St. Pete Center for Coastal Geology Holds Two Events to Celebrate Earth Science Week
Approximately 300 people attended an open house held for the public on
October 12. The theme was "Advances in Earth Science."
Bob Halley (SPFC, left foreground) talks to elementary school children about corals and
the different types of corals in a reef. Gene Shinn (SPFC, background
under 3-D globe) demonstrates to a captivated audience how ground
water flows through the porous limestone of South Florida and the
set up ~30 displays and stations to explain research conducted by the
USGS. Topics included coastal erosion, water properties and interactions,
measuring stream flow and salinity, stream gauges, geology of the Florida
Keys, corals, sand, computer map making, Tampa Bay from space, cyber
Earth (how shapes of geologic structures are used to identify and understand
geologic processes), wildlife, marshes, wetlands, volcanoes, hurricanes,
sediment cores, marine vibracoring, research vessels, sea floor,
groundwater pollutants, and CO2 cycling.
Scientists were available to
talk with and answer questions from members of the community. A variety
of printed outreach materials was also available. We received many positive
comments from members of the community and a few thank-you notes.
In a first-time event, the St. Pete Center also hosted the open house for
800 (yes, 800!) Pinellas County 4th- and 5th-grade students (plus
teachers/chaperones) from 11 schools on October 14. The goalto excite the
children about sciencewas a resounding success! Captivated students
eagerly listened to scientists and participated in the interactive displays.
They watched a model volcano eruption, sampled sediment cores, examined
sand through a microscope, tested acidity of water, listened to recordings
of sea creatures from reefs and grass beds, explored a research boat, and
hefted sand bags used by divers to contain an underwater
Yep, they also watched water from the "famous flushing toilet" percolate
through limestone from the Florida Keys and observed in a model how
pollutants (dye) are drawn through the Florida Aquifer when wells far
away from the pollutant source are pumped for drinking water.
(WRD-Tampa) explains some of the components that can be present in
rainwater and how salinity of shallow-marine water bodies, such as
Tampa Bay, can be changed by the addition of large amounts of rainwater.
Several types of scientific equipment were on display in the courtyard,
including coring and drilling devices.
Children beneath an adjacent awning used wooden tongue depressors to scrape sediment samples
from split cores and carefully place their treasures in small ziplock
bags marked "Official Sediment Sample." Jim Flocks (SPFC) explained
why there are layers of different kinds of sediment in the cores,
where each layer came from, and what we can learn from the texture of
the sediment and the fossil shells inside.
Questions asked of the students by the scientists were in most cases answered
correctly, indicating that Earth science is getting good coverage in
the Pinellas County schools. Despite the potential for pandemonium (by
the USGS staff! as well as the students), the open house was an exciting
event enjoyed by everyone. After the tour, students were provided with
goodie bags filled with scientific outreach material. The SPFC is already
looking forward to next year's Earth Science Week.
(SPFC, foreground) explains usage of the different kinds of coring and
drilling devices. The students were fascinated by the fact that real
diamonds form the cutting surface of the drill bit.
Outside participants on both days were Ann Tihansky, Paul Boetcher,
Yvonne Stoker, and Arturo Torres (WRD-Tampa); Bill (Dusty) McDevitt and
David Dale (WRD-Altamonte Springs); Scott Willis and Jessica Smith (Florida
Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission); and Ben McPherson (Chief, National
Assessment Water Quality Association). Behind-the-scene volunteers were Bill
Lewelling, Victor Levesque, and John Byrnes (WRD-Tampa). John Harsh (head of
WRD-Tampa) encouraged folks from his office to visit. Thanks to all for
two very prosperous days of celebrating Earth Science Week. An enormous
amount of work went into making the effort as successful as it was.
Everyone from the St. Pete office, and representatives from WRD-Tampa
and Altamonte Springs, and Florida Fish and Wildlife, pulled together
and worked as a team, and it really showed to the public.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
in this issue:
Grand Canyon Sediments
Grand Canyon GPR
Medicine Lake, CA
Earth Science Week in St. Pete
Earth Science Week in Woods Hole
Nat'l Mapping Leadership
Great Lakes Mapping
Delmarva Bays Delta
Grand Canyon Research
Bratton in the News
Woods Hole Arrivals
Woods Hole Visitors
Marshall Islands Map
November Publications List