Earth Science Day Brings Science Down to Earth

esciday2017

[Some of the activities from CCSU Earth Science Day: Make a fossil, the virtual reality sandbox, polarizing microscope]

Members of the CCSU Geology and Planetary Science Club brought Earth Science down to earth for the members of the CCSU community and their families who attended our Earth Science Day celebration during CCSU’s Homecoming and Family Day. Hands-on activities and planetarium shows allowed our visitors to get up close and personal with rocks, walk a timeline of earth’s history, tour a scale model of the solar system, and control rivers and volcanoes with just a swipe of a hand with our virtual reality 3-D sandbox. This annual event is run by the students and offered to the public free of charge. Congratulations to GPS President Sara Poppa and all the other students for a job well done!

Advertisements

CCSU Celebrates Earth Science Day

On Saturday, October 7 the CCSU Geology and Planetary Science Club is hosting fun family events in celebration of Earth Science Day. Join us on the main floor of Copernicus Hall from 11 AM – 2:30 PM for a series of hands-on science activities. Make your own model of Saturn, look inside a rock, or hold a meteorite. Planetarium shows are at 11 AM and 2:30 PM. All events are free and open to the public!

CCSU GSCI Rocks the Durham Fair Again

ben

Ben Bogue demonstrates the petrographic microscope to a young visitor

For the second year in a row, the Geological Sciences Department sponsored two tables at the regional Durham Fair from September 21 to 24, 2017. We estimate that over 3500 people stopped by our tables in the total of 39 hours that we were there.

Our set-up was similar to last year: 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 WOW! THAT’S NEAT! 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 from Durham and we gave out samples of muscovite mica, pegmatite, and packets of the three different rock types. We gave away about 1000 bags of rocks and minerals.

For Dr. Evans, it was a pleasure talking with the hundreds of people who stopped by and asked questions about the display. Like last year, Dr. Evans also gave two talks at the Fair: The ‘Geology of Connecticut’ and ‘Climate Change in Connecticut in the Past 20,000 Years.’ Both were well attended with nearly 50 people in attendance for each.

We had seventeen (17!!) Geological Sciences majors volunteer their time to help out. We especially want to thank: Henry Abbott, Ben Bogue, Angie Colella, Emma Colucci, Joe Croze, Kelsey Duffy, Robb Evans, Brenden Hughes, Neal Hulstein, Isabelle Kisluk, Sarah Krzeminska, Chrisette Landell, Corbin MacDonald, Ian Murphy, Sara Poppa, Abbie Underwood, and Nick Zygmont. In addition, we had help from former student Melissa Luna (now working on her Master’s at Wesleyan) and Sarah Krzeminska’s friend Ken Lalli. We could not have had such a successful event without them.

We were invited back for next year’s fair, so if you did not see us there, we’ll be back in 2018. In the meantime, stop by and see us at the Bristol Gem and Mineral Show (http://bristolgem.org/annual-show/) in October!

— Mark Evans

 

CCSU Rocks the Durham Fair Next Weekend

Once again, students and faculty from the Geological Sciences Department will be rocking the Durham Fair on September 21-24. Visit our table in the Llama Building on Thursday from 3-10 PM, Friday 9 AM – 10 PM, Saturday 9 AM – 11 PM, and Sunday 9 AM – 3 PM. View minerals through a polarizing microscope and a display of Connecticut rocks and minerals. Children will receive a goody bag with rock samples (supplies limited).

Troy Schinkel: Tour Guide to the Environment

HPIM2616

One of our talented adjunct faculty, Troy Schinkel, is also part of the Master Naturalist Program at Goodwin Forest. He not only shares his broad knowledge of the natural environment in his classes at CCSU, but through public talks. Here are some of his outreach events coming up in the near future.

Talks at Goodwin State Forest in Hampton, CT

  1. September 8th, 10 – 11:00 AM. Goodwin Topography

Topography is the shape of the land. During this talk we’ll take a look at topographic maps of the area and learn how to read them. We will also take a short walk to compare what we see on the map to what we see in nature.

2. September 8th, 11:00 – 12:00 AM. Phragmites – Invasive Species

Phragmites has been invading the state of Connecticut. Learn about this invasive species and what the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has done to decrease the growth of the plant.

3. September 8th and 29th, 10 – 10:30 AM. Today’s Weather at Goodwin

This talk will focus on the weather that is occurring today. Topics may include: temperature, dew point, humidity, pressure, cloud type, wind, etc. We will then discuss the relationship between the weather variables. We will also use the weather variables to try and predict future weather.

4. September 29th, 10:30 – 11:30 AM. Mosquitoes

Nobody likes them! The buzz around us and then leave these itchy bumps! Well, let’s learn a thing or two about these insects. During this talk we’ll learn about some of the different types of mosquitoes, where they breed, and some of diseases they carry.

Troy is also giving public talks at Indian Rock Nature Preserve – Bristol, CT

September 30th & October 22nd, 11:00 AM. Climate Change: 2 Part Series

Earth: The only livable planet that we know of is heating up. Learn about the process behind the heating and what’s causing it. We’ll focus on the deadly trio within our oceans: warming, acidification, and anoxia, and how this trio impacts our oceans. We’ll also take a look at the differences between natural and human induced heating.

Please contact the hosting facilities directly for more information. Read more about Troy here, and please join us in thanking Troy for his service to the general public. Troy Rocks!

 

Eclipse viewing is a family affair at CCSU

[Chemistry Professor Barry Westcott and family are among the CCSU community members observing the Great American Eclipse on campus]

Although the Great American Eclipse was not total at CCSU, an impromptu observing session in front of Copernicus Hall allowed members of the CCSU family to safely observe the 67% partial eclipse. Clouds occasionally obscured the view, but using a variety of telescope projection systems Geological Sciences Department staff and volunteers (under the direction of Mr. Craig Robinson of our Copernican Planetarium and faculty member Dr. Jen Piatek) helped the students, staff, and faculty (as well as some from the general public) take a break from the preparation of our Fall semester and catch a glimpse of this celestial wonder.

Elsewhere on campus, Blue Devils watched the partial eclipse on their own, using solar eclipse glasses handed out by faculty member Dr. Kristine Larsen before she left for her total solar eclipse trip to Missouri. More on that adventure will be posted on our sister blog, CCSUniverse.

Although we did not have the resources to safely host an organized public event, we hope you enjoyed your eclipse adventure, wherever you observed it from, and regardless of how much you actually witnessed.

Geology is Everywhere!

[Crinoid fossils; CCSU alumna Jessica Johnson examining exposed strata]

Geology is everywhere! CCSU Geological Sciences Department professor Kristine Larsen and alumna Jessica Johnson are currently in Columbia, Missouri for the total solar eclipse. On a pre-eclipse adventure, the pair walked to the University of Missouri campus and found some amazing outcrops dating from about 350 million years ago. These rocks formed on the floor of an intercontinental sea and are literally flooded with tiny crinoid fossils. Crinoids were sea creatures that resembled plants. The “donuts” in the upper left photo are broken skeleton segments of their “stems.” Jessica was excited to apply what she had learned in her CCSU classes to a new geological environment.

Dr. Mark Evans is a Fine Fellow

markgoat

[Mark Evans and his wife, Cheri, on Mt. Evans (appropriately named) in Colorado]

In Spring 2017, Dr. Mark Evans was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. As described on the GSA website:

“Society Fellowship is an honor bestowed on the best of our profession by election at the spring GSA Council meeting. GSA members are nominated by existing GSA Fellows in recognition of their distinguished contributions to the geosciences through such avenues as publications, applied research, teaching, administration of geological programs, contributing to the public awareness of geology, leadership of professional organizations, and taking on editorial, bibliographic, and library responsibilities.”

One of Dr. Evans nominators, Dr. Charlie Onasch of Bowling Green State University says of Dr. Evans “Mark Evans is a leading authority on the nature and evolution of paleofluids in foreland fold-thrust belts and the interrelationships between fluid flow, diagenesis, paleomagnetism, and both brittle and ductile deformation. He has also excelled in the training of young geologists through classroom experiences and involvement in geological research.” Dr. Evans currently has 38 journal publication, 22 of which are first-author, and 117 meeting abstracts, 35 of which are with undergraduate student first-authors.

Dr. Evans was similarly elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of London in 2012. The Geological Society of London is the first geological society, established in 1811.

The Geological Sciences Department at CCSU congratulates Dr. Evans on this prestigious accomplishment!

The Next Best Thing to Being There

Sandia

[A rainbow over the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico]

Dr. Jen Piatek’s research is literally out of this world! Although she is an expert on the geology of Mars, she can’t exactly take her astronomy students there for a field trip. Similarly, when teaching regular geology classes she wishes she could bring her students to see volcanoes, mountains, or lake deposits up close and personal, but the department budget is limited. However, using a camera and special GigaPan software, Dr. Piatek and her research students have created amazing high resolution panoramic views of these geological features  and bring them into the classroom for students to have an experience that is the next best thing to being there. Many of these geological features are reasonable facsimiles to features seen on Mars, so by learning about our own planet, students can increase their understanding of our neighboring planet.

Dr. Piatek’s latest GigaPan adventure was to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Students in her classes should expect to see these amazing panoramas in the near future. Dr. Piatek is always interested in involving students in her GigaPan adventures, so if you are interested in being one of her assistants, please contact her!

CCSU now has the coolest sandbox (and it’s not just for playing in!)

sandbox

[Introducing the new Augmented Reality Sandbox]

CCSU is now the only university in Connecticut with an Augmented Reality Sandbox. Part computer, part sand pile, this 100% educational (and fun!) set-up demonstrates a variety of geological phenomenon in real-time, including floods, volcanic eruptions, and glacier melts. Read about this new addition to the Geological Sciences Department here, and expect to get your time in the sandbox at the next university open house event!