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Environmental Factor, May 2012

Outreach staff hits the pavement during NC Science Festival

By Edy Ball

New wing of the N.C. Museum of Natural History

The new $56 million wing adds 80,000 square feet of display and laboratory space to the N.C. Museum of Natural History. Even before the additions, the museum was the top facility of its kind in the Southeast and the most visited museum in North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Brian Russell)

N.C. Museum of Natural History

Awe-inspiring displays in the museum’s main building have introduced generations of children and adults, K through gray, to the excitement of science. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS outreach specialists joined the tens of thousands of people who flocked to downtown Raleigh, N.C., April 20-21 for the grand opening of the Nature Research Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. (http://naturalsciences.org/)  Attended by an estimated 70,000 people, the 24-hour event was part of a 17-day statewide celebration of the North Carolina Science Festival (http://www.ncsciencefestival.org/)  April 13-29. 

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Specialists from the NIEHS Office of Science Education and Diversity (OSED), Ericka Reid, Ph.D., and Bono Sen, Ph.D., worked with volunteers from Institute labs to staff an information booth on environmental health. OSED used mechanical lung props, a setup for measuring lung capacity, and a poster, “Lungs, the Environment, and You,” from the NIEHS Citizen Schools project (see story), to underscore the importance of respiratory health.

Leading up to the grand opening ribbon cutting by N.C. Governor Bev Perdue was a parade that included a marching band from Raleigh’s Shaw University. Music and entertainment continued throughout the night and the next day, although most exhibitors worked their displays in shifts on Friday evening and Saturday.

Sen, who arrived well before the action began at 5:00 p.m., was talking with curious visitors even before she’d finished setting up the display. Foot traffic was brisk along the streets, which were closed to vehicles for the event, and the NIEHS team stayed busy interacting with people about environmental health and NIEHS research.


NIEHS biologist Tanya Whiteside

Whiteside demonstrated lung function to some of the first visitors to the booth. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


The parade that officially kicked off the grand opening of the Nature Research Center.

Members of the parade that officially kicked off the grand opening set the tone for festivities that continued throughout the night and into the next day. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


NIEHS outreach specialists at the grand opening of the Nature Research Center

The NIEHS team and N.C. Science Festival Statewide Programs Coordinator Kathryn Fromson showed off the booth. Shown, left to right, Reid, NIEHS biologist Sylvia Hewett, her husband Steve, Fromson, Sen, and NIEHS biologist Huei-Chen Lao. Not shown: NIEHS biologist Tanya Whiteside. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Mindy McFeaters and Russ Campbell

Burroughs Wellcome Fund (http://www.bwfund.org/)  communications staff Mindy McFeaters, left, and Russ Campbell gave out copies of the organization’s new book for middle schoolers, “Science Explorers.” Burroughs Wellcome was among some 75 nonprofits, governmental organizations, and educational institutions exhibiting at the event. A handful of scientific and environmental businesses also had booths along the streets. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)




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