Foram, fiveam, sixam???

This picture shows one of a many-step process in finding out how many and what kind of BUGS may be in a core sample. By bugs we mean nanofossils, microfossils – in other words, ancient, once-living organisms that we cannot see with the naked eye. My latest sample from this “mud washing” is in the oven – yeah, it looks like a few grains of sand, but under the microscope magnified up to 400x, you see an abundance of dead stuff! One of our instructors, Leslie Sautter, is an expert in foraminifera studies. The data is used to understand climate change – a real and significant process that is warming our Earth. I have always been fascinated with doing macro-photography as it is in itself, an art form! The colors, shadows, designs all take on a meaning of their own. I use these types of photos with my 5th grade students just to get them to THINK. What could it be? Where would you find it? What does is do? Anything to get their imagination going. When my sample is dry tomorrow I will carefully pour the grains into a special type of microscope slide, then view it and try to identify the types of organisms. The scopes on board are connected to a computer with a camera built in, so once you find a sample you like, you take a picture of it. You then transfer those to your flashdrive and bingo – it’s time to print and share. There may be 10-15 different species in one small sample. So, next time you are walking through sand or mud – be careful. It may have a very significant story to tell by the bugs that once lived it in! Thanks, Leslie, for sharing your expertise and I hope your grants are plentiful so you may continue your work with college students in South Carolina.