Some signs of spring! Crocuses in the front yard...
We have the crocuses interplanted in the buffalo grass lawn to give it some spring interest, since the buffalo grass doesn't green up until it gets hot.
And rhubarb in the backyard*...
*The rhubarb is now two and a half feet tall and ready to be made into pie. The crocuses are done blooming but the tulips are coming in. Spring happens so fast!
Outreach #1: Expanding Your Horizons
This spring, I did a new thing. Well, sort of. I had participated in Expanding Your Horizons when I was a wee young scientist in junior high. Expanding Your Horizons is an opportunity for 6th through 12th grade girls to spend a Saturday morning in various science workshops of their choosing. "The main goal of EYH is to get young women excited about and interested in science, math and technical careers, where men still hold a majority." The workshop leaders are all professional female scientists and the activities are supposed to be aimed at showing the girls cool things about science and science careers. When I was in 7th grade, Mrs. Reile and Michele Clark's mom chaperoned a group of me and my classmates to the EYH in North Dakota. We rode the six hours to Fargo in the back of Mrs. Clark's pickup truck, which had a topper on it and lots of blankets and pillows for our comfort. We stayed in a hotel, a big treat for us but probably one hellacious night for the poor business travelers in the adjacent rooms. I can't remember all the workshops I attended, but I do remember thinking that the chemistry of milk and working in a lab was really cool! No doubt, EYH contributed to my desire to study and make a career out of science.
So now it was my turn to give back. I mentioned the invitation I had received from the EYH organizers to my friend, Katie, who I have come to know through the Salt Lake Chapter of the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG). She was just as excited as I was and already had an activity made up that we could modify for this group. Our workshop was called "Rock Detectives". At each station, the student would examine the rock or mineral specimen and answer some questions about its identity. One station contain a sample of talc. The student needed to figure out that it was softer than her fingernail and therefore had a hardness of less than 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. She then had to sleuth out the name of the mineral on the bottle of baby powder.
Overall, the girls seemed eager to learn and glad to be spending their Saturday in "school".
A few of the girls were really interested and we hope that the spark of a young geologist was ignited!
Outreach #2: Science Fair Judging
Later in March, I organized six volunteers from AWG to judge the regional science and engineering fair.
I did it last year, and had a great time interacting with lots of bright young women. This year was the same, only extra rewarding because one of our winners from last year had another excellent geoscience-related project and was able to win our prize again! She is now a sophomore in high school and a student member of AWG; she says she wants to have a career in the earth sciences.
We gave away over $700 in cash and prizes to the top three geoscience-related projects by girls in each of three age divisions. It was fun to see kids so excited about science, plus I learned that your food will stay colder in your cooler longer if you keep the cold melt water in the cooler than if you drain it out. Isn't science cool!