2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


SAMMONS, James, 271 Hamilton-Allenton Rd, North Kingstown, RI 02852, MURRAY, Daniel, Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, 116 WOODWARD HALL, Kingston, RI 02881, PETERFREUND, Alan R., Peterfreund Consulting, 30 Boltwood Walk, Amherst, MA 01002 and KORTZ, Karen M., Physics Department, Community College of Rhode Island, 1762 Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln, RI 02865, jimsa@cox.net

The essence of the National Aeolian Detritus Project (NADP), an NSF and NASA funded project, is disarmingly simple—what falls out of the sky and what does it mean? Middle school through college students collect airborne particulates utilizing readily available equipment and simple experimental protocols. They identify these materials using commonly available microscopes and share their results with other schools throughout the United States.

The open-ended nature of this project brings genuine scientific inquiry to many curricula and levels of instruction. Middle school life science students might identify pollen to map local tree populations. High school earth science students might identify soil particulate to study soil erosion. Undergraduate astronomy students might search for micrometeorites. Our flat sheet collectors are not specific and have picked up material from microscopic Mongolian illite particles and carbon balls from coal-fired steam plants, to macroscopic insect body parts.

Our website, www.skydust.org, serves as the project control tower. There, visitors learn about the project, view extensive how-to information, and communicate with project leaders. They will also be able to view our particle image catalog, coordinate multi-site collections, or request special analysis services. Through site visits and teleconferences, we assist new sites as they develop valid research designs within their instructional area. We will also arrange for a local volunteer expert to assist the new site.

Currently six sites from coast to coast are collecting and identifying airborne particulate. Another nine sites will be active soon. Although our current sites are school-based, the project is open to other groups. We have inquiries from three planetariums and a science museum. Additionally, the intent is for this project to become a DLESE resource.