Fernando Bretos, Miami Science Museum’s Curator of Ecology and Field Conservation, is also a Kinship Conservation Fellow. Kinship Fellows is an innovative conservation leadership program that emphasizes market-based solutions to environmental problems, and each year, only 18 fellows from around the world are selected. Fernando, a 2011 Kinship Fellow, recently wrote a blog for Kinship Fellows about his work with MuVE (Museum Volunteers for the Environment) to engage volunteers in restoring coastal habitats. By getting involved in coastal habitat restoration, volunteers are in effect bringing economic benefits to South Florida, such as protecting nursery habitats for commercial fisheries, improving local ecosystem quality for South Florida’s twelve million annual tourists, providing shade, absorbing carbon dioxide, and protecting our coastline from storms and rising sea levels. What more incentive should anyone need to get involved?
Florida’s coastal environments are vital for many plant and animal species – including humans. The Museum’s volunteer restoration project, MuVE (Museum Volunteers for the Environment) works to not only restore our coastal environments, but also to empower Miami’s residents to help in the effort, by planting native species in areas that have been overrun or fragmented by expanding urban development. On Saturday, over 65 FedEx employees volunteered to join the effort. FedEx, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, is committed to environmental efforts and reducing its carbon footprint. FedEx not only sponsored Saturday’s restoration event via a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but local FedEx volunteers participated in the event at Oleta River State Park. This area has been mainly landfill since a failed development project in the 1950s, and the goal of the restoration was to give Florida’s largest urban park back to nature. The best way to do this is to plant species that are native to the area, like sea grapes and cocoplums, and then just sit back and let nature do its job. The 65 volunteers from FedEx, along with MuVE staff, planted over 20 species of native hardwood hammock trees and shrubs – almost 700 trees in all – throughout 1.3 acres of Oleta River State Park. It’s just one more step towards returning south Florida to its roots.
For volunteer opportunities, contact Michelle Beumer at 305-646-4243 or email@example.com.
It’s not every day that you walk a red carpet, let alone meet a movie star, but yesterday, hundreds of people got to do just that, right here at the Museum. Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith stopped by the Museum to celebrate the premiere of their new movie After Earth. Will even rapped a few bars of “Welcome to Miami” before he and Jaden presented a big check (literally) to Museum CEO Gillian Thomas, which will support 100 students in our Upward Bound program. Some lucky people even got to come into the Planetarium for a special preview of After Earth, and a Q&A with Will and Jaden. So, why did all this happen at the Miami Science Museum? Because, as Will and Jaden described, one of the main messages of the movie is that we need to understand and take care of our Earth, because it’s the only planet we’ve got!
Will spent a lot of time greeting fans, signing autographs, and taking photos.
Will and Jaden presented a generous check to Museum CEO Gillian Thomas, to support the Museum’s Upward Bound program.
After watching a preview of After Earth in the Museum’s Planetarium, Will and Jaden answered questions from their biggest fans.
The Museum is proud to announce an exceptional achievement by our own Vice President of Content and Programs, Jenifer Santer. Her ongoing work to positively impact the Museum and the broader community has been recognized by the prestigious Noyce Leadership Institute (NLI), which has selected her to be a 2013 Noyce Leadership Fellow. The following press release is just the beginning – more to come!
The Noyce Leadership Institute (NLI) has selected Jennifer Santer, Vice President of Content and Programs for the Miami Science Museum, to serve as a 2013 Noyce Leadership Fellow. In this capacity, she will seek to increase the public impact of science centers, museums, and related institutions.
The NLI Fellowship experience brings together leaders in informal science education from around the world to act as change agents at the crossroads of societal trends, global issues, and the cutting edge of science. Throughout the year-long program, fellows address real life challenges – seeking insights and solutions from interaction with faculty, executive coaches, other program advisors, and their peers.
As the Museum’s Vice President of Content and Programs, Ms. Santer is responsible for developing and delivering visitor experiences that are consistent with the Museum’s overall mission and vision. She leads content development for the Museum’s new building now under construction in downtown Miami, using the current facility as a platform for prototyping new strategies and approaches.
A key aspect of the Museum’s approach is to go beyond engagement and learning, by connecting people with opportunities to make changes or take actions that enhance their lives and benefit the broader community. Ms. Santer’s fellowship will focus on developing this ‘action’ strand of the Museum’s approach, building on lessons learned from the Museum’s ongoing volunteer-based mangrove restoration project.
According to the Noyce Foundation, Ms. Santer was selected for this prestigious program because of her ability to influence others, manage change, and make an impact on her institution and community.
The 2013 Noyce Leadership Fellows were selected through a competitive process by a committee composed of professionals representing the fields of informal science education and executive leadership. The Fellowship program provides an action-learning framework via a mix of face-to-face sessions, executive coaching, peer learning, audio conferencing, and other learning strategies over a year, followed by ongoing Fellow alumni activities.
One of the great things about the Museum is that it’s not only a place where you can try things and experiment with things, but it’s also a place where, in many cases, those “things” are the REAL things. With a second grant through the Smithsonian Affiliation’sYouth Capture the Colorful Cosmos program, we continued what we began in the fall, by allowing young people at the Museum to remotely control real NASA telescopes, process their own real images of the Moon, Sun, and galaxies, and help create their own real exhibit within the Museum. Through this Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos project, young visitors came to the Museum’s brand new, state-of-the-art Best Buy Teen Tech Center over a series of three Sundays to create their astronomical artwork exhibit. Here’s how it worked:
Sunday #1: Young people used the Observing with NASA portal to access images from the Harvard-Smithsonian MicroObservatory database and learned how to process dark, raw images into real, clear, and colorful images of the cosmos – then they requested images of their choice from the telescopes, choosing their preferred exposure times, filters, and fields of view.
Sunday #2: Next, they used their own real images that the telescopes had emailed to them, and used their new skills to create stunning images of objects in space. Then they chose their favorite piece of scientific artwork, to be displayed in their own exhibit on display at the Museum.
Sunday #3: Upon entering the Best Buy Teen Tech Center, our young scientists/artists saw their own work in a semi-permanent real exhibit, and then were challenged to use media editing software to take their own colorful images of the cosmos, and create a short video story.
Each Sunday, youth also had the chance to experiment with hands-on activities that helped bring home some of the science concepts related to how we observe the Universe – they created a “laser maze” while learning about telescope optics, used color filters to see how different filters help us see new details in space, and experimented with diffraction glasses while learning about how different kinds of light sources have their own distinctive “fingerprint” patterns of light.
Check out a couple of the videos created by these young scientists/artists. Afterward, you will think “Mind = Blown.”
The Museum’s Early Childhood Hands-On Science (ECHOS) project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education Institute for Education Sciences, and in collaboration with the University of Miami and Miami-Dade County Head Start, is a research-based, comprehensive early childhood science curriculum and professional development program designed to give young children a “head start” in science and science learning. It makes sense then that the Museum’s ECHOS team, led by Senior VP of Education Dr. Judy Brown, is in Washington, D.C. this week to lead a session at the National Head Start Association Conference. During the session, entitled ECHOS: Move Science from the Sidelines to the Front Line to Help Your Students Have Fun with Science in Your Classroom, participants will become familiar with hands-on science lessons and related mathematics, language/literacy, and creative arts activities to engage young children, as well as gain understanding of useful professional development practices. This jump start for educators can be a key to moving science from the sidelines to the front lines of early childhood education.
Here is the definition of the perfect fit. This year, the theme of the Miami-Dade College Homestead Campus’ Day of the Young Child event was “Planting Seeds for the Future.” And the Museum’s Early Childhood Hands-On Science (ECHOS) project was there to participate in the event, featuring activities from the ECHOS unit called “Beginning Botanist.” The mutual goal was to provide activities that focus on helping children aged 0 – 8 “grow” in their physical, mental, and emotional development. At the Museum’s ECHOS table featured hands-on activities like puzzles, leaf rubbings, and a seed matching game; full-body activities in which children pretended to be the wind to move seeds; and activities featuring real science tools, such as looking a lima bean sprouts with a magnifier. Children who participated in these activities also received a take home bag with lima bean seeds to plant at home. Mrs. Gladys Monne, one of the ECHOS teachers participating in the long-term ECHOS research study, was also there to assist Museum staff in leading activities for children.
This year’s Day of the Young Child event is part of a nationwide campaign by the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s2013 Week of the Young Child, which ran April 14-20. Its purpose is to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families, and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.
The Museum has inspired lots of people over the years, and we love it when “one of our own” inspires us. We have many high school students in the Museum’s Upward Bound program that come to feel like part of the Museum family over their four years in the program, and we are very proud of all of their accomplishments. But today, we want to acknowledge one Upward Bound student in particular on an extraordinary achievement. Alex Gaye was awarded the Congressional Medal of Merit last week for his work as a senior high school student who has demonstrated the qualities of exemplary citizenship and academic excellence throughout his high school career. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen presented the award to Alex last weekend during her Annual Congressional Recognition Ceremony, held at Coral Gables Senior High School. Congratulations Alex!
Giorgio Rapicavoli, of Miami’s Eating House, and winner of Food Network’s “Chopped”
The Museum’s 1st annual Miami Eats: The Art and Science of How Miami Grows, Cooks, and Eats Food was a great success! Thanks to Museum staff, partners organizations, and over 60 volunteers, more than 700 visitors saw cooking demos, made their own sushi, painted pottery, learned about the farmland history of the Museum property, tried out fun hands-on demos (you may not know how much sugar is really in juice and soft drinks), and of course tried out lots of good stuff in taste tests in the Museum, and at food trucks outside. And thanks to the Museum’s offer of buy-one-get-one-free on Museum admission for those who brought in nonperishable foods, 13 huge bags of food also went to Camillus House for those less fortunate. Want to whet your appetite for next year? check out our Miami Eats photo gallery!
Chef Rapicavoli’s molecular gastronomy demo used liquid nitrogen to make Cuban puffed pastries
The Common Threads organization showed just how much sugar is really in juice and soft drinks
Visitors sample Chef Rapicavoli’s delicious Cuban puffed pastries
Learning the traditions of the Japanese Tea Ceremony with Susan Lee Chun
Common Threads led a workshop on learning how to make your own sushi
Whole Foods hosted a “smoothie tasting” and had kids cut “healthy meals” from magazines
Visitors painted pottery created on-site by the Museum’s James Herring, to design their own “healthy plates
Volunteers from Vizcaya shared stories of the farming history of the land on which the Museum now sits
Visitors tasted fruit & veggies and took home plants from Teena’s Pride farmer’s market
Visitors enjoyed burgers, seafood, and gelato from food trucks
Chef Karina Gonzalez from the Miami Culinary Institute made crab cakes for visitors to sample, while a “table cam” projected a close-up view of the demo. Chef Gonzalez has also appeared on the Food Network, on Pitchin’ In.
Aquaculture = the farming of fish and other marine life
Hydroponics = growing plants in nutrient solutions in water, without soil
Aquaponics = Aquaculture + Hydroponics
We know that healthy fish need constantly filtered, clean water. And we know that plants, just like people and animals, need nutrients to grow. In aquaponics, fish and plants grow within the same soil-less, integrated system, and the Museum has recently built an aquaponics system in our Sea Lab exhibit. Here’s how it works: we feed the fish (blue tilapia), the fish waste provides a food source for the plants, and the plants provide a natural filter for the water in which the fish live. This system produces safe, fresh, organic fish and greens, which are then harvested to feed other animals in our Wildlife Center. As the Earth’s population grows, we need to use the resources that we have in smarter ways, and simple but innovative ideas like aquaponics can help create a more sustainable environment – it can be used to grow fresh greens and fish in a small backyard space (or at a school), or can be used to sustainably raise fish and vegetables in a large commercial enterprise. That sustainable environment is possible.