(Yes, your host is a child of the 80’s and “The Facts of Life”)
Diana is learning the back and forth, up and down, of life as an interpreter and exhibit developer at the VC:
“Over the past couple of weeks, some interesting things have happened at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Not only have people been rude, but they have also been spectacular. My faith in the human race is always moving back and forth like a wave. First of all, there is my erosion wave tank. We have had some great success and devastation in the wave erosion tank. The wave tank was first somewhat of a chaos area with children walking on the edges of the prototype wooden table, sand volcanoes in the middle of the tank, and water everywhere you can think of around the tank area. Then we made a beach erosion challenge, with signs that gave very simple directions on what visitors were challenged to do. That made a significant difference between the actions taken around the tank area. We saw a significant increase in families using the wave tank area as opposed to children creating sandcastles on their own as well as an increase in people reading the signs and trying to do the beach erosion challenge instead of just creating waves. While the increase was promising, I still saw some problems.
One of the main problems of the wave tank that all of us in the VC are seeing is that the water needs to be changed constantly. I have changed the water about 3 times a week and each time there is something new in the water. I have found potato chips, granola bars, and hair in the wave tank. A spring broke on the wave creator, and the aluminum is oxidizing from the fresh water, which will lead to more problems later on. Yet, out of all of these the ongoing problem that is really hard to find a solution for is the amount of water on the floor. This problem has not only seemed to stump me, but my coworkers and advisors as well.
Out of all of these problems that my project has had, many amazing things have happened as well. I have had some spectacular conversations with visitors. This older couple one day came on my estuary tour and first asked some highly intelligent questions that tested my knowledge to the limit. Then, once the tour was over, I was able to have them stay until closing with our eye level tank feeding, ocean quest and exhibits in general. They would call me and McKenzie out by name just to ask us questions. The older man told me he had no previous knowledge about marine science or biology for that matter, so he had many questions. Oh he did and we had plenty of answers. The visitors who are rude sometimes make me very upset, but then there are people like this older couple for example and most children, especially the ones that ask tons questions, that make my job totally worth it!”
A hint to help with the amount of water on the floor: expect it! In restaurant back kitchens, where they do dishes and expect a lot of random puddles of water, they put down interconnecting rubber mats, for safety. I believe I’ve seen the same mats at the Children’s Museum in Portland. At the end of each day, the mats come up, and the area can be mopped dry…
Thanks, Carole – re-doing the floor is definitely in our long-term plan, but for now, while we’re prototyping, we just have to live with it. I think it’s even more than we expected, though! That may change what we ultimately do in the fall, but we couldn’t rip up the floor during our busy summer months. Mats may soon be in our future as a temporary help.