Geology, geography departments open new display

Tony Elias-Cadena, Contributing Writer

The geology and geography departments unveiled a new mineral and meteorite display Thursday in the Physical Science Building.

The mineral and meteorite display showcases a wide variety of Earth minerals and two space meteorite fragments, as well as a list of accomplishments to NASA geologist Harrison Schmitt.

Geology instructor Jake Crandall presented a majority of the display and said it is meant for a wide variety of people.

“I think it’s just a multi-faceted approach; it’s a resource for students and for people in our community,” Crandall said. “It’s for students, for the community and for the college.”

Crandall was a part of the research team at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale that identified a meteorite fragment from North West Africa that was on display, he said.

The display also offers the opportunity to truly see something out of this world—a rock from the moon and an authentic autograph from Schmitt, the first scientist on the moon. The autograph is accompanied with a short description of Schmitt’s accomplishments.

Schmitt is also credited with taking the well-known “The Blue Marble” photo of Earth.

Crandall said he hopes the display brings more interest to his department.

“We do quite a bit of outreach with high (school students) and middle (school students), and it would be nice to give students a kind of a spark of imagination from these events,” Crandall said. “Hopefully it’ll give them a kind of springboard to investigate our major more and possibly minor or major in geology or geography.”

Senior geology major Shirley Mensah said she has experience with minerals, but the new display has the most spectacular figures she has ever seen.

Senior geography major Abby Knight said she enjoys seeing a wider range of minerals.

“The (minerals) we get to use in our classes aren’t this rare,” Knight said.

“It’s really cool (to) actually get to see them and potentially get to use them in our classes in the future,” Knight said.

Multiple departments joined in to put the display together, including the art and physics departments, but the idea for the event originally came from the geology and geography department, Crandall said.

“We saw people really taking an interest in it and we wanted to make it look nice and not just have it be functional,” Crandall said.

Mensah said the display is eye opening.

“I think I would recommend that everyone in Coles County comes to see it,” Mensah said. “The more you know, the more you know about the world.”

Knight said she thinks the display is an opportunity to involve the community more with campus.

“(Eastern students) can see the things we do in the in the geology and geography department and give community support,” Knight said.

Tony Elias-Cadena can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].