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The Beauty of the Palouse

School: Palouse Prairie Charter School

City/State: Moscow, ID

Grade(s): 4

Format(s): Book

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Science and Technology, Visual Arts

Project Overview

The fourth-grade crew at Palouse Prairie Charter School embarked on a four-month long journey to write a story that had not yet been told. First, students learned about basic geologic processes to understand many different ways that geology shapes our world. Through inquiry-based, hands-on science, they studied minerals, the rock cycle, weathering and erosion, the Earth’s structure, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes and mountain formations.

Then students spent a full day of fieldwork with a USGS geologist and a poet on a driving tour of the Palouse to explore the geologic and poetic stories of Moscow Mountain, Kamiak Butte, the Snake River Canyon and the Palouse hills. Back in the classroom students worked with several experts to study and practice the arts of scientific writing, poetic writing, picture book design and linoleum block printmaking. They applied their knowledge and skills to write a book with both scientific and poetic stories about the geologic formation of the Palouse region around Moscow, Idaho. They demonstrated genuine responsibility and grit by taking on the challenge of being the first to write this story!

As a grade-appropriate text about the regional geology did not exist, students relied on a geology expert from USGS at the University of Idaho to support every step of their learning and writing. The linoleum block print illustrations demonstrate high-quality artistic craftsmanship achieved with expert support. The artist expert, a graduate student in printmaking at Washington State University, was very impressed with the quality of texture, perspective and precision that the students achieved. Their book exemplifies each student’s dedication to scientific accuracy, creativity and craftsmanship. The Beauty of the Palouse: a geologic and poetic story is now on sale at BookPeople in Moscow, Idaho and can be purchased here from

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Illustrates an unusual multi-disciplinary approach to a local topic
  • Excellent example of an artistically beautiful product
  • Shows how the use of outside experts can enhance learning and produce extraordinary work
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