Looking at science with kids’ eyes

The cores were drilled on a Mission Specific Platform and the cores will be split, described, analyzed, and sampled onshore at MARUM and the IODP Bremen Core Repository where the complete Science Team meets for the first time. Two people have snuck into the so-called Onshore Science Party – and they are also on a mission. How are scientists operating to make their discoveries? How how did they become what they are now? And do they get to work on cool stuff like the Chicxulub crater cores? These are the questions Barbara Matyssek (Germany) and Kevin Kurtz (USA) are trying to answer. They work together with the Science Team, give a hand to take samples from the cores, help scanning the core surfaces, and process and measure samples in a variety of analytical labs.

Barbara helps out in the Sampling Lab


Barbara and Kevin are ECORD´s Education Officers. They share the answers the scientists provide to their questions with classrooms and the general public. Kevin uses a laptop to take school classes in other places of the world on virtual tours through the giant fridge where the cores are stored and then to the labs. He shows the steps of the cores’ path and explains what the scientists are hoping to learn from them. Boys and girls are also able to ask Kevin and the scientists questions. They have shown a particular interest in learning about asteroids, the extinction of the dinosaurs, what was it like on the drilling platform, and why did you want to become a scientist.

The focus of Barbara’s project is how to find your career in geosciences. In interviews with members of the science party, she lets the researchers talk about their field and their professional developments. And one thing becomes clear quite quickly: it is fascination and scientific curiosity that drives all of them.

The education officers work together with the science party, and even give a hand in the lab with simple, but neccessary tasks. Being part of the team at the Onshore Science Party that also includes a variety of ECORD and IODP staff, the Education officers gain totally new insights for both their professional and personal lives. “Being involved means to participate in the fascinating process of new scientific discoveries within the high standards of IODP procedures of the Onshore Science Party”, says Barbara.

“The questions the kids ask are great and often very thoughtful and it is rewarding connecting their enthusiasm and curiosity to the enthusiasm and curiosity of the scientists”, says Kevin. The students’ questions range from how do scientists determine the age of the rocks to what important perspectives and information can an expedition like Chicxulub offer for their future

After a couple of days Barbara and Kevin get as excited as the scientists when a new core is split and described or smaller subsamples being looked at closely under the microscope.

Barbara filming micropaleontoligist Jan


Both scientists and education officers benefit from each other while working together. The education officers on one side get insight into research processes in general and the exciting results of this expedition in detail. The scientists on their part need to emerge from the details of their research objectives and try to explain their work and results that children will understand. Both Sonia Tikoo-Schantz (USA) and Michael Whalen (USA) were excited about the high quality questions of the school classes. Plus they get a different perspective on what they do, says Sonia, “It reminds me what a cool job I actually have”.

Paleomagnetist Sonia and sedimentologist Michael taking questions from the class


Written by ESO Outreach

Images: UPrange@ECORD_IODP



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