City Science Quest - GSU geoscience missions – Atlanta Science Festival

City Science Quest

Georgia State University Geoscience Missions

Know Your Watershed

Atlanta has amazing greenspaces and parks to explore including many with lovely walking paths that cross or go along streams. What’s the deal with that water? Where did it come from? Where is it going? There are 14 river basins and 52 major watersheds in Georgia. There are many more local watersheds… so start by getting to know what’s in your neighborhood.

  1. Think about your favorite greenspace or park with a creek near you. Then look up the name of that local watershed by searching for the location here: watersheds by address
  2. Next enter your home address to look up your local watershed! Is it the same for both places or is it different?
  3. Return to the GooseChase app and tap “Enter Answer” to type the names of the watersheds you find.

To learn more about why watersheds are important and to determine if the water where you live eventually drains into the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean, visit the links below to take this challenge a step further and read up on Atlanta’s watersheds. Fun Fact: Dr. Sarah Ledford from Georgia State University studies beaver dams and their impact on local watersheds. Her research team is studying to what extent beaver dams may help urban streams function like stormwater ponds. Do they help slow the surge of water after a storm event that can lead to flooding? Let us know if you spot a beaver dam near you! We love data!

Slugs, Snails, and Under Pails

What do you find if you look under a log or a flower pot? Might you see any slimy friends? Ready to discover who they are?

Dr. Christy Visaggi at Georgia State University studies land snails and slugs across urban greenspaces in Atlanta. You can see the diversity of what has already been observed in the city by exploring her “Atlanta SLIME” project on iNaturalist linked in the below resource list. She and her students are in the process of documenting species new to the region as well as exploring differences in local communities due to natural environmental variation and human influence on habitat quality.

Go on your own mini adventure and see if you can spot these slow-moving beasts in your own backyard. Hint: Look under rocks, logs, or flower pots! Under a pile of leaf litter at the base of a tree, at the end of logs, or along the bark are good places to explore as well. Take a photo of your find via the GooseChase app.

For more fun: Get the iNaturalist app, and upload your observation from your camera roll. Try to identify your find using the “What did you see?” option that makes suggestions for you. It’s best to photograph snails not only in viewing the shell from above but getting a zoomed in view of the antennae (tentacles) as well. Likewise for snails, photographs of the underside and shell opening are helpful for IDs. Slugs are easier to identify but photographs from above as well as from the side can be particularly useful. Don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards. Then, “share” your observation in iNaturalist and it will be automatically added to the Atlanta SLIME project! Don’t worry if you’re not sure about your ID, snail and slug enthusiasts from around the world will contribute their knowledge as needed to help identify your find. Discoveries from citizen scientists are always welcome!

Weathering in Action!

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty wasn’t always green? So what happened? Thank weathering and look for it in action by you!

Have you ever heard of the phrase “wear and tear” – well, we see examples of this in nature as well as in many aspects of our lives! From that rusted bicycle to the cracks in the sidewalk to the lichens covering the surface of nearby rock exposures such as at Arabia Mountain.

Can you find an example of physical, chemical, or biological weathering near you? Hint: Look closely at your surroundings! Outdoors, indoors, weathering is all around! Learn more about the different types of weathering.

Return to the GooseChase app and take a photo of weathering in action. In the caption, identify the type as physical, chemical, or biological, and think about how you might explain the process of what happened.

For more fun: Find examples of all 3 types, and ask yourself if the biological weathering involved chemical or physical processes or both! Fun Fact: Weathering is important to the Georgia economy as it is the process responsible for the development of clays called kaolin that are mined all along the Fall Line for many different uses. Dr. Crawford Elliott at Georgia State University studies the minerals in these clays that have weathered from the rocks in the Piedmont region (where we are in Atlanta). Visit the additional links below to learn more about kaolin and Dr. Elliott’s work with students that recently led to the exciting discovery of rare-earth elements in these deposits!

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