Fort Worth Museum of Science and History Makes History and Brings Current Science to North Texas

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (FWMSH) brings current, international science to the forefront as it offers children from the region the opportunity to speak directly to the crew of the Plastiki, a 60-foot catamaran engineered from recyclable materials and 12,500 reclaimed plastic soda bottles that is sailing the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Sydney. The Skype session will be held Monday, June 14, 2010 at 2 p.m. CDT in the Museum’s Oak Room (1600 Gendy Street).

Adventure Ecology founder and environmentalist David de Rothschild and his intrepid crew set sail aboard the Plastiki, an ‘off-the-grid’ vessel that showcases waste as a resource whilst being powered by renewable energy systems, to draw attention to the health of our oceans – in particular the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. During the 10-minute Skype session, David de Rothschild will answer questions about the voyage and his findings posed by Museum guests comprising more than 200 children and adults.

“Our goal with the Skype link is to bring a current natural science problem to the attention of these young people so that they can learn how to make a difference from someone who is out in the middle of the ocean actually making a difference,” said Museum of Science and History President Van A. Romans. “As the Garbage Patch is now reportedly more than twice the size of Texas, we want to make sure north Texans are aware of the problem and that they understand how they are affected by it; and that they understand they can make simple changes in their lives to help reduce waste.”

Rothschild wants to raise awareness of the four items that contribute to most of the pollution in the ocean: plastic bags; styrene foam; plastic soda and water bottles; and the lids and tops from the soda and water bottles. “It is estimated that between 60 percent and 80 percent of the marine pollution in the world is comprised of plastic materials, with the concentration increasing within the northern and southern Gyres to as much as 90 to 95 percent of the total amount,” said de Rothschild. “According to Project Aware, 15 billion pounds of plastic are produced in the United States every year, and only 1 billion pounds are recycled,” he added.

An additional initiative the Museum has undertaken to bring current science and historic events to the public is a 20 foot wide by 8 foot tall video wall located between the Atrium and Stars Cafe. The video wall incorporates cutting-edge technology – a cloud computing service developed by ETI of El Segundo, CA and Videro of Germany – to present current technical, health, and general news visuals and data from AFP and McLatchy-Tribune. Current weather information is pulled from the National Weather Service.

In April 2010, the Museum design team paid homage to the historic voyage of the Plastiki by creating Sea ‘n’ Recycle: In Honor of Plastiki, an environmental installation created from 8,000 repurposed plastic bottles and other plastic materials. The sculptural installation, which measures 12 feet wide x 24 feet long x 9 feet tall, will be on view in the Museum atrium throughout the Plastiki’s historic expedition. Museum guests are encouraged to walk through the Sea ‘n’ Recycle tunnel to experience in some way the environment underneath the Garbage Patch.

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