Innovation and Engineering Weekend

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Do you ever try to imagine what Miami will look like in 5, 10, or even 50 years? Miami is a vibrant city, the gateway to Latin America for business, and a must-see destination for travelers around the world. However, Miami also faces major challenges in it’s future, including a growing population with a shrinking amount of land. In February, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science decided to tackle these challenges head on by engaging in a discussion with the community on how they want to build the city of the future, and showcasing some amazing inventions and ideas from local innovation leaders at our annual Innovation and Engineering Weekend, sponsored by Wells Fargo, Ryder Corporation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In total, the four days of events engaged over 2,100 visitors and community members!

The event kicked off on Thursday, February 19, with the museum and CappSci announcing a five-year, $1 million CappSci Inventors program to develop innovative solutions in the health and environmental sectors. In 2015, two prizes will be offered: one for the best invention to restore coral reefs, and one for the best invention to help people reduce their exposure to carcinogens. We are so honored to be working with CappSci and know this is an incredible opportunity for leaders in these fields. Following the announcement, a panel moderated by Rebecca Fishman Lipsy, CEO of Radical Partners, discussed the role of competition in advancing science. The panelist included Dr. Andrew Baker, coral reef expert from University of Miami RSMAS, Dr. Maurice Ferre, Jr., Co-Founder of Mako Surgical, and Dr. Nicholas Lambrou, Medical Director and Gynecologic Oncologist at South Miami Hospital.

Thursday night, the museum held its second installment of its popular Science Up Close evening event series, featuring Dr. Roldolphe el-Khoury, Dean of UM School of Architecture. His talk, “Inhabiting the Internet of Things,” discussed how the city of the future will include homes and environments that are based in a network of communication, creating a responsive community habitat. We will no longer have stand-alone devices, but an ecosystem of invisible and subtle technology. Ten distinguished guest facilitators who are leaders in innovative though, encouraged and continued conversations with guests well into the evening. There were live performances by the Frost School of Music and craft beers courtesy of Wynwood Brewing Company.

Innovative thinkers were up early the next morning, Friday, February 20, to attend a CreativeMornings/Miami session on climate change. The museum’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Eldredge Bermingham, presented the on how climate change and innovation will collide here in Miami and impact the new Museum.

Later that morning, a select group of architecture magnet students from Miami Coral Park Senior High took part in a workshop led by Gehl Studio, an international architectural firm that specializes in reinventing the use of public spaces, and blew everyone away with their creative and insightful ideas to improve Miami. Their imaginations came up with a variety of thoughtful and realistic solutions for addressing challenges from changes in energy, the environment, transportation, and architecture and design in the city of the future.

Gehl Studio continued fostering Miami’s future when community stakeholders, including government officials, local entrepreneurs, leaders in the community Maker’s movement, architects, and scientists, participated in a similar workshop contributing many thought-provoking avenues to collaborate and create deeper change in our city. It was a truly invigorating session. We look forward to seeing its effects on our upcoming Innovation Center and in the relationships that came out of the session.

Later that evening, in celebration of Global PechaKucha Night, several enlightening speakers discussed their take on the four themes of the weekend including architecture and design, energy, the environment and transportation. Local young professionals and key tastemakers were invited by the Frost Science Young Patrons to enjoy an evening of fun in an intellectual atmosphere. The City of the Future PechaKucha Night 20×20 presenters included:

  • Camille Coley, JD, Assistant Vice President for Research and Associate Director of Florida Atlantic University’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center discussing the use of ocean currents as a means to produce energy.
  • David Rifkind, Associate Professor of Architecture at Florida International University discussing the idea (and real possibility) of net-zero houses.
  • Meg Daly, Founder and President of The Underline discussing the importance of turning Miami into a bike friendly city and the benefits of biking as a mode of transportation.
  • Stephen Davis, PhD, Director of Science & Policy for the Everglades Foundation discussing how sea level rise is impacting the Everglades, and in turn threatening our fresh water supply.
  • Trevor Powers, Vice President of Engineering & Facilities of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science discussing how the new Museum is incorporating all of these considerations in its design and construction.

Throughout the evening, guests enjoyed libations courtesy of Tito’s Vodka, Mandarine Napoléon, ZIOBAFFA, Lucky Buddha and Lemon City Tea, music by Dani Nicole, and gifts from Aesop, while making their very own pottery through a special Maker’s activity. The evening concluded by the “raku” kiln fire while the pottery was cured for guests to take home.

Then the grand finale: Innovation & Engineering family weekend on Saturday, February 21 and Sunday, February 22!

So many visitors could not stop talking about all that was offered. They got a chance to share their ideas and vision on the Gehl Studio ‘City of the Future’ wall. Afterwards, they took part in a plethora of activities, including witnessing the fashion of the future with designs from DesignLab Miami students, participating in technology of the future such as the 3D Immersive experience with augmented reality and Oculus Rift goggles administered by Dr. Winifred Newman and Zhaohui Jennifer Fu of FIU School of Architecture, and learning about engineering through Maker’s activities held by Best Buy and others in the museum’s Best Buy Teen Tech Center.

Many loved the robot obstacle courses/fighting ring brought by Starbot, a future partner of the museum, dedicated to teaching youth about engineering. BYO-Lab, Miami Industrial Arts, and StuffMaker 3D USA showed how 3D printers can be used to create molds to mass-produce building elements quickly. More Maker’s activities were conducted catering to early childhood, fashionistas, and designers.

There was plenty to do outside as well, where we concentrated on energy and the environment. Families learned about solar ovens and took home potted seeds to start a healthy urban garden of their own. Lots of university students also contributed to the fun by leading activities around water filtration, sustainable engineering, and impacts on the environment from natural and human-caused factors.

Guests also had the opportunity to view Miami Cityscapes, an art installation demonstrating how renowned local artists foresee the city of the future. The participating artists were: Jenny Brillhart, Pablo Cano, Felice Grodin, Maritza Molina, Emmett Moore, Leyden Casanova Rodriguez, Cesar Santos, Monica of TM Sisters, and Agustina Woodgate. Also on display over the weekend was an immersive light installation by Matthew Schreiber in the museum’s Planetarium.

We want to thank all of our wonderful partners and hope everyone had a spectacular time. Let us know what your favorite part was below!

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A Trip to Geneva: The Human Brain Project

As told by Jennifer Santer, Vice President of Content Development & Programs at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science:

Over the last few days, I had the chance to take part in a three-day workshop in Geneva, Switzerland, bringing together some of the leading scientists from the European Union’s Human Brain Project and an international team of science museum experts to come up with strategies for sharing the innovative technologies and emerging findings that are likely to emerge from this massive neuroscience research endeavor over the next decade.

It was a rare opportunity,to be gathered in a small working group on the shores of Lake Geneva, Mont Blanc visible in the distance, right across from the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, with some of the leading brain researchers in the world, listening to Henry Markram, co-leader of one of the main initiatives, paint his vision for how to achieve a unified understanding of the human brain.

Henry Markram invites the public on a voyage to discover the human brain.

Henry Markram invites the public on a voyage to discover the human brain.

Europe’s €1 billion Human Brain Project is one piece in a global undertaking to understand the human brain that includes complementary projects being carried out in Israel, Japan, Australia, and Canada, as well as the U.S.’s own multi-billion dollar BRAIN initiative. Together, researchers hope to piece together the data from neuroscience research and medical projects around the world, using the latest computing and imaging technologies to build and test computer models that can help us understand how the brain works. With insights gathered over the coming years, scientists hope to be able to find cures for the brain-related illnesses that afflict growing numbers of people, from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, to autism and depression, unlocking the secrets of memory, identity and consciousness along the way. They are also hoping to learn from the brain to build the supercomputers of tomorrow.

Science museums worldwide will have a critical role to play in sharing this emerging research with the general public, from helping people understand the medical and ethical implications of new findings to inspiring the next generation of neuroscientists. Here at Frost Science we’re exploring ways to include content about the brain in our new galleries, from understanding how our brains influence our health and happiness, to how the brain serves as the source for creativity and innovation. The goal of the workshop was for the HBP team to give the museum community an overview of their research and how they’re organized, and for the museum advisors to help the researchers understand the different ways in which we try to communicate research to our visitors.

The workshop included some of the Human Brain Project’s top experts in brain simulation, high performance computing and neurorobotics, as well as museum advisors from Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem; Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw; the Exploratorium in San Francisco; MUSE in Trento, Italy; Science Centre NEMO in Amsterdam; Science Centre Singapore; the International Centre for Life in the UK; and Universcience in Paris. Over the course of the three days we got to see some of the amazing research efforts that are already underway, from preliminary simulations of neuron activity in a rat brain, to experiments involving treating Parkinson’s patients with electrical implants.

Partial simulation of a rat brain.

Partial simulation of a rat brain.

These amazing three days ended up with a reception held at the Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, right across the street from the United Nations, a fitting testament to the spirit of international cooperation exemplified by the Human Brain Project’s effort to better understand what makes us who we are.

The United Nations

The United Nations

The Geneva Convention, on display at Red Cross Red Crescent Museum, Geneva.

The Geneva Convention, on display at Red Cross Red Crescent Museum, Geneva.

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A Frost Science Visit with District 8

District 8 Team

On Monday, March 2, Frost Science hosted District 8 Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava and her staff at our new museum construction site. Guided by President & CEO Gillian Thomas, the District 8 team toured the ever-evolving facility, learning more about our museum’s mission, and ultimately, how we can further unite to serve and engage the constituents of Miami-Dade County.

To learn more about what’s going on in District 8, click here.  Stay tuned for how Frost Science will be “Out & About” in your community!

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Congratulations, Mitchell “Mitch” Less!

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Mitchell “Mitch” Less

Congratulations to longtime museum supporter and the treasurer of the Frost Science Board of Trustees, Mitchell “Mitch” Less. He was recently inducted into the 2015 Business Hall of Fame by the University of Central Florida College of Business Administration. Less, class of ’86, is a Partner in Grant Thornton LLP and was inducted on Thursday, February 26 at the 16th Annual Business Alumni Hall of Fame Banquet.

Congrats again, Mitch!

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New 2015 Business Hall of Fame Inductee: Mitchell “Mitch” Less, ’86, Partner, Grant Thornton LLP

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Curious Vault 012: Xiphactinus, Extinct Monster Fish

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Eighty million years ago, a school of scaly Gillicus darted through the prehistoric seas that surged above modern day Kansas. Most likely searching for their next meal, Gillicus were predators, but not the top of the primitive marine food chain. There were far bigger fish found in the semi-tropical waters that during the Cretaceous period split North America right up the middle, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Circle—predators such as the Xiphactinus, (zy-FAK-tin-us) a species that would have swooped in to swallow a four-foot long Gillicus whole.

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To begin to understand the Xiphactinus, it helps to know it was a fish (and fish seems like such an inadequate term for a creature that could be up to 17-feet long) that swam and battled it out with primeval sharks and mosasaurs. There is no simpler statement to inspire awe. It was effectively an enormous sea going piranha with a protrusive fangs and massive frame. Eighty million years ago the Xiphactinus cruised stealthily throughout the Western Interior Seaway, an apex predator in an unforgiving ancient sea. Imagine the fish moving, gliding, with its beastly bulldog over bite of two-inch teeth gnarled from years of prowling the teeming primordial seas. Whizzing by goes a four-foot Gillicus. The perfect meal: or so it seemed.

A Xiphactinus sits on permanent display at Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, its belly filled with the remnants of its last lunch. The Gillicus is perhaps most famous for being the fatal final meal of the Xiphactinus, and there are a few rare specimen of Xiphactinius with remnants, or in some cases, wholly preserved fossil Gillicus inside them, a-fish-within-a-fish. It would seem the Xiphactinus had a taste for Gillicus, but an often-fatal taste, as proved by the fossil record, its tail was too harsh for its stomach and internal organs.

In 1925, eons after that ill-fated feast, the Museum’s Xiphactinus was first collected. It’s emancipator from the rock was George Sternberg, a Dust Bowl fisherman, (as crazy as that sounds) and son of the great fossil finder Charles Hazelius Sternberg, who did much of his early work during a period sometimes referred to as the Bone Wars. Turn of the century Americans were quite fascinated by bones of primeval creatures; it was big business and perfect ink for the newspapermen of the day.

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Fossil Beds Where Xiphactinus Was Discovered
Cook Canyon, Gove County, Kansas
Monument Rocks in the background

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June 1925 Xiphactinus in field
The fossil was collected in three slabs. The curved tail was moved into the correct position.

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Ready to pour plaster
University Archives
Fort Hays State University
Hays, KS

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June 9, 1925 George Sternberg pouring plaster on skull
University Archives
Fort Hays State University
Hays, KS

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Sternberg Undermining Plaster Slab
University Archives
Fort Hays State University
Hays, KS

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Local Ranchers helping turn over the slab
University Archives
Fort Hays State University
Hays, KS

The Xiphactinus took a long and crazy trip to end up in the Curious Vault. Laboring in the hot Kansas sun, George Sternberg poured plaster around the bone material, safely jacketing it so it could be moved. Almost immediately, it was bought by good old Uncle Sam who then shipped it east for exhibition at Philadelphia’s Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition of 1926, a huge world’s fair in honor of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The next photographic trace we have of the framed1,200 pound fish documents it hanging in the legendary “Hall of Extinct Monsters,” certainly one of the best named exhibit halls ever, in what is today the National Museum of Natural History, a part of the Smithsonian. Here, surrounded by the epic reconstructed bones of dinosaurs, it surely inspired entire generations of angling inclined visitors.

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Sold To U.S. National Museum March 1926
Charles W. Gilmore
U.S. National Museum (Smithsonian) in laboratory. V 11650
Purchased with National Sesquicentennial Exposition Fund to celebrate 150th anniversary signing Declaration of Independence.
University Archives
Fort Hays State University
Hays, KS

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Philadelphia, PA display, National Sesquicentennial Exposition

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Installing Diplodocus with Xiphactinus in Background in Hall of Extinct Monsters
Smithsonian Historical Photo

In 1965 the fish was transferred to the Miami Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In 1973, Carol Richards, a museum guild member who was married to then NOAA Director Bill Richards arranged for it to be gifted to the Museum, where it has sat, fondly loved by visitors but not quite fully understood, for the last 40 years.

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Left to Right: Jennifer Schull NOAA Science Planning and Coordination, Dr. Bill Richards , NOAA Director (retired), Chuck Bonner, Paleo-Conservator, Kevin Arrow Art & Collection Manager

Much of this information came to the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science by the way of Charles Bonner and Barbara Shelton, who are two well-known and colorful Kansas dino-fish-wranglers and the cheery proprietors of Keystone Gallery in Scott City, Kansas. Chuck and Barbara form the team, under the direction of Dr. Matt Friedman of Oxford University, who are facilitating the 2015 restoration of the Xiphactinus. For a month they carefully scraped away extra plaster and paint, what must have been a “quick and dirty” preparation, most probably a rush to make the deadline for exhibition in Philadelphia.

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Strangely enough, Chuck and Barbara live only a few miles from the place Sternberg unearthed the Xiphactinus nearly 90 years ago, and where the fish itself died nearly 80 million years ago. The chalky Kansas terrain is remarkably well suited for fossilization.

After driving down from Kansas, Chuck and Barbara set up their workspace within the Museum galleries where curious visitors could see their progress. Scratching into the plaster encasement, Chuck (wearing a t-shirt with a mosasaur on it)excitedly worked the head of the beast, convinced that the jawbone could be better defined. Due to its shape, there was some disorder, but Chuck confirmed his suspicions about the jaw and each day a little more was revealed. He learned that near all the teeth were plaster replicas, but this is not unusual; erosion both exposes the fossil in the Kansas chalk but it also forces loose teeth away from the skull, scattering them to different parts of the fossil bed.

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Chuck further worked the head while Barbara diligently focused on the ribs and the Gillicus specimen within the stomach. By reading his field notes we know Sternberg thought the Xiphactinus’ ruinous meal to be four feet, yet Barbara was able to confirm it was spread closer to six-feet throughout the body cavity of the Xiphactinus. Her process also revealed some fragile bone from the plaster that was previously unseen. Delicate rib bones suffer a similar fate to the teeth; Chuck and Barbara brought plenty of miscellaneous bone-bits from the same kind of fish to patch together the skeleton. They scraped and smoothed the specimen bringing a magnificent luster to the fish previously unseen.

There are only about a half dozen Xiphactinus specimens that are known to have a fish inside of them, making this fish-within-a-fish specimen particularly rare. It is nearly complete, as many don’t endure the ravages of time, disrupted by the elements or haphazard bone collectors. The lengthy and impressive provenance—particularly the link to the Sternberg family, as well as the Smithsonian—strengthens its rarity and importance. The newly cleaned and rehabilitated Xiphactinus will make yet another move soon, and will have a prominent place in the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science facility on Biscayne Bay where it will be a poignant symbol of change over time and the endurance of life on Earth.

The Gillicus will be there too, immortalized through partial digestion, with perhaps the last laugh, ultimately responsible for a fascinating eighty million year journey.

Special thanks to Chuck Bonner and Barbara Shelton for the historical photographs. All other photos by Mark Diamond.

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 karrow@miamisci.org.

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Museum Named National Medal for Museum and Library Service Finalist

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The National Medal for Museum and Library Service is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in recognition of exceptional service to the community and for making a difference in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. We are honored to share that the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science has been named as a finalist for the 2015 National Medal award.

This year’s finalists include individual public libraries, special and research libraries, a zoo, science museums, botanical gardens, and many other types of institutions that exemplify the great diversity of libraries and museums across the country.

This honor recognizes the contributions of our programs such as Upward Bound and Science Stars to South Florida. We are grateful for your support and are honored to be recognized as a 2015 finalist.

“Museums and libraries are the lifeblood of our communities, serving as trusted providers of critical resources, educational training, skills development, and civic and cultural enrichment,” said Maura Marx, acting director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We salute the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science for exemplary leadership in promoting lifelong learning while engaging and inspiring the public.”

The National Medal winners will be named later this spring, and representatives from winning institutions will travel to Washington, D.C., to be honored at the National Medal award ceremony. Winning institutions also receive a visit from StoryCorps, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs.

In acknowledgement of the National Medal’s celebration of institutions that are committed to community service, IMLS will feature the finalists on social media platforms and provide an opportunity for you to Share Your Story on the IMLS Facebook page.

Visit the IMLS Facebook page and Share Your Story today!

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Museum Receives In-Kind Donation from Earth Friendly Products

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In support of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and its many educational and innovative programs, Earth Friendly Products has presented the Museum’s current Coconut Grove location with environmentally safe cleaning products. The products include cleaners, paper towels, bathroom tissue, furniture polish, carpet shampoo and more. In addition, Earth Friendly Products will have a presence at many of the Museum’s signature annual events, including the upcoming Innovation and Engineering Weekend (Feb.19–22).

“We are thrilled to partner with the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and their goal to provide an informal learning environment that facilitates learning opportunities for the community and families of Miami,” says Dr. Nadereh Afsharmanesh, vice president of Sustainability and Education at Earth Friendly Products. “Enriching the learning experiences that the Museum provides children will support their learning and development and lay the foundation for their future success.”

The partnership with Earth Friendly Products reflects the Museum’s mission of forward-thinking and finding solutions to improve its role in the environment and community.

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Out & About with Frost Science: Camping Under the Stars

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At the end of January, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science was “out and about” in the City of Doral at their “Camping Under the Stars” event!  The City of Doral is located in north-central Miami-Dade County in District 12 represented by Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz.

Frozen Science—Keeping Miami Cool!

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On Friday, January 30, the Museum peered into the cosmos with educational presentations and activities that engaged all visitors in attendance at the “Camping Under the Stars” evening event.  With our public programs personnel, kids of all ages learned how to “cook-a-comet” utilizing the powers of dry ice (at –100 degrees!) along with other unique ingredients.  Then, our team’s use of liquid nitrogen froze guests in their tracks as we shattered, strengthened, and popped all sorts of daily items using its uniquely cold powers!  And that was only the beginning…

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A View to the Future

Next year our new facility will be opening in downtown Miami’s Museum Park. Until then, we have many exciting opportunities for our community members to become a part of its development.  New museum prototyping by our exhibits team was explored with children and their families, asking questions like, “if you could go on a one-way mission to space, would you?” inspiring some insightful results along the way!  Then, with our digital fly-through, everyone saw into the future of what the Museum will be presenting coming soon in 2016.

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From Earth to Sky!

Lastly, our planetarium associates brought two high-powered telescopes to the event, providing guided explorations to the greatest depths of our solar system.  Visitors learned about the chemistry of stars, the physics between planets and moons, and even about how early explorers from different cultures created constellations to navigate our planet!  With this interdisciplinary approach to education, regardless of one’s personal interests in science, there was something truly for everyone.

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Thank you to the City of Doral and event specialists Jessica Roth and Stephanie Bortz for inviting us to bring these astronomical experiences to their “Camping Under the Stars” event.

Up next?  Join the Museum as we’re “out and about” with the Coral Gables Museum on Saturday, February 14.  There, we’ll be peering into Miami’s future as we help guests engineer bridges and water crafts that help build Miami as a “City of the Future” – see you there!

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NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Symposium – With an Appearance by Buzz Aldrin!

There are star sightings, and then there are STAR sightings…

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Do you recognize the hero in the blue shirt?

I recently attended a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium in Cocoa Beach, near Kennedy Space Center, where I met one of only 12 people in the history of Earth to walk on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin!

The goal of NIAC is to nurture visionary ideas of innovators and entrepreneurs. It accepts proposals for support for ideas that are technically credible, but just beyond our current reality. Some may even laugh at these ideas initially – but when these ideas have a chance to be developed, those who laughed all of a sudden just may see a whole new step in science and technology being taken. This Symposium was an incredible chance for NIAC Fellows to present and share their research. What would you have said to these ideas?

Flying and maneuvering spacecraft using photonic laser thrust instead of propellant…
Using tethers to capture and “de-spin” asteroids…
Deploying a submarine into the methane lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan…

Buzz Aldrin, as well as many other esteemed researchers in the room, discussed, questioned, and applauded these and many more ideas, and on a break in the symposium schedule, incredibly, I was able to have a brief conversation with Buzz. Among other things, he talked about his ShareSpace Foundation, his thoughts on the next space missions (human versus robotic) to the Moon and Mars, and even his old friend – our very own former Museum Planetarium Director and star of the StarGazer show, Jack Horkheimer. And I, of course, told Buzz that I want to be an astronaut someday too. Remember, if there’s something to learn from NIAC, it’s to be open to seemingly crazy ideas, because they just might turn into reality.

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I’m standing in front of the real thing in Kennedy Space Center’s stunning Atlantis exhibit. How many seemingly “crazy” ideas went into making possible everything that Atlantis accomplished?

- Lindsay Bartholomew, Science Curator

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Out & About with Frost Science: Anne Kolb Nature Center

Visitors make flowers to learn about plant structures.

Visitors make flowers to learn about plant structures.

Last weekend, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science ventured north to Broward County’s Anne Kolb Nature Center with our “Science Treehouse” family day event.

Anne Kolb Nature Center comprises a 1,500 acre coastal mangrove/wetland ecosystem in the heart of suburbia, surrounded by the Cities of Dania Beach and Hollywood. In addition to three different types of mangrove species, the park also hosts a variety of threatened and endangered animals. Guests from around the world learn about these plants and animals through a series of indoor exhibits, touch tanks, boat rides, canoe trips, and wildlife treks.

Finished flower created by a visitor.

Finished flower created by a visitor.

On Saturday, January 17, Frost Science celebrated wildlife and wild places by providing hands-on activities for local South Florida residents at the nature center. We created paper flowers that taught guests about the different parts which make up plants (i.e. the roots which carry water, the leaves that gather sunlight, etc.).  Each visitor then planted take-home garden seeds with individual soil-filled cups, learning about all the environmental factors crucial to botany-based survival. It was truly inspiring to see patrons get so excited about local ecology; many taught us some new techniques as well!

Garden cups filled with soil ready to be planted.

Garden cups filled with soil ready to be planted.

In addition to the above activities, the museum’s Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MuVE) program also joined our efforts. Anne Kolb Nature Center’s mangrove ecosystems provided the perfect foundation for MuVe to share their work with various mangrove restoration projects throughout Miami-Dade County, including their most recent successful efforts on Virginia Key. MuVE provided an interactive game that focused on wildlife ecology as well as the opportunity to place mangrove seedlings in their latest Reclamation Project eco-art installation at Anne Kolb Nature Center.

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Thank you to Park Naturalists Joanne Howe and Dustin Gerber for co-coordinating this fantastic opportunity with Frost Science to bridge in-situ and ex-situ conservation efforts across the entire South Florida region.  If you would like to learn more about Anne Kolb Nature Center and how you can volunteer to help the planet, please click here.

Next up? From coastal ecosystems and on to the cosmos, come visit Frost Science with the City of Doral at our “Camping Under the Stars” event on January 30.  See you there!

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