WILKES-BARRE — Carli Tabone laughed but she didn’t take the ribbing passively. “You lift this!” she shouted after fellow students chided her handling of a 10-pound sledgehammer.
Her first few swings at a square of metal on the grass of Wilkes University’s quadrangle went wide, thudding to the ground and failing to register on the computer where most of the other students gathered far across grassy expanse, near the Cohen Science Center building. It was the hub for multiple, 30-minute experiments students from area high schools took a stab at during Wilkes’ annual Earth and Environmental Science Day on Friday.
The Wyoming Area Secondary School freshman’s aim grew true, and by her last swing, she was making some pretty big waves on the computer connecting with the hammer by a long wire. Between computer and sledge, a string of intermittent seismic monitors sat on the ground.
“It measures the seismic wave at different times,” geology assistant professor Bobby Karimi explained after the students headed off for a lunch break. The computer takes that data and makes a sophisticated visual representation of the whole, unseen thing.
The representation isn’t perfect, Karimi confessed, because of all the ambient noise, such as cars on nearby streets. So the hammer wasn’t the best percussive instrument. “We could have used explosives,” he smiled. “But I think the university would frown on that.”
For most of the morning and part of the afternoon, students took turns at lessons with titles like “How to Drown a Drone,” “Fossils in Pennsylvania,” “Oil and Water Don’t Mix” and this one, dubbed “Stop, Hammertime!”
Despite her lament the hammer “was really heavy,” Tabone smiled through the whole thing, and decided it was one of her two favorite demonstrations so far, along with the fossils.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, Karimi gets a little annoyed at the ribbing geology gets on the hit TV show, “The Big Bang Theory.”
“I was just working on something with some students,” he recalled, “and one said, ‘This is really hard.’”
The science of rocks is hard? C’mon, your practically writing the jokes for them.
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish