CCSU Geological Sciences Rocks the Bristol Gem and Mineral Show

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[Faculty members Dr. Yinka Oyewumi and Dr. Mark Evans share the inside of a rock with a budding geologist]

Faculty and students of the Geological Sciences Department recently shared their expertise and passion for all things geological with the general public at the Bristol Gem and Mineral show. Children of all ages enjoyed using the polarizing microscope to examine rock slices and free samples of Connecticut rocks were given away to encourage children to start their own rock collections. If you missed it, see us at our booth at the Meriden Mineral show, March 3-4, 2018.

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Earth Science Day Brings Science Down to Earth

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[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!

CCSU GSCI Rocks the Durham Fair Again

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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

 

Troy Schinkel: Tour Guide to the Environment

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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.

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

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[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!

Giving back is a privilege

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[CCSU Astronomy Professor Kristine Larsen explaining to 5th graders how she became a scientist]

Giving back to the public is one of the greatest joys of my job. Whether it is showing the general public views through our telescopes or helping a high school student with a science fair project, giving a talk at a local library or talking about recent discoveries on a local radio station, sharing the wonders of the natural world with the people of Connecticut (and beyond) is something I am passionate about. Recently I was privileged to speak at Career Day at St. Paul’s school in Berlin. The two groups of fifth graders were enthralled by the meteorites I passed around, as well as the reproduction astrolabe, and could not contain their enthusiasm when they got to look at the overhead lights through diffraction grating glasses. It only took two hours of my time, and if I am really lucky, it might have made a lifetime of difference to one young girl or boy. Hopefully I might see some of these young people in my classroom in seven years.

My heartfelt thanks to the people of Connecticut for allowing me to serve them in this capacity. The universe belong to us all. If I can, in any way, help you to understand it just a little bit better, please call on me! You might find it hard to get me to STOP talking about it! – Kris Larsen, CCSU Class of 1985

Rocking Ireland for A Good Cause

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[Dr. Piatek at Meteor Crater in Arizona during the 2016 field project]

Dr. Jen Piatek, our planetary geology specialist, is part of a project (funded through NSF’s IUSE: GEOPATHS program) titled “Engaging Students in Inclusive Geoscience Field Experiences via Onsite-Remote Partnerships”. This week, she joins a team of researchers from multiple universities [including Steven J. Whitmeyer and Eric Pyle (James Madison University), Christopher L. Atchison (University of Cincinnati), and Helen Crompton (Old Dominion)] and students for a week of field geology in western Ireland. The project’s goal is to identify techniques and technologies that can provide access to remote field sites for geoscience students with mobility limitations. The first field season took place this past May in northern Arizona (see above picture) with the same students – a video describing the project and the first season is also “live” this week as part of the “STEM for All” Video showcase. The video can be found at http://stemforall2017.videohall.com/presentations/920 – please come by to leave comments, ask questions, and perhaps give the project a vote.

Teachers Go To SCI Camp

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[Teachers discuss how to make science come alive for their students]

Nearly 80 teachers attended SCI Camp CT, which was held at CCSU on Saturday March 25, 2017, hosted by the Geological Sciences Department. SCI Camp CT, an unconference, is a grassroots effort to introduce the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to all Connecticut K-12 teachers. An unconference is a loosely structured conference emphasizing the informal exchange of information and ideas among all teachers. Unconference topics from this SCI Camp CT included how to embed science modeling as part of science instruction, incorporate three-dimensional learning, embed NGSS assessments, use crosscutting concepts as a way to teach science, understand the nexus of Common Core of State Standards (CCSS) and NGSS, and embed engaging science phenomenon as part of science instruction.

This SCI Camp CT was the second one hosted by the Department of Geological Science, the first being in held in December of 2016. Future SCI Camps are being planned for the summer of 2017 and beyond to provide a venue to science teachers to discuss NGSS adoption in Connecticut.