Community Programs

PEREC works with other organizations to provide education and community outreach to the local community.

Community Cruises

Chris Jones Takes members of retired George Mason University associate out from Pohick Bay Regional Park to conduct water quality measurements and conduct bird observations to get a close up view of research we conduct.

Video courtesy of our partners, Occoquan Watertrail League.

Occoquan River Fest

The Occoquan is a tributary of the Potomac River that runs through Prince William County, Virginia. The town of Occoquan has been established on the banks of the Occoquan River for over 300 years and is rich in history. Across the river is Occoquan Regional Park with 400 acres of recreational space that includes trails and boat lunches open to the public.

Every year the town of Occoquan hosts the Occoquan River Festival in Occoquan Regional Park and town center. The festival offers boat rides between the town and park, as well as canoeing, fishing, boat inspections, environmental field investigations, meeting unusual creatures, and many other family fun activities.

During the festival, PEREC hosts a booth to inform the community of the work our center participates in for research and educational experiences. We host an environmental field investigation called “Stream Ecology,” which allows residents to be a scientist for a day. During the workshop, students of all ages learn how to collect data to assess the water quality of the creek. Data collected includes temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity estimates. Additionally, we help residents collect and identify macroinvertebrates, such as dragonfly larvae, mayfly larvae, crayfish, clams, snails, etc. Then we discuss with the participants how some species, which are sensitive to pollution, indicate the water quality in the area.

Potomac Science Center
Potomac Science Center

George Mason University’s new Potomac Science Center will house the Potomac Environmental Research Education Center as well as Geography and GeoInformatics faculty. Access to Belmont Bay, along the Occoquan River, is a bonus for these Potomac River researchers, who have been looking forward to direct access to the Potomac River for a long time​. The center is conveniently situated between Quantico and Ft. Belvoir.

The Potomac Science Center will house the school’s Potomac Environmental Research Education Center in a waterfront building comprised of wet labs for teaching and research; lecture rooms; offices for faculty, graduate students, and other researchers; a spatial analysis laboratory; and a library/resource center.

GMU has made a strong commitment to sustainable design for the Potomac Science Center. As of November 2013, it was one of only 122 projects in the world registered to pursue LEED certification as part of a beta test of LEED v4, the newest version of the LEED green building program.

In order to maximize the building’s operating efficiency and comfort, the design features a 100% outdoor air (OA) mechanical system. It utilizes an evaporatively cooled variable air volume (VAV) rooftop unit (RTU) for OA in conjunction with an air cooled chiller that feeds the building’s chilled water cooling loop.

The facility is being configured into two separate zones for heating and cooling to respond to specific space needs. Office and classroom zones receive air from Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) (DOAS) VAV boxes with hot water reheat, while laboratory and support spaces are served by 100% OA shutoff VAV boxes. Lab spaces will also feature exhaust systems equipped with constant speed fans, which can be adjusted based on input from connected occupancy sensors. All public, non-lab plumbing has been designed with low flow fixtures that will achieve a 50% reduction in potable water use compared to EPA minimum standards.

– GHT Limited Consulting Engineers

Saturday at the Park

GMU Partners with Manassas National Battlefield Park and Prince William County Schools, engaging children in multiple hands-on learning stations.