Appalachian Laboratory Open House brings hands-on science to the community

May 5, 2015

Did you know there could be something other than water in the rain? Have you ever seen a tree breathe? Did you know that not all scientists wear lab coats? The Appalachian Laboratory hosted an Open House on May 2 that introduced the community to UMCES scientists and offered a chance to do hands-on science experiments to learn about the environment in western Maryland.

This year’s Open House was being held in partnership with Frostburg State University and Allegany County Public Schools’ Western Maryland STEM Festival. 

Families tried their hand at testing rain to see what this apparently clear liquid contains and learned why bats are important to our ecosystem through demonstrations of field equipment used in bat studies and learn about current threats to bat populations. They explored the equipment that records how trees breathe and grow, and particpated in exciting "mad science" demonstrations.

For a third year in a row, Citizens Restoring American Chestnuts also gave away American chestnuts to individuals who are interested in contributing to science while at the same time learning something about the environment. A citizen science effort based out of the Appalachian Laboratory, the American chestnut project engages residents of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia in ciitizen science as the public engages in science investigation by asking questions, collecting data, and interpreting results.

The Appalachian Laboratory is home to state-of-the-art research on plant and soil ecology, water resources, wildlife ecology, and conservation biology. Three floors of the laboratory will feature hands-on learning about science, including research unique to Allegany County.