As our first FL Teen SciCafé presenter of the new school year, Dr. Jeff Fasick, at USF St. Petersburg, wowed his young audience with interesting facts about the six senses of the Right Whale. As the teens gathered around, munching on their salty eats and sipping fizzy beverages, Jeff explained his involvement in the research of vision in Right Whales. Jeff, in collaboration with NOAA, researches vision in Right Whales in order to help with entanglement issues related to longline fishing nets. They are working on a viable color scheme in order to assist the whales in avoiding the fishing lines.
The highlight of the SciCafé was the hands-on activity in which teens had to close their eyes and plug their nose while another teen gave them either a) a brownie or b) fudge. The teen had to guess the correct treat that was in their mouth by only using taste and texture. This experiment relates to the Right Whales ability to distinguish between copepods that are fatty vs. copepods that don’t have as much fat on them.
Other highlights were when one of the teens mentioned that she felt Jeff had a good working knowledge of the eye and asked if he could explain her astigmatism. Dr. Fasick, did in fact explain the astigmatism (which is an unequal curving of one or more of the refractive surfaces of the eye. The astigmatism prevents light rays lying in specific planes from coming to a focus on the retina, thus producing blurred vision). Dr. Fasick, explained the astigmatism so well, the teen commented to her classmates the next day, “He really knew his stuff! I can’t wait until the next Scicafè!”