Raise the dome this weekend at ScienceWorks

A geodesic dome and a weather station are transforming the grounds at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum. These two projects are intended to connect people to local forests and weather, linking hands-on exploration with research and restoration. Installation of the Dome occurs this Saturday. Willing helpers and interested onlookers are welcome to attend this “dome-raising” beginning at 11 a.m.

“What started as a small project to put in a Lomakatsi Restoration Project native plant shade-house nursery has really blossomed into a great community project with many partners and lots of support” says ScienceWorks Executive Director Chris Wallace Hostetler. “The generous contribution of Pacific Domes combined with the restoration programs of Lomakatsi brings a unique structure to the museum grounds that will provide a great many learning opportunities.”

The 10-meter-high weather station will provide data peculiar to the south end of the Valley and help us understand the patterns of the greater Rogue Valley. The state-of-the-art weather station will measure temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, precipitation, wind speed and direction, and barometric pressure. The weather station will be used for many purposes including ScienceWorks exhibits, SOU classes, irrigation water conservation, and community education through near real-time internet posting. Southern Oregon University’s Greg Jones, Professor of Geography, received a grant from the Southern Oregon University Foundation for the Weather Station.

The 44-foot Tree Nursery Dome will function as an outdoor classroom and a native plant nursery housing up to 2,000 plants of 45 species. The concept was spawned by a grant from the Hinkle Charitable Foundation to support expansion of Lomakatsi’s Full Circle Schools Restoration Ecology Program. The Full Circle School students grow plants in native plant nurseries, some of which are at their own schools. Along with community members and restoration workers, kids help revegetate adopted sites, meet scientists, learn to monitor soils and they help maintain the plants.

“We are thrilled to be breaking ground for this high profile nursery, thanks to our many new partners and long-time supporters,” declared Justin Cullumbine, Project Manager and co-founder of Lomakatsi. “Now we can better meet the growing demand from local schools for nursery-based lessons and involve students of all ages from across the region in long-term stewardship of restoration projects they help to adopt. We might anticipate even more participation in our bimonthly community-wide planting events, as well.”

Nursery education is hands-on, and includes species identification, propagation, soil and organic fertilizers, watering, weeding, and transplanting techniques, as well as monitoring.

“The really fun part will be assembling the ‘erector set’ of the Dome frame and the weather station lattice tower,” commented Paul Kay, a water educator and volunteer at ScienceWorks. Paul gives credit to the city of Ashland planning and building departments. “The city workers were very patient and helpful during the planning and permitting of these unconventional structures.”

“All the expertise and involvement in this project is a huge tribute to our community, and the collective vision we have for serving our youth.” Hostetler said. “The flagship nursery started out as a low-tech shade house nursery design, but took a futuristic leap when Pacific Domes, a local manufacturer of geodesic structures, also volunteered a significant contribution.”

Based in Ashland, Pacific Domes supplies the global market with geodesic domes for shelters, events, greenhouses, emergency relief and playgrounds. This unique white hemispheric structure will be nestled in the forested area at the entrance to ScienceWorks. Future plans for the Dome include exhibits inside and outside the dome, as well as presentations on architecture and engineering.

The meteorological station is manufactured by Met One Instruments of Grants Pass, who contributed part of the cost and developed special software to make the weather data more accessible to local residents.

Metal artist Cheryl Garcia of The Great Metal Works is providing contracting expertise on the installation. Kerry KenCairn of KenCairn Sager Landscape Architects provided help on the placement of the structures and the protection of trees and landscaping on the site. Ken Ogden of OgdenRoemerWilkerson Architecture is the architect on the project. Nabil Taha of Precision Structure Engineering engineered the Nursery Dome, and Barb Ciota is the engineer for the Weather Station.

Lomakatsi involves youth from across Southern Oregon, grades K-12, in every step of the forest and watershed restoration process, in a comprehensive program of in-school classroom presentations, hands-on education at shade house native plant nurseries, school and community-field days for planting and site maintenance, and educational field trips. Nursery plants, grown at schools, the Jackson Wellsprings nursery, and now ScienceWorks, are used to revegetate streamside and forest sites all over the Rogue Valley through Lomakatsi’s Restoration Adopted Site program.

Serving the community since 1995, Lomakatsi has a trained restoration workforce that implements habitat recovery and fire hazard reduction projects across the bioregion. The planting of forests and stream banks improves salmon and wildlife habitat, reduces noxious weeds, stabilizes stream banks, improves water quality, shades the streams and provides wood for the watershed system, as well as the economy. For more information, visit www.lomakatsi.org.

Community members who are interested in helping with the installation should contact Chris Hostetler at ScienceWorks at 482-6767 ext. 10 or [email protected]. Stormy weather may change the schedule, so check for an announcement in these pages or call ScienceWorks.

ScienceWorks is located at 1500 E. Main St.. Museum hours are 10 to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

Now in its fifth year, ScienceWorks has served over 150,000 visitors and school children throughout Southern Oregon and Northern California.

More information is available at 482-6767 or www.scienceworksmuseum.org.

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