The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science reached for the stars once again with our annual Astronomy Day: Stargazing into the Future event, October 9-11, which invited visitors to look up and appreciate the wonders of the universe – and how humans observe it. This year’s event was unique in that it was extended into a three-day celebration of our past, present and future, from the beginnings of the Planetarium in the 1960s to the state-of-the-art Planetarium and New Museum, which will open in downtown Miami in 2016.
Science Up Close: Accelerating Our Understanding of Particle Physics
We are always committed to inspire people of all ages to enjoy science in order to better understand ourselves and the world. Besides our family friendly efforts, we have always looked for ways to provide cutting-edge scientific content to inquisitive adults. This made us think that some of the best scientific conversations most scientists have happen away from the lab, in the company of friends, and while enjoying a beverage of choice. It is in this idea that Science Up Close, our new event series, is rooted in. We wanted to create a welcoming setting for people to come to the museum after-hours to listen to a renowned scientist talk informally about their research, and then engage in casual science conversations among each other. In four words, and in no particular order: talk, drink, mingle, learn.
The first Science Up Close event kicked off Astronomy Day on Thursday, October 9. Following a welcome by the Museum President & CEO Gillian Thomas, guests, including Patricia and Phillip Frost and Gabriel and Jennifer Montoya, were treated to a showcase of the fly-through video of the New Museum by Chief Science Officer Dr. Eldredge “Biff” Bermingham. This first event in the series featured FIU Physics Professor Pete Markowitz who accelerated our understanding of particle physics. Dr. Markowitz worked with the team that discovered the Higgs Boson, and is now getting ready to go back to CERN early next year to run new and exciting experiments. He has hundreds of scientific publications with his colleagues and one art show. Dr. Markowitz worked with FIU’s College of Architecture + The Arts artist-in-residence Xavier Cortada, who came along for the evening as his guest, on a series of five CERN banners that commemorate the scientific achievement. Mr. Cortada gifted the museum with a plexiglass replica of the banners.
The evening started and culminated with a special space-themed jazz performance by the Frost School of Music while guests sipped beers by Wynwood Brewing Company. Everyone enjoyed a friendly and up close look at science and we are already working on the next event of this stimulating new series.
The second Astronomy Day event was Planetarium AstroJam!, the brainchild of Kevin Arrow, the Museum’s Art & Collection Manager. In 2013, he was invited by Miami artists and provocateurs Domingo Castillo and Patti Hernandez, aka springbreak, to create an original programming idea for the New Work Miami exhibition at the Miami Art Museum (MAM). This was to be the last exhibition before MAM transformed into PAMM and moved to downtown Miami to became neighbors to the future home of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Arrow proposed to Domingo and Patti that they use the Museum’s Planetarium as a backdrop for a multimedia experience, highlighting its mid-century splendor and paying homage to our popular Fabulous First Friday laser shows that highlight the music of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and others. Knowing that some of the earliest planetarium structures were German, as was Armand Spitz the inventor of our Planetarium’s star projector, Kevin decided to develop a planetarium show dedicated to Krautrock, a rock music movement that emerged in Germany during the mid 1960s.
Arrow had been working weekly in the Curious Vault with Sri Prabha, an artist based in Broward who makes paintings and videos. He had also worked with Nayib Estefan presenting visuals for a Sun Ra 100th Birthday event at Gramps in Wynwood. He quickly realized that he could pair Prabha and Estefan together to do visuals in the Planetarium along with local musicians Brad Lovett, aka DimPast, and Rob Goyanes, aka Bobby Flan. He connected with the Museum’s Planetarium team including Mark Bennett, Claudia Hernandez and Robert Cruz, to support the effort with lights, dome projections and lasers. In the spirit of improvisational experimentation, Arrow planned to throw these ingredients into a live improvisational situation to see the outcome.
Thus was born Planetarium AstroJam! on Friday, October 10. The night began with light snacks, cocktails and drinks courtesy of Reyka Vodka, Monkey Shoulder and Biscayne Bay Brewing Company, followed by Bernardo Britto’s animated short film, “Yearbook,” a 2014 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Animation. This six-minute film, presented in collaboration with The Borscht Film Festival, followed the story of a man hired to compile the definitive history of human existence before the impending demise of the planet. FIU Professor Caroline Simpson, Ph.D., then treated guests to a great presentation on exoplanets in our Theater.
Guests made their way into the Planetarium as the lights dimmed and the music and visuals began, set against projections of the nighttime stars and sky. The music performed by Rob Goyanes, aka Bobby Flan, and Brad Lovett, aka DimPast, combined punk, organic, computer-less electronic music and rhythm. They took turns providing the lush and well constructed soundscapes. Snippets of Pink Floyd and Carl Sagan occasionally emerged from the rush of sound. They both successfully replicated the sounds of the city and the swamp under a dome of swirling projections. The live improvisational dome projections, provided by Miami artists Sri Prabha and Nayib Estefan, synthesized science, light and engineering. Prabha and Estefan’s work was enhanced by a selection of astronomy and cellular biology 35mm slides from Arrow’s collection, and dome projections and lasers from the Planetarium team. After 55 minutes of highly textural sounds and amazing hard and soft edged projections, the music faded away and the projections faded to black. Everyone was smiling as they exited the Planetarium. Plans are currently underway to create another audiovisual experiment and audience test subjects are required!
Astronomy Day: Stargazing into the Future
The Astronomy Day programming culminated with a big family event on Saturday, October 11. Sponsored by WPBT2, the day was filled with activities and programs that celebrated all things cosmic.
James C. Albury, co-host of WPBT2’s “Star Gazers” and coordinator of the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida – and who began his career as a teenager at the Museum – presented a “Best of” compilation of “Star Gazers” episodes inside the Museum’s Theatre throughout the day.
Those visitors who remember Jack Horkheimer, former director of the Museum’s Planetarium and creator of WPBT2’s “Star Gazers,” enjoyed showings in the Planetarium of Horkheimer’s original “Helios” program, during which they saw the Museum and Planetarium as they were in the beginning.
The rest of the Museum, throughout the day and the evening, was a constellation of activity. Here are just some of the “stars” in that constellation:
- A Frost School of Music ensemble trio performed a spectacular set of space-themed tunes inside the Planetarium under the stars.
- Visitors looked directly at the Sun (safely!) by using solar telescopes brought to the Museum by Southern Cross Astronomical Society.
- Local artist Kerry Phillips led the creation of a “spaceship” built from recyclable materials, with each visitor designing and contributing a piece.
- Kids built their own rockets out water bottles and launched them into the sky over the Museum.
- Young visitors were treated to Miami’s big screen premiere of SPACE RACERS™, the new animated preschool television program that follows young spaceship cadets as they soar through the solar system.
- Florida International University (FIU) Astronomy Club simulated the the gravity keeping the solar system together.
- FIU’s Society of Women Engineers brought circuits for visitors to learn about the parts of robots, which are key to exploring space where humans can’t go (yet).
- FIU’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers brought mini robotic arms, giving visitors the chance to operate a model Mars Rover.
- In the Museum’s Best Buy Teen Tech Center, visitors were able to remotely operate a network of mini NASA telescopes, take their own images, and process images into colorful images of the Universe. And they were even able to become avatars, fly in space and explore exoplanets.
- And Museum staff led lots of cosmically cool activities throughout the Museum: visitors designed flying contraptions out of everyday materials and tested them in a wind tunnel… they used fruit to guess how big the planets are compared to each other… they used a laser to see how mirrors direct light through a telescope… they looked at colorful tubes of heated gases and saw that each gas produces a unique rainbow (that’s how we know what the Sun is made of!)… they made alien goo… they saw what liquid nitrogen can really do… and more!
Thanks to all who made this a fantastic day, and as Jack Horkheimer and James Albury would say, “Keep looking up!”
What happens when you overtake a city with 5,000 museum professionals with tons of ideas and the will to change the world? Every year, over 5,000 museum professionals from across the country come together for the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) National Meeting for several days of networking, learning and collaboration. The meeting consists of sessions presented by various museum experts that offer interesting insights into every aspect of the museum world.
How do you get to present your museum material or idea at the National Meeting, you ask? Museums can submit proposals to the approximately 30-member AAM National Program Committee to be reviewed, and if selected, they will become sessions at the meeting. Each year over 400 proposals are submitted, and this year, our very own Michelle Beumer, Public Programs Manager, was selected to join the National Program Committee.
Exploring the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia
Exploring the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia
Michelle traveled to Atlanta earlier this month to meet with the rest of the National Program Committee at the High Museum of Art to decide which proposals would be presented at the National Meeting. After two full days of rigorous evaluating, approximately 150 proposals were selected. This included everything from conversation starters, lessons from the international community and specific case studies. Each of these sessions will offer a unique perspective into an experience and has the potential to plant a seed for a new idea that can grow into something great.
Michelle will be traveling back to Atlanta in April 2015 to see the sessions that were chosen come to life at that AAM National Meeting. Michelle also plans to submit a few proposals on behalf of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science for the 2016 National Meeting which will be held in Washington, D.C.
Stay tuned to see what new ideas start to grow!
Dr. Judy Brown, Senior VP of Education at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, was awarded the 2014 Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Awards for Exceptional Leadership during The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) annual conference held in Raleigh, North Carolina on October 18-21, 2014. ASTC Members of the science center and museum field gathered from around the world for the annual event, where Brown was one of two professionals at the non-CEO level chosen worldwide and recognized for her professional achievements that have not only enhanced the performance of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, but also significantly advanced the mission of other science-technology centers and institutions.
“It has been a privilege for me to have played a small part in changing the face of science education in America,” says Judy Brown, Senior Vice President of Education at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. “I cannot have received a greater honor than the respect and acknowledgement of my peers for this work.”
Judy Brown has led the education program at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science since 1988 and has played a leadership role, nationally speaking, with cutting-edge projects designed to broaden participation of women and minorities in the sciences. She has been at the forefront of the science education reform movement developing program models that are now being replicated throughout the United States. Brown was recently awarded a Kellogg Foundation grant to continue and expand her pioneering science curriculum for pre-Kindergarten children in the communities of Homestead, Opa-Locka and Wynwood.
In addition to overseeing the Museum’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational platforms, Brown also plays a vital role in community engagement, spearheading programs that spark innovative projects and ideas that combine the strengths of formal and free choice learning. She has previously been recognized for her work in mentoring young people by the White House in 2005 and received the Eleanor Roosevelt award from American Association of University Women (AAUW) for her work encouraging girls to pursue science and technology related career pathways. She was recently 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.
“Judy has tirelessly pursued her goal of enabling all young people to have equal access to high quality education,” says Gillian Thomas, President and CEO at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. “Her determination and innovative skills as well as her commitment have led to her success. The thousands of young people who have benefitted will surely join me in thanking and congratulating her.”
Dr. Judy Brown at the ASTC Annual Conference
The first International Day of Peace was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981 and the theme of the 2014 commemoration was “Right of Peoples to Peace”. On September 21, 2014, Miami-Dade County commemorated the International Day of Peace at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden with “A Celebration of the International Day of Peace.” The Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board (CRB) hosted an afternoon of fellowship, music, refreshments and recognition of some of the organizations and individuals who had made significant contributions to promoting peace and goodwill between diverse people in Miami-Dade County during the past year.
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science was one of the recognized peacemakers that were honored at the event. The Museum’s Vice President of Exhibition and Design, Sean Duran, accepted the award on behalf of the Museum’s “Race: Are We So Different?” exhibition.
“Thanks to the MCCJ (Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews) and all the other groups of fine people that worked so hard to help us bring this exhibition to Miami and create the programming that supported it,” said Duran.
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science secured the award winning exhibition and provided a unique opportunity for diverse people to engage with each other around issues of identity, history and similarities. The Museum joined with Miami-Dade civil rights and advocacy groups to convene a community committee that raised funds and created a variety of local programming using the exhibit as a tool for awareness, education dialogue and understanding. “RACE: Are We So Different?” helped visitors to understand what race is and what it is not.
Perhaps the defining moment of scouring through the Albert A. Green archive in the Curious Vault was found on the backside of a 8×10 photo depicting a small device that looks like a vintage keychain mixed with a fishing lure. In flowing script, the photo was labeled: “Shark repellant turned out to be a shark ‘attractor.’” The photo represents a risk taken, a scientific experiment and a failure that appeared to be met with a good laugh.
Albert A. Green wasn’t famous, but the eclectic mass of his life’s work and papers still made it to the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science upon his death. Born right after the turn of the century in Connecticut, Green was a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As an engineer, his story is the standard track for Northeasterners who ended up in South Florida in the middle of the century. He didn’t come for the weather; he came for the war effort.
Green spent 14 years working with Sikorsky, an aviation-manufacturing corporation in his hometown state of Connecticut. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp is most famous for inventing and producing the first Army issue helicopter, a project Green was intimately involved with. A framed photo of an early helicopter sits in the archive, signed by Igor Sikorsky the Russian American aviation pioneer, addressed to Green.
Sikorsky Aircraft postcard
Signed Sikorsky photo
In 1942—not long after the United States’ declaration of war on Japan and entry into World War Two—Green moved to Miami to work for the aircraft manufacturer Consolidated Vultee. The archive is an interesting record of a man heavily involved in the aviation war effort. It tells the little known story of Miami’s involvement in the aviation side of strategic operations. In fact, with both the Navy and Air Force operating in such large numbers, many attribute the war as being a major factor in the region’s mid-twentieth century population growth. Around 500,000 Army Air Corps cadets trained on Miami Beach and many of the soldiers returned to make their permanent lives after the war.
Consolidated Vultee staff
Al Green (left)
Like the cadets, Green stayed in South Florida and appears to have continued working in aviation engineering. There are countless images of flying machines and helicopters that never quite realized, but were certainly attempted. It’s clear from the materials that Green kept a sentimental place in his life’s work for the helicopter. He bought and donated a helicopter to the local aviation school, which still stands in Miami as the George T. Baker School. In a separate incident, Green and a colleague appear to have crashed a different helicopter somewhere off Miller Road. They were both unhurt, but a 18-inch, dangerous looking, splintered wood and metal shard from the helicopter still remains in the Curious Vault, along with a newspaper clipping from the time describing the accident. Early helicopter experiments were supremely dangerous, as these engineers were charting new ground in flight.
George T. Baker School
Conceptual helicopter drawing
Conceptual helicopter drawing
The other objects in the collection are pins from the various jobs he held, but the bulk of the collection is ephemera. There are countless technical blueprints and drawings of highly specialized airplane parts as well as patents filed, won, and never realized. Vast amounts of letters from important sounding mid-century firms that offer substantial sums while pleading with Green to consider moving to their headquarters. The pictures of him, the ones he saved, show Green smiling amongst friends. There is even a hand drawn birthday card signed by his office created with great care.
Al Green with friends and coworkers on Miami Beach
One letter in particular stands out. Dated February 3, 1961, it was sent from the Office of the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command. It’s an invitation to come and inspect the facilities and fly with the Air Force SAC. A little bit of digging shows that that same date was the launching point of “Operation Looking Glass,” an airborne command center put in place in case of catastrophic nuclear attack on the US that ran until the late 1990s. Obviously Green was seen as an important figure in the aviation world to have received such an honor, and the letter itself is a fascinating bit of militaria with concrete links to a specific top-secret program.
But perhaps aircraft engineering wasn’t everything to Albert Green. Much like the doomed shark repellant, throughout his notes and papers there are countless mentions of other endeavors. Designs for a novelty cigarette filter, an early model skateboard, an electronic music device, and a solar water heater can all be found carefully delineated amongst the notepads and numerous meticulous blueprints. The skateboard and solar water heater are particularly interesting, as they both date from the 1940s and show that Green was a cutting edge thinker.
Sometime around the early 1960s Green left aeronautical engineering and took up a position as an engineer with the construction firm General Development Corporation. Like all good South Florida stories, an eclectic personality eventually ends up in real estate. Albert Green may not have ended up as famous as Sikorsky, or any other aviation figures from the 20th century, but he was an important cog in the greater machine that represents Miami important place in the war effort. His memory lives on in the Curious Vault at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, a fascinating slice of oft-forgotten history of the city of Miami.
The Curious Vault is an online cabinet of curiosities featuring objects from the collection of the Miami Science Museum, presented by writer Nathaniel Sandler and Kevin Arrow, Art & Collections Manager. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baby Green Heron
Over the last few months, you may have seen birds in your yard carrying sticks or food to nearby trees. Or maybe you heard baby birds making lots of noise from the nest, begging for food. By now, most of those babies are all grown up and on their own. But some of those babies ended up at the Falcon Batchelor Bird of Prey Center here at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. While we focus on birds of prey (hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, and vultures), we accept all kinds of wild birds that need medical attention. Some of the babies we saw this year are now a part of the scientific record for Miami-Dade county.
Florida is currently conducting its Second Breeding Bird Atlas. Almost every state has an Atlas, developed by local volunteer birdwatchers who scour every part of their area to discover where different species of birds breed. Babies can be born any time of year, but the vast majority of baby birds hatch between March and July. During Florida’s first Atlas in the 1980′s, Miami-Dade county had 120 species of birds confirmed breeding here. The Second Atlas has found 57 species in Dade county so far and 6 of those are solely based on Museum babies! We submitted one Great Horned Owl record, one Barn Owl record, and 8 Cooper’s Hawk records. We submitted an amazing 18 Eastern Screech Owl records (all 18 babies and more were raised by our resident foster mom, Lucille!). We also submitted two Chimney Swift records from two sets of Chimney Swift babies that fell to the bottom of two different South Miami chimneys and one Green Heron record.
Baby barn owl
Baby Cooper’s Hawk
Florida’s Second Breeding Bird Atlas is based solely on data submitted by volunteers and every record counts! Click here to learn more about the Atlas. We are lagging behind other parts of the state and we could use your help!
If you see evidence of breeding activity (such as birds building nests or very young baby birds of any species), feel free to take a picture and e-mail it to our Avian Biologist, Donna Molfetto at email@example.com. We can tell you what kind of bird you’re seeing and your record might help current and future scientists study bird population trends! Miami is known to have a vibrant human community, with people coming and going from all parts of the world and raising families here. Your data will show us which parts of Miami the birds are raising families in!
- Donna Molfetto
On Saturday, August 23, volunteers planted over 1,600 seaoats and 250 wetland stabilizing plants at MUVE‘s habitat restoration site on Virginia Key North Point. #getmuving
If you haven’t already virtually followed me to Alaska, come and “join me” – LIVE – on the Lindsay in the Arctic blog! As Science Curator here at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, I am participating as an instructor for Science Communication at a Glaciology Summer School organized by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and supported by the National Science Foundation. I have joined 27 graduate students and 5 glaciology instructors from around the world in the tiny village of McCarthy, Alaska, and I am responsible for leading workshops on effective strategies for communicating science to the public. I am also keeping a blog to share this amazing experience with everyone, and have worked with scientists on writing and contributing posts for the blog too!
I have met amazing scientists here, seen spectacular glaciers, and learned more about how important healthy glaciers are to all of us – even in tropical Miami.
Click on the photos below to learn more about these amazing people and places. I’ll be here until the end of the week!
The main “Lindsay in the Arctic” blog site
McCarthy, Alaska, where the Glaciology Summer School is taking place
A glacier from 2500 feet up! Every pattern and feature gives clues as to a glacier’s health, how it moves, and how it is affected by climate
A glacier is a dynamic force of nature
Just one of the 27 students in the Glaciology Summer School course (each one contributed a blog entry, which I have labeled “post from a scientist”)
Students worked in groups on glaciology research projects, using tools like drones and on-ice weather stations, to learn more about glaciers and their connection to climate
As part of my science communication workshops, I challenged students to “draw their research” in a simple picture, then develop a concept for a hands-on activity to illustrate that picture
On August 8th, volunteers from Citizens for a Better South Florida, Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida and students from local schools joined MUVE to plant nearly 1,500 sea oats at #VirginiaKey North Point.
Vote Miami and help make a difference!
We are very excited to announce that the Museum has been named one of 10 finalists for Lincoln’s Legacy Award worth $50,000. Presented by the Lincoln Financial Group, the Legacy Award was created to recognize nonprofits whose programs increased high school graduation rates and college preparedness through mentoring, tutoring, technology skills training and college readiness programs.
Through this award, the Museum will be able to fund more programs and continue its groundbreaking support of first-generation, college-bound youth participants from its Upward Bound program.
Why Upward Bound: Upward Bounders embark on a four-year journey with the Museum upon graduation from middle school. Throughout their high school years, Upward Bounders are mentored by university-level students and science educators at the Museum and develop lifelong learning skills. In the last six years, 98% of Upward Bounders graduated from high school, and 95% enrolled in college— 65% of those with university diplomas in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subject area. For more than 14 years, the Museum’s youth program has recognized the talent, resiliency and potential of these young people and designed programming to help them complete high school, enroll in college and succeed at every step along a STEM career path.
What this grant means for Miami: If the Museum wins, it would provide Upward Bounders additional content and resource in computer science and digital media skills thus enhancing their range of career opportunities. Upward Bounders are mentored by university-level students and science educators at the Museum and develop lifelong learning skills.
How you can help: We need your vote! Your vote will contribute importantly to the continuing success of the program and these remarkable young students. This is why we need your help. From now until September 4, log on to Facebook or visit the official website and vote for the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science’s Upward Bound Program. (Please note voting must take place via desktop or laptop computer. Voting on mobile devices is not supported).
You can also help by sharing the link with friends on social media! Thank you for your continued support.