Thursday, March 13, 2008

Grand Canyon floods

...or at least the man made ones. Last week the Bureau of Reclamation opened up the jet tubes at Glen Canyon and increase the discharge from near 10,000 cfs to 41,000 cfs in an attempt to mimic natural high water spring runoff. The park service is hoping that they get some beach aggregation by moving sand from the stream bed onto the banks and make some sand bars. All this sounds like a fun experiment and I certainly would not mind being set on beach somewhere in the canyon to do some data collecting (sure beats being in a lab) but what I love is all the public accessible data that is created by these events.

In the summers I teach classes to K-12 teachers where we discuss teaching geology, at all levels, even in the elementary grades. I will put the graph above on the screen and ask them what happened. This country has a lot of great K-12 science teachers, but unfortunately many of them have little experience working with real life data or at least data that didn't come from the book. These public data sites are awesome and can be used to teach something at every level. Needless to say, the high school teachers have a slightly different take home message that the pre-school teachers do but they all leave saying that they can use something in their classes.
After a day spent in a lecture hall, we get ready for the field portion of the course where we canoe through some incredible Utah canyons, trying to be particles traveling with the current towards the ocean and coming face to face with some incredible geology...after all, somebody has to do it.

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