“Science on a Sphere” Debuts at Nurture Nature Center

NOAA grant and award makes Easton one of only 70 locations worldwide with a room-sized global display system.

Ther unveiled its new “Science on a Sphere” to about 100 invited guests Wednesday afternoon, including guests from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who awarded a two-year $241,000 award to support the project.

The six-foot hollow shell, really a high definition projection screen, is suspended while four projectors cast video and animated data on its surface.

More than 200 programs are currently available to the center, said director Rachel Hogan Carr.

The sphere is ideal for teaching students about environmental issues, and also provides exhibits for adult visitors, Carr said.

She added that there are very few sphere displays in the world—Easton's is only the 67th.

“There isn't one in New York City,” Carr said. “The Queen attended the opening of the one in London.”

The display system is intended to be the flood museum's capstone exhibit, and the center is already planning on creating new programming for the exhibit, a global flood map of sorts, in conjunction with Lehigh University, NOAA and the DaVinci Science Center, along with others, Carr said.

Demonstrating a few of the various visual programs for the crowd, scientist for Nurture Nature Kate Brandes showed the versatility of the globe.

Ranging from “Blue Marble,” showing an animation with color correction of how the astronauts see the Earth from space, to detailed global weather videos of Hurricane Katrina, solar flare activity on the Sun and surface images of Mars, to social interaction maps such as an animation of all commercial air traffic in a 24-hour period, the high-definition, three-dimensional display offers a view unlike print or two-dimensional video images.

That programs can be created for the display is a great advantage, Brandes said.

“Those with spheres could view Katrina within days of it happening,” she said.

Peter Ahnert, of the NOAA, praised the center, and in a surprise presentation, announced Carr has been named the 2011 Distinguished Educator of the Year by the American Meteorological Society.

The presentation was concluded with a cake reception to celebrate the event.

The Nurture Nature Center plans to open the exhibit to the public in September.


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