For the past year, I’ve been a loyal follower of the USGS public lecture series in Menlo Park. On the 4th Thursday of every month, they put on a wide variety of scientific presentations, from the exploration of Mars to the effect of climate change on western forests. I’m just amazed at the breadth of scientific endeavors at the USGS: earthquakes & volcanoes, climate change, water quality & resources, marine geology, energy resources, and the San Francisco Bay ecosystem. All this from a facility I hardly knew existed.

This month brings a special treat. Every 3 years, the USGS opens its door for an Open House on May 16 and 17th with a wide variety of programs. There will be a number of interactive exhibits for kids & adults, along with a “Ask-a-Scientist” style lectures. Did I mention the live music? Bluegrass, Jazz, even a Celtic Scientist band (who knew such things existed?).

Here are my picks for the weekend:

Mapping California Coast State Waters

Examine maps of the sea floor off Half Moon Bay, CA, and learn how such maps are being made for the entire California coast. See a camera sled — a large metal frame holding video and still cameras that are towed just above the sea floor to collect images used to “groundtruth” the mapping data. View sea-floor images collected by the camera sled.

Where is my Copper Deposit? An Underground Mine Tour

Examine the geology of a copper deposit in an underground mine and help determine where to dig next.

Gold Panning*

Learn how to pan for gold and try your hand at panning at this “pan and release” exhibit.

Natural Science Geopardy*

A unique opportunity for you to test your natural science knowledge. Play a game of Geopardy and learn science facts of Geography, Hydrology, Geology, and more.

Do soils breathe? The role of soils and CO2 in a warming world

Did you know that the microbes in soil breathe out CO2, just like people do?  Come use some scientific equipment to measure how much CO2 can released by soils and see how plants take up some of that same CO2.  Then learn more about the role of CO2 in regulating the global climate and see what makes the soils of Alaska so interesting to USGS scientists.

* Designed for kids

USGS Menlo Park Open House 10 am – 4 PM on May 16th and 17th. For more information, visit the USGS Open House website.

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Go Go Geo! USGS Open House, May 16 and 17 7 May,2009Kishore Hari


Kishore Hari

Kishore Hari is the founder Down to a Science, a science cafe based in San Francisco. He is most passionate about making science discussion fun and accessible for adults, the kind of discussion that leads to positive change in the world. Professionally, he is a water treatment consultant in San Francisco. Originally from Buffalo, NY, Kishore came to the Bay Area to get a chemistry degree from UC Berkeley. He now specializes in residential water treatment, working with companies such as PUR, Brita, and Camelbak.

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