Michael A. Clynne is a volcanic geologist. A volcanic geologist studies the aftermath of a volcano. Clynne was even one of the many geologists on hand when Mt. St Helens erupted! Volcanic geologists are mostly in the field to make maps that include details such as a rock’s age, size, and type. These maps are useful for people to do a number of things:
• understand volcano hazards
• how volcanoes effect the environment
• understanding the origin of a volcanoes magma
• Overall, learning how the earth and how it works.
Last Monday Clynne came in to talk to the interns about his work but specifically about rocks with crystals. When Volcanoes erupt, they later form rocks that have crystals in them. Crystals also told us about magma’s rate of cooling. Interns viewed rocks and volcanic ash under a microscope. Many of the interns were interested in Mt. St. Helens and Clynne showed them second by second photos of its famous eruption.
By Maria R.
One of the most exciting opportunities we have being an intern is when you’re a level 2 intern or higher you get to work with a biologist at the Academy. I have the chance to work with Vicki McCloskey, a biologist who specializes in taking care for birds. Every Thursday and Friday, I meet my biologist at 7 o’clock in the morning. We walk over to the kitchen and get food for the birds in the rain forest, including the parrots, are in the rain forest and the raptors out in the east garden. Once we’ve collected all of our food we head over to the rainforest. Three different feeding stations have to be set up for the birds along with two feeding stations filled with nectar for the butterlfies. While we are doing all of this we have to keep a keen eye out and mark down all the birds we spot. There are over 30 birds in the rainforest and we have to eventually spot all of them. We mark down the birds we don’t see. After everything in the rain forest is taken care of, we head over to the raptors while being fully equipped with some tasty rodents. Once in the aviary with the three Turkey Vultures just roaming around, I have to clean the sleeping quarters of the loose feathers that might have fallen off during the night.
When I first received a letter in the mail saying that I had been accepted into the Intern Program at the Academy of Sciences about a month ago, I was very excited to start but didn’t really know what to expect. I knew there were times you worked on the public floor, there were trips, and trainings but that was about all. Now that I’ve been an intern for a little bit, I have a better perspective on things.
One of my favorite parts of being an intern is working on the Public floor, the reason I enjoy that so much is because you never know what to expect, you get all kinds of questions, all kinds of reactions, and each station that you work at is completely different. For example, at the Discovery Tide Pool sometimes you have to encourage people to try something new that they wouldn’t normally, but at the “Extreme Mammals” station, it is more about teaching people things they might not have known.
Being an intern, you learn a lot about a variety of topics. You learn about ways people learn (i.e visually, kinetically) because we have to adapt our teaching styles to fit the audience, you learn about different kinds of sciences at weekly trainings so that we can dabble in different fields of science and find what interests us. We also learn about working in a professional work environment and collaborating in a group while we learn, teach, and conduct science here at the Academy.
So far my experience as a new intern has been very enriching and it has only been a month, I can’t wait to see what else is to come in the future.
The intern program recently lost a member of our family: Newtie, our Fire Bellied Newt. Due to the new workplace protocol, terrestrial animals were no longer allowed in open quarters; this meant our beloved amphibian of over 8 years was being evicted. Fortunately Newtie was only moved downstairs to the Early Explorers Cove Animal Room and is still available for us to bring out on the public floor. But all interns who knew him still felt their hearts drop a little at the sight of the empty desk space where Newtie once resided. However, instead of seeing this as a moment of grief, I saw it as a great opportunity to set up an aquarium for the intern program. Using resources I already had at home from keeping personal aquariums, the intern fish tank was almost free of charge. Our 10 gallon aquarium houses 8 Tiger Barbs (Puntius tetrazona) who like to shoal under the driftwood rifts and dart between freshwater plants generously donated to us by Steinhart biologist Brooke Weinstein. Though only in its early stages, our fish tank seems to be doing well and the future for our aquatic pals is looking great!
My favorite part about working at the Academy is getting to go on the public floor at the demonstration stations. We have several stations that teach the public about different topics like; limb homology, penguins, extreme mammals, and discovery tide pool. It’s great to interact with people and talk about those different things. Also, it’s wonderful when I tell kids about cool facts and their faces light up with astonishment. They then start to talk about what they’ve learned in school and places they’ve gone to. I feel like I’ve accomplished something when I teach someone new information that they didn’t know before, plus I learn something new every time I come to work and I enjoy that. It’s rewarding to get to meet different people who come and visit the Academy. The conversation and topics vary on the age group that come and see the station when we interact with people of all ages.
I had no idea lions once roamed California! The new Extreme Mammals demo station that showcases skulls from extreme mammals that once lived in California was created by some of our interns and is the most interesting station in recent years. It has replicas, interesting facts, and staggering theories that would make you want to take a second look at our endangered and threatened species.
We had this cart for 3 weeks and we are pleased with the reactions we get from the museum visitors. They are so intrigued by this fascinating topic which includes information about the height of these mammals, the time they lived, when they became extinct, and theories about why they did. We cannot get enough of how children watch in amazement as the skulls on our cart roll past them and they tug on their parents clothing for them to come look.
The interactive games created by interns at the station are geared to make a fun learning environment for children and adults alike. This reassures that when we collaborate together, we are capable of pulling all ages into the world of science. The Extreme Mammals cart; the craze sweeping the public floor and the new addition to a long line of intern demonstration stations.
Every year, three men and three women from around the world are honored for their outstanding work in the field of environmental justice and conservation at the Goldman Environmental Awards. Last training, the interns were in attendance at this prestigious event, and this was not the first time. Over the years, the intern program has been invited several times, along with other youth groups to attend the Goldman Awards.
Being a program that specializes in training youth for science careers, the CiS program felt right at home amongst all of these hard-working, successful conservationists. Many of the interns felt personally inspired by the accomplishments of this wide group of honorees. Just as the intern program represents a diverse group of youth, the recipients of the Goldman Award represent a diverse group of conservationists.
The successes of the Goldman winners were varied and awe-inspiring. From Randall Arauz’s campaign of halting Shark fin removal in his home country of Costa Rica to Malgorzata Gorska’s legal battle of stopping a highway project through an untouched forest.
With such achievement from these worthy role-models, who knows what the interns will be spurred on to do in the future?
Every Tuesday Ivy, John, Renn, and myself all head to Harvey Milk Elementary School to teach an after school program. There, we have already taught three classes called Shark Shakedown, Rockin’ Reptiles, and Incredible Insects to our kindergarten through second grade students. We do many fun activities with them such as the shark measurement activity, small groups about tortoises and turtles, and sing “An Insect Has 3 Body Parts” song.
Every time we step into the school we are always welcomed very warmly by the students who are extremely eager to learn and see what kinds of live specimens we have brought for them. There was this one day when John was absent and only Renn, Ivy, I were teaching the stations. The kids remembered John so well, they all decided to chant in unison as we walked in, “WE WANT JON!”
At the end of the class, their enthusiasm strikes us most when we’re about to take out our live specimens such as our Skink, Ham and our Ball Python, Ursula. They line up in a straight line and take turns petting the reptiles with two fingers. It is always satisfying to have youth take such an interest in science. Even after a long day of school, you can always find comfort in working with younger students.
On Monday November 30th, after having our training on natural selection, two interns each showed their own presentation to the interns.
One intern, Rubi, taught us about a special part of science, public health. Rubi is now in college and taught all us interns about public health! She prepared a twenty-minute training for the interns which talked about what public health is, different aspects of public health, epidemiology (study of what is upon the people and factors affecting the health and illness of populations) and the three types of studies public health officials do.
Mark, who does research with the aquarium’s husbandry department, also taught us about the Academy’s Touch Tide pool filtration system. It seemed like just a tank and amazing animals at first, but Mark explained the many complicated and intricate components used to keep the water clean such as UV sterilizers, protein skimmers, and bioballs. UV sterilizers kill various diseases, protein skimmers take out excess food and waste, and bioballs take ammonia that is fatal to the animals and converts them to nitrites that aren’t dangerous.
This was a very unique training; it was led by interns, and included more about science applied in the public, rather than science content. It’s always very interesting to hear about all the various types of careers in the science fields as well as facts about the Academy, especially from interns themselves! As interns, we are always learning about career choices to get a glimpse of what a career in science would be like.
Interns have been working on four projects for the fall semester of the Intern Program. We refer to them as ‘Project Groups,’ which is a small group of interns that work on a project for the Intern Program. We use project groups so that everyone gets to work as a team to reach a common goal and get a defined understanding of a specific subject. Project Groups can work on things like making new stations, learning new skills, or the Intern Program’s newsletter. The four projects that are in progress now are Extreme Mammals, Parasites, Entomology, and Newsletter.
The Extreme Mammals and Parasites Project Group are on their way to becoming new demonstration stations for the interns. We have five stations that we presently teach on the public floor; Food Webs Demonstration, Beetle Dichotomous Key Station, Limb Homology Interactive, Penguin Interpreter, and Touch Tank. All of these stations relate to the Academy’s mission statement to explore, explain, and protect the natural world. The Extreme Mammals group will be about extinct, extreme, or big, California Mammals. The Parasites group will be about different types and kinds of parasites that affect ecosystems. They have and are going through several revisions so that they’re ready to be taught on the floor.
The third project group was created because of our trip to Trinity Alps this past July where we collected insects and other organisms with Roberta Brett from the education department. The Entomology group is helping Roberta identify and pin the specimens collected from this trip. The majority of the specimens are insects, but we also have some spiders and larvae included. Once all of it is sorted through, it will be added to the Academy’s entomology collection. This project also relates to our Beetle Dichotomous Key Station where we help guest identify beetles from different parts of the world, but instead the interns are using their knowledge of the dichotomous key to identify the specimens collected.
Finally there’s Newsletter group. I’m apart of newsletter this semester and have helped put together the fall edition of Spotlight.