Friday, April 2, 2010

Oregon Inlet Exhibit at the Coastal Carolina Museum, Ocean Isle, NC

If you're vacationing at the coast and you have the little ones with you, do yourself a favor and visit the Coastal Carolina Museum. There is always something different there, and we make a point to visit just about every time we're in Sunset Beach. The latest cool new thing is their Oregon Inlet Exhibit, at which museum visitors can do hands-on experiments with water and sand, controlling how both flow around islands and inlets. It models how the natural forces of tides and storms affect the coastline, a dramatic example of which being when a 1846 Hurricane created the nearby Oregon Inlet.

The exhibit has about a half inch of water all around two model islands and colored sand. There are three rubber barriers that visitors can re-position. A pump forces water in at one end, and the sand builds up in different places depending on where the barriers are placed. My daughter found ways to arrange things so that a whole sand island would rise above the surface of the water.

In addition, the fun is enhanced by two buttons controlling the direction from which the water comes in. The red button mimics a storm of water coming in from the ocean side, and the black button causes water to run up the intra coastal side in the opposite direction. The exhibit is at the perfect height to make it very accessible to small children; and it's a whole lot of fun for everyone!