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Outreach

A Teacher, Technology, and Tadpoles—Summer Internship at USGS National Wetlands Research Center


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Susan Bergeron shows teacher Chasity Menard an animation for a new K-4 educational CD-ROM
Above: At the USGS National Wetlands Research Center, contractor Susan Bergeron (IAP World Services, Inc.; left) shows teacher Chasity Menard an animation for a new K-4 educational CD-ROM on Louisiana’s wetlands.

USGS contractor Mayra Silva  shows computer-science teacher Chasity Menard how PDAs are used by USGS researchers.
Above: USGS contractor Mayra Silva (IAP World Services, Inc.; left) shows computer-science teacher Chasity Menard how PDAs are used by USGS researchers.

USGS contractor Jason Sullivan and Chasity Menard check a dip net for frog eggs in the Atchafalaya Swamp.
Above: USGS contractor Jason Sullivan (IAP World Services, Inc.; left) and Chasity Menard check a dip net for frog eggs in the Atchafalaya Swamp.
Computer-science high-school teacher Chasity Menard didn't expect to be mucking around in Louisiana's Atchafalaya Swamp when she began a three-day summer internship at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC) in Lafayette, LA. After all, she is a self-proclaimed "computer nerd," not a wetland scientist.

The internship, a "job shadow" program, is a partnership with the Iberia Parish School System and businesses in the area to offer educators an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of the skills, attitudes, and attributes necessary to be successful in today's workforce. Menard asked to be placed at NWRC because she had worked there as a student intern while majoring in computer science at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, and she knew that the center has a cadre of technology professionals.

During the first two days of her internship, Menard met with USGS and IAP World Services, Inc. (contractor) staff as they worked on computer-program design, database construction, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and Help Desk calls. USGS electrical engineer Kathy Ladner had Menard review an electronic field guide to the mammals and birds of Louisiana that will be part of an educational CD-ROM on coastal-wetlands loss for students in grades K-4. Menard was briefed by USGS librarian Linda Broussard on the role of computers and the Internet in facilitating document delivery and Interlibrary Loan services, as well as how resource sharing increases scientists' access to information throughout the world. Broussard explained NWRC's contributions to a digital library called the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), and Menard joined Broussard for a Webinar (Web training) on the use of a new version of the NBII Web Resource Input tool.

The third day of Menard's job shadowing held a few surprises, beginning with the warning, "We have some rubber boots and insect repellent for you; be sure to wear some long pants and a long-sleeve shirt tomorrow." Menard, along with a reporter and photographer from the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, accompanied USGS ecologist Dana Drake and contract biologist Jason Sullivan into the Atchafalaya Swamp to observe how these scientists use such technology as PDAs, remote data loggers, and the Global Positioning System to study amphibian populations in Louisiana's forested wetlands. The data logger (a.k.a. frog logger) allows the remote recording of frog calls as a way to help researchers determine what frog species are using specific habitats. The research team also looks for tadpoles and egg masses and screens frogs for possible health problems. For more information about USGS amphibian research, visit the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) Web site.

Menard's day with the field biologists was perhaps the most revealing about the center's use of computer technology, showing Menard how it extends far beyond the walls of the science center into wetland habitats. In those field settings, technology supports USGS scientists as they inventory, monitor, and analyze natural resources such as amphibians.

In the fall, Menard will be incorporating what she learned at NWRC into new lessons and special projects for her computer-science students at New Iberia Senior High School, challenging them to expand the ways they think about and use technology, and preparing them for a possible technology career in the real world.


Related Web Sites
USGS National Wetlands Research Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI)
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII)
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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in this issue: Fieldwork cover story:
Coral Coring in Flower Garden Banks NMS

Research Brief Tsunami Warning Startles U.S. West Coast

Outreach Lessons and Questions from the Indian Ocean Tsunami

Summer Internship at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center

New Web Site About Indian Ocean Tsunami

Public Forum About Coral Degradation

Hurricanes: Predicting Their Path of Destruction

Meetings Impact of Carbon Dioxide on Marine Life

Awards William R. Normark Receives Francis P. Shepard Medal

Publications July Publications List


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