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Earth Science Week Oct. 10-16 Features ‘Passport Earth’ Activities

October 1, 2015
little girl looking into mouth of T-rex skull
The UW Geological Museum is among the featured stops in the “Passport Earth” program planned for Oct. 10-16 on the UW campus and in the Laramie community. (UW Photo)

“Visualizing Earth Systems,” this year’s theme for Wyoming Earth Science Week Oct. 10-16, explores what it means to see our planet through eyes informed by the geosciences.

Celebrating earth science, the Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) has partnered with the University of Wyoming Geological Museum, entities across campus and the Albany County community for “Passport Earth,” a weeklong program with 12 stops designed for the public to experience science through the eyes of some of Wyoming’s famous scientists. Participants are eligible for a host of prizes, including a “fossil-hunting” paleontology field trip.

“Geoscience seeks to provide an understanding of our dynamic planet,” says Tom Drean, director of the WSGS. “Scientists use technology and tools to investigate our Earth to address critical issues such as energy, water and mineral resources, and natural hazards, as well as to explore planetary science and much more.”

A “Passport Earth” kickoff event is scheduled 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, at UW’s Geological Museum. The public can tour a wide variety of earth science displays and interactive tables, while enjoying refreshments. Kids can pick up their passports at the opening event or during the week at participating locations.

Earth Science Week will feature scheduled showings and science displays, many highlighting Wyoming scientists, with all locations offering a unique “Passport Earth” stamp for the contest and prizes.

Passport stops and special shows include:

UW Campus Exhibits

-- UW Geological Museum -- View fully mounted skeletons of some of Wyoming’s famous fossils and explore displays on Wyoming geology. (10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Saturday)

-- Wyoming State Geological Survey (next to UW Geological Museum) -- Featuring displays on Wyoming oil and gas, coal, geologic hazards as well as gemstones and fossils. (8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday)

-- UW Libraries -- Emmett D. Chisum Special Collections, located on the third floor of Coe Library, includes the Hebard Collection, which is the most comprehensive collection of published materials on Wyoming. UW history, biographical materials, maps and guides for all disciplines are available to researchers of all ages. Charles Whitney Gilmore, UW alumnus and a renowned American paleontologist, will be highlighted in the exhibit cases on the third floor.

-- UW Art Museum -- Viewing of Thomas Moran’s paintings, “Cliffs of the Upper Colorado River,” connections between the artist-explorer and geologists who traveled west to document the landscape, including John McPhee with famed geologist J. David Love. (10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday)

-- UW Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center -- “Tree of Life” exhibit, exploring the divergence of life over the past 1.6 billion years, and a kids’ corner to explore micro-fossils. (8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday)

-- UW Anthropology Museum -- “The Human Odyssey,” with displays on early hominids, the Vore Buffalo Jump, Colby mammoth kill site and Native American culture. (8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday)

-- UW Brinkerhoff Geology Library (Geology Building) -- View a variety of resources, including topographic maps, geology maps and aerial photographs. (8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday)

Special Shows/Tours (Get your passport stamped at the show)

-- UW School of Energy Resources’ Shell 3-D Visualization Center -- Go into “the 3-D cave” to explore the subsurface of Wyoming in a 3-D virtual environment. (Show times: Monday-Friday, 3:30-4:30 p.m.)

-- UW Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium -- Show times: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10; 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 12; 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14; and 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 16.

-- UW Museum of Vertebrates (Berry Center) -- Although generally closed to the public, the UW Museum of Vertebrates is opening its doors to highlight how collections of Wyoming’s extant wildlife can help further the study of paleontology, archeology and anthropology. (Tour times: 11 a.m.-noon Saturday, Oct. 10; 10-11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 12; 3-4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14)

Community Exhibits/Tours

-- Albany County Public Library -- Honoring J.D. and Jane Love for their major scientific contributions to Wyoming geology. An exhibit of their published works, geology field tools and historic photos, in collaboration with the WSGS, as well as other library science displays.

-- Railroad Heritage Park -- The 1950s-era replica Snow Train, an engineering feat. The massive blade on the front of the plow car was constructed at a 23-degree angle to cut through the snow. The wedge plow was designed to blast the snow out of the way while the Snow Train traveled at high speeds through snowdrifts. Train experts, tours and passport stamps will be offered from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10.

For free gifts and drawings for special prizes, turn in completed passports by Friday, Oct. 16, to the following locations: the UW Geological Museum, the WSGS office and the Albany County Public Library.

Participants who have all 12 stamps will receive a special gift from the WSGS. They also will be eligible for prize drawings for a UW Geological Museum-sponsored paleontological field trip and a drawing for a large grand-prize gift basket, thanks to sponsors of Earth Science Week.

The 2015 Earth Science Week toolkit, created by the American Geosciences Institute, is full of visualization information and tools. As with past years, the WSGS mailed complimentary toolkits to science classes (junior high schools) across the state. In addition to the toolkits, the WSGS expanded its earth science website (grades 4-12) to include a host of information and learning tools on visualizing Earth.

“Visualization plays a central role in science and, more recently, in science education,” says Laura Vietti, manager of the UW Geological Museum and collections. “Data visualization takes something complex and makes it simple and easy to understand.”

Earth Science Week coincides with National Fossil Day Oct. 14 and Geologic Map Day Oct. 16. In 2012, Gov. Matt Mead proclaimed Wyoming Earth Science Week as the second week in October.

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