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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Hello again! After my Lindsay in the Arctic expedition last year, I am now embarking on an Alaskan adventure! The University of Alaska Fairbanks is holding an International Summer School in Glaciology, and I will be participating as the Instructor for Science Communication. Taking place this August 2014 in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, it is truly an international program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, The Glaciology Exchange Program GlacioEx, the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences, and the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
The goal of the course is to provide graduate students with access to firsthand research frontiers in glaciology, including remote sensing, glacier geology and hydrology, glacier dynamics, surging and tidewater glaciers and ice streams, glacier response to climate change, and more.
Twenty-seven graduate students from 9 countries who focus on glacier-related research will join 9 instructors for 10 days at the Wrangell Mountains Center in McCarthy, Alaska. Instructors will be joining from the University of Alaska, the University of Birmingham in the UK, the University of Oslo in Norway, Alaska Pacific University Anchorage, and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami (that’s me).
Countries represented by participating instructors and students
There is a good reason why the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami is participating in this summer school on glaciers – and that is sea level rise.
Much of the general public is probably not aware of the research being conducted on glaciers, nor how this research may apply to their own lives and environments on the other side of the continent or world. The oceans connect us all, and here in Miami we are particularly attuned to the potential impacts of sea level rise on our beaches and reefs, and the availability of our abundant freshwater. Melting glaciers and ice are one reason sea levels are rising, and the Museum would like to connect you to cutting edge research on the subject. One of the ways we do this is to connect the public with the scientists engaged in this research, and this Glaciology Summer School is an extraordinary opportunity to do that. As an instructor, I will be expanding on the Museum’s local Science Communication Fellows program. I will work with scientists on skills and strategies to effectively communicate their research to the public, and they will share not only their research on glaciers but also their Alaskan adventure with all of you!
And that is what you will get to see on the Lindsay in the Arctic blog – in real time! See what they’re doing, you’re your questions, and follow along! And I will help guide the process, so that everyone will understand what brings a Science Curator from Miami, who still lives above sea level, to an Alaskan glacier.
Broad Key, Florida
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska
Posted in MiaSci at Large
Tagged Alaska Pacific University Anchorage, climate, GalacioEx, Geophysical Institute, glaciology, Glaciology Exchange Program, Glaciology Summer School, Inernational Association of Cryospheric Sciences, Lindsay in the Arctic, McCarthy, National Science Foundation, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, science communication, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Birmingham, University of Oslo, Wrangell Mountains Center, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
On Saturday, July 12, Wells Fargo attended a Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) habitat restoration event and presented the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science with a $74,542 grant award through its Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program.
The Wells Fargo grant, in addition to $125,000 donated to MUVE in 2013, is supporting volunteer-led environmental restoration activities at Virginia Key North Point, a highly diverse barrier island just off the coast of downtown Miami. North Point hosts an active sea turtle nesting beach, dunes, freshwater wetlands and acres of coastal hardwood forest. The area is being transformed into one of Miami’s only public spaces specifically designated for recreational use and the conservation of flora and fauna. Only three months ago, the beach was suffocated in invasive plants and unusable. In the past month, volunteers have planted 18,000 sea oats and loggerhead turtles have laid seven nests. Adjacent to cultural landmark Miami Marine Stadium, North Point is an ecological treasure Miami can be proud of.
The Wells Fargo #GreenTeam joined MUVE to replant sea oats on the dune at Virginia Key North Point, stabilizing the area with native vegetation. Earlier volunteer efforts at the site involved volunteers in removing invasive plant species and establishing a baseline for monitoring future improvements to the site. To read coverage of the event via El Nuevo Herald, click here.
Birds of prey have predators too (including humans), and they too can get get sick, injured and orphaned. But the human team at the Falcon Batchelor Bird of Prey Center at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is dedicated to helping birds of prey heal and recuperate. The Center focuses on ecological research and the rehabilitation and release of injured birds of prey, and includes a unique outdoor experience for guests that features exhibits with live alligators, crocodiles, turtles, tortoises and amazing birds of prey such as bald eagles, hawks and owls. Specializing in raptors that are either native to Florida and/or migrate through Florida, the Museum has cared for thousands of injured, sick and orphaned birds since 1991. Almost half of these have been released back into the wild. When it is determined that a raptor can no longer survive in the wild, it is taken in and cared for by the Museum.
This month, the Museum has unveiled a new exhbit in the Wildlife Center featuring great horned owls, developed entirely by Museum staff. As guests step outside, past the bald eagle and turkey vulture, they will come across what appears to be an empty enclosure full of trees. However, upon closer inspection, they will notice two great horned owls – it may take a minute to find them, because these magnificent birds have natural camouflage to blend in with their environment. The owls are non-flighted, non-releasable rehab birds which were acquired from other rehab facilities around the state of Florida. The owls’ enclosure has been planted with native plant species found in areas where great horned owls live naturally, such as slash pine, red cedar and beauty berry. In addition to the native plant species, the area includes natural water features so the birds may drink and bathe as they would in the wild. The exhibit will constantly grow and develop as more non–releasable birds arrive to the Center, so keep visiting and see how many owls you can spot!
Young visitors to the Museum’s Discovery Room are now treated to a brand new Busy Bee Puppet Story with sing-a-long songs, and the chance to join a hands-on activity to make their own model of a bee.
We have a few people to thank for that. First is the College Knowledge and Careers program, funded by JP Morgan Chase. Through this program high students in our Upward Bound Math and Science Center program are working as summer interns with Museum staff to gain work experience in a museum setting, and to learn how to engage families and our youngest museum visitors in the amazing world of science.
Next is the Museum’s ECHOS (Early Childhood Hands-On Science) comprehensive preschool program. Want to learn more about busy buzzing bees, or even take a bee story home with you? The storybook used for the Busy Bee Puppet Story is an original ECHOS storybook, and is available for purchase at the Museum box office. You can find more about ECHOS bees materials at Busy Buzzing Bees.
Preschool Science Time continues on weekends for the rest of the month of July, from 1-5 pm in the Discovery Room. Don’t forget to check out our real busy buzzing bees in our Museum’s bee hive, donated by the Junior League of Miami.