Thursday, October 19, 2017

NOAA Open House Opens Seattle's Eyes to Marine Science and Technology

Friday, July 12, 2013

Do you know the difference between a seal skull and a sea lion skull?

Have you walked under a bottom trawl net used for fishery science?

Have you ever seen an ocean wave glider used to collect oceanographic data?

Have you ever held a piece of a dock that floated across the Pacific Ocean?

Visitors to the second annual NOAA Open House in Seattle, an event held in conjunction with the Seattle Science Festival, can answer “Yes!” to these questions, and many more.

Fisheries Tour

Fisheries Tour

Open house guests take a fisheries tour. Credit: NOAA

The 2013 Seattle Science Festival was an 11-day celebration of the science and technology happening in the Seattle community that ran from June 6-16, 2013. In addition to the Open House, NOAA had a large presence at the Seattle Science Festival Expo day at the Seattle Center where at least 2,000 visitors learned about NOAA through hands-on activities. Almost 100 NOAA staff across all line offices participated in these Seattle Science Festival activities to bring NOAA science to kids of all ages.

The Open House was held on June 14 at NOAA’s Seattle Sand Point campus. Four tours were offered that focused on different aspects of NOAA’s mission: Marine Mammal Science - featuring the bone collection; Fisheries Surveys – showing off the net loft; Physical Science – focusing on ocean engineering, the dive center, and the weather forecasting floor; and a Shoreline Restoration walk emphasizing the connection between aquatic environments and our everyday lives.



Open house visitors check out fish bones under a microscope. Credit: NOAA
Local to Seattle, NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) provided a DART buoy used in tsunami detection, an unmanned aerial vehicle, and two types of ocean gliders. The Open House also featured exhibit booths, a movie room, and a kid’s corner.

Over 500 visitors attended, ranging from families with school-aged children to a bus full of retirees. One visitor marveled that “the tours were appropriate for both adults and kids, and the information was fascinating.” Another visitor was impressed with how“All the NOAA staff members were so passionate about their work,” having had the chance to meet NOAA scientists and managers at exhibit booths highlighting NOAA programs that weren’t featured on the tours, including the work of the NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center whose campus is located 3 miles away.

Whale Skulls

Whale Skulls

Various whale skulls were on display at the marine mammal exhibit. Credit: NOAA.
  The rest of the Seattle Science Festival featured luminaries from the science world in opening and closing night events, including a Science EXPO Day featuring hands-on activities and special stage programs at the Seattle Center was open to the public, and venues around the region hosted a variety of Signature Programs.

Lauren Koellermeier, PMEL outreach coordinator and lead from NOAA to the Seattle Science Festival, was overwhelmed by the outpouring of public interest in NOAA and excitement to see us at the EXPO Day and have the chance to tour our facility at the Open House. The number-one comment from visitors throughout the day was “please do this again” and “can you make this longer than a one day event?” They are already looking forward to NOAA’s participation in the Seattle Science Festival next year.  

What will they learn next?



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