Students explore careers in science during Rolla School Daze

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Volume 37-143 For Immediate Release: May 27, 2009

ROLLA, MO, -- As the school year winds down students across the state are participating in educational outings. Rolla Middle School was no exception. On May 6, nearly 350 fifth grade students and their teachers and sponsors attended the annual "Rolla School Daze" event at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources campus in Rolla and learned about careers in science.

Students enjoyed the perfect weather during their half-day visit as staff shared information concentrating on environmental protection, geology, land surveying and groundwater. Geologists, land surveyors, environmental specialists and hydrologists brought earth science to life by sharing their expertise with the students through the use of short videos, hands-on activities and mini-courses geared to supplement classroom curriculum.

Rolla Middle School teacher Jeanie Strain said, "The fifth grade students really get valuable information out of our visit to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  The sessions are geared to our curriculum guidelines. It is also a great way to expose the students to various careers in science."  This is the 10th year that the Department has hosted the day-long event.

Geologists discussed rock types and the characteristics associated with each type.  Touring the Ed Clark Museum of Missouri Geology, the students learned about Missouri's state rock, Mozarkite and Galena, the state mineral and its role as a primary lead ore.  They were able to view and touch several other large rocks, minerals and fossils on display in the popular museum. Students also learned about equipment used by geologists more than a century ago, earthquakes, Ice Age mammals and fossils.

Land Survey Program staff explained how the Louisiana Purchase provided for the western expansion and demonstrated methods used by 1800s surveyors to map Missouri and the nation. Students learned that the land survey profession is invaluable to them as potential land owners, because surveyors establish legal property boundaries.  Students peered through modern land surveying instruments and learned about surveying techniques that use global positioning system satellite technology.

One session centered around protecting against environmental contamination--the importance of proper disposal of chemicals and hazardous household supplies so they do not pose a threat to our water supplies.  Several short video clips showing people in the act of illegal dumping captured the attention of most of the students. Many were not aware that dumping yard and garden waste on public grounds is illegal and that people continue to be prosecuted for this unwise act. Students were able to see the high resolution cameras environmental specialists with the Department use to record illegal dumping.

A video explaining the water cycle, groundwater regions of the state, the importance of clean water, and ways to prevent pollution of our groundwater resources rounded out the day's events.

Hylan Beydler, Information Officer with the Department and organizer of the event said, "We hope to spark student interest in careers in the field of science and from my vantage point I saw several sparks flying throughout the day. If we can "plant a seed" or water those that our fine educators already have planted, I consider the day a resounding success!"

The Department's Division of Geology and Land Survey welcomes visitors to the Ed Clark Museum of Geology.  The museum is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. You will also find maps for sale, educational trading cards and a wide variety of publications on topics such as rocks, minerals and fossils. Visit www.dnr.mo.gov/geology for more information.

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Editor:  Photo can be found at http://www.dnr.mo.gov/newsrel/images/rolladaze09.jpg.

Cutline:  These four Rolla fifth graders were among approximately 350 classmates who enjoyed a day at the Ed Clark Museum of Missouri Geology while on their field trip to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The case is filled with an assortment of Mozarkite jewelry, a croniod necklace and galena (Missouri's state rock, fossil and mineral, respectively).