Flow of knowledge


Acclaimed volcanologist R.B. Trombley talks to Hillsboro Middle School seventh-graders Monday about his discoveries while conducting on-site evaluations of major volcanoes around the world. Trombley spoke to middle and high school classes on Monday and Tuesday.

There are guest speakers, and then there are guest speakers.

Science students at Hillsboro Middle School and Hillsboro High School were privileged to hear firsthand from one of the country?s leading volcano experts earlier this week.

Robert ?R.B.? Trombley, founder, director and principal research volcanologist of Southwest International Volcano Research Center in Phoenix, Ariz., was the guest presenter for middle-school students on Monday and high school students on Tuesday.

The award-winning scientist, including the coveted Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Medal, has traveled and is well known all over the world for his work on volcanoes.

?We scored a coup,? Darlene Bartel, middle school science teacher, said of his two-day visit.

To top it off, Trombley covered his own expenses.

Although Trombley said he is no stranger to teaching middle and high school students, school officials believe this is his first presentation in a Kansas school.

Trombley?s path to Hillsboro began when Janet Whisenhunt, a member of the Wiebe Media Center staff at HHS, came across his name while conducting an Internet search to arrange a video conference by a volcanologist for Bartel?s students.

The ensuing video conference, complete with a question and answer sessions, was accomplished Feb. 21 at no charge through Century 21 learning technology.

?Apparently they went nuts over it and asked if I?d be willing to come up, and I said sure,? Trombley said.

In addition to a video slide presentation, Trombley brought with him volcano rock samples and books he has written, copies of which he donated to the local school library.

In his presentation on Monday, Trombley told middle-school students the SIVRC monitors 502 volcanoes all over the world, 25 of which are presently active.

He showed pictures and shared information on 18 of his ?favorites,? ranging from the well-known Vesuvius, which destroyed the Italian city of Pompeii in 79 A.D., to the lesser known Piton de la Fournaise located on R?union Island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean.

Trombley?s information ranged from describing the three primary volcano types?and the sophisticated instruments used to monitor them?to the fact that his cat is named ?Magma.?

He described Mount Rainier in Washington State as ?the most dangerous? volcano in the world because it is overdue to erupt. He said when it happens, towns built around the base of the volcano will be ?wiped out in a matter of minutes,? he said.

In addition to speaking to Bartel?s middle-school classes, Trombley was scheduled to meet with the high school Earth & Space Science class taught by Scott O?Hare, as well as with HHS senior Amber King, who is interested in a career in the geo-sciences, especially volcanology.

Even though volcano study has a reputation as a male-dominated field, Trombley said the field is ?wide open? for females as well. He encouraged all students to stay in school, whatever their vocational dream might be.

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