The Museum is like a second home for many students in the Upward Bound Math & Science program. In addition to actively participating in the program on the weekends through the academic year, as well as over the summer, to help prepare for pursuing science-related majors in college, many students come to the Museum’s Best Buy Teen Tech Center after school, to work on homework and try out special projects with the amazing technology in there. So when several students expressed interest in music and learning to play the keyboard, we made it happen. Upward Bound Project Director Touri White, who has a background in music with the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, organized “Tuesday Tunes” to teach interested students about music theory and keyboard lessons after school. Using keyboards donated by Abigail Dubearn, Museum benefactor and Gala Committee member, students are learning about scales, rhythm, “sharps” and “flats” (those are the black keys on the keyboard, if you’ve ever wondered) and more – then learning how to put it all together. Just like in science, it helps to understand music theory before you can put it into practice. Our next step is to blend those two seemingly opposite disciplines into one melody – “the science of music.”
The title says it all. We are officially now the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science! Even though we are still in the current Miami Science Museum facility that we have all known and loved for decades, our new, state-of-the-art Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is under construction downtown and due to open in 2015. We are building on what we do best, literally, in the construction of the new facility, as well as figuratively, in all of the innovative ways we make science and technology inspiring to everyone.
So be on the lookout for the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, because we are now in more than one place at the same time!
Putting up the banner for the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science at the site of the new facility. As construction continues, look for the pattern in the banner in the building itself!
The new banner, with the new logo, as you look west from the plaza area between the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and the Pérez Art Museum Miami
The Future Begins Here…
…at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science!
Have you ever written a story together with thousands of good friends? Have you ever made your own robot that can scribble colorful patterns on a piece of paper? Did you come to the Miami Science Museum’s tent at the Miami Book Fair International this past weekend? If you answered yes to the last question, chances are you answered yes to the other questions too. This year, the Miami Science Museum filled a tent at the Book Fair with activities all about robots and other cool technologies. You could design your own robot helmet, use recycled materials to design your own robot prototype, and build a robot that will scribble colorful works of art. A student team from FIRST Robotics Competition even brought a robot that they designed and built themselves!
Being at the Book Fair is a chance to explore all kinds of adventures within the pages of all kinds of books. So we also thought that it would only make sense to give visitors to the Museum’s tent a chance to write their own adventure story. It all starts with that first person, who writes that first sentence. Maybe it’s about a friendly robot. The next person comes along and writes the next sentence. And so on. So when any of our young co-authors come back, they can see what adventures the friendly robot has been up to!
We also had our own busy bee in our tent with a table of information and books from the Museum’s Early Childhood Hands-On Science program (ECHOS) – because it’s never too early to start reading and learning science!
Here are some photos of the green-tinted fun at the Museum’s tent at the Book Fair. (No, there is not a cool green filter on our camera. The color of our tent was green, so the light coming into the tent made everything in the tent look green!)
Making “scribble-bots” out of plastic cups, markers, and motors, that can draw cool colorful patterns!
Designing more scribble-bots!
Our ECHOS (Early Childhood Hands-On Science) books and curriculum on sale (www.miamisci.org/echos)
The Museum continues to bring together “science stars” from all over Miami, in the form of both scientists and students. Through the Science Stars program with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the Museum is providing access to local scientists, as well as to the Museum itself, for students that may not have the opportunity otherwise. The latest round of young science stars are from Edison Park K-8 Center. On November 5th, students in grades 5-7 met with Dr. Chris Landsea, Science and Operations Officer of the National Hurricane Center, who came to their school to tell them about hurricanes and climate change. During Dr. Landsea’s presentation, students did what any good scientist would do – they asked lots of lots of questions! A couple weeks later, on November 21st, those students and their families were invited back to the Museum, and had free access to explore the Museum and eat yummy complimentary pizza. Some of the quotes overheard from attendees:
“I love this place!”
“I don’t want to go home!”
“This is the best place ever!”
“Can I come back again?”
We hope the next time they come back is very soon!
Students creating some of their own energy, dancing on the Museum’s Energy Dance Floor
Students learning all about the tiniest of the tiny, in the Nano exhibit
Hello, my name is Rey Muñoz, I am a full time student at Miami Dade College Kendall campus, majoring in environmental science. If you are reading this blog, chances are you and I have something in common. Hopefully, it is the passion that I have for nature and the preservation of it. This past Saturday, thanks to The Miami Science Museum, I got to be a part of something special. The plan was to remove the non-native Scaevola plant from Virginia Key North Point beach dune. Scaevola has many different species found all over the world, ranging from the Hawaiian islands to Australia. However, in Florida, this particular species is an invasive plant that does not allow other species of plants to flourish. In order to restore the area back to its native habitat,direct action was needed! So at 9:00am Saturday, myself and about 100 other students, and volunteers from many different organizations and corporations, Such as Wells Fargo and the Y.E.S. club (Yes! For Environmental Sustainability) of Miami Dade College (Kendall, Wolfson, and Hialeah), picked up our tools and the restoration was under way.
During orientation the volunteers were divided into five groups of about fifteen people in each group. I believe I was part of the Sea Turtle group. Appropriate name, since Virginia Key North Point is a nesting ground for our endangered marine friends. Although all groups had the same agenda, team members had different duties. Some cut down the plants, while others stacked up the piles. Some took pictures for social media sites, and others picked up trash that washed up on shore. Teamwork was for sure in full gear! The event lasted about four hours, but went by very fast. It was a fun day; people came together for a bigger cause, a purpose not to sleep in on a Saturday. I’m sure everyone felt the same satisfaction I felt, knowing that their small but important contribution, collectively made a different in our environment.
There are big plans for Virginia Key North Point that all residents of South Florida, terrestrial or aquatic, will benefit from. After all the invasive plants have been removed, the beach will be leveled to make this a better nesting ground for Sea Turtles, and native plant species will be re-planted where they once grew without objection. These efforts should finally turn Virginia Key North Point into the paradise it once was. The native plants are scheduled to be planted May through September 2014 with more volunteers. Once again, thank you to the Miami Science Museum for hosting such a vital gathering of people who want to make a difference in our planet. Thank you to all the volunteers that came out, I hope to see you all next spring!
MUVE, Miami Science Museum’s volunteer based coastal habitat restoration project has been in the business of bringing back South Florida’s increasingly fragmented native habitats since 2007. To date, over 5,000 local volunteers have restored over 15 acres of mangrove wetlands and coastal hardwood hammocks. Currently, we are working to restore 17 acres of dune, hammock and sea turtle nesting habitat at Virginia Key North Point through a grant from Wells Fargo and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Environmental Solutions for Communities Program.
Quite an accomplishment. But how does one quantify the success of newly restored areas? When volunteers are removing invasive plants, do those plants stay away for good, or recolonize as soon as volunteers pack up and go home for the day? And when we plant native plants in place of invasive ones, who is to tell whether those plants have found their foothold, or more importantly, if native fauna is returning or whether ecosystem services are restored?
This is where post-restoration monitoring comes in. This critical step involves taking scientific measurements of places undergoing change, such as Virginia Key’s North Point, Since September the North Point is being cleared of invasive plants in preparation for the planting of native vegetation next year.
To do so, we handpicked a group of young citizen scientists during a day of volunteer Scaveola removal on November 9th. Scaveola is a salt tolerant invasive plant that takes over swaths of native dunes in South Florida. It grows unchecked and not only chokes out native plants, but provides no shelter or sustenance for native animals that call our dunes home. In effect it creates a dead zone.
Volunteer Jen Santer removes Scaveola from Virginia Key
The first step in quantifying success is getting a baseline. The baseline is our initial measure of invasive plant cover. We will use this to tell us where the area stands now in terms of ecosystem health. After the volunteers clear the dune and when we plant native plants next year, we will be able to revisit our baseline data to make comparative analyses of how invasive plants have been kept out and how native flora and fauna have coped.
Our team of citizen scientists went to work with a clipboard and a rope measuring 30 meters long. This rope would form our transect, which is a parameter by which to measure invasive plant cover. Our citizen scientists placed one transect perpendicular to the beach and one parallel thereby getting a broad subset of data.
Our transect line
The results of the transects were quite telling. Over 60% of the perpendicular transect was made up of Scaveola. The rest was made up of Australian pine and Brazilian pepper, two very aggressive invasive plants. We also found a native plant in the mix called sea grape. These sea grapes were left untouched by volunteers as they are an important dune stabilizer and food source. We also found a plethora of native and invasive weed plants, especially along the mountain bike trail.
Our parallel transect revealed quite a bit of Scaveola (over 70%) but also lather leaf, another invasive plant originally from East Asia.
Our citizen scientists had lots of fun and did a great service to our project by creating an important baseline for future analysis. We are eternally grateful for all their effort.
The citizen science team
Volunteers clear lather leaf and Scaveola
What takes 1,100 plastic cups, 20 people, 2,200 mangrove seedlings, 5 hours, 2 ladders, and 4 trays of refreshments? Updating the Museum’s Mangrove Wall!
Anyone who has come to the Museum in the last several years has seen the immense wall outside by our Wildlife Center, which has 1,100 plastic cups lining the length and height of the wall. In each one of those cups is a little mangrove seedling (or propagule) sitting in water. The entire wall looks like a piece of environmental “eco-art,” and that is in fact what it is, in part. Called The Reclamation Project, it is the brainchild of local artist Xavier Cortada, whose participatory eco-art projects engage local residents to imagine what Miami looked like before the concrete was poured. But this is a science museum, and this exhibit has a much larger purpose. It is a part of the Museum’s environmental volunteer-based restoration project, called MUVE (Museum Volunteers for the Environment). Each year new propagules are displayed in these cups, and each May, they are replanted in a native mangrove habitat, thereby restoring that habitat to its natural state. This year several schools will also have eco-art installations, and they will also join us in May to replant their own propagules!
Over the past 6 years, we have planted approximately 6,600 propagules, effectively reclaiming 4.5 acres for nature. This week, 20 Museum staff and Upward Bound students spent an afternoon putting brand new propagules into the cups. That means taking down a plastic cup, emptying the water, taking out the mangrove propagule, putting a new cup back up, filling it with water, and putting a new propagule in. But now do that 1,100 times (that’s why the refreshments are important).
Come see the new baby mangroves! And we also want YOUR help in replanting them next year! Learn more about MUVE and how you can help restore your beautiful south Florida environment.
No, there were not really any reptiles on the loose… except for the dinosaur in the video above (which was really a “dino-suit” provided by the Miami Children’s Museum), which inspired and interacted with kids all day long. But at our annual Reptile Day, visitors did get to share the Museum with all kinds of reptiles who came out to spend time with them. Wildlife Center staff brought out our own Museum’s reptiles, like the python and the bearded dragon, for “Wildlife Encounters” throughout the day. Inside the Museum, visitors could attend a “Dino-Builder” show to learn about how dinosaur bones, fossils, and even footprints can help us envision what dinosaurs looked like and how they lived… Or the adventurous visitors could even sample some special dishes from Chef Kat Duran, who incorporated some unique ingredients into her creations – like mealworms, quail eggs, and crickets! Some of our visitors were not even of the human variety. Some visitors (who registered in advance) brought their pets – turtles, snakes, iguanas, lizards, and more. The turtles “raced” along a wooden track (guided by some gentle nudging or treats of lettuce from their owners), and other reptiles hung out in a tent with their owners, to try to win the reptile contest! The Florida Nature Conservancy was also on hand talking about “Python Patrol,” and the University of Miami’s Explorer Series featured “Fascinating Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands.” It was a day full of fun, family, and friends! (And that includes our reptilian friends.)
Photo from Barry Fellman
Photo from Barry Fellman
Museum President/CEO Gillian Thomas and Avian Biologist Marina Boucher spoke on NBC6 about our Reptile Day!
Treasures of green, gold, translucent blue… with swirls, crystals, and sparkle… some in their pure form, and some turned into wearable art. Tables of fossils of all shapes and sizes, along with the Museum’s “Fossil Frank,” who can answer nearly anything about fossils. This was the scene at last weekend’s Mineralogical and Lapidary Guild Show held here at the Museum. Lapidary refers to an artist skilled in transforming stones, minerals, and precious gems into carved, polished, or engraved pieces of artwork. At the show, which was free with Museum admission, the raw gems and minerals were in beautiful displays, as well as the final pieces of finished gems and jewelry which were on sale. But this is the Miami Science Museum, and we always want to know the “how.” How does this raw piece of Earth turn into this sparkling piece of art? So in addition to exhibits and displays, vendors and Museum staff led classes and presentations on rock polishing, jewelry making, glass art, and more!
Vendor Booth: Crystal Grace Jewelry
Vendor Booth: Divine Spirit Creations
Vendor Booth: Whimitive Editions
Carefully polishing a rare, beautiful stone
The stone, before and after polishing
Art Glass Demo: Rowe Studios Art Glass
Making your own beaded jewely
Going on a gem and mineral scavenger hunt
Demonstration: Use minerals for makeup
It takes lots of really creative, smart, hard-working people to create an engaging, interactive museum exhibit experience. But that includes more people than our Museum staff. Professional evaluators help us understand how to achieve maximum impact in our exhibits, and we also need you, our visitors and our community, to give us feedback on prototypes of our planned future exhibits. This process, and everyone involved, will help make our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science the most fantastic science museum possible. Even now, we are excited to see prototype exhibits at our current Museum (as in the photo above). One of our evaluators from Randi Korn & Associates, was inspired to write this blog entry below (also posted on the Intentional Museum) about how her experience here impacted her.
One of the amazing benefits of working as an evaluator with a variety of institutions is the opportunity for personal learning. Having an art-history background, I find myself learning the most when I’m placed in non-art environments—reading about fault lines and earthquakes at the California Academy of Science, or getting my hands dirty while exploring decomposers at the New York Botanical Garden. Granted, as an evaluator, my job is to understand how visitors experience these exhibits and programs, but as a museum-loving individual, I can’t help but want to engage with the content myself.
In the past month, some of my RK&A colleagues and I have had the pleasure of evaluating exhibits and programs about a range of topics, including tropical animal and plant life, of which I, as an Ohio native, have great appreciation for and very little personal knowledge. Recently we conducted a formative evaluation at the Miami Science Museum of the aquarium component planned for the new Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. The exhibits (a mix of interactives and live-animal tanks) were designed specifically to encourage visitors to look closely, discuss their observations, ask questions, and explain what their observations might mean. As I observed from visitors’ experiences, these sorts of exhibits and behaviors prompted visitors to engage as active participants and informal learners, having fun exploring an exhibit while employing scientific skills (sometimes even unknowingly).
It was a few weeks later on a work trip to Puerto Rico when I first realized how much I had unknowingly absorbed from our recent environmentally-focused work and how often I was using these newly found scientific skills. My colleague Emily Craig had surprised me with a visit to a local beach between our data collection sessions, and as we walked up and down the beach, I noticed that we were doing the same behaviors we had monitored weeks earlier when conducting the formative evaluation at the Miami Science Museum. We pointed out bright green vegetation and abandoned white shells once home to small creatures adhered to the driftwood. We looked closely at the patterns of snail shells, which reminded me of patterns from blue and white china. We tested the suction-based strength of a sea urchin (one of the live animals we had learned about at the Miami Science Museum) when we attempted to carefully move it to safer grounds. We speculated about the type of rocks that made up the shore based on the way the rocks seemed to cement fossils and sea glass in their cracks. We observed a baby octopus that had been washed ashore before scooping it up and returning it to sea. We made claims about the small, squishy spheres we found on the shoreline, hypothesizing that they were eggs and guessing which creatures had laid them. In short, we were bringing our museum-honed scientific skills and sense of investigative science to the Puerto Rican shoreline.
Being on the shore for that moment gave me an even greater appreciation of the work that museums and cultural institutions do and their importance in our lives. Though I often visit institutions wearing my evaluator hat, focusing on other people’s experiences rather than my own, the information and knowledge institutions offer still seep into my subconscious interactions with the world—prompting me to wonder just how much we take away from our museum experiences that we may never even recognize.