MSDC Goes to a Party at the Southwest Duck Pond Park in DC

by John Weidner, MSDC Treasurer, and Dan Teich, MSDC Board Member 

Dan explaining that we didn't really strike gold, but it's still worthy of putting down a peanut butter sandwich. Photo by Susie Weidner.

The Southwest Business Improvement District of Washington, DC threw a block party at the Southwest Duck Pond Park. They invited MSDC and we happily went.

Most of the party was games and food and the usual block party stuff. There was a band, face painting, a tie-dye booth, and a man walking around in a giant duck suit. The weather was beautiful, the people were friendly, and we all had a good time. Thanks to the initiative of John and Dan, MSDC brought some rocks, minerals, and a gold panning demo which we set out on a couple of tables. The theme of our display was “Look at These Neat Rocks.”

John, whose reputation for speaking the truth is never questioned, sometimes lets his shirts do the talking. Photo by Susie Weidner (one of the lucky 3 people). 

As expected, Dan brought some spectacular minerals:

· an 8” x 12” slab of native copper, covered with a copper-mineral patina

· other New Jersey copper minerals

· two geodes, and more.

John contributed:

· A one-foot piece of columnar basalt

· A large piece of granite, red granite on the left and white on the right

· Shale with calcite veins, and more

John listening intently as these kids tell him about their rocks. Photo by Susie Weidner.

We had a constant stream of people:

-- The young. What kid doesn’t love to pick up rocks?

-- Teens, including a couple of chemistry majors. We got to talk about the difference between chemistry as taught in school, where the reactions occur in water, and chemistry in rocks. Note: Our reactions are slower than theirs.

-- Adults. Some who didn’t know the difference between a rock and a brick, and some who compared our specimens to samples they own.

-- And even some old fogies almost as old as I am.

John doing his impression of the piece of columnar basalt in front of him. Photo by Susie Weidner.
An impressive MSDC display with a scannable QR code for people curious about rocks. Photo by Susie Weidner.

What they all had in common is that they were all happy, and they all liked our rocks. Dan brought a piece of lava that he picked up in Iceland last year. He would hand it to a person and ask:

“What’s the youngest rock you have ever held.?”

-- Pause for their consideration of the question --

“The rock you’re holding is less than a year old. It was still hot when I broke it off.” I made sure I held that rock. It is certainly the youngest rock I have ever held.

Dan brought a tub and sand to demonstrate gold panning. That part didn’t go as well as hoped. We needed some gold flakes or some ball bearings or something to find in the sand. How can you show how to pan for gold if you don’t have gold in the sand to pan for. Next time, maybe we can bring pyrite pieces and mix them with the sand. Pan for fool’s gold!

MSDC Board Member Dan Teich explaining how to "get rich quick" to some curious, but skeptical, listeners. Photo by Susie Weidner.

Dan put out a QR code for our website, and a lot of people scanned it. Will this bring us any new members? We hope so. Let’s see if anyone Zooms into our June meeting and says they found out about us at the Duck Pond Party.

But I measure the success of an event like this by two metrics.

1. Did the people who came have a good time and enjoy seeing our rocks.

They did!

2. Did I have fun showing the rocks?

I did!