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Outreach

Upholding the Importance of Sediment: USGS Participation at MarineQuest 2008


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Once again, the MarineQuest open house hosted annually by the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, was a hustle-and-bustle with curious and eager visitors of all ages. The day (Saturday, April 19) began with a cool morning and progressed into a beautiful, sunny, clear blue-sky day in which more than 4,000 visitors roamed the 74 different indoor and outdoor exhibits.

Molly McLaughlin and Emily Klipp Molly McLaughlin, Emily Klipp, and Ava Blouin take questions from the public.
Above left: Scientists Molly McLaughlin (USGS) and Emily Klipp (Jacobs Technology Inc., contracted to the USGS) get a quick break and stand by for the next wave of visitors. [larger version]

Above right: Scientists Molly McLaughlin, Emily Klipp, and Ava Blouin (USGS outreach volunteer) take questions from the public. [larger version]

Surrounded by displays on biology and wildlife, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) exhibit brought sediments and rocks into the mix. Future scientists wandered up to the microscopes to identify sand samples and inquire how the USGS is capable of getting such materials, where USGS scientists travel to get the samples, and "why are there so-o-o-o-o-o many colors, shapes, and sizes?"

When the kids had their fill of studying sand and seemed satisfied with answers to their questions, they shuffled on to the booth displaying a portable vibracore. There they could play Science Chief and perform the powerful task of turning the vibracore engine on (to drill for their sediment core sample) and then turning it off. People at nearby fish displays had to come find the source of engine noise and for a brief moment got lost in the world of geology.

If and only if the sediments were not enough for the future scientists did they challenge themselves to experience the "Underwater Black Mask," monitored by Marc Blouin (USGS) and special surface-support outreach volunteer Ava Blouin. Here the future scientists could learn the importance of sample collection and science while diving in zero-visibility conditions. Each diver in training received a briefing from divemaster Marc Blouin on the particular underwater assignment he or she needed to accomplish. Tasks included (1) obtaining biological or geological samples and placing them properly and safely in a mesh sample bag and (2) constructing or repairing underwater equipment. The divemaster then debriefed each diver to gain comments on his or her experience.

Marc Blouin briefs Joseph Hamilton of St. Petersburg before Joseph dons the diving mask Joseph Hamilton executes construction and repair of underwater scientific equipment. Michelle Doe conducts underwater sampling
Above left: Scientist Marc Blouin briefs Joseph Hamilton of St. Petersburg (visitor to MarineQuest 2008) before Joseph dons the diving mask. [larger version]

Above center: Joseph Hamilton executes construction and repair of underwater scientific equipment. [larger version]

Above right: Michelle Doe of St. Petersburg (visitor to MarineQuest 2008) conducts underwater sampling with Marc Blouin watching. [larger version]

All in all, it was a great day for the interaction of scientists and the public! The USGS booth was made possible through the generous help of volunteers, including Marc Blouin (USGS) and his wife Ava; Molly McLaughlin, Emily Klipp, and McCarron Best (Jacobs Technology Inc., contracted to the USGS); and Laurinda Travers, Chris Kellogg, and Nancy T. DeWitt (USGS).


Related Sound Waves Stories
USGS Draws Public with Hands-On Activities at Florida's Marine Quest 2007
June 2007
Diverse Offering from USGS at 2006 Marine Quest in Florida
June 2006

Related Web Sites
MarineQuest
Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

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Fieldwork
cover story:
Palos Verdes Shelf Experiment: Contaminated Mud

Palos Verdes Shelf Experiment: Whatever Can Go Wrong

Submarine Landslides and Large Earthquakes

Research
Whitings Possible Explanation for Middle East Oil Deposits

Outreach
USGS Participates in Marine Quest 2008

Law of the Sea Studies

Meetings USGS/DOI Santa Barbara Channel Workshop

USGS Part of Law of the Sea Delegation

Carolinas Coastal Change Processes Project

Awards USGS Circular Wins Blue Pencil Award

Publications

July 2008 Publications List


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