ECHOS Around the Country

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The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference took place in Boston this year in April, and more than 11,000 science educators from all over the country gathered for one of the largest national conferences on science education.

The team leading the Museum’s ECHOS (Early Childhood Hands-On Science) program was among those in attendance, and they presented a one-hour workshop on Saturday, April 5th entitled Pre-K Hands-On Science-Get an Early Start on Building Scientific Habits of Mind!

Participants of the ECHOS session included folks from NSTA, NAEYC‘s Science Interest Forum (National Association for the Education of Young Children), Wellesley College Child Study Center, University of New Brunswick Early Childhood Centre and many others.

The ECHOS team presented a complete overview of their work and research, and included for the first time a special Science Key Concept video for the ECHOS Rainy Weather unit. All nine key concept videos are part of a complete professional development resource package available for folks who wish to implement ECHOS workshops in their local areas.

It was a delight to present at #NSTA14, especially since we are so proud of their newest position statement on early childhood science education.

If you happen to be heading to Long Beach, CA, ECHOS will present another great session on early childhood science education, May 1, 2014 at 11:00am at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach in the Seaview ballroom, during the 41st National Head Start Association’s Conference & EXPO. Stop by and say hi!

Visit www.miamisci.org/echos to join the ECHOS community and learn more about us.

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Miami Eats – Coming this Weekend!

Spice up your Saturday with deliciously healthy food and new moves at the 2nd Annual Miami Eats. Everyone is invited to share in the art and science of Miami’s food and fitness scene, while discovering how healthy and green choices affect our bodies as well as the environment.

Click here or on the image below to see what’s in store!

miami eats

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Assessing the Museum’s Collection – Part 2

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Dr. Gregory Erickson, Scientist

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Gary Staab, Artist

In the 63 years since the Museum opened, our Collection has continued to grow. It includes cultural, archaeological, and paleontological items that stretch across time and space, from thousands of years ago to the present day, and from South Florida and around the world. As we prepare for the move to our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, we are now taking a renewed look at our collection, assessing the range of items and ensuring that the historical and scientific value of objects is recognized and digitally documented. What’s unusual is that we are doing this work in full view of our visitors, so everyone can do a little investigating and see what the Museum has collected – which is especially fitting, given that many objects have been donated over time by members of the public.

For each round of the assessment, we are taking out an entire section of our 50,000+ piece collection – in this instance, all of the fossils and bones. That means each and every fossilized rock and every prepared bone all come downstairs where they can all be seen. Then we invited an expert in the field to conduct the analysis. Because this second round of assessment mostly focused on paleontological items, Dr. Gregory Erickson, Professor of Paleobiology at Florida State University, came to help. He is widely-known as an expert on the king of the dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and his main research focus is studying the form, function, development, and evolution of animals (living animals as well as fossils). When studying fossils, bones themselves are a growth record of an animal’s life, much like tree rings contain a growth record of a tree’s life. Dr. Erickson uses these skeletal “growth markers” to discover growth rates in extinct and living reptiles, and to research bite-force biomechanics in living crocodiles as well as fossilized dinosaurs. All of this made him the ideal choice to lead this round of the assessment, working alongside the Museum’s Arts and Collections Manager Kevin Arrow.

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From left, Gary Staab, Dr. Gregory Erickson, and Kevin Arrow

The Museum also planned for this paleontology assessment to coincide with some exhibition planning for our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science facility, as well as our bi-annual Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show. The goal was to have another key person on hand for both the show and the assessment, who has unique perspective and knowledge of animals, both living and extinct. Gary Staab is a renowned sculptor specializing in forensic reconstruction, who has created astounding life-sized and accurate sculptures of dinosaurs and other animals for several museums and others around the world, including The Smithsonian, National Geographic, and Walt Disney Animation. In addition to assisting Dr. Erickson during the assessment, Mr. Staab also gave visitors the chance to get their hands on dinosaurs - by sculpting their own models in a Dinosaur Sculpting Class. Visitors then combined art, science, and history to create their own pretty accurate model of a sweet little sauropod dinosaur.

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Gary Staab (in blue, at left) and lots of fascinated new dinosaur sculptors

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Young visitors learning the science and art of sculpting dinosaurs

What was unearthed during the assessment?

Dr. Erickson analyzed a myriad of objects, including bones from a sperm whale, shells of invertebrate marine animals, mammoth teeth, and more. A couple of particularly interesting finds were remains that had been found in Florida of animals that haven’t been known to live in Florida for thousands or even millions of years. Imagine living over various time periods in a Florida where elephants, mastadons, woolly mammoths, and gomphotheres (an elephant-like animal) also lived!

Fossils weren’t the only things that Dr. Erickson observed during the assessment. Another exciting discovery for him was the excitement of many visitors who interacted with him and the collection items during his work here. It seems that as old as fossils are, seeing fossils never gets old!

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Analyzing an amazing skull from our collection

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ECHOS: Train the Trainer

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Can you hear the ECHOS?

The word “echo” conjures up thoughts of reverberating sounds and thoughts. At the Museum, ECHOS stands for Early Childhood Hands-On Science, but it also reflects the true meaning of the word, as recently, ECHOS team members Krista Kaiser and Ted Myers traveled west to Everett, Washington for a “Train-the-Trainer” ECHOS workshop. ECHOS is a comprehensive, research-based early childhood science curriculum and teacher professional development program, funded by the US Department of Education. The curriculum is now available for purchase, and schools and early childhood education programs are participating in training, so that they may echo the training with their own staff and students.

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ECHOS team member Krista Kaiser (right) leading an ECHOS creative arts activity

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Ted Myers, leading workshop activities

In Washington, county science professionals, community leaders from United Way, and 10 teachers from Snohomish County ECEAP (Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program) attended the workshop. The group of 20 participants enjoyed two days of zany fun with hands-on activities and discussions about early childhood science education and developmentally appropriate practices. The group had been introduced to two ECHOS units prior to training, Beginning Botanist and Rainy Weather (the latter being no new learning topic for children who live near Seattle, a city that receives the largest amount of rainfall in the US), and they experimented with related activities focusing on math, language, and creative arts. For a city that is cloudy 201 days out of the year and partly cloudy 93 days, it came as no surprise then that during a math activity, most participants charted their favorite weather as “sunny.”

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Workshop participants learned lots of activities and best practices that they can echo with their respective staff and students

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If you lived in rainy Seattle, you may chart “sunny” as your favorite type of weather too!

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What’s NEXT?

It can easily be argued that innovation is a necessity of life. Without new ideas, new technologies, new adaptations, and new improvements, we would not be able to better our lives or the world around us. At our event last weekend NEXT: From Nano to Macro, Innovation at Every Scale, sponsored by Ryder, visitors saw some amazing new technologies, while using their own imaginations to design new things, both real and digital. Visitors saw a brand new “green” Ryder truck… climbed into an electric Tesla car and peeked inside the hood (where there was no engine)… heard music made by manipulating electrical circuits… warped the planetarium dome with their own movements… experimented with next generation materials and nanotechnology… designed their own app… coded their own software… tested their skill of remotely controlling a robot… repurposed cardboard and other materials to design their own inventions… and more! By the end of the day, the amazing artists, designers, and engineers participating in the event had no doubt inspired the next generation of innovators.

Check out what’s next at NEXT!

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Wind tubes and colorful robotic scribbling and more with REM Learning Center

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Playing “musical hopscotch” with DRC Arduino Brigade – put your hand or body in the path of the signal beam, and make a musical note. Step forward or back, and make another note!

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Remotely controlling a robot with FIU IEEE, and firing pellets at space targets

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Design your own app with TECKpert

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Musical circuit bending with Nicole Martinez and Buffalo Brown

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In this NISE NanoDays activity – you see a red object in the glass on the left, and a clear object in the glass on the right. But there is a second object in the left glass! By understanding light and materials, you can make things invisible.

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Investigating a Tesla electric car (the hood is open showing there is no engine inside)

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“Warping” the Planetarium dome with light, using your own movements, with Phenomenal Experience Agency

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The “Maker Space” and repurposing objects into new things, with Ernesto Oroza

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Repurposing cardboard to design and fill the belly of “The Beast” with artist Kerry Phillips

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Steve Monroe, Vice President for Innovation Initiatives at Ryder, and member of the Museum’s Board of Trustees Executive Committee, talked about all the ways Ryder is incorporating innovative materials and practices in their operations. And a few lucky visitors won Ryder model trucks, hats, and more!

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Thanks to our event sponsor Ryder for making all of this possible!

Thanks to all of our partners on this event!

Artist Kerry Phillips
Artist and designer Ernesto Oroza
Nicole Martinez and Buffalo Brown
Dade Radio Club Arduino Brigade
Tesla
Phenomenal Experience Agency
CoderDojo Miami
University of Miami’s Dr. John T. MacDonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute
University of Miami College of Engineering
The Lab Miami
NISE Network
The Launch Pad
Florida International University Mechanical and Materials Engineering
Florida International University Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Material Advantage at FIU
TECKpert
REM Learning Center
Miami-Dade County
City of Miami
Florida Division of Cultural Affairs

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Come to the Museum this Weekend for NEXT: From Nano to Macro, Innovation at Every Scale!

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton said this, referring to the process of scientific discovery. Questions lead to innovation. What comes next is more questions… After that comes the next great innovation. Each person, and each innovation, builds on previous knowledge, and the possibilities are endless.

This weekend at the Museum, come “stand on the shoulders of giants” at NEXT: From Nano to Macro, Innovation at Every Scale, sponsored by Ryder. You will be amazed at the innovations of others, from the tiniest to the biggest scale. And maybe you will see a bit further, and you will be the innovator of what’s NEXT!

See the event showcased in the Miami Herald!

Click here or on the image below for more event information.

See you there!

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2,000 Brains in One Museum

Think about your brain. What is your brain doing? What is it doing now, as you’re using your brain to wonder how your brain works? We recently celebrated the brain itself at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science’s 5th Annual Miami Brain Fair, sponsored by the University of Miami. Throughout the Museum, everyone learned about the amazing things their brains can do can do, and incredible discoveries in the field of neurooscience. In all 1,828 brains were in attendance, 346 brains were here to volunteer, and 30 brains were here to lead activities and exhibit fascinating brainy information.

Here’s just a few of the things that happened:

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A trip down memory lane (in other words, a trip down neuron pathways)!

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Building a neuron from clay (how do neurons transmit messages in your brain?)

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Handling a sheep’s brain (what can we learn from that?)

What about…

Exploring optical illusions (how do they work?)
Counting the taste buds on your tongue (how does your brain “taste” food?)
Observing brain specimens (what does a brain injury look like?)
Testing how neurons work via electrical impulse (how does that turn into a thought?)
Measuring your head to be fitted for a bike helmet (don’t you want to stay safe?)
Competing in the Miami Brain Bee (how much do you know about the brain?)

Dr. Coleen Atkins of The Miami Project at the University of Miami and Lead Organizer of the Brain Fair, was very proud of how successful the event was this year. We even had a very special guest in Miami Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who spoke to visitors about the importance of the Brain Fair, Brain Awareness Week, and the vital role that Miami scientists have in the future of neuroscience. The Congresswoman’s big discovery of the day: “Wow, my hands are really big!” She was actually just looking at her “homunculus,” which is a map that represents how the motion of her hands map onto brain function. With all the motor skills and potential for motion in your hands, chances are your homunculus map might look about the same!

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Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen learns all about her humunculus

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Gems and Minerals and ….. Dinosaurs

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What might you find if you start digging in the right place at the right time? You might just find precious gems, beautiful minerals, and, if you’re very lucky, a dinosaur! But next weekend, March 29/30, you don’t have to dig any further than the Museum, because you can make all of those discoveries here at the Gem and Mineral (and Fossil) Show! All weekend long there will be local artists and vendors here from the Miami Mineralogical and Lapidary Guild and Fossil Club, showcasing their beautiful and ancient pieces of earth. And while you’re admiring these treasures, you can also take part in other fun hands-on activities throughout the Museum.

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Imagine all the gems and minerals you will discover here!

This weekend will be an extra special gem and mineral show, because it will take place during a Museum assessment of paleontological items in our vast Collections, beginning next week. In preparation for our move to our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, we are assessing our massive collection of scientific and historical items that we have accumulated since we opened our doors in the 1960s. (Learn more about some of the unique items in our Collection in our Curious Vault.) Florida State University Paleontologist Dr. Greg Erickson will lead this assessment, which will take place in the Museum galleries, visible to all of our visitors. Dr. Erickson will help us understand more about the unique pieces in our Collection, which will then help us digitize our Collections database and prioritize any particularly special items.

This assessment comes at a perfect time, as Dr. Erickson has agreed to stay for the Gem and Mineral Show on Saturday March 29, after the assessment is complete, to lead a special session for visitors, all about the king of the dinosaurs, T. rex! If you survive your encounter with T. rex, you can also come to Gary Staab’s sculpture workshop. Gary’s Staab Studios creates natural history and prehistoric life models of all sizes for museums, publishing, and film – even as large as a life-sized T. rex! Gary’s work combines art, science, and history, and at this workshop you will be able to combine all of these elements too, as you sculpt your own prehistoric critter.

Check out some items in our Collections below, and then come see what you dig up at the Gem and Mineral (and Fossil) Show at the Museum!

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The skull of an oreodon, an extinct mammal the size of a medium-sized dog

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A manatee skull

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A beaver skull

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An assortment of fossilized teeth – can you identify any of the animals to which these teeth belong?

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We know what this fossilized animal is… do you?

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Congratulations Judy Brown: In the Company of Women

Dr. Judy Brown, Senior Vice President of Education, has led the Museum’s education department for 25 years. But she has also led innovation in research-based education on the national scale, with the goal of everyone having opportunities to participate in science – particularly those in underserved groups or those underrepresented in science and technology fields. From pre-school children to middle school girls to high school students who represent the first generation in their families to attend college, many groups throughout Miami-Dade have benefitted from Dr. Brown’s nationally recognized, cutting-edge projects. She was even recognized by the White House in 2005 for her work in mentoring young people, and received the Eleanor Roosevelt award from the American Association of University Women for her work in involving girls in science.

For all of these reasons, Dr. Brown can now add another honor to her long list of achievements. She is the recipient of the Education and Research award at the 26th annual In the Company of Women event, hosted by the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women, the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, and the Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, and sponsored by Macy’s. Dr. Brown has not only earned this honor, she has paved the way for many girls to be inspired by science and have opportunities to follow their inspirations. Someday those girls just may join her elite company of women. Congratulations Dr. Brown!

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Dr. Judy Brown (right) with Museum President & CEO Gillian Thomas

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ECHOS

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To find solutions to many world issues, from medical advancements to climate change, we need scientists to formulate hypotheses, do experiments, and reach conclusions. We also need citizens to have an understanding of the process of how science works. This includes children, because we need to make sure that we have great scientists and citizens for generations to come – and it’s never too early to start. The ECHOS® (Early Childhood Hands-On Science) program at the Museum is a research-based, hands-on, interactive early childhood science curriculum funded by the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, that also includes professional development workshops and coaching for early childhood educators. ECHOS® project staff will be presenting at two upcoming national conferences to share project findings and resources, including curriculum now available for sale.

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NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) Conference

April 3-6, 2014 in Boston, MA
Upwards of 10,000 teachers nationwide are heading to Boston for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) to explore ideas and practices that enhance teaching and learning driven by the Next Generation Science Standards and championed by educators who are “Leading a Science Revolution.”

Presentation title: “PreK–K Hands-On Science—Get an Early Start on Building Scientific Habits of Mind!”
Saturday, April 5, 2:00–3:00 pm

Description: Learn research-based strategies that build early childhood educators’ confidence in incorporating science into their classrooms to increase development of basic science concepts and process skills.
Format: Workshop
Subject: General Science
Grade Level: Preschool-Middle Level/Informal Education

Presenters: Judy A. Brown, Cheryl L. Juarez, Krista F. Kaiser

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NHSA (National Head Start Association) Conference and Expo

April 28 – May 2, 2014 in Long Beach, CA
NHSA’s Annual Head Start Conference and Expo is the largest national event devoted to the Head Start and Early Head Start community. This year more than 3,000 executive directors, directors, administrators, managers, teachers, policy council members, and parents from from every state will gather in Long Beach, California.

Presentation title: ECHOS® (Early Childhood Hands-On Science) Curriculum & PD to Enhance Science in the Early Years
Thursday, May 01, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Description (Classroom Management and Teaching Strategies): Learn how Head Start teachers are bringing ECHOS® (Early Childhood Hands-On Science) into their classrooms. The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, in collaboration with the University of Miami, and Miami-Dade County Head Start, received USDOE funding to develop and test the efficacy of a comprehensive early childhood science curriculum and professional development program. Come find out what the research found and explore the ECHOS® curriculum and assessment tool.

Presenters: Krista F. Kaiser, Cheryl Lani Juarez

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