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Outreach

Florida Integrated Science Centers' Open House in Gainesville—The U.S. Geological Survey Works for All Ages


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Jon Wiebe shows visitors an American crocodile
Jon Wiebe shows visitors an American crocodile.

Tiny frogs, a giant blimp, mobile labs, touch tanks, demonstrations, and lots of enthusiastic scientists greeted visitors to a recent Open House at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)'s office in Gainesville, FL. Previously known as the Florida Caribbean Science Center, the Gainesville office is now the headquarters of the new Florida Integrated Science Centers (FISC)'s Center for Aquatic Resource Studies.

The center's second annual USGS Open House was a 2-day event, held on May 16 and 17. On May 16, a Friday, nearly 400 4th-graders from Alachua County elementary schools received guided tours, some of them led by volunteers from local high-school service groups.

On the next day, a Saturday, the event was open to the public. The Open House gave the Gainesville community a glimpse of current USGS studies, including research on manatees, nonindigenous species, and the effects of African dust on the environment. Students had a hands-on scientific opportunity to experience environmental science in Florida, which included handling crayfish, apple snails, tadpoles, and leopard frogs in the large aquarium touch tank.

Scientists from the four USGS disciplines of geology, hydrology, biology, and geography participated in the event, coming from Gainesville and from many of the USGS' other FISC offices, including those in Altamonte Springs, Miami, Ocala, St. Petersburg, and Tallahassee.

Mike Orr, a hydrologic technician from Altamonte Springs, brought equipment that demonstrated water-quality sampling and measurement of the flow and amount of water carried by Florida's rivers.

Nikki Kernaghan shows off a frog at the invertebrate touch tank Janet Buckland looks on while a young visitor examines an apple-snail shell Dave Wegener and Dennis Krohn ready a United States Geological Survey blimp for launching. The blimp is used for studying airborne dust from Africa
Above left: Nikki Kernaghan shows off a frog at the invertebrate touch tank.

Above center: Janet Buckland looks on while a young visitor examines an apple-snail shell.

Above right: Dave Wegener (left) and Dennis Krohn ready a USGS blimp for launching. The blimp is used for studying airborne dust from Africa.

Below left: Dennis Krohn has the world in his hands as he discusses "Volcanoes in Florida."

Below right: Jim Reid explains the features of manatee bones to Open House visitors.
Dennis Krohn has the world in his hands as he discusses 'Volcanoes in Florida.' Jim Reid explains the features of manatee bones to Open House visitors

Dennis Krohn, a geologist from St. Petersburg, showed how a volcano works with a model that was rigged to make sound effects as it erupted.

Jon Wiebe, a fisheries biologist from Gainesville, explained that USGS researchers working with alligators and crocodiles have placed about 30 'gators on a special diet; female alligators are being monitored to see whether the chemicals in pesticides they ingest by eating contaminated prey are passed on to their eggs.

"The scientists conduct research that people really care about, such as preserving wildlife and endangered species like manatees, American crocodiles, gulf sturgeon, and fresh-water mussels," said Russ Hall, center director. "We are doing work that affects everybody's lives."

Hannah Hamilton, public-affairs specialist, added, "It is important for the public to see where its tax money is going. The community deserves to see what research is being done and the studies its money is funding. The Open House is a casual way for the public to learn about the large-scale, long-term, and complex things the USGS does."


Related Sound Waves Stories
Florida Caribbean Science Center's First Open House
June 2002

Related Web Sites
Center for Aquatic Resource Studies
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Gainesville, FL

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in this issue: Fieldwork cover story:
Deepest Coral Reef in Continental U.S.?

Gas Hydrate: Potential Drilling Hazard

California Sea Otters

Outreach Florida Open House

Menlo Park Open House

Awards NPS Honors Coral Researcher

Staff & Center News Foreign Professors Visit St. Pete

WHOI Summer Fellows

Knowledge Bank Summer Interns

Publications July Publications List


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