Several URI Colleges offer insight into environment as part of One Ocean Exploration Zone

Events are part of Volvo Ocean Race

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KINGSTON, R.I.- May 11, 2018- The Volvo Ocean Race has come to port in Newport, R.I. for its only North American stop. While in the city, visitors and competitors will have plenty to do in Race Village, ranging from learning how to recycle a boat to exploring ocean science thanks to the University of Rhode Island.

The grand opening of One Ocean Exploration Zone is Saturday, May 12, at 11 a.m. at Fort Adams State Park and will remain open until the next leg of the race departs from Newport on Sunday, May 20. The exhibits at One Ocean Exploration Zone are free and open to the public.

As part of the One Ocean Exploration Zone, visitors can explore a wide range of topics related to the environment and sciences, to which several URI colleges have contributed.

The College of the Environment and Life Sciences at URI will present an exhibit on the safe, sustainable production of food.

“We will be showing visitors how they can be stewards of our ocean and make sustainable choices in food and other areas. This is vital to ensuring that we continue to enjoy in the future the amazing resources provided by our oceans,” said Marta Gomez-Chiarri, chair of the URI Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science.

Students and faculty from URI’s College of Engineering will explore the engineering behind and the applications of underwater robotics and other aspects of ocean engineering. The presentations will be led by faculty and students in the Department of Ocean Engineering, along with members of URI Hydrobotics, a team of undergraduate students that focuses on building, designing and teaching about remotely operated vehicles.

As part of URI’s College of Education and Professional Studies, URI’s Guiding Education in Math and Science Network (GEMS-net) will host hands-on activities to help visitors explore key concepts related to ocean science. Sara Sweetman, director of GEMS-net explains that it is important to engage young students in science and engineering.

“By engaging young children in the practices associated with scientists and engineers through hands-on activities, they learn that science and engineering are mentally challenging and fun,” explained Sweetman. “With enough of these experiences, they are more likely to consider science and engineering as career choices in the future.”

Additionally, the URI Graduate School of Oceanography will be prominently featured at the One Ocean Exploration Zone. Exhibits will include addressing natural disasters and their impacts, touring URI’s one-of-a-kind Inner Space Center, emphasizing the importance of plankton in the ocean, and exploring the mysteries of the Narragansett Bay.

Rhode Island Sea Grant, which is based at the University, will host Recycle Your Boat, Protect Your Home: Innovations for Coastal Living.

Rhode Island Sea Grant, one of 33 programs in the National Sea Grant College Program, will demonstrate how fiberglass boats will be processed and recycled into concrete thanks to a new program developed in partnership with the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association and the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp. Staff will also be showing visitors how to use StormTools, an online mapping service for property owners, to identify the flooding threats to any coastal property in Rhode Island.

Dennis Nixon, director of the Rhode Island Sea Grant Program, discussed the two-fold purpose of the program at the One Ocean Exploration Zone.

“Rhode Island Sea Grant, a federal-state partnership headquartered at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography, will focus our exhibit on two issues of great relevance to Rhode Island: first, after more than two years of research conducted by Sea Grant staff at the request of the state’s marine trade industry, we devised an environmentally responsible method for the disposal of fiberglass waste from end-of-life boats,” explained Nixon.

“Second, we will be able to show homeowners in Rhode Island how their properties will fare with potential coastal flooding danger using StormTools, an innovative software tool that combines a variety of data sources to give a realistic projection of what risks a property owner might face from the dual threats of rising sea level and the increased intensity of coastal storms.”

Learn more about One Ocean Exploration Zone and a full list of events and times.

The One Ocean Exploration Zone is presented by 11th Hour Racing, an educational destination offering hands-on opportunities to discover ocean science and the environment.

Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this press release.