CMG a Big Contributor to Menlo Park's Open House 2000
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).
Diane Minasian helps
Open House visitors conduct a ground-penetrating-radar survey.
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.
Mario Torresan, son of
Mike and Laura Torresan, inspects Hank Chezar's camera sled at Open House 2000.
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:
Dress like a Marine Geologist: See accompanying article,
"How do Marine Geologists Dress for Success?"
Kids explore dredge bag at the "Rocks from the Deep Ocean" exhibit.
Rob Kayen helps an Open House visitor conduct a ground-penetrating-radar survey.
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 Venilda Castro's son,
Caleb, at Mike Boyle's sidescan-sonar exhibit.
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.
in this issue:
Puerto Rico OBS Study
Gulf of Mexico Shelf-Edge Habitats
Barataria Barrier-Shoreline Study
Menlo Park Open House
Dress for Success
Nat'l Weather Service Open House
New England Coastal Issues
Coral Reef Studies
South Florida Restoration
Florida Keys Field Course
June Publications List