Two weeks ago – during what might have been, as it turns out, one of the last beautiful days of the fall season – I took a yellow school bus from the Northeastern campus to the university’s Marine Science Center (MSC) in Nahant, Massachusetts. The seaside research center, located at Nahant’s East Point, is home to a number of faculty research programs that host both graduate and undergraduate students. The nexus of the research that goes on is related to fisheries, marine ecology, and global environmental change, and the labs often host high-profile lecturers or make news with their research. Though most marine science students will spend time at the MSC at some point during their Northeastern career, the buildings aren’t usually open to the public.
That’s why they have an annual open house each year, which gives the public an opportunity to see all of the cool science that’s happening in the MSC micro-community – from construction of robotic lobsters to studies of how corals are being affected by ocean acidification. Because they don’t often get the opportunity to share their research with the broader community, all of the student and faculty volunteers were excited to talk about the nitty-gritty of their work. In some cases, they even donned costumes that embodied the organisms they were studying.
From lab tours to touch tanks to demonstrations, the open house was a whirlwind of activity that appealed to all ages. It’s clear from the video that volunteers and visitors alike had fun, and as a result, I had a great time covering the event. As outreach coordinator Val Perini mentioned, the open house is a great example of how to strengthen the link between scientists and the public. It’s an opportunity to communicate some of the complex changes occurring on our planet in a way that works for everyone. Seems like this year’s program was a resounding success.