Oceans are to Earth what blood is to the human body, and that’s why it’s extremely important to learn about them and to stop hurting them, says Sean Amidon, executive director of Hands-On Science Center.

Amidon invites locals to learn about the oceans through the center’s new Aquatic Ecosystems Exhibit.


Ribbon cutting

The new exhibit will be celebrated with a free event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 8. The ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 11:30 a.m.

The free event correlates with World Ocean Day, which aims to remind everyone of the vital role oceans have for the health of the planet.

“We are partnering with the Shelbyville-Bedford County Public Library, as well as with Tullahoma Parks and Recreation and TVA for the event,” Amidon said. “TVA will be here with some of their naturalists presenting some really cool stuff.”

The festivities will include various games and activities.

“We are going to have all kinds of arts and crafts going on that day,” Amidon said. “We are going to have guest speakers throughout the day.”

Additionally, visitors will have the chance to see some of the creations of children participating in the center’s summer camp program.

“Our first week of summer camps will have just completed, and the theme of that summer camp is oceans,” he said. “During the summer camp, the kids will be making art projects titled ‘Why We Love Our Oceans,’ and those will be on display during the event. We are talking a lot about oceans, and that day is actually World Oceans Day, so it tied in perfectly with the ribbon cutting of our exhibit.

He encouraged Tullahomans to attend the event.

“People can come out and support the kids that worked hard all week making some cool art projects.”


The aquatic exhibit

The new aquatic exhibit became reality thanks to the generous donations of the Tennessee Valley Authority and other local sponsors, said Amidon.

“We were very lucky to receive a grant from the TVA to redo our aquatic section,” Amidon said. “We received a $4,000 grant from TVA. And with a couple of additional sources, we have about $7,000 total we are investing this area that’s themed aquatic ecosystems.”

The exhibit will display various types of systems, said Amidon.

“We’ll have our ocean and reef tank,” he said. “And we’ll have a river tank, which has a turtle and some little fish in it. We are also highlighting a GMO tank.”

The GMO tank will display fluorescent fish, which are genetically modified organisms.

“We’ll have some graphics talking about what exactly is GMO is,” he said. “Is it really the terrible thing that people thinks it is?”

“We also have a rainforest exhibit with frogs,” he said.

There will be a focus on talking about the effects of deforestation and how that affects the ecosystems, said Amidon.

“It will be an exciting change,” he said. “One thing we have been lacking for a while is some of the new technology that has become available. We are actually bringing in a touchscreen where we’ll have an interactive game. For the ribbon cutting, we’ll have a matching game for kids to play and we plan on developing that further.”

“We have a new large-screen TV that was donated to us, and we’ll have educational videos playing and talking about aquatic ecosystems. We also have a new projection system that projects really cool images on the floor. We’ll have some really cool projections that kids can walk around and walk through, and it will be like they are walking across the ocean.”


Learn about the oceans

Learning about aquatic systems is essential, said Amidon.

“Reefs, for example, are super indicators of pollution,” he said. “We are actually losing coral reefs very quickly due to pollution as well as climate change. That is a very good indication.

“Talking about the rainforest – the rainforests are linked to all the systems. Talking about aquatic systems is kind of like talking about the blood in the human body – that is what supports the entire Earth.”

Not harming aquatic systems is vital.

“The aquatic systems are extremely important and, if we don’t learn how we are hurting them and what we have to do to change that, down the road, things are going to get a lot worse. Teaching kids about that now is extremely important.”

For more information, visit www.hosc.org.

Elena Cawley may be reached via email at ecawley@tullahomanews.com.