Sunday, May 24, 2009

No exploding baking-soda volcanoes here

The week before last I had the opportunity to judge the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Reno, Nevada (photo of my hotel/casino on the south end of Reno's strip, above) as part of a two-woman team for the Association for Women Geoscientists Foundation (photo, below, of Phil and me judging in the Earth Science projects area).

Over 1500 students from all over the country and the world were competing. There were even 16 students all the way from my home state of North Dakota. I was so proud of them!

The criteria for winning our $1500 cash prize was that the project had to be presented by a girl (grades 9-12) and involve one or more geoscience disciplines. Our winner was a senior from Washington state who did an extensive sediment coring project to identify tsunami-deposited sand layers in a tidal flat in Discovery Bay. From the distribution, she theorized about a 400-year recurrence of large tsunamis there. She was professional and thorough and a fair bit more advanced than several actual geologists I have worked with in the past. The one thing that all 20 or so students whom we interviewed shared was a passion and excitement for science. It was a fun and rewarding for me. Below is a picture of our big money winner, Marley, in the center with our honorable mention $150 prize winners.

One nice benny of the down turned economy, which has hit Reno hard, is that I got a great deal on this (above) sweet hotel room at the Atlantis Casino. This room, complete with fluffy robe and slippers plus a lavish breakfast, hors d'œuvres, and desserts spread in the restricted-entrance Concierge's Lounge, normally rents for $238 per night. I was able to get it for $99, saving the Foundation some cash that will go to other projects and scholarships. I would definitly stay there again.

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