This week I am on the road. I am presenting the Keynote speech on Friday for the Utah Science Teachers Association conference, and some friends at Brigham Young University asked me to come up a couple of days early, so I would have time to talk with some of their students and faculty.
The drive up on Tuesday was marvelous, with plenty of opportunities for taking photos. I decided to take the scenic route up Johnson Canyon, which meant lots of back roads, which let me drive slowly, and enjoy the scenery.
Along the way, I came across a partially frozen pond with a couple of Bald Eagles standing at the edge of the ice. I stopped to take some photos, and to watch them for a while. One of the most interesting things was that they were breaking off pieces of the ice with their beaks. They would drop the piece, examine it, and then break off another piece. I was not close enough to see why they were doing this, and wonder if they were looking for fish and other things that might have been frozen in the ice of the shallow water.
Continuing on my journey, I enjoyed watching the geology change as I drove north. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument got its name from a series of cliffs that form the "stairs" of the staircase. It starts south of Kanab, with the Chocolate Cliffs. The next step up is the Vermillion Cliffs, which are just north of Kanab. Next are the White Cliffs, which you have probably seen in many of my photos.
Continuing north, you find the Grey Cliffs, and then the Pink Cliffs, seen in the photo below.
After a wonderful drive, I collapsed in my hotel to be ready for the fun at BYU. My day at Brigham Young University was truly filled with wonder. If you are a fan of the TV show, "The Big Bang Theory", imagine spending the day having fun with Sheldon and Leonard. Then multiply that by a hundred people. I got to play in their acoustic rooms, one where you walk on a wire mesh floor, suspended in the center of a huge room where the walls, ceiling, and floor are all covered with strange shapes of material that absorbs sound. Standing in the center, there was no sound, except the sounds of my body as my heart beat, and I breathed. There was a microphone stand at the center of the room, and I found that by closing my eyes, and snapping my fingers, I could use the echoes from the microphone to tell where it was.
We visited several labs where amazing research was taking place. I was surprised to find that the undergraduate students were conducting research that would usually be reserved for grad students. The students were kind enough to explain some of their research, and I followed as well as I could. At times, I felt like Penny listening to Sheldon and Leonard talk science, but I was in paradise. I talked with the students and faculty, sharing demonstration ideas, and even managed to surprise them a couple of times.
The most fun of all was the time I had to sit and chat with the students. Their enthusiasm for exploring science was delightful, making me wish I was close enough to visit more often.
Today I am resting and working to get ready for tomorrow's USTA conference.