Highlights From the 2017 Lamont-Doherty Open House

Through interactive exhibits, games, goo, and a few explosions, people of all ages learned about geology, earth science, and climate change.

Earth Institute
October 09, 2017
volcano heat suit and sign about eruptions
The 2017 Lamont-Doherty Open House was chock-full of eruptions—but thankfully, volcano heat suits were not required. Photo: Kyu Lee

Nearly 4,000 people showed up to the Lamont-Doherty Open House on Saturday. Through interactive exhibits, games, goo, and a few explosions, people of all ages learned about geology, earth science, and climate change—and had a lot of fun in the process. Here are a few of our favorite moments from the day’s several dozen activities and lectures.

researcher points at simulation on screen
Kids listen to a simulation of Earth’s movements. Photo: Sarah Fecht
simulated glacial flow
A goo made out of glue and Borax simulates the flow of glaciers. Toothpicks, originally placed in a straight line, illustrate how ice flows faster in the center due to lack of friction. Photo: Sarah Fecht

Researchers use ping pong balls and liquid nitrogen to simulate a Plinian eruption. Videos by Sarah Fecht and Kyu Lee/Earth Institute at Columbia University

jello with dye in it
By cutting gelatin and injecting juice into the cracks, kids learned how fracking and wastewater injection can cause earthquakes. Photo: Kyu Lee
kids playing in pool
Fishing for plankton using nets made from coffee cups and pantyhose. Photo: Sarah Fecht

Rock fracture demo @LamontEarth #LamontRocks pic.twitter.com/aq3mRWM2pa

— LDEO Rock Mechanics (@LDEOrockmech) October 8, 2017

climate change murals
Open House attendees made murals to answer the questions “How does climate change affect me?” and “What can I do about climate change?” Photo: Sarah Fecht

Earth scientist Marc Spiegelman dances on a mixture of cornstarch and water to demonstrate some of the amazing properties of rocks—like their ability to be both elastic and brittle. Video by Kyu Lee/Earth Institute at Columbia University


Maria Diuk-Wasser’s research team at Columbia University studies ticks and mosquitoes, and how changes to the environment can increase the spread of the diseases these insects carry, such as Lyme disease and West Nile Virus. The group brought vials of deer ticks from their field work, with samples from all of the developmental stages of life (e.g., larvae, nymphs, and adults), to show how small and difficult to detect these ticks can be. They also demonstrated how ticks are collected in the field using a “drag cloth” and velcro-attaching ticks.


save the village demonstration
In this demonstration, kids set up barriers to try to protect a town from a volcanic eruption of hot wax—except they don’t know which volcano will blow, and they only get a few blocks. In this case, the kids managed to save the school (center left), but couldn’t save one of the houses (center). Photo: Sarah Fecht
kids drawing about how to reduce carbon emissions
Kids at Cottage Lane Elementary School made drawings as part of the Kids Against Climate Change coalition. Photo: Kyu Lee
child with face paint
In the tent for the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, an artist painted faces to look like global climate patterns. Photo: Francesco Fiondella