Explore your world and learn how NOAA—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—takes the pulse of the planet every day and protects and manages ocean and coastal resources. Join us on NOAA’s Silver Spring, Maryland, campus for a series of free activities, including engaging guest presentations, interactive exhibits, and hands-on activities for ages 5 and up. Meet and talk with scientists, weather forecasters, hurricane hunter pilots, and others who work to understand our environment, protect life and property, and conserve and protect natural resources. Early birds can also take a tour of the NOAA National Weather Service’s Operations Center and NOAA Exploration Command Center. Please join us earlier in the week for a series of free lunchtime presentations at the Gateway to NOAA exhibit on a variety of timely topics. Click here for more information.
Get your “Passport to Science” and start your NOAA Open House journey at 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Registration desk open February 9 from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. NOAA Open House events take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
What to See and Do
Gateway to NOAA Exhibit
This free permanent exhibit highlights how NOAA takes the pulse of the planet every day and protects and manages ocean and coastal resources.
NOAA Science Center
Hands-on activities for ages 5 and up. Meet and talk with scientists, weather forecasters, hurricane hunter pilots, and others who work to understand our environment, protect life and property, and conserve and protect natural resources. (Photo ID required for adults. Personal belongings subject to inspection.)
Activities in the NOAA Science Center include:
Build a Buoy – Join NOAA in this hands-on activity where children and adults can design, build, and test their very own buoy, all while learning how NOAA uses buoys to study oceans and estuaries.
“Let’s Talk Trash!” Game – Test your knowledge, discover facts and debunk myths about marine debris at the Marine Debris Program’s toss game, "Let’s talk trash!" Answer questions correctly to earn a chance to toss a bag into a debris-free slot to save help save your favorite animal from marine debris!
The Nation’s Nautical Chartmaker – Explore the basics of creating and reading nautical charts, and see a special display of NOAA’s charting heritage. Get a free copy of the book “Teacher at Sea: Mrs. Armwood’s Hydrographic Adventure on the NOAA Ship Fairweather,” to learn how NOAA collects ocean information for chart making. (Books available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. One book per person.)
Ocean Acidification – Decades of ocean observations show that carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean is changing the chemistry of the seawater, a process called ocean acidification. Learn how this change in the ocean’s chemistry will affect life in the ocean and those who depend on it.
Flash Flooding: Impacts Close to Home – Meet local meteorologists from the Washington D.C. area to learn how flooding impacts the metro area and see how your local NOAA forecasters help your community prepare.
Meet Owlie! – Whoooo knows the most about severe weather and preparedness? Visit with the National Weather Service's Owlie Skywarn to learn more about the Young Meteorologist Program. Don’t forget to get your picture taken with the lovable hoot!
Lightning Safety: A Hair Raising Experience! – Learn the myths and facts of lightning safety. Are you up for an electrifying experience? Make your hair stand on end by touching the Van de Graaf generator!
Suit Up for Survival – Boating safety starts with having the right gear, including life jackets, first aid kits, locator beacons and nautical charts. Learn how to stay safe at sea and try your hand at suiting up in a bright orange survival suit!
Your Nose Knows! – A hands-on, nose-on table demonstration of how NOAA Fisheries inspectors check seafood quality. Put your nose to the test to see if you can tell “What’s that smell?!”
Make a Coral Polyp – Did you know almost all corals are made of hundreds to hundreds of thousands of individual animals called polyps? Meet a teacher from NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program and learn about coral by making a coral polyp model.
Origami Whales and Sea Turtles – NOAA works to protect whales and sea turtles in their habitat. Make a folded paper animal and learn more!
Seashore Animals – Compare pictures of seahorses, sea stars, mollusk shells and other marine animals with x-ray photographs of them.
Meet Sanctuary Sam – Don’t miss this chance to meet Sanctuary Sam, the National Marine Sanctuaries Spokes-Sea Lion!
Keep Out: Turtle Excluder Device Demo – Shrimp trawls in the Gulf of Mexico sometimes scoop up turtles, so how do fishermen keep them out of their catch? Turtle Excluder Devices, or TEDs, are required to separate turtles from the catch and kick them out of the net. Come see one in action!
Where in the World? – Make your own globe showing the locations of tsunamis or ocean depths and land elevations. Also, learn how NOAA uses satellites to collect environmental data and save lives.
Also, check out an early tide prediction machine that doesn’t use computer chips, see how nautical charts were once produced, see a real undersea lab, and more!
Please join us in the NOAA Auditorium for a series of free video presentations (all day) and the following special talks. (Sign language interpreter available. Photo ID required for adults. Personal belongings subject to inspection. No food or beverages permitted.)
10 a.m. – Marine Mammals from Flipper to Fluke
Have you ever wondered what makes a whale or sea lion a mammal, or how scientists tell one dolphin from another? Nicole Le Boeuf, chief of the NOAA Fisheries Service’s Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, will discuss marine mammals and answer your questions.
1 p.m. – Extreme Weather: DC Edition
2012 was a year of weather extremes in the Washington, DC area. NOAA and your local news media work hard every day to stay ahead of the next big weather event. Our special presenters (below) will take you behind the scenes of some of the major storms to hit our area in 2012 and discuss how they will help prepare you for whatever wild weather 2013 may bring.
Jacqui Jeras, WJLA-TV Morning Meteorologist
Steve Zubrick, Science Operations Officer, Baltimore/Washington Weather Forecast Office
Jason Samenow, Chief Meteorologist, Washington Post Capital Weather Gang
Holly Bamford, Assistant Administrator, NOAA National Ocean Service
Eli Jacks, Chief, Fire and Public Weather Services Branch, NOAA National Weather Service
3 p.m. – Ironclad Mysteries: Stories and Faces of the USS Monitor
It has been more than 150 years since 16 sailors perished when the famed Civil War ironclad USS Monitor sank in the Atlantic during a New Year’s Eve storm. Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent David Alberg will share stories of this historic vessel and her crew, and discuss efforts to identify some of the sailors who went down with the ship.
NOAA National Weather Service Operations Center Tour
Attend a simulated weather briefing in the NOAA National Weather Service Operations Center! Sign up for this special opportunity to learn first-hand what the National Weather Service does during high-impact events. (A limited number of tickets for this tour will be available on Feb. 9 at the NOAA Open House registration desk on a first-come, first-served basis. Ages 5 and up. Photo ID required for adults. No bags or backpacks permitted, with the exception of small purses and tote bags. Personal belongings subject to inspection.)
NOAA Ocean Exploration Command Center Tour
Learn how scientists ashore participate in distant ocean explorations, in real time, without ever getting on a ship. Learn how you can see live video from the seafloor on your computer and see an example of an animal different from all other life on Earth. It’s all in the NOAA Ocean Exploration Command Center! (Located inside the NOAA Science Center. A limited number of tickets for this tour will be available on Feb. 9 at the NOAA Open House registration desk on a first-come, first-served basis. Photo ID required for adults. Personal belongings subject to inspection.)
NOAA Art Walk
See original works by Wyland, nationally syndicated cartoonists Jim Toomey (Sherman’s Lagoon) and Jack Elrod (Mark Trail), and other artists who make science and nature come alive through their creative talents. (Self-guided. Stops on the Art Walk are both indoors and outdoors. Photo ID required for some indoor stops.)
Directions and Parking
For directions to the NOAA Open House and parking options, click here.
For your safety, the following items are prohibited at NOAA facilities: weapons, explosives, incendiary devices, dangerous instruments, alcohol, illegal drugs, and pets (except guide dogs). Adults, please bring photo ID. Please see event listings above for other security requirements.
Inclement Weather Policy
NOAA follows the federal government’s operating status. To find out if the federal government is open or closed due to snow or other severe weather, click here.
Food will not available at NOAA Open House events. However, there are a number of dining options nearby.
NOAA Heritage Week Contact Information
For the latest information about the NOAA Open House and other NOAA Heritage Week events, check this website for updates. Questions about the NOAA Open House may be emailed to GatewaytoNOAA@noaa.gov or call 301-713-7258.