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Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center participated in the Great American Teach-In on November 18, 2015.

by Kira Barerra

The Great American Teach-In, a nationwide event, has been taking place since 1994 and is an opportunity for members of the community to participate in kindergarten through high school classes and provide a personal perspective on their career choices and experiences pertaining to education and overcoming obstacles, both academically and professionally.

Scientists from the St. Petersburg Science Center have been participating in the Great American Teach-In since 1999. This year the Center had record participation—engaging a total of 1,088 kindergarten through 8th grade students at six local schools on topics including coastal erosion processes, sediments, microfossils, and ocean acidification.

Joe Long and David Thompson visited Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Elementary School and gave a coastal erosion presentation and demonstration to five kindergarten classes, as well as 1st and 2nd grade classes, speaking to about 160 students. Joe commented, “The students loved the presentation and asked great questions about waves and beaches.”

Nathaniel Plant participated in the Teach-In at Skyview Elementary School and presented coastal erosion hazards. He demonstrated barrier island response to category 1, 2, and 3 hurricanes, represented by varying fan speeds. Nathaniel spoke to six 4th grade classes and 120 students. He received an excellent comment from a girl who offered an explanation of the erosion model: “I think energy from the water makes the sand move and causes the changes.”

Kara Doran gave a presentation titled “Why study sand?” at Sawgrass Lake Elementary School. Eighty students from 4 classes ranging from grades 1–5 looked at sand samples from around the world and talked about how hurricanes move sand around on beaches.

Kathryn Smith spoke to 6th graders at Thurgood Marshall Middle School and discussed the importance and use of microfossils in coastal studies and provided 80 students the opportunity to examine diatom specimens from various environments under microscopes.

Kyle Kelso presented a coring and stratigraphy demonstration at Azalea Elementary School. He discussed lithology (the study of rocks) and provided a hands-on opportunity for 240 children, from 12 classes ranging from 1st to 5th grades, to participate in steps involved in sediment collection and analysis.

Kira Barrera spoke at Plato Academy. She gave a presentation on ocean acidification to 20 classes and approximately 400 students. Students had the opportunity to participate in several experiments demonstrating the effects of ocean acidification on coastal environments. One student stated, “I learned how water changes and how air affects water.”

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