ESSIC prepares for 16th annual Maryland Day

The 2014 installment of the University of Maryland’s 16th annual open house, Maryland Day, will take place on Saturday, April 26. The annual spring event, which serves as an opportunity for prospective students to learn more about the University of Maryland, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The campus community typically presents the university’s varied capabilities through six unique venues, each found in a different part of campus.

Science and Tech Way, located near the Glenn L. Martin Institute of Technology, is one of the featured hubs. With the theme of “Science … is for everyone,” Science and Tech way will present laser technology, robotics, a wind tunnel, and activities that teach guests about topics ranging from the human skeleton to outer space.

It will also feature the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) and its researchers, who will help guests explore the many ways weather impacts the planet through two interactive events: The Magic Planet and a rain gage game.

The Magic Planet, a smaller version of NOAA’s Science on a Sphere, is a globe that uses computers and video projectors to simulate weather patterns. The Planet allows guests to select atmospheric and oceanic data that interests them, which is then displayed on a spherical monitor.

“[The Magic Planet is] always a huge draw,” ESSIC Faculty Research Assistant and Center Maryland Day Co-coordinator Maureen Cribb said. “[Guests] can look at the ice, they can look at the atmosphere … it’s very interactive and engaging, and there’s always somebody from ESSIC standing by to supervise and to field questions.”

“ESSIC’s rain gage game is also quite popular,” Cribb added. The game has participants race to fill up rain gages using cloud shaped sponges and water. Racers receive a prize at the end of the game and a pin on a measurement board showing how much water they collected.

The Center will also offer a number of additional giveaways including posters, handouts, and stickers.

For the second straight year, ESSIC will also partner for Maryland Day with its M-Square Research Park neighbor and frequent collaborator, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA). NOAA is bringing its own precipitation-based game, as well and an interactive flooding table that demonstrates the effects of flash flooding on the environment.

NOAA’s mascot for lightning safety, Owlie Skywarn, will also make a return appearance at the NOAA/ESSIC exhibit this year, as will UMD’s own Testudo.

“I’m looking forward to figuring out some sort of photo op [and getting] the two mascots together [to do] something fun for the camera. That would be pretty awesome,” Cribb said.