Desert Stories --Today and Yesterday


  Indian Head 
General Description
- Anza Borrego Desert State Park furnishes a spectacular setting for discovering natural history. The Desert Unit of Study is designed to connect the geologic and ecological stories of a changing land. In this unit, students will visit two areas of the park.

Borrego Palm Canyon is the most popular hike in the park. Here, students view amazing natural resources. As they travel up the canyon students encounter endangered Desert Bighorn Sheep and learn about their successful story for survival. They are now protected due the hard work and years of study of many dedicated professionals. This canyon also contains extraordinary rock formations offering evidence of change caused by plate tectonics. Plate movement continues to affect the climate and ecology of Southern California.

Travelling to the Borrego Badlands is a journey back in time. Students will see sedimentary layers revealing a stratified timeline and bearing an amazing fossil ice age record. The badlands help students understand concepts of ecologic change caused by geologic processes and changing climate. Fossil evidence allows us to step back in time to observe varied habitats and biodiversity that once flourished in Anza-Borrego. These same geologic processes affect habitats today as plates are always on the move and water and wind continue to reshape the desert landscape.

Changing geology and climate dictate life everywhere. Desert ecosystems are extremely sensitive to change. Even small changes can permanently impact the future and forever destroy evidence of the past. The spectacular landscape and fossil collection here house several million years’ worth of stories, change and events. Preserving the desert preserves those stories and offers clues for our future.

Click HERE to schedule this program

Academic Content Standard Subject Area: Biology/Earth Sciences

Grade Level: 6th (adaptable to other grades)

Primary Common Core Content Standards:
    4th Grade: RI4.4, SL4.1, SL4.3    
    6th Grade: SL-6.1, RST-6-8.3, RST-6-8.4

Primary Next Generation Science Standards:
4th Grade: 4-LS1-1, 4-ESS1-1, 4-ESS2-1, 4-ESS2-2
    6th Grade: MS-ESS1-4, MS-ESS2-2, MS-ESS2-3
    High School: HS-ESS1-5, HS-ESS2-1, HS-ESS2-5
Time Required:
Three or four 50-minute in-class lessons
One, one hour videoconference
Options for extension activities are included

Through classroom lessons and participating in the videoconference, students will be able to:

  • Explain a story of dramatically different landscapes and the biologic ecosystems that existed throughout the recent Ice Age time period.
  • Identify the geologic processes that formed the Salton Trough and the Borrego Badlands, and preserved the rich fossil deposits.
  • Understand uplift, erosion and sedimentation has shaped inland southern California and illustrate how climate/geologic changes have effected habitats and ecosystems over the past 5 million years.

    Academic Contributors:
    Anne Bogardt, Borrego Springs HS Science teacher
    LuAnn Thompson, CA K-12 Certified Teacher