Grandfather showcases new exhibit

by Staff Reports at Mountain Times

Grandfather Mountain recently installed its first interactive exhibit since opening the Nature Museum in 1990.

Made possible by a partnership between NASA, Appalachian State University and the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the exhibit focuses on weather and climate.

Guests use interactive touch screens to view a presentation on the weather-related science behind the earth's climate. The presentation provides information about current conditions on Grandfather and about the mountain's weather records. It also allows visitors access to the NASA Climate Kids website, Environmental Protection Agency website and ASU climate quiz.

"We are very excited about this opportunity to display our unique weather in real time and to add a new element for guests to enjoy in the Nature Museum," said Jesse Pope, director of education.

The program is sponsored by NASA and Appalachian's Climate Action Network through Direct Observations and Outreach (CAN-DOO) program. The CAN-DOO program complements the NASA Science Mission Directorate Education and Public Outreach portfolio by promoting public awareness of climate science and by introducing various levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) principles to students from public school, university and home school settings.

"We partnered with Grandfather Mountain to implement citizen science activities that would engage public interest in climate science in a hands-on way," said Ginger Kelly, CAN-DOO outreach coordinator.

The new exhibit is part of a large-scale effort by Appalachian State University and the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation to conduct educational programs centered on climate curriculum.

Climate programs take place at 11 a.m. daily outside of the mountain's environmentally friendly fudge shop. Measurements, such as incoming solar radiation, density of particulate matter in the atmosphere, temperature and precipitation, are recorded. Grandfather Mountain has been charged to take long-term daily measurements as part of NASA's international climate database. Park guests are invited to take part in this activity led by staff naturalists.

Grandfather Mountain is a globally recognized nature preserve famous for its 360-degree vistas, native wildlife habitats and Mile High Swinging Bridge. The attraction is located on U.S. 221, 2 miles north of Linville and 1 mile south of the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 305.

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park in the public interest and participate in educational research activities.

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