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Monday January 9, 2017 at 9:02am Age: 2 yrs
Category: Otisville Elementary, District


As winter moved in, and snow and ice returned to the landscape, fifth graders at Otisville hosted a special visitor to learn about glaciers, one of the world’s most fascinating phenomena. Glacial ice covers one tenth of the planet and stores 75 percent of its fresh water. Glaciers hold the snow and ice that survived last summer’s melt, as well as the remnants of past ice ages.

That’s just some of the knowledge Sophie Goliber, a 2013 Minisink Valley graduate, and student of geology at the University of Buffalo (UB), came to share with Otisville’s fifth grade classes over the course of two days, when she returned home for the holidays. Sophie is the president of the undergraduate geology club at UB and is involved in planetary geology outreach to school districts in the Buffalo area. Recently, Sophie was also a presenter at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans, the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world.

“The study of geology changes one’s perspective of the world into a global view where everything is interconnected,” Sophie said. “I especially enjoy giving students the information and showing them how to do their own research, so they can arrive at their own conclusions.” 

Working in teams, as scientists do, Otisville’s students emulated the flow of ice on glaciers by dropping homemade slime atop a ramp built from PCV pipe. The ramps, like glacial beds, came in different angles, widths, and surface types, from coarse to oily. Using the scientific method – and practicing collaborative and leadership skills – each team asked different questions, tested the variables that slowed or accelerated the “ice” flow in the glacier and formulated if/then statements. Following their experiments the teams came together to share their results and pose follow up questions.

“The students were really interested in the subject and engaged in the experiments,” Sophie said. Then again, Sophie’s evocative language throughout the presentation was hard to escape: “Glaciers are lazy. They find and follow the path of least resistance. They form on land, but they can flow out to sea and become icebergs.”

“This was fun and now I’m more interested in science and geology,” said Olivia, in Mrs. Louey’s class. “I really liked this activity because we got to do it ourselves and imagine the ice flow down the glacier,” said Lara. “The slime was awesome!” Anthony wanted to add.

The Otisville Elementary School wishes to thank Sophie Goliber for the generous time and exciting knowledge she shared with the fifth grade classes.

“I hope to continue to inspire students to get involved in science. More importantly, I want to encourage them to ask questions, to take charge of their education, and their future,” Sophie said.