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.
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 15 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:
The Nation’s Nautical Chartmaker – Before digital images and bulk printing, nautical charts were hand-engraved on copperplates and reproduced on single printing presses. See an actual printing press, historic copperplate engraving, and printed chart from the 19th century chartmakers: the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, a NOAA predecessor agency.
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.
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!
Red Fish, Blue Fish – Learn why there are so many red fish found deep in the ocean from a NOAA Teacher at Sea alumna who sailed aboard NOAA ship Oscar Elton Sette.
Meet Sanctuary Sam – Don’t miss this chance to meet Sanctuary Sam, the National Marine Sanctuaries Spokes-Sea Lion!
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!
Dive In: Become A Shipwreck Detective – Come explore the ocean floor and uncover the history of sunken ships. Be a maritime archaeologist for the day: try on dive gear, learn about using sound to locate shipwrecks, and solve maritime mysteries.
NOAA On-the-Go – Join us to for a close-up look at some of the mobile apps and websites available from NOAA. We’ll have a few mobile devices on hand to show you our latest projects. Find out how to stay connected to NOAA when you’re on-the-go!
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.
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?!”
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!
Who's That Whale? - How do researchers tell one whale from another? Identifying individuals is important for many research questions, so a reliable id system is a great asset. Come try your hand at one way scientists have to keep tabs on who's who.
Wind Blown –Step into a hurricane-simulator booth to experience the power of winds up to 75 mph!
Eye of the Hurricane: P-3 Toss – Toss a toy plane into the "eye of the hurricane!"
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 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.)
10:00 a.m. - Whales, Tails and Scales: Celebrating 40 years of the Endangered Species Act
Come celebrate the Endangered Species Act's 40th anniversary with us and hear about our work to protect marine species, from blue whales to white abalone. Dive in and help us conserve our ocean!
11:30 a.m. - Film: Mighty Planes: P-3 Orion
Take a virtual flight with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters in an exciting new documentary. Meet "Kermit," one of NOAA's Lockheed WP-3D Orions, and "Gonzo," NOAA's sensor-packed Gulfstream IV jet. Learn how information collected by the NOAA Hurricane Hunters improves our understanding of tropical cyclones, enhances storm forecasts, and save lives. After the film, veteran NOAA Hurricane Hunter pilot and retired NOAA Corps Rear Admiral Phillip Kenul will take your questions about what it's like to fly into the eye of a hurricane. *Shown with permission from Exploration Production, Inc.
1:00 pm - Extreme Weather!
This winter the D.C. area has heard plenty about snow, ice and the Polar Vortex. Find out how NOAA predicts and helps prepare the community for bitter cold, wintry precipitation and other dangerous conditions. Join Steve Zubrick, the Science Operations Officer from the Washington D.C. National Weather Service Forecast Office, at 1pm in the NOAA Auditorium.
2:30 pm - Honoring the Fallen Men of USS Monitor
On March 8, 2013, the remains of two U.S. Navy sailors recovered from the wreck of the famed Civil War ironclad USS Monitor were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Working with genealogists and forensic experts from around the country, NOAA and the Navy worked for over a decade to identify these two men. Hear from the superintendent of NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary as he discusses the efforts that went into identifying these two men and how our nation has honored all 16 of the Monitor sailors lost when she sank on December 31, 1862.
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. 15 at the NOAA Open House registration desk on a first-come, first-served basis. Suitable for ages 7 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.)
Science On A Sphere® Tour
See Earth in a way you have never seen it before! Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is a room-sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six-foot diameter sphere. Imagine a giant animated globe with a fascinating visual display of all types of data that helps illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages. (A limited number of tickets for this tour will be available on Feb. 15 at the NOAA Open House registration desk on a first-come, first-served basis. Suitable for ages 7 and up.)
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. Also, see images of the Titanic on the seafloor, and hear about how NOAA imaged another shipwreck at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. 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. 15 at the NOAA Open House registration desk on a first-come, first-served basis. Suitable for ages 7 and up. Photo ID required for adults. Personal belongings subject to inspection.)
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.