Outreach Efforts-March 2010

The Second Naturally Illinois Expo was held Friday and Saturday, March 12-13, 2010. Under the banner of the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability, the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Water Survey, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, and Illinois State Archaeological Survey joined forces to present the event. More than 2,500 teachers, students, families, and other visitors attended the two-day Expo, which featured 47 exhibits and interactive activities conducted by over 200 Institute staff volunteers. Examples of new technologies and tips on going "green" were featured. Among this year's new exhibits were a wind turbine, exhibits of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, and a new ISGS exhibit: Get to the Core: Steamy Swamps and Ice Age Glaciers. Finally, some ISGS classics—the Kids' Fossil Dig, Build Illinois, Ice Age glacial models, and others—continued to be crowd pleasers. On Saturday morning, 199 runners and walkers turned out for the third ISGS Earth, Wind, and Fire 5K Run and 2.5K Walk. This successful outreach event could not have been held without the participation of staff volunteers, students, the Illinois Petroleum Resource Board, and private donors.

Jared Freiburg responded to a request for information on fluorite, the Illinois State Mineral, from Erin Monroney, writer and researcher for National Geographic Kids at the National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. The magazine, which is mainly for readers between the ages of 4-8, has 1.2 million readers and is published in 20 foreign editions. The question was related to whether the mineral fluorite can glow under ultraviolet light. Jared Freiburg responded that fluorite has been known to fluoresce or "glow" under UV light. In Illinois this is especially the case due to hydrocarbon or petroleum inclusions in the fluorite crystals. Also, the colors of fluorescence may differ among specimens, especially those from different locales, due to trace element impurities in the crystal.

Nathan Webb, Phil Johanek, Bob Mumm, and Curt Blakley collaborated with Professor Jim Best to develop a core identification exercise for the sedimentation and stratigraphy class offered by the Department of Geology, University of Illinois. Approximately 40 students gathered at the Geological Samples Library over a two-week period to evaluate core that is currently in use for an ongoing U.S. Department of Energy-funded oil and gas project. Plans have been made to continue working with Professor Best further to incorporate geophysical log interpretation into the core description laboratory exercises.

Greg Kientop visited St. Mary Immaculate Elementary School in Plainfield, Illinois, at the invitation of Renee Streicher, a fourth-grade teacher. Her students asked career-related questions about working in the earth sciences. Samples of rocks, minerals, and fossils (including a mastodon tusk and jawbone) were brought for the students to examine. Approximately 58 students and two teachers were in attendance.

Mark Yacucci presented an environmental water quality activity at Heartland Community College's "Hands on Science Fair" for grade 4 classes from Irving, Calvary Christian, and Olympia elementary schools. Approximately 118 students and 10 teachers were present.

As part of recent field work with Illinois State Geological Survey scientists Scott Elrick and John Nelson, Bill DiMichele (Smithsonian) and Howard Falcon-Lang (Royal Holloway, University of London) toured Sunrise Coal's underground coal mine near Carlisle, Indiana, to examine the Springfield peat-contemporaneous Galatia Channel deposits. As part of the arrangement and to assist Sunrise Coal with their public relations work, Elrick and others gave a geology talk to the local boy and girl scouts who needed to earn a geology merit badge.