Activity 4: Do at Home!

Gorge Dessert

Upstate New York is famous for it's beautiful gorges, waterfalls, and parks. A gorge is a narrow canyon cut into rock by water.

Visit a local State Park with your classmates or family, and draw a picture of a gorge. Then come home and make this gorge(ous) snack!


You will need:
  • baking pan
  • mixing bowl and spoon
  • brownie mix
  • icing
  • an adult to help you with the oven

[Diagram of making the dessert

Step 1: Following the brownie mix directions, prepare the batter and pour into a baking pan and cook.

Step 2: Carefully remove the pan from the oven and let it cool.

Step 3: Cut the brownies into squares and spread icing on the top of each square.

Step 4: On a plate, stack at least two brownies on top of each other. Imagine that these layers of brownies and icing are actually layers of rock laid down over millions of years.

Step 5: With a spoon begin to carve a "gorge" into your brownies. The more you eat, the longer and deeper your gorge becomes. Over time as rivers flow over rock they can cut deeper and deeper into the layers.

The holes for the Finger Lakes were cut by the flowing glaciers. The gorges formed where streams entered these holes over a waterfall. The waterfalls eroded the stream valley, cutting a gorge.

Fact: The highest single drop waterfall east of the Mississippi River can be seen in a gorge at Taughannock Falls State Park, 7 miles north of PRI. The waterfall is 215 feet high!

Extension: Make a gorge in a sandbox by digging a small river valley into the sand with your finger. Make a deeper hole (for a lake) at the lower end of the valley. Then pour water down the valley. What happens to the shape of the valley?

Main Message: The layered rocks and the landforms in New York were formed different times. First sediment was laid down in layers at the bottom of an ancient sea, and then much more recently, at the end of the Ice Age, erosion by water carved the gorges out of the layered rocks.

Connections: Activity 1, "Make a Fossil Sandwich," is about how fossils are preserved by layers of sediment. Activity 2 introduces the concept that glaciers scraped and carried rocks as they moved.


The Paleontological Research Institution
1259 Trumansburg Road
Ithaca, NY 14850 phone: 607-273-6623 fax: 607-273-6620
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