Highline College’s Marine, Science and Technology (MaST) Center Aquarium has a new exhibit open to the community from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday now through March.

The MaST partnered with researchers at foundry10, graduate students with University of Washington’s Museology program and the Community Marine Centers of the Salish Sea to develop “Plankton: Wanderers of the Salish Sea,” an interactive traveling aquarium exhibit for students and families to explore.

Engaging in hands-on educational activities throughout the exhibit, attendees will leave with an appreciation for the critical role that plankton play in our ecosystem and food web, they’ll learn their method of travel through ocean currents and will discover ways to actively support the health of plankton populations in the Salish Sea.

“We’re grateful to our partners for bringing this engaging plankton exhibit to our community,” said Aeriel Wauhob, the MaST’s Community Engagement Coordinator. “Plankton is more than just a character in the kid’s TV show, ‘Sponge Bob.’ It’s a vital food source for fish and is necessary for our food chain.”

“When children collect and observe plankton under the microscope, they clearly light up by engaging through direct experience,” said Travis Willingham Windleharth, senior researcher at foundry10. “It is incredibly rewarding as an educator and researcher to measure how youth are learning about the critical role plankton play in our ecosystem, and witness them learn how they can take action to support the health of the Salish Sea by exploring how their landside behaviors impact plankton.”

In addition to plankton collection in the field, students can play a fun “Plankton/Not Plankton” guessing game, and “Franken Plankton,” a dice game modeled after Cootie. Visitors can create their own plankton craft and see them displayed in a 3-D space. A large touch screen mounted on the wall enables youth to take quizzes (What Kind of Plankton are You?), read comics and more. An accompanying online experience allows users to download plankton coloring sheets and continue learning from home.

The MaST is located at 28203 Redondo Beach Drive S.. in Des Moines (map below) and is the first location the exhibit will be at for a total of eight locations around Puget Sound.

For more information, visit mast.highline.edu.

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