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Outreach

USGS Draws Public with Hands-On Activities at Florida's Marine Quest 2007


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youngsters work as a team to guess "What Kind of Water Is It?"
Above: Observant youngsters work as a team to guess "What Kind of Water Is It?" at the USGS booth, hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute during Marine Quest 2007. Nancy DeWitt is at left. [larger version]

Nancy DeWitt discusses how sonar data are used to generate bathymetric maps
Above: Using a new high-resolution map of Tampa Bay as an example, Nancy DeWitt discusses how sonar data are used to generate bathymetric maps. [larger version]

Nancy DeWitt shows visitors how single-beam sonar technology works
Above: Nancy DeWitt uses real instruments deployed in a demonstration tank to show visitors how single-beam sonar technology works. [larger version]

Molly McLaughlin moves the "research vessel" while one of her "scientific team" watches the result on the display screen
Above: Molly McLaughlin moves the "research vessel" while one of her "scientific team" watches the result on the display screen. [larger version]

visitors gather U.S. Geological Survey information and educational materials
Above: Enthusiastic visitors learn more as they gather USGS information and educational materials. [larger version]

In celebration of Earth Day, the State of Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hosted the 2007 Marine Quest on Saturday, April 21. Marine Quest is a public open house for the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) held annually at Bayboro Harbor in downtown St. Petersburg. Along with representing the many resource programs for the State of Florida, the FWRI invites outside scientific organizations to participate. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was one of 23 additional research facilities represented at the event, which attracted more than 3,200 public visitors.

USGS scientific programs complement the myriad presentations and displays at Marine Quest. To take advantage of the opportunity to interact with the public, the USGS booth was designed to be "hands-on" and became a hubbub of activity. Along with a colorful array of take-home items, including bookmarks, pencils, buttons, posters, and information sheets about Web resources and scientific programs, the booth offered visitors several activities. Many tried their hand at the guessing game "What Kind of Water Is it?" This game teaches the importance of observation and raises awareness about how the appearance of water is not always the best indicator of whether it is potable. Some kids even returned with a new friend in tow to help them play the game more than once. Those who challenged themselves at this game won a USGS ruler and learned a lot about how looks can be deceiving when it comes to water quality.

Nancy DeWitt hosted a get-your-hands-wet activity called "Bathy Bottoms," which familiarized visitors with how scientists conduct bathymetric surveys with high-resolution sonar systems to map the sea floor. Although global-positioning-system (GPS) technology is an important part of bathymetric-survey techniques, the display focused on technology used to measure differences in water depth (and thus map sea-floor features). Booth visitors could manipulate a tiny "research vessel" equipped with real single-beam sonar sensors in a large tank of water to help a gang of pirates locate and map their sunken ship and treasure. The hands-on activity vividly conveyed a complicated concept. A new high-resolution map of Tampa Bay, created through the Tampa Bay Integrated Science Project, was displayed behind the interactive tank. The map served as an example of the final products that can be created by using these kinds of technology (view the Tampa Bay map at URL http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1051/, and see related story, this issue). Both the treasure mapping and the examples of map products spurred interest and questions from visitors of all ages.

A collection of rocks from around the world sparked other conversations between the visiting public and the USGS volunteers about geology, the basic differences between rock types, and the origins of the rock samples. Volunteers included Nancy DeWitt, Ann Tihansky and her daughter Anastasia, Marc Blouin and his wife Ava, Molly McLaughlin, and Kate Ciembronowicz. The booth was busy all day, and everyone learned about the science around them!

Related Sound Waves Stories
High-Resolution Map Merges Tampa Bay Bathymetry and Topography
July 2007
Diverse Offering from USGS at 2006 Marine Quest in Florida
June 2006

Related Web Sites
Tampa Bay Integrated Science Project
USGS (U.S. Geological Survey)
Topobathymetric Data for Tampa Bay, Florida - USGS Open-File Report 07-1051
USGS (U.S. Geological Survey)
Marine Quest
Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

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Research
cover story:
Newly-Discovered Fossil Sponges

Outreach Public Lecture: Alchemy in the Abyss

USGS at Florida's Marine Quest

College Students Introduced to USGS Studies

Meetings Potential Impacts of Future Sea-Level Rise

Onshore-Offshore Geologic Map Workshop

Publications High-Resolution Map Merges Tampa Bay Bathymetry and Topography

70 Years of Coastal Cliff Retreat in California

July Publications List


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