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Geography Students Speak Out at Science Symposium in Florida

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Students from Vivian Smithwick's sixth-grade geography class record field observations and global positioning system readings at Crystal Springs Preserve with help from U.S. Geological Survey representative Laura Gauron
Above: Students from Vivian Smithwick's sixth-grade geography class record field observations and GPS readings at Crystal Springs Preserve with help from USGS representative Laura Gauron. [larger version]

Geography students at Stewart Middle Magnet School presented a science symposium at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) on April 19, 2006, in Tampa, Fla. Guided by career mentors, including U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) representative Ellen Raabe, sixth graders gave presentations on the application of remotely sensed data to scientific research. The program, "Unlocking Earth's Secrets from Space,” was initiated by teachers Lynn McDaniel, Vivian Smithwick, and Shoshanna Milberg. The program was part of a DOE Gifted Challenge Grant, combining geography, science, and career mentoring for gifted students.

Six mentors from the community prepared the students with lectures, classroom projects, and field activities. The USGS mentor was Ellen Raabe from the USGS Florida Integrated Science Center office in St. Petersburg, Fla. Each of the six students in the USGS group was assigned a scientific role: oceanographer, hydrologist, geologist, plant biologist, wildlife biologist, and cultural geographer. As scientists, they explored and shared information on tides, sediment, habitats, watersheds, estuaries, and the food web. They also learned about the importance of collaboration in science.

The USGS group focused on the link between ground-based surveys and remotely sensed data in coastal areas. In addition to imagery from remote platforms, they explored the 24-satellite global-positioning-system (GPS) constellation for navigation and mapping. Students made field observations and recorded their locations with GPS units. Students, teachers, and mentors discussed the importance of field observations to understanding remotely sensed data. The USGS group had the advantage of additional tutoring from USGS representatives Kristine Martella, Laura Gauron, and Jordan Sanford. Students surveyed features on their school campus and at Crystal Springs Preserve and displayed point, line, and polygon features on aerial photography in a computer-mapping program.

The students performed beautifully in the formal setting of the MOSI conference room, with its liquid-crystal-display (LCD) projector, microphones, lights, and professional introductions. They were well prepared after several meetings with career mentors from the USGS, the University of South Florida, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Earth Force. Each mentor worked with a group of 5 to 6 students once a month for a period of 5 months, culminating in the science symposium.

Related Web Sites
Florida Integrated Science Center - St. Petersburg
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Museum of Science and Industry
not-for-profit, community-based institution
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
United States Federal Government
Earth Force
not-for-profit organization

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cover story:
Scientists Study Sources of Nitrogen in Hood Canal

Biologists Count Parasites to Assess Health of Marsh

Researcher Studies Effects of African Dust on Human and Coral Health

Water Temperature Restricts Distribution of Coho Salmon in Redwood Creek

Outreach USGS Open House in Menlo Park, CA

Scientists and Educators Support "Watershed Watchers" Program

George Crekos' 30-Year Career Celebrated

Geography Students Speak Out at Science Symposium

Meetings Council of Science Editors Annual Meeting

Awards USGS Scientists Receive Coral Reef Task Force Award

National Wetlands Research Center Staff Win Awards for Publications

Staff Visiting Scientist Shares Expertise in Coastal-Evolution Modeling

Publications July 2006 Publications List

FirstGov.gov U. S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
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