Another of our interns, (actually, they are all Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars), Nick, lets us know what it’s like trying to prepare for the “visitor tsunami” that’s bound to occur when we get our third wave tank all set, based somewhat on the inundation he gets as an on-floor interpreter:
“Working as a docent for the front desk and touch pools has provided abundant opportunity to interact with the public and I seem to learn as much information as I provide. Visitors ask so many interesting questions and also ask about local marine events: how is the Sea Turtle doing that washed up on the shore, inquiries about the tsunami debris and recently the Brown Pelican crisis at the Yaquina Head seabird colony. Visitors also bring in some unusual items and ask for help identifying them; one man brought in an orca tooth that he had discovered eroding out of a cliff.
Among my favorite duties is acting as the guide for the daily tour of the Yaquina Bay estuary describing the marine plants and animals of the bay. Participants especially like discovering the tiny crabs that are often living under the very rocks they are standing on. It is pretty rewarding and members of the tour group have often told me that after taking the tour, they now want to become marine biologists. I have also been helping with the Ocean Quest multimedia presentation in the auditorium. We have been working out the bugs in the presentation and it is finally at a point where we are happy with it.
Our main project involves working on three wave tank exhibits. Brian has been working with the wave energy exhibit, designing an experimental “wave power” device that looks like a futuristic mechanical snake. Diana has been working with the erosion tank and has had to be vigilant in order to prevent the “sandy beach” from becoming a mess from enthusiastic children. My project has been working with our tsunami tank. I have been working on designing ideal tsunami proof structures as well as showing buildings that will not be able to survive the wave. Using Legos as building materials, I have attempted to construct scale models of different building to see if the various designs are demolished or not with the wave tank.
The tsunami project has had some problems associated with it. For starters we have had endless computer glitches and malfunctions that often make it difficult just to run the machine. We have also been experimenting with different lengths of continental slope (represented by an acrylic ramp). Additionally, we found that Legos seem to stick together really, really well….sometimes so well that buildings that should be demolished are still left standing! We have had to resort to sanding the individual bricks so that they do not stick together as well and will better represent actual building materials. We are hopeful that these problems will be fixed within a few weeks when we plan to open the tank to the public. The educational intent of the display is to challenge visitors to construct a building that can stand up to a tsunami wave. We are confident it has the makings of a fun and interesting exhibit and hope it will be very popular with our visitors!”