ESRL Global Systems Division

Sanctuary Visitors View Science in a Unique Fashion

Another NOAA Science on A Sphere® exhibit opened to crowds of nearly 10,000 on July 4th at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center (GLMHC) located in Alpena, Michigan. In late June, a team from ESRL's Global Systems Division's (GSD) Technology Outreach Branch installed the exhibit. This was made possible through the support of an Environmental Literacy grant awarded by NOAA's Office of Education. Additionally, GSD's Will von Dauster traveled to Alpena for the opening of the Maritime Festival to narrate SOS® demonstrations given every hour throughout the day including an encore performance. Jeff Gray, Director of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary said, "It was remarkable to watch audiences of all ages travel around the sphere with Will and closely follow his half hour narration. They were literally locked into SOS's® medium and messages." (See photos of the Center and opening.) "SOS® has given a small community in Northern Michigan a world-class signature exhibit. It will foster a greater awareness for earth science and appreciation for NOAA's leadership role in better understanding our planet," Gray added.

Though only a few weeks old, the GLMHC recognizes just how powerful this educational exhibit is and they are anxious to work with partners to develop data sets for display on the sphere that explore the Great Lakes. Currently, their staff is looking into the possibility of creating data sets on shipwreck locations and current historical shipping patterns.

Science On a Sphere® is a unique visualization technology that was invented by Dr. Sandy MacDonald, Acting Director of ESRL. In August of 2005, NOAA received a patent for Science On a Sphere®. Using computers coupled with video projectors, the system presents NOAA's global science in an engaging three-dimensional representation of the Earth's features as if they were viewed from space. It is currently being installed at museums and science centers throughout the United States.

One of NOAA's main mission goals is "Serve Society's Needs for Weather and Water Information" and its performance objective is to enhance environmental literacy and improve understanding, value, and use of weather and water information and services. Science On a Sphere® maps directly into that goal. This innovative technology is intended to educate multigenerational audiences about ongoing NOAA research being conducted at many laboratories and to inspire students so that they might investigate scientific career paths.

Contact information
Name: Ann M Reiser
Tel: 303-497-6634