15th annual Jazz at the Labs

Chris Amemiya on the trombone and the rest of Seattle's Jazz Coalescence

The natural curiosity of children finds a nurturing teacher in science, the means through which humans explore the common, uncommon, minuscule and vast things around us. Scientists and laymen alike will get the opportunity to support this spirit of inquiry at a young age by attending the 15th annual Jazz at the Labs on Aug. 22, which is a fundraiser for the Friday Harbor Labs Science Outreach Program.

The program partners kindergarten to 12 grade kids with research scientists and teachers. It involves the local elementary school, high school and middle school as well as University of Washington and Spring Street International School to conduct science inquiries in the field.

“Its been a really successful program; the kids enjoy it, the teachers enjoy it, and it’s really empowering for the University of Washington students to teach what they recently learned,” said Program Director, Coordinator and Educator Jenny Roberts.

Roberts said that many times the experiments or research they do in the field translates to other projects in school like art, english and math, which ensures that what they learn isn’t limited to one portion of their education.

In past years, other programs like a silent auction accompanied the music and dinner. This year is Fund-A-Need, which Roberts started as a way for people to donate directly to projects within the program so donors can get a better idea of what the kids are doing. One yearly favorite science project that the kids partake in through the program is testing the water quality in the Port of Friday Harbor.

“What’s really great about it is the kids are just so engaged when they are given the opportunity to do the science themselves. They’re just really involved, you can see it in their faces,” Roberts said. “I think they get a lot out of it, my hope is that they fall in love with the environment through science so they’ll want to protect it in the long run.”

According to Rachel Anderson, advancement coordinator at the labs, they aim to seat 125 people  at the event and raise about $20,000 for the program this year which has been traditionally scheduled in June, but was changed to August this year.

“I think the beautiful August weather will be a huge plus,” Anderson said. “The FHL Dining Hall deck has a gorgeous view and it has been rainy in early June.”

Local jazz legend Jay Thomas will also perform this year, Anderson said.

A press release sent out by the labs estimated that the outreach program involves more than 900 students, and will log more than 5,000 science and student contact hours this year alone. Jazz at the Labs features dinner at the Friday Harbor Laboratories dining hall at 6 p.m. accompanied by the San Juan Jazz Quintet featuring Friday Harbor Labs Director Dennis Willows on drums.

“Members of the SJ Jazz Quintet get  a kick out of this event for several reasons but most of all, we appreciate the opportunity to join with others in the community to raise funds for K-12 marine science educational outreach by the UW faculty and students,” Willows said. ” This gives local youth a real boost in developing their marine science skills and options for college.” Willows said this year Oliver Strasser, a FridayHarbor High School grad, now studying jazz at the New England Conservatory in Boston, will join the Quintet for the evening.

Seattle’s Jazz Coalescence with Chris Amemiya of Benaroya Research begins at 7 p.m. The emcee for the event is KPLU’s Morning Jazz Show host Dick Stein.All proceeds will benefit the FHL K-12 Science Outreach Program in the SJI elementary, middle and high schools and the Spring Street International School. The event often sells out. For reservations call 360-378-2165 ext. 0. Tickets for dinner and music are $40, tickets for music only, without dinner, are $25.