Friday, February 26, 2016

Week 4: February 23rd and 25th

On Tuesday February 23rd, we visited a few University of Pittsburgh Geology Labs that our Scientist, Justin, works in! It was a great experience and the teens learned a lot! We visited 4 labs in total and each was unique in its own way.

The first GeoLab we visited focused on water samples, bacteria and nitrates. In this lab, we learned that scientists can cultivate their own bacteria which can be used in experiments to determine different nitrate levels. The second GeoLab focused on measuring stable isotopes through a mass spectrometer. We learned how the mass spectrometer works and how scientists use this tool to trace air and water pollution. The third GeoLab focused on paleoclimatology and lake cores. Scientists use lake cores to trace and examine the atmosphere over time which helps to determine past climates. The teens were particularly interested in the different colored bacteria in the different time periods. The last GeoLab examined the gaseous flux of nitrogen from different soil samples. Using a vacuum-type system, scientists can measure different gas concentrations in the soil. This can help determine what gases are natural in soils and what are considered contamination. 

After our tours, we headed back down to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History where we finished the day by finishing our Solutions-Based Project where we determined where to build a hypothetical community while meeting its energy demands and being environmentally conscious.
The students discuss their decisions about where to build the community with the other stakeholders' opinions being considered. The map in the back displays what the teens were given.

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