The University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program and the College of Marine Studies have planned numerous activities to interest and excite children of all ages at Coast Day on Sunday, October 7, at the Lewes campus.
A highlight of the day, and new this year, will be the Coast Day Treasure Hunt. Children, aged 5 to 13, will have fun searching for the answers to questions about the marine environment in the many displays and exhibits. Prizes will be awarded to those who are successful in answering all the questions. The Treasure Hunt maps will be available at the information table located at the front of Cannon Lab.
A special exhibit that will focus on UD’s upcoming deep-sea expedition, Extreme 2001, will be open all day in Room 104, Cannon Lab. Extreme 2001 will begin in mid-October when marine scientists from the University of Delaware will use Alvin, the famous submersible that was used to discover the wreck of the Titanic, to descend over a mile deep to explore hydrothermal vents on the floor of the Pacific Ocean.
Visitors will learn about how they can travel along with the scientists through an interactive Web site and about an educational project involving schoolchildren from Delaware and around the nation. Kids can walk through a mockup of Alvin and will be fascinated to learn about bizarre creatures such as the Pompeii worm that live in the total darkness, toxic waters, high heat, and tremendous pressures surrounding these underwater geysers.
Many other fun and educational activities are planned. The whole family will enjoy participating in the popular “Who Wants to be a Millionaire Oceanographer?” contest, which will be held at 1:00 p.m. in Room 203 of Cannon Lab. UD marine scientists will ask questions about oceanography, and the winners will receive prizes. Two additional sessions on marine biology and marine scientists also will be held.
In the lobby of Cannon Lab, kids can try to stump Dr. Doug Miller at the “Ask the Oceanographer” booth and safely admire the beauty and grace of the different jellyfish of the Mid-Atlantic coast. Also in Cannon Lab will be a display on “Amazing Invertebrates.” Children will see many of the common critters such as mud snails, crabs, mussels, and starfish that are found on the sand flats of the Delaware beaches. Short presentations at noon and 1 and 3 p.m. on each critter will be given, followed by a fun activity.
The Great Crab Race will be held outside Cannon Lab at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Bring your favorite bait and test it against the scientists’ to see which one will be the favorite of Delaware’s most valuable crustacean, the blue crab. A feeding will take place after each race — a great way to learn about the crab’s appetite and feeding habits.
The harbor will be the scene of many activities. Tour the 56-foot NOAA survey ship Bay Hydrogra-pher, the 166-foot DELRIVER oil skimmer, and New Jersey’s tall ship, the A. J. Meerwald. Kerith Lewis, Education Director of the Delaware Bay Schooner Project, will talk about the history of the Meerwald and oystering in the Delaware Bay and give two hands-on presentations titled “Oysters for Kids.” Adjacent to the marine critter touch tank will be a “children’s activity table,” where kids can make shell necklaces and see recently hatched horseshoe crabs.
At 2:30 p.m., the Coast Guard will demonstrate an air/sea rescue. Also on display will be a commercial fishing vessel and various fishing equipment, where children can learn about fishing from local watermen. In conjunction with a boat show sponsored by the Delaware Marine Trades Association, children who sign a safe boating pledge will receive a free life jacket. This giveaway will occur near the Seafood Pavilion, while supplies last, and is designed to encourage boating safety.
Activities that will continue throughout the day include making fish prints to take home, painting a mural of sea life, learning how to fold a piece of paper into a whale during a demonstration of the ancient art of origami, and “Making Waves!,” which highlights how sand moves along the coastline. The Sussex County Sheriff’s Department also will be fingerprinting children and taking a lock of their hair for DNA. The fingerprints and hair are put in a packet and given to parents. As the children are being fingerprinted, a 10-foot tall Deputy Bob will teach the children about the science of fingerprinting and DNA.
Geologists from the Delaware Geological Survey also have planned many activities and displays for children. They will give away posters, which show the historic shorelines of Cape Henlopen from 1800 to the present with the historic Cape Henlopen Lighthouse in the background, and bookmarks that include the geologic time scale.
Children will be able to become a “geologist” for a day as they sift sand in search of a fossil from Delaware. A variety of fossils — ranging from a dinosaur footprint to a mammoth tusk — also will be on display. And everybody can have the opportunity to have their rocks and fossils identified in a rock ’n’ fossil road show.
A number of businesses and industries are sponsoring special exhibits and events at Coast Day, including Tidewater Utilities, Motiva, Conectiv, SPI Pharma Group, and Oceanport Industries. Admission to this educational and fun-filled event is free; parking is $2. For more information, contact the UD Marine Public Education Office at (302) 831-8083 or visit the Coast Day Web site at www.ocean.udel.edu/CoastDay.