Following the opening, the NWSC will be home to a public visitor centre designed as an educational hub to engage the public and explain the NWSC's science mission, supercomputing systems, computational science and highlights of the facility's energy efficient design; and also convey the facility's scientific and societal benefits, said Marijke Unger, NCAR's external relations specialist.
The visitor centre will include educational, interactive displays - for children and adults alike - covering topics including extreme weather, climate science, supercomputing, wildfires, energy, water resources and their impacts on society.
The NWSC, located in Cheyenne's North Range Business Park, will be open for one-time, special public tours from noon-4 p.m., October 16; and 9 a.m.-4 p.m., October 17. Thereafter, self-guided tours of the visitor centre will be offered 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. Large groups are asked to call ahead to make reservations.
Target audiences will include K-5, middle school, high school, post-secondary, computational science professionals and the public.
The visitor centre is really for all members of the community", Marijke Unger stated. "We're also setting it up to be user-friendly for school groups, with an emphasis on self-guided learning and exploration."
The visitor centre contains several display stations, which will focus on science, supercomputing and the NWSC, plus a section dedicated to younger visitors.
The science section will focus on science and research from NCAR, the University of Wyoming and the atmospheric sciences community. Some examples include climate models, wildfire simulations, wind shear studies and carbon sequestration. How these examples affect peoples everyday lives, improve safety, and help inform policy and decision making will be included.
The computational science display will provide an introduction to computational science; convey challenges and research, including limitations and explorations of new frontiers; university collaborations and programmes; and the role of computational science in everyday life.
Finally, the exhibit also includes a section about the societal impact of research conducted at the NWSC. Climate, microbursts, wildfires, winds, aviation safety, solar phenomena, extreme weather and advances in forecasting are among the subjects covered.
"We also have a centre dedicated to younger visitors. There will be touch screens and a video of a mini-tornado simulation that kids can play with", Marijke Unger stated. "There will be a station that measures how quickly you can swipe your hand across a sensor, and then tells you how many calculations the supercomputer can do in that amount of time."
Gizmojo, a Cheyenne company, was chosen to create and build the visitor centre.
"We're looking forward to this visitor centre becoming a fixture and active participant in the Wyoming and regional educational landscape", stated Richard Loft, director of technology and development at NCAR.
The "Discover Earth: A Century of Change" science exhibit is open to the public at the Laramie County Library in Cheyenne through Nov. 2. The Laramie County Library System was one of 10 libraries nationwide selected to host the interactive exhibit, which is funded through a National Science Foundation grant and was created by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. University of Wyoming and the Wyoming State Museum have provided additional materials for the exhibit.