Monday, January 19, 2015

STEMGirl Part 2

Yesterday I had a wonderful exciting experience.  I was on my running route on my little beach here in North Plymouth, and after my one mile stretch at my usual stretching spot, I noticed something out of place, something unusual.  It was a big blob of rockish stuff that had once been molten.  It appeared to have been picked up and dragged onto the beach by the ice from last week's cold spell.  It looked like it had been the water for awhile since it was quite degraded.  I could see iron and sulphur and all sorts of interesting colors and textures.  Could it be a meteorite?
Unlimited potential
It was pretty heavy; I guessed around 10 pounds as I carried it to the flat rock I use as a canvas for impromptu beach artworks to snap this photo with my phone.  I was excited.
   Most people would have left it on the beach, but I had to take this baby home and find out more about it.  As I lugged it along the shore I ran into a women who is often out there collecting fossils.  I showed it to her, and she thought it was awesome.  She mentioned that some meteorites have gold in them. Suddenly my find became even more exciting!
   The weight of it had slowed my run into a brisk walk where I would alternate carrying it on my right or left shoulder, and then cradle it for a few minutes in one arm or the other, switching the burden as I ascended the half-mile and 114 feet above sea level to my house at the Top of the World.  I mention this because this morning I have exquisite pain in both biceps.
My potential meteorite at home
Once home, I gave it a good weighing and measuring.  It actually weighed 15.75 lbs, and was approximately 8x10" with a girth of around 23/24 inches.  I posted it on Facebook and got all sorts of people excited.  Then, I started my investigation.
   I found a few meteorite sites such as this So, you think you found a meteorite? and this one: Meteorite Market and this one: Meteorite Home Tests.  
   My first test was the magnet test.  We used to have all sorts of strong magnets around here, and I couldn't find one of them so I popped down to Benny's and got some of those small round ones.  I put a magnet on a piece of tape, and moved it near my subject whereupon the magnet, attracted to my piece of potential, swung over and stuck.  It passed the magnet test!
   Next I had to ask with magnifying glass in hand: Did it have Chondrules? Chondrules are small, colorful, grain-like spheres that occur in most stone meteorites. Chondrules are not found in earth rocks. There were a few colorful grain-like spheres and one that looked like a mini BB, but I wasn't so sure they were actual chondrules.
   And then there was this little problem of vesicles - holes.  My blob of previously molten whatever had way too many holes in it to be a meteorite. :-(  So, I took it outside and smacked it a few times with a sledge hammer.  It broke apart easily showing me a punky core of iron and such.
   It was not a meteorite; it was a meteorwrong -  a big blob of slag likely an artifact from the old brick kiln nearby.
My MeteorWrong
Was I disappointed?  No, I was not.  The discovery, excitement, investigation, and pure potential were worth its weight in gold.  I had found a treasure as valuable as the arrowhead I found on that same beach 20 years ago that caused my imagination to go off on the journey that resulted in Nelson Telson - The Story of a True Blue Blood.

The treasure is in the potential, the springboard to imagination, the star stuff that dreams are made on.
   My MeteorWrong is the Right Stuff sitting out on the back porch calling to my imagination saying, "I have a story to tell, and you will help me tell it."
   So, when we talk about this STEM business and getting girls excited about science, what we are really talking about is creating a sense of wonder and curiosity, an attitude of openness, of limitless possibilities.  
   In today's world of school, scheduled activities, and electronics, kids often don't have the freedom to explore, experience and imagine outside in the natural world.  For STEM Girl initiatives to work, kids need to be fortified with a good helping of AWE PIE:

You really want to get your mind blown?  Check this out:  NASA releases largest picture ever taken.

1 comment:

  1. Stay tuned for the next installment - STEM to STEAM.