Gulf Coast Research Lab Gets Smithsonian Exhibit

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The USM Gulf Coast Research Lab was alive with celebration Saturday.  The community enjoyed face painting, free boat rides, and drawing, all to celebrate the lab's newest exhibition. It's an interactive kiosk that mirrors the newest display ath the Smithsonian.

"It's exciting that this Smithsonian exhibit is displayed here at the Gulf Coast research lab and representing the entire region," said Steve Sempier who works at the lab.

The kiosk gives people access to what the research scientists do in the Gulf of Mexico and will eventually show work from labs along all of America's coastlines.

"In some ways it'll help us connect the scientists to the community and to educators and to children," said Sempier.

Children's reactions to the kiosk showed that it's going to work. Seven-year-old Zoe Griffin loved the activities.

"My favorite part about that is that you get to learn and you get to learn new stuff, like before school," Zoe said.

11-year-old Jake Bishop explored many features of the new display.  He had his favorite parts.

"Seeing the dolphins jump out of the water and the whales spin and the sharks and stuff,"  Jake said.

Saturday was all about fun, but the research the kiosk displays is serious business.

"The ocean drives our weather. The ocean is important for transportation. It covers 71 percent of the planet; it provides sixty to eighty percent of the oxygen we breathe. You know we could just go on and on and on talking about the importance of the ocean to our everyday lives," said Professor Emeritus Sharon Walker. "And that's what we're trying to do is help people understand and know that."

That effort is going a long way.  The Gulf Coast Research Lab is one of only six kiosks across the nation and the only one on the Gulf of Mexico. Walker says it's an honor that the lab is able to offer this exhibit.

"I think it gives us a national credibility in our education facilities within Mississippi and in the Gulf of Mexico, and it's going to help us come back," Walker said.

The kiosk will be open to the public on Fridays and will be available for all visiting groups to explore.