Showing the scientific live to school children

Lucan Mameri & Manuel Thieme – Géosciences Montpellier, FR – March 2018

The french school system includes several mandatory internships for pupils. These three to five days long “stage d’observation” give children the opportunity to discover the economic and professional world, to personally experience work environments and to help them orient themselves in an ever more diverse and specialized job market.

Yohel, a 14 year old high-school student, decided to visit Geosciences Montpellier after a teacher sparked his interest for field work, natural hazards, environmental and climate research and thin section microscopy. After being shown around by several members of the lab for one week in March we – Lucan and Manuel – spent the morning of Friday to introduce him to our research topics and the machinery the lab uses.

Lucan explains his PhD with the aid of interactive 3-D models.

We kicked off by presenting state of the art numerical models of shear zones, which are the key work of Lucan’s PhD. Since the models Lucan uses are based upon equations coming from rock squeezers (experimentalists deforming rocks in the lab), we had a good link to Manuel’s work – high temperature and high pressure deformation of Olivine, a mineral common in Earth’s mantle. We think it is a really happy coincidence to have two PhD’s with so closely connected projects in one office and therefore the possibility to relate scientific collaboration to people.

After the rather theoretical start – although Lucan’s colorful 3-D models are always an eye catcher! – we got a bit more physical with a tour through the labs of Geosciences Montpellier. The electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) and regular scanning electron microscopes (SEM) were especially fascinating for Yohel. We were able to demonstrate the functions of the machines and actually touch and play with them, thanks to an old electron microscope that now serves as an exhibit.

Manuel and Lucan show Yohel around the electron microscopy lab.

Since Yohel already saw the high-pressure lab where Manuel spends most of his time away from the computer, we finished with a demonstration of the laser ablation – inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (LA-ICP MS), a machine for isotope analysis, and the adjacent sample preparation lab. Alida, our project manager, helped us by providing pictures and even more so by becoming interested and asking questions herself.

We hope we could motivate Yohel to think about a future in Geology, but at the very least to stay as curious, inquisitive and open minded as we got to know him. We wish him the best of luck for his future!

Yohel, Alida, Lucan and Manuel are getting an introduction to mass spectroscopy from Delphine.




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