Stories tagged Mississippi

I've spent the past few years working on the development of an exhibition about the science of early childhood development. It is called Wonder Years: The Science of Early Childhood Development . It has been a fascinating project to work on both as a mom and as a scientist. I've learned how important the first five years are and how it is the little things - interactions with my kids that really makes a difference. So it is really exciting to see that over the weekend Education Minnesota announced that Katy Smith, an early childhood family educator, is the newest teacher of the year. I enjoyed reading the interview with Katy Smith in MinnPost. She comments that,

"It is in the mind-numbingly bored, dull times of family life that you really get to know one another and crack jokes and figure out something to do together, because you don't know what to do when you're not so scheduled."

Thanks for the reminder. I think I'll go exploring in the yard with my kids after dinner tonight and look for signs of spring!

What will you do to enhance the development of a child today?

Mar
24
2011

Behind the wall: The wall protecting the bottom floor of the museum is made of two rows of cement barriers with dirt packed between them. Next door at District Energy, they're using sand. I wonder which will work better?
Behind the wall: The wall protecting the bottom floor of the museum is made of two rows of cement barriers with dirt packed between them. Next door at District Energy, they're using sand. I wonder which will work better?Courtesy JGordon
If you've been following Science Buzz (of course you have!) you know that St. Paul is gearing up for a flood!

It's still unclear as to how high the water will rise, but given all the snow we got this winter, the Science Museum is preparing for the worst. The worst is unlikely, but even not-quite-the-worst would be pretty bad, so the museum is building some defenses against the water.
A red tailed hawk keeps an eye on the proceedings: Which, frankly, is ridiculous. What do hawks know about flood management?
A red tailed hawk keeps an eye on the proceedings: Which, frankly, is ridiculous. What do hawks know about flood management?Courtesy JGordon
The hawk takes flight!: Good riddance. What were we even paying him for?
The hawk takes flight!: Good riddance. What were we even paying him for?Courtesy JGordon

Our Science House is being surrounded by a wall of thick, solid concrete blocks, like a fort. And we're building a wall of Jersey barriers packed with dirt through the Big Back Yard to protect our first floor, should the water get that high. The museum's first floor, by the way, is not where you enter. The first floor is way below that, and it's where we build exhibits and keep all of the machinery that maintains the climate in the building, so it's important that it doesn't get too wet down there.

Here's a slide show of the pictures I took of the construction this afternoon. For descriptions of what's happening in each, click on the photo (or go right to the Flickr photoset).

Here is a gigapan shot I took of the river yesterday. I will try to take a panorama every other day(at least). I intend to capture more of the river west in future shots.

http://gigapan.org/gigapans/73228/

BTW: pay special attention to the crazy time capture of a really long train that was passing by.

Please pass on the link to whomever you feel would be interested.

Mar
19
2010

The Mississippi River here in Saint Paul is currently forecasted to crest at 19.8 feet next Wednesday and was measured at 12.9 feet at 7:00 this morning (Friday). All these river height numbers got me thinking about a really good question someone asked me last year about just what these numbers mean and how they are measured.

Stream gauge location: Readings of the Mississippi River at downtown St. Paul are taken by instruments here.
Stream gauge location: Readings of the Mississippi River at downtown St. Paul are taken by instruments here.Courtesy USGS

Here is an explanation: The Mississippi here in Saint Paul started being measured way back in 1893. The actual location of the measurement station is right by the High Bridge on the west side of the river. Currently the station is operated by the US Geological Survey and the US Army Corps of Engineers. At the time that the station was established, an arbitrary 0 measuring point was chosen (probably the bottom of the channel at the time). When the river reaches 14 feet at this station it is pretty much flowing above its banks in the vicinity of the gauge. All this is to say that the gauge numbers aren't really measuring anything specific about the river other than its height above a point established over a 100 years ago. This means that gauge readings can only be compared to other readings at the same gauge.

Kate's photos, 3/18 (2): Look across the river to the floodwall: thats the high-water mark for the 1965 flood, the highest in recorded history. That year, the river crested here in downtown St. Paul at 26.01' and spelled the end for the communities down on the river flats.
Kate's photos, 3/18 (2): Look across the river to the floodwall: thats the high-water mark for the 1965 flood, the highest in recorded history. That year, the river crested here in downtown St. Paul at 26.01' and spelled the end for the communities down on the river flats.Courtesy Kate Hintz

So if you call up your friends and family in Fargo/Moorhead today to compare notes about who is experiencing the worst flooding, you'll find that your Mississippi River measurement of 12.9 feet doesn’t look impressive by the measurement of over 35 feet at Fargo. And, your 12.9 feet will seem straight up puny compared to the 677 feet the Mississippi is flowing today at Prairie Island, Minnesota, where the river is measured against elevation.

For details on just how river gauges work, check out this explanation the US Geological Society offers.

Noteworthy flood heights in Saint Paul:
14.0 Portions of the Lilydale park area begin to experience flooding.
17.5 Harriet Island begins to become submerged.
18.0 Warner Road may become impassable due to high water.
19.8 Forecasted crest
26.4 Record 1965 crest!

Want to learn more about floods and the Mississippi River? Stop by the Mississippi River Visitor Center in the lobby of the Science Museum and talk to a National Park Ranger!

Check out our full feature on the 2010 Mississippi River flooding.

Sep
28
2008

A new river adventure

Living near the Mississippi River is a treat. My wife and I often go to Hidden Falls to sit and watch the river flow. When I went to this years Stone Arch Festival I was pleased to discover a new river adventure. There is a new Water Power Park by St. Anthony Falls (click link for map and details). Here is a quote from their website.

Never before has the general public been able to walk on this piece of land and experience the power of the mighty Mississippi River as it flows over St. Anthony Falls. You feel the power of the river, the spray from the falls as you stand on one of the three overlooks with the skyline of downtown Minneapolis in the back round. (WaterPowerPark.com)

You can get really close to the water falls as you will witness in this video I shot.

The Outdoor StreamLab is cool

Another feature included in the Water Power Park is the Outdoor StreamLab. The Outdoor StreamLab is part of the University of Minnesota's St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. The mission of SAFL is to "St. Anthony Falls Laboratory
St. Anthony Falls LaboratoryCourtesy Art Oglesby

"conduct interdisciplinary fluid mechanics research aimed at developing science-based, sustainable, and practical solutions to major societal problems related to the environment, renewable energy, and health.

Visitors to the Water Power Park can view researchers at work in the OSL. This link to the Outdoor StreamLab image gallery will give you a good preview. Click this to see a current aerial image of the Outdoor StreamLab that is refreshed every 30 minutes from SAFL's rooftop camera