Yep, this what happens when a "history hater" is challenged to find ONE thing interesting to expand on in a Utah Studies Lesson or her mom isn't going to teach her anything else, ever. First, she finds some science. Specifically mudslides like the 1983 earthflow that dammed the Spanish Fork River destroying the tiny town of Thistle, Utah.
Beach set up a small science demonstration to show the effects of deforestation (whether natural or man-caused) on a slope with high water saturation. First, she went out in the backfield and cut out a piece of ground with grasses growing in it. Making sure the sample had a fair amount of roots to mimic conditions of a forested mountain side. The other sample was straight dirt to represent ground that was either clearcut or a burn or snowslide scar.
Then she poured the same amount of water on each sample.
Of course, as expected the straight mud pan was a total wash out even when Beach tried packing it down. The surprise for us was in how well the pan with the grass roots held together. It performed far better than either of us expected. There was hardly any soil loss no matter how forcefully or directly Beach applied water to it.
She repeated the experiment a few times acting as a corrupt Land Developer trying to sell newly cleared mountain lots to unsuspecting homebuyers who were saved from making a tragic purchase by a sudden spring rain storm... we read a lot of Carl Hiaasen around here. She seemed to have the whole concept pretty under control so I went in for coffee leaving my 12-year-old out in the yard to play in the mud. Some things never change :)
It was nice and quiet until Beach came in dragging the Utah Studies book with her for one more history-like activity: Native American, Fremont Figurines. I should have known if I put out a challenge for her she wouldn't be content just meeting it; she would have to surpass it.
We had seen some in a case at the Natural History Musem the other day and I told her that her big sister had made one out of baking soda clay for school one year. I had promised she could make one too but we had forgotten about it until Beach saw one again while we were reading the chapter Early People, The American Indians.
So we whipped up some baking soda clay (1 cup cornstarch, 2 cups baking soda, 1.25 cups of water, cook over medium heat until it fluffs like instant mashed potatoes, cool, sculpt, leave out overnight to harden & paint).
Not bad for "only" covering one subject today.