Submitted be Rene Carroll

Columbia River Gorge Elementary first grade students of Sydney Termini and Allison McGranahan recently learned about volcanoes from a special guest speaker with first-hand knowledge of this geological feature.  Peter Kelly is a Research Geologist for the US Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory; however, he delights in adding “Sonja and Owen’s Dad” to his title.

“In our CKLA curriculum we have been learning about the history of the Earth,” said McGranahan. “We learned about how geologists study the earth and how heat, pressure and time make the Earth change over time. Last year we had Peter come and share about volcanoes and the kids loved hearing from someone who actually studies volcanoes. We invited him back to help the curriculum come to life and get them excited about studying the Earth.”

“I am a scientist and there are other people in my group who do outreach and are probably better at making school presentations,” Kelly said modestly.  “But I love these schools and I know a lot of these kids through my kids and coaching sports.”  Kelly has presented at CRGE twice and also at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary

With daughter Sonja as his assistant, Kelly talked to an enthusiastic and interested group of students about what a volcano is, what makes them erupt, their hazards, and how scientists help provide guidance to protect communities nearby.

Kelly, who splits his time between international and domestic projects, works in the volcano USGS Volcano Hazards Program.  “I monitor volcanoes to understand when an eruption might be expected and how big it may be,” he explained.  “That information is supplied to land managers and decision makers to keep people safe.”

Kelly also talked about the importance of failure in the scientific process.  “Working through and learning though failure is an important life skill for scientists or anyone,” he said.  Kelly shared a ‘blooper reel’ of funny drone launch failures he filmed while developing a new drone-borne gas sensor during a crisis in Indonesia to make his point.

“We are so glad he donated his time to get the kids excited about volcanoes,” said McGranahan. “He doesn’t even have a first grader this year, yet he came in to share amazing facts about his job. Our students are still talking about what he shared!”

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