Friday, August 26, 2011

Education and Outreach at LRRD.

Christina and Nathan teach at EcoU summer camp
Editor's note:  This is the second of what I hope are many posts written by our new Creative Director Alee Quick.

At LRRD, we have a strong commitment to using our products for education, and we're happy to put our models and people to work around the community, usually pro bono.

Throughout the summer, we've been visiting schools and day camps, and we hosted Ph.D. students from SIUC participating in IGERT, which is NSF's interdisciplinary training program.

Lily has been training Nathan and Christina to take over some of the educational stuff, and Nathan has conducted a few teaching events himself at the EcoU and FishU summer camps and at Carbondale New School, where he taught students between pre-k and high school ages about erosion and stream armoring using the Em2.

The IGERT Ph.D. students spent a morning in our shop learning about fluvial geomorphology and practicing stream surveying in the Em4.

We're proud that Nathan and Christina have stepped up to take part in outreach events. With more people pitching in, we look forward to upcoming teaching opportunities as the school year gets underway.

Students at the SIUC EcoU summer
camp with the Em2

SIUC IGERT students Aaron Nickolotsky and Anne
Hayden measure a channel in the Em4

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nathan and Christina Complete the Little River Team

Nathan teaching students at Carbondale
New School with the Emriver Em2.
Editor's note:  This is the first of what I hope are many posts written by our new Creative Director, Alee Quick.

A couple of students who’ve worked part time for LRRD transitioned to full time this summer, and we’re very happy about that!

Nathan Speagle joined us in December of 2010 as Prototyper. He is a forestry student at SIUC with only one semester to go before graduation, most likely with numerous honors. He has become part of our teaching team and, as he seems to do with everything, excelled at working with young students at local environmental camps. Nathan came to us with great skills in electronics, and builds our Em2 flow controllers and also parts for our 4-meter Em4 models.

Christina in the LRRD office, with a
rubber chicken.

Christina Bovinette has been with us as a part-time Research Assistant for almost a year. She has also joined our teaching team, and spent part of the summer traveling around to schools and day camps teaching kids with the Em2. She went to her first conference with Little River in June -- she drove with Lily to South Carolina for the National River Rally, where she did some networking and outreach with the models. She also recently made her first Em2 sale, solidifying her role as part of our sales sector.

And of course we love having them around every day. Aside from being talented and hardworking, they're fun and friendly.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Martian water in Carbondale, Illinois.

McEwen et al.'s Science paper on Martian water yesterday is exciting stuff!

Especially for us, because our models can simulate fluvial geomorphology on Mars.  The plastic media we use is particularly good at forming sapping channels, which are groundwater-driven gullies.  Here you see Earthling Callan Bentley observing a few in our lab.  In this photo we've just lowered the standpipe (base level), and initiated several sapping channels.

For us the sapping channels are sometimes an unwanted feature.  They form because the coarser mixes we use allow free subsurface flow, which emerges with enough volume to erode the particles and form channels.

Just like on Mars, probably.  This stunning image of the Nanedi Valles (click to enlarge, via) shows tributaries to the main meandering thread that are probably sapping channels -- these appear at the center and lower right.

Ryan Anderson's "The Martian Chronicles" blog gives a nice overview of these features in his roundup of talks from a 2008 AGU meeting.

 Today's Times article has more links.

And I have to give props to the late great Marie Morisawa, who taught me "sapping channels, unlike gullies formed by overland flow, have round heads."

UPDATE:  JPL press release with links to images and analysis.

Top photo via NY Times, credit to NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona