Day 4 of Sci Girls proved to be another amazing day. An overcast sky provided the perfect shade as we embarked on the Willacooche Attapulgite Mine with the crew from BASF. We were showered with gifts from BASF including stylish tie-dye shirts, wide rim hats, water bottles, back packs and sunscreen to help us in our fossil hunting adventure. We found countless shark teeth, manatee vertebrae, various animal bones, gastropods, shells and other treasures. As much fun as we had discovering fossils, we also learned about the mining process and all of the uses of the Attapulgite clay.
To continue the process, we left the mine and headed to the BASF site in Quincy. There, we enjoyed lunch with a panel of engineers working with BASF. These ladies shared their stories and gave us suggestions like: “Be good at what you do and love what you do. Ignore the negative people and do your best. You may have a (college) class you struggle with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t excel in that field. Never give up; just keep going.” One engineer told us she learned from every mistake she ever made and wouldn’t go back to “fix” them. After lunch, we took a tour of the facility which produces 200,000 TONS of Attapulgite product each year. The product is used in many household products like paint, cat litter, wall spackle, anti-diarrhea medicine, etc. We concluded our BASF visit with an engaging investigation where we simulated an oil spill clean-up.
Thank you, thank you to Walt Loomis, Blythe Lamonica and their team (Nathalie, Guy, Howard, Robin, Brenna, Carlos, Solaine, Molly, Mary Allen). We are grateful for the gifts of your time, energy and all the extras we were spoiled with! Stay tuned for Day 5 as we dig into STEM virtually and then hit the Springs!