UMaine News

Penobscot float trip

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In the School of Earth and Climate Sciences’ Earth Systems class students participate in hands-on learning in the field and on the river.

Transcript

Sean Smith:
The Penobscot float trip was designed to give the students a firsthand look at the river and try to get the experience of watching how the water’s flowing in different directions in the river. Also how it effects the structure of the bottom and how that relates to the water supply, the sediment supply, and the water shed in general.

They are going to take that experience and develop a response to the hypothesis.

Since the last glacial maximum the Penobscot River has evolved in to a sediment supply limited system. How would you sort that out? How would you test that hypothesis? What kind of things in the river are important to that outcome?

Hayden Pearson:
There are a couple different graduate projects. For me, it’s actually really neat being about to come here just as a transfer in. Then you’re doing all of this research. You’re right in the middle of it. You can actually see results of what they’ve been working on.

Peter Koons:
You can have a mosaic of how the river changes, too. That basically is recording the roughness that Sean was talking about.

Hayden Pearson:
It’s really neat as an undergrad to be able to help them with that research and see that some of the stuff that you did kind of relates to a bigger picture that also helps the scientific community as a whole.

Peter Koons:
We started in the year as 200 to accomplish something that I’ve always wanted to do, which is to try to get away from simply feeding the students content all the way through.

Sean Smith:
That’s created by long-term processes that have shaped the bedrock and the topography of the landscape.

Peter Koons:
We wanted to give the students an idea of why it is that those of us that go into science actually do, what it is that’s exciting about it.

Sean Smith:
Partial support for the activities was provided by the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions and the National Science Foundation.

The protection of water quality in an aquatic habitat is really important to our communities and to the state of Maine for a number of reasons. It’s inspiring in terms of having a role in sustainability for future generations.

Peter Koons:
It’s huge. Yeah, it really is. I mean you can see it in the students, anyway. They enjoy being on the river.

Laura Mattas:
It was absolutely fantastic. It’s a beautiful state. It was a lot of fun. It was a very great experience. It definitely is going to help out in actual fieldwork when I move on to my own projects.

Sean Smith:
Times rho, g and h.

Laura Mattas:
We were able to see the equations that Sean had given us originally and how water actually responds as the equations do predict. We were able to apply that also to the different models we’ve seen in labs.

Hayden Pearson:
I’m a very visual learner. I like to be hands-on. I like to be outside. When you go out and you look at what they’re showing you, you can see how it directly correlates to what you’ve been learning in class. It’s not just the book learning. You’re getting to go out and you’re getting to see what it would actually look like in the landscapes that you’re working on.

Peter Koons:
The Earth is a really dynamic place and because it’s dynamic things change on many different time scales, but it’s very difficult to teach that, I think. This, I think, gives the impression that there are multiple different time scales that are relevant to the kinds of behavior that they’re observing.

Laura Mattas:
This department is absolutely phenomenal. I couldn’t be happier being here. Wherever you’re interested in specifically you get that and then you get broader experience with every single division in the department. I think it’s the greatest school I could have possibly come to.

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