AOML partnered with NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) to host an open house for local students and the public on May 24th and 25th. The two-day event drew 425 students and 275 members of the public for a total of 700 visitors. Staff from Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s office (FL-27) and Senator Marco Rubio’s (FL) office also participated in the very successful event.
AOML featured four stations with different aspects of our research portfolio: hurricane observations, oceans observations and climate, carbon monitoring and impacts, and coastal ecosystems. At the hurricane presentation visitors viewed footage from hurricane hunter flights in the eye of Hurricane Katrina and learned about all of the atmospheric properties measured in these flights. Hurricane scientists also described how these observations inform greater understanding of hurricane dynamics and improve forecast models.
The oceans and climate station began with an overview of global ocean circulation and its influence on regional climate. Oceanographers then showcased many of the different instruments that are used to collect ocean observations and the engineering that allows them to sample different parts of the ocean. Visitors also learned about observed changes in the global ocean including sea level rise.
In the carbon component of the tour visitors moved through the nutrient lab which displayed the underway pCO2 machines that AOML co-developed to autonomously sample atmospheric carbon dioxide on the Ships of Opportunity. Here visitors learned about the increasing trends in oceanic and atmospheric carbon, and associated impacts, particularly on calcium carbonate structures such as juvenile fish and coral reef structures through ocean acidification.
The tour concluded with an overview of coastal ecosystems and the effects of increasing human populations in coastal regions. Visitors learned about the impacts of changes in freshwater flow through the Everglades on down-stream fisheries in Florida Bay. They also learned about the microbial populations regularly found at Florida’s beaches and the techniques developed at AOML to better identify the prevalence and source of microbial pathogens that can cause illness and beach closures.
Teachers, students, and individuals provided overwhelmingly positive feedback, expressing thanks and great appreciation for a highly educational and engaging experience. Visitors most appreciated the opportunity to meet and talk with NOAA scientists, with 36 AOML employees contributing time and expertise to conduct the event.
Our students liked learning about hurricanes and related to the station where the scientist talked about DNA testing contaminates in water because we studied DNA and DNA technology. – MAST Academy
I just wanted to inform you what a wonderful time our group had at the NOAA Open House… it was a great experience. – Key Biscayne K-8 Center
“One of my favorite things to do ever in the world is take the kids on hands on government organization appreciation! Great job!” – Parent
“The NOAA open house was a big success. Our troop had a wonderful time. The staff was excellent and the interactive exhibits really got them interested in the subject matter. We were there for 3 hours and the girls were engaged the entire time. They loved the experience. – Girl Scout Troop 18
I just wanted to tell you how awesome, engaging, and informative, the NOAA open house was. I wish we could have brought more of our students! They saw REAL science, in REAL labs, done by REAL scientists. The kids said it was one of the coolest field trips they had been on. Thank you and all the NOAA scientists for their efforts in making this unique learning opportunity possible. Please let us know if/when you will be doing it again! – David Lawrence Jr K8 Center