Earth Sciences Fair sparks interest in children

The first Earth Sciences Fair on Saturday, Oct. 15 was hosted by the geoscience department and held at Beach Hall. (Ruohan Li/The Daily Campus)  

The geoscience department held their first Earth Sciences Fair on Saturday at Beach Hall, bringing together children, parents, undergraduates, doctoral students and professors to learn about the earth sciences.

At the fair, visitors could smash geodes, see a drone demonstration, touch fossils, learn about their town’s landscape, learn about national parks and for the youngest children, play a game of mini-golf through geoscience tools of the trade.

Most of the attractions were outside on the Great Lawn, but there was also a timeline was stretched across the entire floor on the second floor of Beach Hall. The timeline detailed the history of the Earth dated back millions of years.

Kelly Flannery, a seventh-semester geosciences major, said she thought everyone had a really great time.

“Immediately we noticed that there were so many children,” Flannery said. “So many of the kids are already so knowledgeable about Earth’s systems that I didn’t know about as a child.”

Flannery gave candy and sticker prizes to any visitors who guessed a national park based on its picture. She would then tell the winner about the park’s location, features and age.

“I think learning about geosciences is especially important now that our generation is faced with the most change,” Flannery said. “The start of any science field is to know the big changes in the rocks, landscape and earth. It’s great to foster that interest in children before they lose it.”

William Ouimet, a geology and geography professor, gave a drone demonstration across the Great Lawn. Equipped with a camera, an iPhone and a television, he was able to show the audience a real time bird’s eye view of the center of campus.

Ouimet also exhibited a core a long, thin, pipeline of dirt, rock and sand that shows Earth’s progression over time.

I think learning about geosciences is especially important now that our generation is faced with the most change.
— seventh-semester geosciences major, Kelly Flannery

Although most of the professors and students at the fair were from the geosciences department, the geosciences field is interdisciplinary.

“It’s great to see kids engaging and see their eyes lit up by rocks and putt-putt,” Madeline Nicholson, a seventh-semester anthropology major said. “It’s interesting to see the magic of learning happen when you’ve been dull to it for so long especially during midterm week.”

At the fair, Nicholson was illustrating a stone tool that could be used for hunting or eating. Ideally, the illustration could be published in a doctoral student’s thesis to show those who had not seen the tool firsthand what it looked like.

On the same afternoon, UConn hosted the Connecticut Archeology fair in the Wilbur Cross South Reading Room. Visitors were able to go from one fair to another while learning about similar topics, Rebecca Vanderleest, a geosciences Ph.D. student said.

Claire Galvin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at