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The Urban Scientist


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Urban Science Adventure: Rock Flipping

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Sunday, September 11, 2011 was 5th Annual International Rock Flipping Day.  I walked my favorite nearby park and basked in the sunshine and taking in the lovely scenery.  I wasn’t handling the news coverage of the 9/11 commemoration very well, so being outside and enjoying the quiet was exactly what I needed; and thanks to an announcement at Bug Girl’s Blog I was able to channel my energy into something blog-able.

Forest Park (St. Louis, Missouri) is a great urban park, but not all that great geologically.  My rock flipping pickings were slight.  This was as good as I was able to get.

All I could find was gravel and large pebbles along walking paths in the park. Didn't give me much to work with for Rock Flipping.

I flipped this small rock over. There wasn't much underneath, other than moist soil.

The walk back home provided some ornamental slabs for me to flip.  The findings were much better.

Ornamental slab of rock by a large tree. This is what I was looking for.

There were some pill bugs, fast-moving white things, ants, and some cast off exoskeletons of something

My great friend, Laurie B and her daughter did swimmingly well – pun intended. She was gracious enough to share her photos. Thank goodness I spread the message about International Rock Flipping Day (#rockflip) to my social media circles, else I wouldn’t have anything nice to show you all.

This is where my friend went rock flipping - A great natural area near St. Louis, Missouri.

This was their first flip

She's an aquatic ecologist - studied water invertebrates, so she couldn't stay out of the aquatic systems. This is where all the good stuff hangs out! She's is so right.

Hollow rock that appears to look like an avocado! Nobody's home!

Good fun, but the riffles were all dry and all we had were pools to choose from which means no really cool insects...sorry pool aquatic insect lovers!

Eventually they found the good stuff. Lots of spiders, one didn't even run!

Did any of you go Rock Flipping last Sunday?  It’s not too late. Go on an Urban Science Adventure yourself. Flip some rocks, take some photos and share with me and other kindred spirits.

But first keep these safety notes in mind.

  • If you know or suspect snakes or scorpions live in the area, do NOT flip any rocks, especial large flat rocks.
  • Wear gloves to protect your fingers from biting/stinging insects or snakes.
  • Replace the rock as you found it, carefully; it’s someone’s home! Take care not to squish anything.
DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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