Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A visit from the Boston Leadership Institute

Throughout the 2016-2017 academic year, our lab group hosted several groups on campus in an effort to promote STEM disciplines (and specifically climate science) to high school students. Twice in the spring we were joined by TeenSHARP chapters from Delaware and New Jersey, in addition to a visit from Boston Collegiate Charter School's entire 9th-grade class.  On Friday we welcomed another group of students, this time from the Boston Leadership Institute (BLI), to the BURECS lab for a day-long introduction to Antarctic Earth science research. The students, all of whom have expressed interest in studying STEM in college, had the opportunity to hear Dr. Marchant speak about his research before multimedia presentations in the Digital Image Analysis Lab (DIAL) and a hands-on exploration of the main lab. We thought we would share a few photos from their visit with you here on the blog.

Dr. Marchant discusses the various rock formations present in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) before the students take a virtual reality tour of the central Dry Valleys. (LAB TIP: you can do this at home by going to buriedice.com. The system works with virtual reality headsets and on desktop computers.)

Here Drew Christ, one of the BUARG graduate students, guides the BLI students through the use of the scanning electron microscope (SEM). They were able to view ancient, preserved diatoms from the MDV at over 6000x magnification!

Olivia explains the various types of grains present in an ash sample. Under the optical microscope, it's sometimes difficult to distinguish anorthoclase crystals (the important bits) from glass fragments due to their similar translucence. These students had the opportunity to try crystal picking for themselves; some found it frustrating, but a few had the sharp eyes and steady hand necessary to be quite good at it.

Donovan discusses the methods for segregating fossilized moss fragments from the encompassing mud. The mosses are some of the last known remains of vegetation from Antarctica, and have been dated to between 14.07 and 13.85 million years old. Though delicate, several students carefully separated the mosses without breaking them--we were impressed!

Noah Conley, another BURECS summer intern in the Marchant lab, gave an overview of Martian topography for the students. Using several of the labs high-resolution screens, he helped students identify the topographical features on Mars, and shared what these features indicate with respect to ice buried beneath the surface.

All in all, a great visit from BLI--we were excited to meet so many students excited about Earth science! We look forward to seeing them again next summer.

Are you and/or your students interested in visiting the BURECS lab? Send us an e-mail at burecscience at gmail dot com or ddennis at bu dot edu.

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