Today was a “mine”blowing day!! We spent our day in Marianna, FL, first at Florida Caverns State Park, and then Blue Springs State Park. At the caverns, we first completed a nature hike, called the Beech Magnolia Trail. Our SciGirls brought along their scavenger hunts and wildlife guides to look for native plants throughout the trail. We found many plants, such as cabbage palm, white oak, lichens, ferns, saw palmetto, champion tree, American Beech, and so many more! We filled up much of the plant area of our scavenger hunts! Then, we took a tour of a cave that was found in 1937, by Oliver Chalifeaux, of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC.) We were led b y Park Ranger, Cassie Brown. She gave us lots of history and science as we were led through the caverns. We were walking on what used to be ocean floor, so there were many fossils throughout, such as sea shells, sea urchins, and coral. The colors of the caverns are all due to minerals throughout, like calcite, iron, manganese, and a green coloring which was algae, since the caverns stay at about 100% humidity, with a constant 65 degree temperature year round. Cassie told us all about the stalactites (hang tight from the ceiling) and the stalagmites (you might trip over), as well as “soda straws,” baby stalactites, and columns, when stalagmites and stalactites meet. Interestingly, there were a few columns that had fractures. This, we learned, is due to the fact that we were standing over an aquifer. As the aquifer gets filled up with rain, and then drained by wells over and over again, it causes shifts in the ground of the cave, creating fractures in the columns. There were also trenches in the ground we were walking on, caused by carbonic acid, when water mixes with carbon dioxide and then drips down from “soda straws.” The caverns tour is always such a wonderful experience for our scigirls, and this year was no different! From the caves, we traveled about 20 minutes down the road to Blue Springs State Park! We started with a nice picnic lunch, and then hit the canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats for some adventurous fun on the spring! Along our paddling adventures, we stopped at a couple of cave diving holes, swam around, and looked for turtles, small fresh water fish, and ibis. Our pedal boat girls quickly realized that in order to make their boat move, they had to collaborate and work together!! Once we got back to the docks, we had some free time to swim, play, dive, and slide in the beautiful spring water! No trip to Marianna is complete without a stop at SciGirls’ favorite froyo joint, Milk and Honey! All in all, it was a wonderful day full of learning fun!