UW Today

February 25, 2011

Learn about research in some of the most challenging places on Earth

News and Information

Mike Steele, APL senior oceanographer, takes cold to the extreme with liquid nitrogen. Credit required: Dan Clark/UW Applied Physics Laboratory

Mike Steele, APL senior oceanographer, takes cold to the extreme with liquid nitrogen. Credit required: Dan Clark/UW Applied Physics Laboratory

 

A hundred scientists and engineers have developed displays and volunteered to be on hand during this years Polar Science Weekend sponsored by the University of Washingtons Applied Physics Laboratory and Pacific Science Center.

With live presentations and 40 exhibit and activity stations, Polar Science Weekend March 3-6 offers families and school children opportunities to learn about the extreme environments of the Arctic and Antarctic from the polar experts who work there.

And it offers scientists and engineers a chance to learn how to tell the public what they do, according to Harry Stern, senior mathematician with the Applied Physics Laboratory, and leader of the event.

Oceanography graduate student Melinda Webster explains buoys that measure air temperature, air pressure and sea ice drift. Credit required: Dan Clark/UW Applied Physics Laboratory

Oceanography graduate student Melinda Webster explains buoys that measure air temperature, air pressure and sea ice drift. Credit required: Dan Clark/UW Applied Physics Laboratory

“During Polar Science Weekend, visitors get to talk to real scientists who are doing the research that is being displayed,” Stern says.  “This is not about pushing buttons on an automated exhibit – its live scientists and engineers who are taking time to talk to visitors and show what they do. Many are graduate students from departments like Earth & Space Sciences and the School of Oceanography.

“They are learning that public outreach can be a normal and fun part of being a scientist.”

Activities range from constructing your own Arctic Ocean and measuring how much light reflects off the ice and water, to finding out how to become a penguin scientist,  to learning to be a polar detective and determine how many bearded seals are in the Arctic.

Presentations on the Live Science Stage will include “Extreme Cold” with demos that involve a little liquid nitrogen and “Keep it Cool for Polar Bears” about how the bears are ideally suited to their Arctic home.

Hours for the event March 3 and 4 are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m,. and those are the days numerous public school children, mainly middle schoolers, will attend. Hours March 5 and 6 are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This is the sixth year the Applied Physics Laboratory has conducted Polar Science Weekend. There are so many new exhibits that Pacific Science Center has provided more room this year. Along with scientists and engineers from the UW, other organizations taking part include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Coast Guard,  Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Explorations in Math and two independent artists.

Polar Science Weekend is funded with a grant from NASA.

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