Monthly Archives: September 2015

OK Researchers Study Plant Development

Some Oklahoma scientists are teaming with a Michigan State University scientist to study if plants can overcome a nutrient-poor environment. Here are the three scientists who are heading up the project. Be sure to click on page 2 for a news release from the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore with a detailed explanation of the project.

Noble Foundation researchers Wolf Scheible, Ph.D. (center), Michael Udvardi, Ph.D. (left), and Patrick X. Zhao, Ph.D. (right), in collaboration with Michigan State University recently received a four-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Noble Foundation researchers Wolf Scheible, Ph.D. (center), Michael Udvardi, Ph.D. (left), and Patrick X. Zhao, Ph.D. (right), in collaboration with Michigan State University recently received a four-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Tools for Digging up Dinos

Ever wonder what tools paleontologists use for digging up dinos? Wonder no more. Here’s the second video from my trip to the Oklahoma Panhandle. (Here’s the first.) It was part of the ExplorOlogy program sponsored by the Sam Noble Museum. We went to Kenton, OK and Black Mesa. It’s home to a ton of fossils from about 150 million years ago.

Dr. Lindsey Yann of the OSU Center for Health Sciences explains the main kinds of tools they use to dig up those fossils and why it’s important to study Oklahoma’s past.

Dr. Yann is the volunteer coordinator for the Vertebrate Paleontology lab in Tulsa. It’s a great place to volunteer if you want to see fossils up close but can’t make it to the Panhandle.

Thanks again to the scientists at the Sam Noble Museum and the OSU Center for Health Sciences for inviting me on this trip.

Digging for Dinos

Who doesn’t like digging for dinos? I had the chance this summer to go on a real-life, honest to goodness dinosaur dig in the Oklahoma Panhandle. It was in Black Mesa near Kenton, OK. That’s about thisclose to the New Mexico and Colorado state lines.

I was a guest of Dr. Anne Weil of the OSU Center for Health Sciences. (She’s been featured before here, here, and here.) The dig was part of the ExplorOlogy program run through the Sam Noble Museum in Norman. ExplorOlogy is all about helping Oklahoma students and teachers get a hands on look at the wonderful world of science. The kids spend the night in the Sam Noble Museum, they get an up close look at the OKC Zoo, and they go work in the field on actual science expeditions.

The dinosaur dig in Black Mesa is an example. The students were helping dig up some Apatosaurus bones. That was a huge dinosaur most of us grew up calling a Brontosaurus.

In addition to digging up the dinosaurs the students went hiking and took a census of the local insects in Black Mesa (video to come!!).

I can’t thank Dr. Weil and the staff at the Sam Noble Museum enough for letting me tag along.

If you know a student who is interested on going next summer click here to learn more about the program and how you can register.

 

Free Science Workshop for Teachers

Attention all elementary and middle school teachers…here’s a great opportunity to learn about life sciences and do a little fossil hunting.

Janessa Doucette is a PhD candidate at the University of Oklahoma. She’s hosting a free workshop series called Oklahoma Educators Evolve. It’ll take place on Saturday Oct. 17th and Saturday Oct. 24th. The first one is a fossil hunting trip to the rich grounds at White Mound in Sulphur. The second is a workshop in Oklahoma City. You’ll study the nature of science, biological concepts, and paleontology, “We will provide you with a foundation for these concepts, as well as provide you with a variety of ways to successfully teach these topics in your classroom. Participants will leave this workshop with their very own classroom collection of fossils and fossil casts with which to enjoy science learning with their students!”

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The cool thing is these workshops are FREE and you don’t have to be a science teacher!!! Click here to register. Click here to learn about the program.

OKEEflyer

 

Oklahoma Spring Rains Strengthened by Global Warming

Global warming is behind that record setting rainfall we experienced last May.

The Oklahoma Climatological Survey reported a statewide average of 14 inches of rain in May, well above the previous record set in 1941.

It’s no secret that Oklahoma gets a lot of rain in the spring but a newly published study says global warming is the reason why we saw so much of it this year. Dr. Shih-Yu (Simon) Wang, the assistant director of the Utah Climate Center, is the lead author of the study. The Guardian has a good recap.

Global warming acts like a domino effect…a rise in temperatures in one part of the world, impacts rising seawaters in another part of the world, impacts precipitation in another part of the world…and so on. Dr. Wang studied how global warming impacted El Niño.

“El Niño tends to increase late-spring precipitation in the southern Great Plains and this effect has intensified since 1980. There was a detectable effect of anthropogenic global warming in the physical processes that caused the persistent precipitation in May of 2015: Warming in the tropical Pacific acted to strengthen the teleconnection towards North America…”              

You can expect to see many more studies like this linking global warming to natural disasters. Some may continue to deny it but the Earth doesn’t care.