Fresno science teacher gears up to explore the Grand Canyon floor

It’s been almost five years since Bullard High biology teacher Scott Hatfield ventured to the Galapagos Islands. The science enthusiast is now headed to another place of isolated beauty: the floor of the Grand Canyon, on a rafting trip down the Colorado River.

Hatfield was one of just two teachers nationwide picked for the all-expenses-paid adventure, an eight-day trip in July guided by geologists and biologists from the National Center for Science Education. Hatfield and a New Hampshire teacher were picked from more than 140 science educators who applied.

Like his exploratory tour of the Pacific Ocean archipelago in 2010, when he traveled with a group of 16 that included local science professors and graduate students, Hatfield expects this trip will be much more than a vacation. As part of the trip, Hatfield will conduct research and create lesson plans for other teachers to use.

The deep canyon is a wonderland of geological history and is one of the most studied landscapes in the world. The sights from the river will be “a beautiful demonstration of how the Earth has changed over time,” he said.

“I can learn about the evolution of life, how climate has changed,” he said. “It’s a great place to talk about those things, those aspects of science education.”

Hatfield spends most of his time in the classroom. He’s taught at Bullard for nearly 15 years, long enough to know how rare and important it is to share this type of scientific experience with his students.

For now, Hatfield is preparing for a complete immersion in wilderness.

He’s been taking cold showers every day for a week, said his wife of 20 years, Corine Hatfield.

The training could pay off in other ways, she said.

“He’d love to go to Antarctica next, he just wants to explore everywhere and everything in the name of science. It’s not so much that he’s getting to go on a trip and it’s going to be fun, which it’s going to be. It’s about the research and finding some way to change the world.”