The St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center and the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center celebrated science with the St. Petersburg community by participating in the 2023 St. Petersburg Science Festival—the first time fully in-person in 5 years!
Showcasing USGS Science at the 2023 St. Petersburg Science Festival
For more than 10 years, the St. Petersburg Science Festival has celebrated STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) activities with elementary school children and the public over a two-day event. The USGS has been a supporter of this event since its inception, and was a premiere exhibitor at this year’s event—exhibiting eight different activities during the public festival on Saturday, February 18th.
The St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center had several hands-on lessons. In the classic coastal erosion simulation, families got to witness how hurricanes can cause erosion and other coastal change to barrier island environments—an important topic for local Pinellas County beaches. In the coring activity, children explored how geologists interpret the geologic history of beaches using sediment cores and had the opportunity to use a vibracore to collect their own sample! At the paleoclimate exhibit, attendees learned how sclerochronology—essentially analyzing layers created by various organisms, like tree rings—can be used to determine how old organisms are and track environmental changes through time. Students even hunted for their birthday on a tree ring during the school day activity on Friday, February 17th. During the family festival on Saturday, kids had opportunities to climb aboard our personal watercraft (i.e., jetskis) for a photo ops and to create origami sea creatures.
The Wetland and Aquatic Research Center had activities focused on imperiled and invasive species—critical topics in the state of Florida. Students and families learned about environmental DNA (the genetic material that animals lose as they move through their environment) and how scientists can use the genetic material to detect hard-to-find animals, like the invasive Burmese python. The WARC invasive species booth was a hit and featured invasive BINGO—a game where kids could test their knowledge on animals from lionfish to wild boar. During the family festival, WARC broke out an additional fun display about animal tagging and showed how various instruments are used to study the movements and behavior of imperiled species like Gulf sturgeon and sea turtles.
While the activities were focused on research from SPCMSC and WARC, Dorothy Sifuentes and John Hamm of the Caribbean-Florida Water Science Center also joined in to help make the event a success!
As always, the St. Petersburg Science Festival was an absolute blast, and our teams can’t wait for future opportunities to celebrate STEAM topics with the community.
Learn more about the festival at www.stpetescifest.org.
Explore photos from the 2023 St. Petersburg Science Festival!
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