Last week, our Science Curator, Lindsay Bartholomew, and MuVE Project Coordinator, Michelle Beumer, ventured to Washington D.C. for the Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference. The Miami Science Museum is just one of over 170 museums nationwide affiliated with the Smithsonian. The conference serves as a kind of roundtable event, in which affiliates from all over the country can share projects, learn from each other, establish new partnerships, and find out about new opportunities from the Smithsonian to enhance the Museum experience for respective audiences.
While visiting the bustling city, they also explored some of Washington’s classic sights: multiple Smithsonian museums, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the National Museum of the American Indian, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol building. But the Capitol building and dome tours were no ordinary visit. Lindsay and Michelle were invited to meet with Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and were given private tours of the Capitol building by her staff – from the top of the dome down to the crypt where George Washington was supposed to be buried. Traveling on the Capitol building’s very own “subway” from one part of Capitol Hill to another, they got a sneak peek into the busy career of a Congresswoman.
The Smithsonian museums, and its network of Smithsonian affiliates, provide opportunities to step back in time to appreciate our history, resources to support current museum efforts, and new prospects that help shape our vision for the future of our museums. Venturing through Capitol Hill with a Congresswoman and her knowledgeable staff was another adventure all its own, and by the end of the trip, Lindsay and Michelle came home with wonderful ideas and new ways of getting you engaged in the Miami Science Museum.
On the crypt where George Washington was supposed to be buried
From the Capitol dome, looking toward the Washington Monument
We are now officially in hurricane season, and the Museum’s Feel the Force: Hurricanes and Other Hazards event was a chance to experiment with weather instruments, meet real hurricane hunter pilots, remember the tragedy and survival of Hurricane Andrew, and learn how we can be better prepared for future hurricanes. The event was supported by a wide range of community organizations and partnerships, and we would especially like to thank our sponsor, FIU’s International Hurricane Research Center, in partnership with Miami-Dade Emergency Management, for another successful year of hurricane preparedness to kick-start the 2013 hurricane season. It was a whirlwind event! Here’s just some of what happened:
Max Mayfield of WPLG-Channel 10 and Curt Sommerhoff of Miami-Dade Emergency Management, went over Hurricanes 101 and hurricane safety… Ron Magill of Zoo Miami discussed the story behind the photos of the old Metro Zoo before, during, and after Hurricane Andrew, in a riveting story of loss and hope… Visitors met real Hurricane Hunters at our P-3 cockpit, and discussed hurricane forecasting at our Magic Planet with scientists from NOAA, the National Hurricane Center, and the National Weather Service–Miami… Kids had a blast learning all about weather and doing fun hands-on demonstrations with Tsunami Tim and Mike Mogil’s How the Weather Works… Miami-Dade Ocean Rescue taught us about water safety and rip currents (swim parallel to the shore until you do not feel resistance)… Our techie visitors were able to process images of famous past hurricanes, and recreate hurricane animations, in our Best Buy Teen Tech Center… and more!
Keep safe this hurricane season, and we’ll see you next year at our Feel the Force event!
Normally we go to the ocean, but last weekend, the ocean came to us, in the form of Orchestra Miami. Conductor and Artistic Director Elaine Rinaldi led 8 musicians onstage in the Museum’s theatre, performing the music of Oceanophony by award-winning composer Bruce Adolphe. Throughout the event, which was free with Museum admission, children learned all about marine life and the importance of biodiversity and healthy coral reefs in a whole new way. Through an engaging combination of music and poems, children learned the answers to questions like: Do seahorses mate for life? Is marine snow cold? Oceanophony was a scientific symphony of the ocean!
MuVE (Museum Volunteers for the Environment), the Miami Science Museum’s volunteer restoration project, is restoring our city’s native coastal habitats. The Project is engaging Miami residents to create an environmentally active community and a deep appreciation for our unique coastal habitats. MuVE partnered with the Reclamation Project to host a replanting event for schools and families that adopted eco-art installations throughout the year, which began last September when over two dozen Miami schools displayed mangrove installations in their classrooms or in their schools. The propagules then spent the school year germinating in plastic cups. The students nurtured them throughout the year and then replanted them on this past Saturday at Virginia Key, to reclaim areas of our urban city for nature. In all, over 150 volunteers gathered for the annual mangrove restoration event.
The participants spent the morning enjoying nature in the mangrove swamp at Virginia Key, a barrier island off the coast of downtown Miami. The smell of anoxic mud and the children frolicking in the dense sediment squishing between their toes all made for a successful event. Over 650 Mangrove seedlings were planted in this salty marsh. Surrounded by emerging mangroves from previous installations, the promise of a new mangrove habitat rising up out of the muck is a dream that is coming true.
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.