Get down-to-earth with the Department of Earth Sciences 

Geodes are important geological records, and their type and prevalence indicate geological processes from millions of years ago. Geode smashing and analysis was one of may activities at this year’s Earth Science Fair hosted by the UConn Department of Earth Sciences. Photo by Katriona McCarthy on Unsplash.

The Department of Earth Sciences brings sustainability to the next level with their exciting Earth Science Fair! During the month of October, higher education across the globe celebrates coexisting on Earth and the University of Connecticut’s earth science community did just that. 

On Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., UConn students and families attended the fair to learn more about UConn’s earth science program. Through various engaging activities and lessons, attendees also learned more about geoscience and the environment from the past, present and future. They explored the Earth by making their way through each of the eight stops: Climate Demo & Ice Cores, Microscope Demonstration, Mineral ID, Geode Smashing, Soil Cores, Connecticut Bedrock/Tectonics, Stream Table and Make Your Own Fossils.“There is such a large variety of sciences,” said Michael Werchadlo, an attendee and father of two sons whom he also brought to the fair. 

Microscopic Demonstration 

At this first stop, attendees got to witness a collection of fossils from different specimens. Some of the animal and plant fossils on display date back millions of years. The Department of Earth Sciences showed off their horn coral, which was important to reefs 250 millions years ago, as well as their ammonite, a common type of mollusk found 66 millions years ago and went extinct when the dinosaurs did. 

Geode Smashing 

While some people smash pumpkins during the month of October, the Earth Science Department smashes geodes. During this second stop, guests were given a mallet, safety glasses and a geode of their choice by one of the students in charge. The geode was then placed into a sock for precautionary measure and smashed away! The geode broke into pieces, revealing a beautiful quartz that attendees were able to take home with them. 

Mineral ID 

If you are someone interested in crystals, this stop would sure catch your attention. At this third activity, attendees identified the name of each rock based on the hint of where they can be found. There was fluorite (found in toothpaste), pyrite (a resemblance of real gold), graphite (found in lead), mica (found in makeup products), various types of quartz and so much more! 

Fossils are an interesting peek into the past both from an evolutionary perspective and a geological one. Making model fossils was one of may activities at this year’s Earth Science Fair hosted by the UConn Department of Earth Sciences. Photo by Kvnga on Unsplash.

Make Your Own Fossils 

At this fourth stop, attendees had the opportunity to create their very own fossils. Through the use of clay, fake leaves, dinosaur tracks and shells, everyone was given a sense of what was left behind millions of years ago. The impressions that were made represented the fossils left by past specimens. 

Connecticut Bedrock/Tectonics 

Did you ever want to know what rocks or crystals make up the ground we walk on? At this next stop, people analyzed a map that uncovered the types of rocks underneath Connecticut grounds, with lines designating different terrains. The Hebron Gneiss, composed of andesine, quartz, biotite and more, can be found on Storrs campus. Attendees were also given insight into the Earth’s tectonic plates through the use of globes. 

Soil Cores, Climate Demo & Ice Cores and Stream Table 

These final three stops correspond to the soil and organic material that make up the environment we live in. Attendees witnessed physical records of human changes to the environment from past to present day. From soil changes to climate changes, people were able to better understand the different layers of our Earth. 

The Department of Earth Sciences worked extremely hard to make this an overall entertaining experience for anyone thinking about majoring in Earth science or simply want to learn more about what it has to offer. Through an additional climate stimulation and a final volcano demonstration, students of this department provided a deeper look into vast changes and processes of our Earth.  

The reason for this science fair was the promotion of the Earth sciences as an area of study. “A lot of people at UConn aren’t very aware that this is something that they can do,” said Kristen Newman, a seventh-semester geoscience major. Earth science ultimately became a fun experience for everyone who attended, as they left in awe. Elizabeth Furman, a third-semester geoscience major, also said, “I get to learn about all of the extinct animals that used to live on this planet and how they lived and how they behaved, which I think is a really cool science.” 

To learn more about UConn’s Department of Earth Sciences and the interesting information they have to offer, visit  

“Everyone who works here is really passionate so definitely try to absorb as much information as you can from everyone you can,” said Sal Mistry, first-semester geoscience major. 

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