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CMG a Big Contributor to Menlo Park's Open House 2000

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Diane Minasian helps visitors conduct GPR survey
Diane Minasian helps Open House visitors conduct a ground-penetrating-radar survey.
Weeks of preparation culminated in a highly successful Open House at the USGS Menlo Park campus on May 12th, 13th, and 14th. Friday the 12th was a preview day for school children and VIPs. A 10 a.m. opening ceremony featured addresses by USGS Director Chip Groat, Western Regional Director Doug Buffington, and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. Music by the Menlo-Atherton High School Jazz Band added to the festive atmosphere. From 9 a.m. till nearly 3 p.m., the campus swarmed with school children, guided through the Open House exhibits by their teachers and parent volunteers. This preview day gave exhibitors a chance to fine-tune their displays for the general public, who visited the campus on Saturday and Sunday (some of them brought back by their enthusiastic children).

Mario Torresan inspects the camera sled
Mario Torresan, son of Mike and Laura Torresan, inspects Hank Chezar's camera sled at Open House 2000.
An estimated 13,000 visitors, even in the rain, made up an optimum-size crowd that enhanced the experience for visitors and exhibitors alike. Without long lines, visitors could easily take part in even the most popular exhibits, such as Gold Panning and Dress like a Marine Geologist; and exhibitors could spend more time talking to them one-on-one. Visitors came from all over the San Francisco Bay area and from as far afield as Washington State, Boston, North Carolina, even France. They were impressed by the variety of information and hands-on activities available all over campus. They gathered all the handouts they could and kept exhibitors hopping.

The CMG team set up more than two dozen displays, including stand-alone posters custom-designed for the general public, demonstrations featuring marine samples and underwater equipment, and hands-on activities for children and adults. Team members who developed, set up, and staffed exhibits are too numerous to list, but some are mentioned in this sampling of the interactive exhibits:

  • Exploring the dredge bag
    Kids explore dredge bag at the "Rocks from the Deep Ocean" exhibit.
    Rob Kayen helps conduct a GPR survey
    Rob Kayen helps an Open House visitor conduct a ground-penetrating-radar survey.
    Guy Gelfenbaum demonstrates current meter
    Guy Gelfenbaum shows a visitor how to change the direction of flow in a water-filled trough and interpret the resulting acoustic current-meter data displayed on a computer monitor.
    Fred Payne greets a visitor
    Fred Payne greets Venilda Castro's son, Caleb, at Mike Boyle's sidescan-sonar exhibit.
    Dress like a Marine Geologist: See accompanying article, "How do Marine Geologists Dress for Success?"

  • Rocks from the Deep Ocean: A few Open Houses ago, Terry Bruns hit upon the idea of freeing up some storage space at Marfac by giving away surplus rocks collected in dredge hauls. This year he broke up and gave away nearly 2,000 samples of Loihi Seamount, each packaged in a plastic bag with a one-page handout about the rock and its origin.

  • Run Your Own Survey-Use Radio Waves to See What's Under Your Feet: Walter Barnhardt, Diane Minasian, Brad Carkin, and Justin Holl helped visitors don work vests and hard hats and run ground-penetrating radar surveys along a pre-determined path. The surveyors' photos were taken and will be posted on a web page.

  • Flying Through the Sea Floor of San Francisco Bay and Lake Tahoe: Jim Gardner and Pete Dartnell helped a steady stream of visitors, including several repeat customers, manipulate multibeam bathymetric data on a Sun workstation to conduct virtual fly-throughs of seafloor terrain.

  • Tides, Waves, and Currents in the Ocean-How We Measure Them: Guy Gelfenbaum, Laura Kerr, Tim Elfers, and Jinping Xu put together this multifaceted display. A large trough filled with circulating water, toy boats, and rubber ducks lured many visitors, who then were shown how they could change the direction of flow and see the results from an acoustic current meter displayed on a computer monitor. Another hands-on exhibit was a fish tank filled with water, sand, and an instrument that measures suspended-sediment concentration; visitors could stir up the water and watch the plot of suspended-sediment concentration change on a computer monitor. At an instrumented tripod, visitors were invited to hold onto a large helium balloon (representing a float), let it go when given the correct acoustic signal, and watch it rise to the "surface" (that is, the top of the big tent where many of the CMG exhibits were displayed).

  • The tiniest introduced animal in San Francisco Bay: Mary McGann and Rendy Keaten enchanted children and their parents with an interactive display about foraminifera. In one activity, they showed visitors a 0.25-m2 plexiglass box filled with San Francisco Bay mud and asked them to guess how may forams it contained. A lift-up flap revealed the answer: 1 million. They also handed out pennies, asked visitors to look at the "w" in the motto "In God we trust," then showed them a scanning-electron photomicrograph of a penny (blown up to about 1.5 ft in diameter) with the introduced foram (Trochammina hadai) on the "w." Lots of visitors exclaimed that they would never look at a penny again the same way. A couple of microscopes enabled visitors to view forams from a variety of settings, and a black-and-white page of forams to color went like hotcakes.

Additional displays about our work in San Francisco Bay, Monterey Bay, Southern California, Hawaii, and Alaska drew lots of visitors, whose curiosity and enthusiasm made the weeks of preparation feel more than worthwhile.

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in this issue: Fieldwork Puerto Rico OBS Study

Gulf of Mexico Shelf-Edge Habitats

Channel Islands

Research cover story:
Barataria Barrier-Shoreline Study

Outreach Menlo Park Open House

Dress for Success

Nat'l Weather Service Open House

Marine Quest

Meetings Basin Symposium

Coastal Morphodynamics

New England Coastal Issues

Awards Coral Reef Studies

South Florida Restoration

Staff & Center News Florida Keys Field Course


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