Arts and Entertainment

Discovery Day: science on display at UW Labs Open House, Saturday

Wiggly, wet and squishy creatures are always a favorite at the UW Friday Harbor Labs annual Open House. But there
Wiggly, wet and squishy creatures are always a favorite at the UW Friday Harbor Labs annual Open House. But there' much more in store for this year's event, Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., including marimba music around noon, and free popcorn out on the docks.
— image credit: Kathy Ballard photograph

It’s not every community that has a world-class research facility in its own backyard.

Fewer still with one devoted to building a greater understanding of what goes on below the surface of the sea.

Well, welcome to Friday Harbor, because that’s precisely what’s been going on over at the University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories for more than 100 years.

And if you’d like a peek at what they’ve been up to lately at the Labs, your ship has come in.

On Saturday, the docks, grounds, research vessels, classrooms and the doors to the laboratories (the Labs has 10) will be open wide, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., as UW Friday Harbor Labs hosts its annual Open House (there’s free popcorn, too).

Wander the grounds on a self-guided tour and find out what the Labs’ scientists, students, employees and administrators have to say about the past and the present research conducted at the facility, its history, insights about recent discoveries or the research that’s now under way. Over in Lab 5, they’ll be talking about impacts on the Elwha River from the torrent of sediment that’s flowed down its banks since the recent removal of two dams that held back the river’s natural flow for decades.

Or, you may also want to find out more about the equipment that researchers and students rely on to gather that all important data.

The event features a pair of SCUBA demonstrations, 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., at the docks, complete with audio piped in from divers below the surface. Early birds can watch members of the Friday Harbor High School marine science team demonstrate the finer points of piloting a “remotely operated vehicle”, or ROV, in Labratory 10.

There’s plenty of kid-friendly activities. The ever-popular “plankton demonstration,” in which children use nets to scoop up and then watch the microscopic creatures displayed on a screen, through the lens of a microscope, is an Open House favorite. The kids are probably not the only ones who will want to get their hands on a slimy invetebrate or two. There’s plenty of that in store, too.

Find a more complete listing of the Labs’ Open House event, visit:


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