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From “A Woman of Science: An Extraordinary Journey of Love, Discovery, and the Sex Life of Mushrooms”

Chapter Four – Volcanic Beginnings

I wanted to grow up and be a scientist ever since third grade, 1933, when Dr. Rusterholtz, Professor of Education at the local teachers’ college, came to our class once a week and taught science as grand adventure. In one session, he had us all using heads and hands to think about volcanoes: With flailing arms he talked of powerful eruptions that spew hot lava from deep in the earth—a concept utterly foreign to those of us born and brought up in northeastern New York State where nature’s most dramatic events are frozen lakes, blizzard whiteouts, and rare displays of aurora borealis. Dr. Rusterholtz not only volubly described volcanoes; he enticed us to model them.

Griffie Larkin and I chose modeling clay. We built a mountain with a hole down its center, fixed a small fan and an upright stick at the base of the hole, attached a strip of red cloth at the top, and rigged an on-off switch to the fan cord extending from the bottom of the mountain. Hey! Click on the fan, and the rippling red cloth simulates eruption.

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