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 talks by NOAA experts, interactive exhibits, special tours, and hands-on activities for ages 5 and up. Meet and talk with scientists, weather forecasters, hurricane hunters, and others who work to understand our environment, protect life and property, and conserve and protect natural resources. Please join us the week of February 9 for a series of free lunchtime presentations at the Gateway to NOAA exhibit on a variety of timely topics. Click here for details on the events. Visit www.noaa.gov/openhouse for details or call 301-713-7258 for 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 7 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 Shark Files – Get up close and personal with NOAA Shark Scientists and NOAA Teacher at Sea to learn everything you ever wanted to know about sharks!
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.
Brass Brains – Before electronic computers, the calculation of tide predictions was made by a mechanical machine made of steel and brass, known as “Brass Brains.” This machine was used to calculate tides from the early 1900s until the 1960s! Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the machine and see a demonstration of how it works.
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?!”
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.
Ocean Exploration: Unlocking Deep Ocean Mysteries– Visit the Exploration Command Center and hear from explorers about America's Ocean Exploration program. Deep sea exploration operations, undiscovered species and more will be presented - including how you can be a virtual explorer when you see live video from the seafloor on your computer at home, at work or in school!
Swept Away: The Power of Water – See the power of water with an interactive flood table, and you'll soon find out why driving or walking into flowing water is never safe!
Hello Owlie! – Meet lovable hoot, Owlie Skywarn, the National Weather Service mascot!
Meet Sanctuary Sam – Don’t miss this chance to meet Sanctuary Sam, the National Marine Sanctuaries Spokes-Sea Lion, and use your creative side to decorate a construction paper whale hat that you can take with you!
Wind Blown –Step into a hurricane-simulator booth to experience the power of winds up to 75 mph!
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.
Let's Go To Sea! – Come aboard our ship simulator and try your hand at navigating a NOAA ship with the help of officers with the NOAA Corps, who command NOAA's research and survey vessels. Plot the ship's position on nautical charts and steer your way through a busy shipping channel. Full steam ahead!
Also, see a real undersea lab and more!
Please join us in the NOAA Auditorium for a series of free video presentations (all day) and special talks. (Sign language interpreter available. Photo ID required for adults. Personal belongings subject to inspection. No food or beverages permitted.)
11:30 a.m. – Hurricane Hunter!
Learn from NOAA Hurricane Hunter pilot and NOAA Corps officer Commander Catherine Martin what it's like to fly into the eye of hurricane to gather data essential to forecasting and studying tropical cyclones.
2:30 pm - Shark Tales – Adventures with NOAA Shark Scientists
Join NOAA Fisheries shark scientists Dr. William Driggers and Kristin Hannan as they share a day in the life of a shark scientist, their most memorable shark moments and answer your shark questions. Also, view unique and “sharktastic” specimens!
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. 7 at the NOAA Open House registration desk on a first-come, first-served basis. 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.)
NOAA Science On a Sphere® (SOS)
NOAA Art Walk
See original works by Wyland 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.