Link to USGS home page
Sound Waves Monthly Newsletter - Coastal Science and Research News from Across the USGS
Home || Sections: Spotlight on Sandy | Fieldwork | Research | Outreach | Meetings | Awards | Staff & Center News | Publications || Archives

 
Outreach

Fourth-Graders Explore the USGS Center in St. Petersburg, Florida


in this issue:
 previous story | next story

Tracy Enright leads a group through the South Florida Information Access Web site.
Above: Tracy Enright leads a group through the USGS SOFIA (South Florida Information Access). This Web site has pages designed specifically for kids (see the SOFIA Kid's Page).

On November 30 and December 1, 2005, more than 800 fourth-grade students explored the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) St. Petersburg Science Center in St. Petersburg, Fla. The carefully choreographed event, which was the 7th annual USGS Open House hosted at the St. Petersburg center, led groups of 10 students and their teachers through 25 exhibits focused on the theme "Geoscientists Explore Our Earth." This was the theme selected for Earth Science Week, an annual event sponsored by the American Geological Institute.

In keeping with the USGS' mission, the Open House highlighted the science behind understanding hazards, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods; assessing the quantity and quality of our water supplies; and using multidisciplinary methods to understand complex natural-science phenomena. During their visit, the students learned about many ways USGS geoscientists explore our Earth.

The issues of scale and how time and distance affect observations were demonstrated by displays about how scientists look at the world from both far away and closeup. Mapping large areas by plane was highlighted in the exhibit "Bird's Eye View: Using Laser Lidar to Map Coral Reefs," while microscopic inspection was the hands-on activity at the exhibits "Sands of the World" and "Microfossils and Ocean Temperatures." Mapping and remote-sensing technologies were highlighted in several exhibits, including "GIS-What in the World?," "3-D Visualization: GEOWALL," and "Deep Dive Exploration: Pulley Ridge-the Deep Reef."

Students get a new perspective on microfossils. John Wiebe shows visitors the differences between alligators and crocodiles.
Above left: Students get a new perspective on microfossils.

Above right: John Wiebe shows visitors the differences between alligators and crocodiles. He's holding an American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis).

The exhibit "Tsunami-Making Waves" made a big splash with students. A specially designed wave tank created a scale model of a tsunami coming ashore along a typical coastline on the Pacific Ocean. This model demonstrated the powerful effect these waves can have and how scientists can learn from these events. "Watching Hurricanes" and "Volcanoes—Mount St. Helens" were other hazard exhibits that highlighted the strength of Earth processes and how scientists measure and learn from them.

Greg Ward demonstrates one of many field-measurement methods. Mike Holmes shows students how real-time data are easily accessed on the USGS Web page.
Above left: Greg Ward demonstrates one of many field-measurement methods.

Above right: Mike Holmes shows students how real-time data are easily accessed on the USGS Web page.

Measuring both the quantity and quality of water resources was clearly illustrated with several hands-on demonstrations. "Where Does Your Water Come From and What Kind of Water Is It?" gave students an opportunity to measure the properties of several water samples that appeared to be the same. Through their examinations, the students found out that how water looks doesn't tell you all you need to know about what's in it. "Water Under Our Feet, Florida's Ground Water" used a visual ground-water display model to simulate ground-water movement and contamination. Students learned how ground water can be affected by land-surface activities. Another visually interactive display, "USGS Water Data: Real-Time, On-Line," gave students a chance to practice using the USGS National Water Information System. Access to online data gave them the tools to keep track of water resources in locations of personal interest.

Buses full of forth-graders line up outside the USGS St. Petersburg Science Center. Chris Reich shares his knowledge and lots of samples with students as they learn more about coral reefs.
Above left: Buses full of forth-graders line up outside the USGS St. Petersburg Science Center.

Above right: Chris Reich shares his knowledge and lots of samples with students as they learn more about coral reefs.

The living resources that interact with the nonliving world were highlighted both on an individual scale and within the context of larger ecosystems. Representative fish populations associated with mangrove communities were living examples in the "In-Seine Fish" exhibit. "Turtle Mysteries" unraveled some myths about the elusive diamondback terrapin, while "The Difference Between Alligators and Crocodiles" showcased a live specimen of each reptile so that students could see firsthand how to tell them apart. How scientists study living resources was a hands-on activity entitled "Measuring Muddy Mangroves," in which students readily learned how measurements are made and incorporated into scientific investigations.

As students explored the USGS office, they learned how USGS geoscientists explore the world all around us. They learned that scientists are beginning to integrate all kinds of information to develop a better understanding of how large ecosystems (such as the Everglades) function. With a better understanding of these large Earth systems, humans can implement ways to restore damaged areas, conquer invasions of unwanted and threatening species, unravel the implications of climate change, and assess the vulnerability of large metropolitan areas to natural hazards. Most importantly, students learned that gaining a better understanding of the Earth not only takes scientific expertise but can be interesting and fun too.


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

Related Web Sites
2005 Open House for 4th Graders
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
US Geological Survey (USGS) Real-Time Water Data
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
South Florida Information Access (SOFIA)
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Florida Integrated Science Center - St. Petersburg
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Earth Science Week
American Geological Institute

in this issue:
 previous story | next story

 

Mailing List:


print this issue print this issue

in this issue: Fieldwork
cover story:
Monitoring Eruption of Augustine Volcano

Submarine Groundwater Discharge Study

USGS Assists in Search for Airplane Wreckage

Research Methane Hydrate off Southern California Coast

Outreach Open House at FISC St. Petersburg

Falmouth Science Teachers visit USGS Woods Hole

Sea-Floor-Mapping Systems Described on New Web Pages

Awards Wetland Ecologist Named Fulbright Senior Specialist

Multiple Award Winner in USGS Photography Contest

Staff USGS Scientist on Nanjing University Committee

Publications March 2006 Publications List


FirstGov.gov U. S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Sound Waves Monthly Newsletter

email Feedback | USGS privacy statement | Disclaimer | Accessibility

This page is http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2006/03/outreach.html
Updated December 02, 2016 @ 12:09 PM (JSS)