[Joe Croze and Samantha Lawrence show the public at the Durham Fair that Geology Rocks!]
The Geological Sciences Department sponsored two tables at the regional Durham Fair from September 22 to 24, 2016. We had two hands-on displays. The first was ‘What’s inside a Rock.’ For this one we had a binocular microscope where people could look at a rock under low magnification. We also had a petrographic microscope with a camera and an external computer monitor displaying a thin section of the same rock. As people looked through the microscope they saw a rainbow of colors in the thin section due to the effect of polarized light. Nearly every little kid (and most adults) went OOOH! WOW! When we switched to plain light, the colors disappeared. Then we put the polarizer back in and the colors came back. We rotated the stage so the colors changed like a ‘kaleidoscope.’ We told them that this is how geologists ‘look inside a rock’ to learn what minerals are present. Everyone was fascinated.
We also had a display of rocks from throughout Connecticut and especially from around Durham for ‘This is Durham 200 Million Years Ago.’ The kids were able to touch a fish fossil form Durham and we gave everyone samples of muscovite mica (everyone’s favorite), quartz and pegmatite, along with packets of the three different rock types. It was a huge success. We estimate that at least 3000 people stopped by our tables in the total of 30 hours that we were there. We gave away over 600 bags of rocks and minerals.
For Dr. Evans, it was a pleasure talking with the many people who stopped by and asked questions about the display. Dr. Evans also gave two talks at the Fair: The ‘Geology of Connecticut’ and ‘Climate Change Since the Last Ice Age.’ They both went well, even though the computer projector did not work for the first one. Describing the geology of Connecticut without any pictures was a real challenge.
We were invited back for next year’s fair, and we’ll probably do it. However, we’ll need much more planning as we ran out of every rock and mineral we gave away, as well as the bags to put them in. We want to thank all of the students that spent time collecting samples and working at the Fair: Joe Croze, Samantha Lawrence, Danielle Guzzardi, Sara Poppa, Ian Murphy, Nick Zygmont, Angie Colella, and Isabelle Kisluk. We also thank Dr. Allison Weinsteiger and recent alum Melissa Luna and her friend Shaun Mahmood from Wesleyan University.
— Mark Evans