8th Annual RoBOT Program Final Gathering Held Wednesday Night
The final gathering of the 8th Annual Rocks Beneath Our Toes (RoBOT) Program was held Wednesday night.
The brain child of Department of Earth and Environment Professor Ethan Baxter, the RoBOT Program brings together local area high school students and BU undergraduates in an effort to learn more about the geology of the area. The students collect and analyze local rock samples and then display their findings at the end of the semester.
This years program was organized by Prof. Baxter and graduate student and Teaching Fellow Emily Stewart. The first step in the program is the collection of rock samples. This took place back in October when Professor Baxter and 13 of his ES 222 Mineralogy students took 20 Acton-Boxborough Regional High School students out on a rock collecting field trip.
Then, two weeks ago, the students came back together to analyze their findings:
The students used the Department’s polarized light microscopes to get a closer look at their samples.
Then, Dr. Joel Sparks helped the students run the X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) system lab.
The culmination of the program took place Wednesday night as the 20 high school students returned to campus and were given special tours of our lab facilities:
First the students, donning special clean suits, toured our clean lab facilities where Department personnel and students prepare samples for analysis.
Then, Dr. Denise Honn led the students through a tour of the Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS) lab.
Finally, Dr. Tom Ireland took the students through a tour of the Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) facilities.
After the tours, the High School students were treated to a presentation of the Mineralogy students’ semester long research on their collected rock samples:
Dean Sapiro joined in as well. Here, her and a student discuss the results of the program.
The final results of the High School students’ and the Mineralogy students’ hard work are now on display in the halls of the Department, on the first floor of the Stone Science Building.