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125 years of science for America 1879-2004
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Outreach

Florida Center Celebrates Earth Science Week and 125 Years of USGS Science


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Mayor Rick Baker (front row center, in light shirt) and Open House participants posed under the USGS blimp
Above: St. Petersburg's Mayor Rick Baker (front row center, in light shirt) and Open House participants posed under the USGS blimp. [larger version]

Gulf sturgeon
Above: The Gulf sturgeon is a difficult fish to photograph, but well worth the effort. Sturgeons have been traced back 200 million years. [larger version]

Gary Hill demonstrated how a hovercraft
Above: Gary Hill demonstrated how a hovercraft operates and told visitors how scientists plan to use the hovercraft in the field. [larger version]

Jason Greenwood (beside barge)
Above: Geologists Chris Reich (not pictured) and Jason Greenwood (beside barge) assembled the auger-drill barge to show how cores are drilled in sand and clay. The auger drill has a corkscrew-shaped drill. [larger version]

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) St. Petersburg Science Center in St. Petersburg, FL, held its sixth annual Open House on October 26 and 27, in a delayed celebration of this year's Earth Science Week (Oct. 9-15). This year's open house had two themes: (1) the traditional Earth Science Week theme, selected by the American Geological Institute (AGI), "Living on a Restless Earth"; and (2) a recognition of many years of USGS research, "125 Years of Science." After Floridians survived the busy 2004 hurricane season and Mount St. Helens became active, the 2004 Earth Science Week theme seemed a perfect fit; the theme focused on natural hazards and the ways Earth scientists study hazards to understand their causes and minimize their impact on society.

The two-day event was a successful educational experience for the entire community. St. Petersburg's Mayor Rick Baker attended the first day, along with approximately 650 fourth-grade students and teachers, and returned in the afternoon to participate in the traditional group photo under the USGS blimp. During a day for the general public on October 27, the USGS welcomed a record crowd of approximately 450 people. High-school National Honor Society (NHS) students from Indian Rocks Christian School and Seminole High School volunteered for the second year in a row, helping to staff exhibits and lead tour groups. USGS scientists from Tampa, St. Petersburg, Gainesville, Miami, and Tallahassee prepared 37 exciting demonstrations and hands-on exhibits showcasing aspects of their research. The activities were planned to introduce the whole family to the wonders of natural science.

Visitors watched a volcano erupt unpredictably, tracked manatees from space, examined microfossils through a microscope, and donned the gear and tools of a geologist! Visitors had fun learning what minerals are present in everyday products and how the USGS tracks the effects of severe storms on coastal environments. Using the USGS National Map, visitors learned how to find a satellite image of their house. Scientists demonstrated the technique used to gain a bird's-eye view of coral reefs, and explained the suspected connections between African dust and the decline in coral-reef and human health. Two 3-ft-long Gulf sturgeons captivated the attention of adults and children alike with their prehistoric look and unusual features (whiskers and vacuum-like mouths). The popular touch tank gave kids the opportunity to interact with horseshoe crabs, large conchs, and squishy sea squirts. Visitors were excited to find sharks' teeth, fossils, and coral in sediment cores collected at various sites in Florida. How tornadoes form, how waves are made, how river and stream flows are monitored, and what different types of bacteria can be found at the beach were among other popular exhibits. Exhibits on topics ranging from water quality, Mississippi mud, and monitoring the sinking of coastal Louisiana to how marshes are like sponges left adults and children inspired!

More information about the USGS Open House, including a list of exhibits and descriptions, as well as teacher resources, is available online on the Open House 2004 web page. Brian Dery, a local videographer, volunteered to film the exhibits to create a virtual tour, which should be online and working by early 2005. We encourage educators and scientists to use this resource in their classrooms all year.

Outside-agency participants included the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and the Pier Aquarium. Special thanks to our neighbor, the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), for loaning us a 300-gallon tank to display the Gulf sturgeon during the event, and to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Chiefland, FL, for loaning us a 1-ft-long stuffed Gulf sturgeon.


Related Sound Waves Stories
USGS Celebrates Earth Science Week with an Open House in St. Petersburg, FL
Dec. 2003 / Jan. 2004

Related Web Sites
Open House 2004
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
St. Petersburg Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Earth Science Week 2004
American Geological Institute
The National Map
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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Deltaic Habitats in Puget Sound

Invasive Sea Squirt Flourishing

How Sea Floor Sediment Moves

Research Submarine Canyons Named for Marine Geologists

Outreach Appreciation Day for Congressman Young

Students Learn About Coastal and Marine Science

Hurricanes Focus Attention on USGS Research

College Students Visit USGS Center in St. Petersburg

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GIS Day

CCWS Open House

Scientists Interviewed for HBO Program

Meetings International Symposium on Coastal Issues

Jeff Williams Reviews Storm Surge Model

Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institutes Conference

Suwannee River Basin and Estuary Integrated Science Workshop

Staff & Center News Regional Executive Visits FISC Office

Jingping Xu Joins Western Coastal and Marine Geology Team

Publications Special Oceanography Issue Includes Sediment Dynamics Article

Dec. / Jan. Publications List


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