Arts and Entertainment

Ask a Scientist, visual displays, educational trails set for Earth Day event

College of Earth and Mineral Sciences groups plan activities to highlight better understanding of our planet

Fossils such as this fossilized seashell that was invaded by corals and worm tubes will be on display Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at the "Ask a Scientist"event on the lawn of the HUB-Robeson Center. The booth is part of an Earth Day Celebration at Penn State. Credit: David Kubarek / Penn StateCreative Commons

The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS), in keeping with its roots, is rolling out the green carpet for those interested in celebrating the planet with various Earth Day events this Sunday, April 22. 

“This is a great opportunity to learn more about different environmental issues especially since so many of those issues are directly related to things happening locally and globally,” said Beth Hoagland, a doctoral student in geosciences and member of We Are for Science (WAFS) and the Association of Women Geosciences (AWG). “It’ll also allow younger people to see the broad range of different career opportunities within science, especially environmental sciences.” 

Events are part of the larger Earth Day Celebration, coordinated by Eco Action and the Sustainability Institute, and anchored at the HUB lawn but spread out to various locations across University Park. Find more about their event online at

Here’s a look at some of the events and activities being offered from 2 to 6 p.m. All activities are suitable for all ages and are open to the public. 

  • WAFS is sponsoring an “Ask a Scientist" booth on the HUB-Robeson Center (HUB) lawn where graduate students from diverse areas of science will be available to chat about everything from climate change to astronomy to meteorology to entomology. There will be a variety of hands-on activities for all ages, including an interactive stream table where you can learn more about how streams and rivers shape the landscape.

  • WAFS also will be sponsoring “Earth Day Walks” around campus. These walks will include:

  • “EcoArt Walk” to the Palmer Art Museum and EMS Museum and Art Gallery

  • “Living Fossils Plant Walk” that begins at the Community Garden seed bank with stops at six different ancient plants 

  • “We Are For Science Walk” that begins at the “Ask a Scientist” booth and ends at the Millennium Sciences Complex

  • “Geology Walk” that begins at the AWG booth and ends at the EMS museum. 

For an interactive map of the walks and other events, visit Print maps will also be available at the WAFS booth.

  • AWG will also have a booth on the HUB lawn featuring an interactive stratigraphic map highlighting central Pennsylvania geology. Here, participants can learn about the ancient history of Pennsylvania lying beneath our valleys and ridges. You’ll never look at road-cuts along our state routes the same way again! They also will be hosting an ochre (earth-derived-pigment) painting activity.

Claire Cleveland, a doctoral student in geosciences and member of AWG, said it’s a great way for people to understand the stories told beneath us. People will gain a better understanding of how Pennsylvania’s rolling hills were created during a collision with Africa and how the region was once buried beneath a shallow sea.

Her love of geology is what drove Cleveland to return to school after working at a small resort town in Southern Utah.

“I absolutely fell in love with the stories that you could tell, because in Utah the rocks are exposed,” Cleveland said. “You would walk by and see the fossils, and you would say ‘oh, this used to be an ocean.’ You're seeing, in some cases, a billion and a half years of history, which is just crazy, so telling those stories is really fascinating to me”

  • AWG and the EMS museum will also be co-sponsoring an ochre painting activity. Children and adults will be able to make their own paints, try out their art skills and learn about ochre pigments in the museum, located on the ground floor in the Deike Building on the University Park campus. Ochre pigments have been used as paints and stains for hundreds of thousands of years. Artisans carefully prepare ochre pigments from iron oxide deposits to create an array of colors from yellows to reds to browns. Geoscientists trace the trade routes of ancient peoples by fingerprinting iron oxide deposits around the globe.  

Cleveland said Earth Day is an annual event where anyone can learn new things.

Last Updated April 19, 2018