IAN Tests Visitors’ Knowledge of The Chesapeake Bay at the 2019 Horn Point Campus Open House

Nathan Miller ·
1 November 2019
Science Communication | 


Nathan Miller and Heath Kelsey leading the quiz game at open house.

Do
you know how many chickens are produced in Maryland and Delaware each year?
Better yet, do you know how much each one of those chickens poops each year?
These were just some of the trivia items among a slew of others that the IAN
team quizzed visitors on during this year’s open house at the Horn Point Campus
(for those inquisitive minds reading this piece who don’t know the answers to
the above, they are a.) five million chickens, and b.) 130 pound of poop per
chicken per year. In total, Delaware and Maryland’s chicken population produce
up to 650 million pounds of chicken poop each year).

            The theme of this year’s open house was, “See the Bay the Horn Point way!” Given this wholly innocuous direction for all UMCES participants of the open house, why would we, IAN, plop such an odd question on innocent folks just simply waiting for their turn to ride the Rachel Carson research vessel? Well, each year, a significant chunk of that 650 million pound reservoir of chicken poop gets inadvertently dumped (pun definitely intended) into the Chesapeake Bay watershed via poor sewage treatment and annual flooding, polluting the Chesapeake Bay and impacting important ecosystem services, fishery habitat, and recreational services.


Max Hermanson explaining the answer to one of the quiz questions.

IAN’s booth, headlined, Test Your Knowledge of the Chesapeake, wasn’t designed to gross visitors out, nor was it meant to provide simple one-word answers to any of the questions we threw out to visitors. By asking engaging questions, the IAN team used the visitor’s guessed answer – regardless of its accuracy – to discuss important aspects of Chesapeake conservation and management in a manner that strived to be as fascinating and relevant to the general public as possible. Listening to visitors’ comments and reactions to the Chesapeake fact we provided was just as critical. Integrating your audience’s interests and perspective into how we discuss resource management is foundational to informal environmental education scenarios. By making our quiz booth thematic, organized, enjoyable, and relevant, we hope that visitors left the IAN station with a little more knowledge about the Chesapeake – as well as a better idea of how to care for the bay in the years to come.


The arts and crafts component of our booth at the open house being run by Annie Carew.

Of
course, with IAN having a team of graphic design pros in the office, we
couldn’t pass on the chance to show kids how to draw their own symbols on
stickers that they could take home. Thank you so much to the IAN team who
participated in this year’s open house. Until next year!

About the author

Nathan Miller

Having studied Film and Television at NYU, Environmental Biology at Columbia, and my Environmental Management at Duke, I want to help make complex environmental research more relevant to resource users and policy makers through creative storytelling strategies. I’ve been lucky to work with organizations that let me explore best practices in science communication, be it as a video editor for the United Nations Development Program or as an Insect Zoo volunteer at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, where I currently get to teach visitors about arthropods (Let me know if you ever want to go to a tarantula feeding!). Off the clock, I enjoy reading, hiking, drinking coffee, chocolate chip cookies, and scrolling through Petfinder while dreaming of having a puppy!



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