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MIT students help design new exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific

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MIT students and the Aquarium of the Pacific plan to make waves together. Today, the sophomores from MIT unveiled their models and ideas for a new tsunami exhibit to experts at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif. The new exhibit will be a component of the aquarium's new "Catch a Wave" exhibition debuting in May 2007.

Over the past year, the students have been working extensively on creating exhibits to engage the public on tsunamis. They've traveled to other parts of the world, met with leading experts and even let the public put their exhibits to the test.

"The students put an enormous amount of work into their projects, and their results are amazing. It will have an impact on all the people who will see the exhibits at the aquarium," said Ari Epstein, the MIT lecturer who co-taught the MIT civil and environmental engineering class where the students first made their tsunami exhibits.

"It is so wonderful to see what the students have come up with and how knowledgeable they are about tsunamis. They have a real grasp on the science and on ways to reach the public in a unique and dynamic way. It is an honor to work with such dedicated students. They really are the future leaders and scientists of our country," said Jerry Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president and CEO.

The students began learning their craft in the MIT Terrascope program, a freshman program in which teams of students seek solutions to complex, real-world problems and then devise ways to inform the public about the issues, people, places and scientific concepts they studied. Terrascope is a joint program run by Professor Rafael Bras, an MIT faculty member with appointments in both the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. He and Epstein, of MIT's Office of Experiential Learning, co-taught the exhibits course, Communicating Complex Environmental Issues: Designing and Building Interactive Museum Exhibits.

Two of the three students are majoring in aeronautics and astronautics and the other in physics. They all gained real-world exhibit design experience as part of a larger team that developed and produced an interactive mini-museum about tsunamis on the MIT campus last year.

The Aquarium of the Pacific, a nonprofit institution, celebrates our planet's largest and most diverse body of water: the Pacific Ocean.

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