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The Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) team reaches a broad spectrum of groups and individuals through a variety of outreach opportunities. WHCMSC staff participate in local, regional, national, international, educational, cultural, and scientific events.

Facility Tours

Welcoming the general public to WHCMSC is one example of how we connect, support, and communicate with up-and-coming scientists from elementary school students to post-doctoral candidates. Opportunities to engage with research scientists, tour labs and facilities, participate in demonstrations, and ask questions of subject matter experts are offered to those with an expressed interest in science and scientific research. Tours and specialized demonstrations are available by request and depend upon availability of scientific staff and space. Personnel at WHCMSC also host many meetings, tours, and seminars for the scientific community, educational groups, and institutions.

Charter School Science Cafe

Marine geologist Laura Brothers was the keynote speaker at the Marine Technology for Teachers and Students (MaTTS) Project Spring Science Café at the Sturgis Charter School in Hyannis, Massachusetts (MA). The MaTTS Project focuses on providing opportunities for teachers and students to learn about and experience new technologies related to exploring the ocean and discover pathways to marine careers. Brothers’ talk focused on how the USGS studies the seafloor using geophysical mapping, acoustics, and advanced imaging techniques. There were over 100 students and staff in attendance and Brothers’ talk was very well received. Feedback from Sturgis teachers was very positive and this visit has inspired the Science Club to begin hosting a regular Oceanographic Speakers Series. According to teacher feedback, a few students who stayed to speak with Brothers felt lucky to have a one-on-one chat with her. One of the students is so passionate about sea turtles that she feeds the ones in the science department every day, and has kept careful data about their eating habits and growth. Watching her take the initiative to stay behind and ask Brothers well thought out questions was a big highlight of the day.

Teaching the Teachers!

Geologist and data analyst Elizabeth Pendleton offered an interactive presentation on geologic mapping of the Massachusetts seafloor, sharing data and information on the geologic framework, glacial history, and glacial geomorphology of Massachusetts for approximately 25 teachers and program staff from the National Marine Life Center and the Museum Institute for Teaching Science. Kathy Zagzebski from the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay, MA, in collaboration with the Museum Institute for Teaching Science in Quincy, MA, organized a Professional Development Institute for K-12 educators focusing on exploring earth science and curriculum frameworks in the coastal and marine environment.   In addition to the interactive presentation, Pendelton distributed CDs of USGS Open-File Report 2001-1072, Geophysical and Sampling Data from the Inner Continental Shelf: Duxbury to Hull, Massachusetts, and demonstrated how to download Esri ArcReader in order to display and share data in the classroom. Coincidentally there were teachers from Hull, MA, participating in the workshop and they were thrilled to look at data from their home town. 

The group was particularly interested in a tour of our core lab. Brian Buczkowski, core lab manager, was happy to oblige the teachers. Buczkowski demonstrated how core-sampling techniques are used for analyses and how cores provide a look back through geologic time.

3rd Annual Science Stroll

A drone‘s eye view of the Woods Hole Science Stroll
A drone‘s eye view of the Woods Hole Science Stroll. The green USGS tent has a large cluster of visitors.

This August, WHCMSC participated in the 3rd annual Woods Hole Science Stroll. This free, family-friendly event offered participants a variety of opportunities to explore interactive displays, tour a research vessel, take part in science demonstrations, and engage with local scientists from 18 science centers, institutions, and organizations.

The aerial imaging and mapping (AIM) group provided Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) demonstrations to crowds of drone enthusiasts of all ages. The USGS pilot chose “co-pilots” from eager bystanders, walking them through the pre- and post-flight operational and safety checklists. The co-pilots were thrilled to get firsthand experience with a USGS pilot and were fascinated by the real-time flight imagery displayed on the computer screens.

Group shot of Science Stroll 2017 personnel
Science Stroll dream team: (left) Dann Blackwood, Andrea Toran, Emily Sturdivant, Ellyn Montgomery, Meagan Gonneea, Laura Brothers, Sara Zeigler, Neil Ganju, and Seth Ackerman.

The Seafloor Mapping Group’s SEABed Observation and Sampling System (SEABOSS) was a big hit with the crowd. Navigation specialists provided a live, interactive demonstration of underwater video capabilities in the shallow waters off the wall at Waterfront Park, near the USGS display tent. Geologists and navigation technicians talked about how seafloor sediment sampling, photography, and video are critical components of their operations, and how they use the data from a variety of sources—including the SEABOSS—to conduct research. 

The Sediment Transport Group displayed the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport (COAWST) Modeling System, to show basic computer modeling operations along with some of COAWST’s common applications. USGS staff demonstrated how the computer models help them understand physical processes such as coastal erosion. Many kids could relate to the idea of models by talking about video games where you have to follow some rules to obtain an objective, similar to how the COAWST modeling system follows the physical laws of waves, ocean currents, sediment movement, and air.

WHCMSC‘s science has global implications and many of its world-renowned scientists relish an invite to present their scientific discoveries at symposiums all around the world. But often, it is the participation in local outreach activities such as those described here that provides the most reward, where USGS scientists can share their knowledge with and give back to their own community.




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