note the large valley glacier flowing out of the mountain.  Photo by Svy123. This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0  license.

K2 granite is an excellent lapidary material. It cuts and tumbles well because of its high feldspar amount, and it can be easily shaped on a diamond wheel.  K2 is durable in jewelry because the feldspar has a hardness of 6.  K2 granite will scratch over time and is not suitable for bracelets or rings.  K2 granite is not very pricey, and excellent specimens can be bought for about $30 to $40 at gem shows and other venues.  K2 granite is a colorful specimen, and its bright blue azurite orbs will make it a nice addition to your collection of curiosities.

Meet the author:   William Wray is a fifth grader at Lake George Community Charter School.  He is a prolific reader with a love of all things nature related—from rocks and fossils to animals and plants. He attends the Pikes Peak Pebble Pups in Lake George, Colorado and participates there as an Earth Science Scholar. 

For Further Reading

K2 Granite: A white granite with azurite - AKA K2 Jasper. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://geology.com/gemstones/k2/

Nicholas Varnay and K2 — The Practical Gemologist. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thepracticalgemologist.com/gemstones-2/2015/5/22/pick-of-the-week-nicholas-varnay-and-k2

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mammoth Site

By Gavin Seltz

Underground water dissolved limestone and shale
About 26,000 years ago.
The rock collapsed
A water-filled sink hole began to grow.

Young bull mammoths
Looking for an easy lunch
Drank the warm water
And the grass they did munch.

But the pond was too deep,
The bank was too slippery and steep.
The ice age mammals could not
Escape their fate: eternal sleep.

For thousands of years
Coarse sand and clay
Covered their bones,
Preserving them until the day

A bulldozer hit a tusk!
Scientists came and found the remains
Of 61 mammoths
In the South Dakota plains.

A young mammoth is attracted to a sink hole. Artwork by Gavin Seltz.

View of the Mammoth bones being excavated.

A large number of mammoths perished at the Mammoth Hot Springs, NE

A  mammoth skeleton.

About the author:
Gavin Seltz, a member of the Pikes Peak Pebble Pups, is 7  years old. He has been a member of this group for one year.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


By Steven Wade Veatch

John Rakowski and Steven Veatch took the Lake George Gem and Mineral Club’s Pebble Pups out in the field near Taryall, Colorado on March 18. This kicked off the 2017 fieldtrip season for the club’s Pebble Pup group. The parents enjoyed lively discussions while the Pebble Pups scoured the countryside looking for specimens.

John Rakowski, a Pebble Pup leader, is demonstrating the use 
of a pick to the eager group of Pebble Pups.  Photo by S. W. Veatch.
Everyone found something, especially magnetite specimens. Other finds included milky quartz and feldspar crystal groups. For some of the pups this was their first experience hunting for specimens in the outdoors.

This group of excited Pebble Pups are ready for anything. 
At their last Pebble Pup class they were taught field 
collection techniques. Photo by S. W. Veatch

Welcome! This is the gateway to adventure and discovery

Through this blog pebble pups and junior members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society can access their lessons, work on assignments and projects, and receive details about field trips in the Pikes Peak Region. This Internet program is also suitable for young people who are interested in Earth science but do not live near a rock club or gem and mineral society or for young people anywhere who want a deeper dive into these topics. The only requirement is that all participants must be members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and must fill out the CSMS membership form (under important websites) and send their registration and membership fee in. Steven Veatch is the senior instructor and will need an email from you with your name, address, phone number, and permission from your parents to participate in this program.