It’s the cheapest radio hobby you can have. You can do it with your kids. You can search and discover other far-off stations from your own backyard. And being in a city on the coast makes it all the easier to find new stations. Robert Cruz, Planetarium Assistant Operations Manager at the Museum (and part-time ham radio geek), can tell you all about how to do this on Instructables, a site where anyone can write and share how-to instructions for all kinds of things. Try it here!
On Saturday, October 12, 2013, students from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL participated in Gandhi Day, an annual service day at the university. This year, some students and I helped MUVE, Museum Volunteers for the Environment, with the Miami Science Museum in order to restore a beach littered with an invasive species known as Scaevola spp. The species is native to Australia and its extensive root system prevents the growth of many other plant species on the beach. MUVE is helping to remove this species from a Virginia Key beach to open it up to the public sometime within the next two years.
Working to remove the invasive species from the beach was a very rewarding experience because we were helping the environment and the community by clearing the beach. For me personally, and I speak for other volunteers when I say this, the work was tough but satisfying. I believe in working to preserve the environment and its beauty, so it was nice to finally give back and act upon that. I knew that my service was worth it and one day, when the beach opens to the public, I will be able to appreciate it with my friends. It was enjoyable removing the Scaevola spp. and all of the students got along great and worked well together. The MUVE team was very helpful, informative, and passionate about conserving the environmental beauty of South Florida.
Overall, the experience was worth it and it was pleasing to see that our work will one day benefit the community.
-Andrew Eidelberg, University of Miami Student ‘17
AstroJam: Mission to the Future event last weekend was all about showcasing the links between science, technology, and imagination. Some of the science and technology imagined in science fiction stories – hover crafts, smart robots, and bionic limbs – have started to become reality. Visitors to AstroJam were taken on a “mission to the future,” learning about technology, experimenting with hands-on activities, and imagining what the next innovation might be. This year we had even more partners from the community involved in the event – WB Engineering brought 3D printers to demonstrate in the Museum’s Best Buy Teen Tech Center… members of the New World Symphony performed under the stars in the planetarium… Southern Cross Astronomical Society and the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association brought telescopes to observe Venus and the Sun (safely)… FIRST Robotics Competition brought several student teams from around Miami to showcase robots they had built… Florida International University (FIU) Engineering Department brought a prototype robot called the ERB (Emergency Response Bot)… we held a screening of the brand new documentary One Way Astronaut, and we had a “Cosmic Quest” lineup of interactive hands-on activities. No one needed to go home empty-handed either – we raffled off a Celestron telescope and a $500 gift card for 3D printing with WB Engineering, and everyone who completed the Cosmic Quest earned a prize! Of course AstroJam continued after-dark, with a “Science of Star Trek” presentation by Dr. James Webb of FIU, laser planetarium shows, film screenings of experimental, science, and science fiction films with Barron Scherer, and rooftop observatory viewing. Who wouldn’t be inspired?
Student Teams with their impressive robot creations, with the FIRST Robotics Competition
3D printing with WB Engineering (who also provided a $500 gift card for a raffle prize)
Observing with Southern Cross Astronomical Society and the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association
The New World Symphony performing under the stars in the planetarium
Navigating the ERB with the FIU Engineering Department
Designing and building your own Mars Rover
Posted in In the Museum
Tagged 3D printing, Best Buy Teen Tech Center, Celestron, FIRST Robotics, Florida International University, James Webb, One Way Astronaut, Science of Star Trek, South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association, Southern Cross Astronomical Society, WB Engineering
The new Upward Bound IMPACT year has begun! This program is one of our signature, long-running programs, which has impacted hundreds of Miami high school students since 1999. That year, the Miami Science Museum was awarded funding from the US Department of Education to became the first science museum in the country to have an Upward Bound Math & Science Center. The goal of the program is to help prepare low income, first-generation college bound students for postsecondary study, and to graduate college with a bachelor’s degree in science, math, and technology related fields. There is a lot of learning and big goals here, but you have to start somewhere – and good food and fun is a great way to begin. So the Museum recently held our annual “welcome back barbeque,” to kick off the beginning of this Upward Bound academic year, and to give students’ parents and families a chance to get to know program staff. Over 60 people gathered at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, including Upward Bound students (grade 9-12), their families, and Upward Bound staff. The students swam in the ocean, played football and soccer, and enjoyed food that parents and staff cooked on the grill. They also learned about our upcoming Upward Bound course offerings, and some of the other exciting activities they can look forward to over the year!
For centuries the disciplines of science and art have occasionally intersected in the larger search for a life of meaning and the meaning of life. The team here at the Miami Science Museum has decided to gracefully continue that discussion and we are excited and proud to announce the first ever Curious Vault Collaborations.
The project, inspired by the collection of the Miami Science Museum, puts a local artist and scientist together with the intention of creating a tabletop display from their teamwork using at least one item from the Museum’s permanent collection. These main elements, a table, a collection object, an artist, and a scientist, are the framework. They are a unifying set of rules that hope to guide the endeavor for future projects.
Giant brain coral from the Miami Science Museum’s collection
The inaugural Curious Vault Collaborations exhibit is currently up on view in the museum and focuses on coral, since Dr. Andrew Baker, Associate Professor of Marine Biology & Fisheries at the University of Miami is one half of the first endeavor. His career has a special focus on corals and after combing through the many specimens in the Curious Vault he chose a massive brain coral for the artwork.
Dr. Andrew Baker
His counterpart is Miami based contemporary artist Sinisa Kukec, who has crafted a stunning infinity box to house the coral. Inside the box the brain coral is raised up, framed and highlighted with custom made neon tubing. When the onlooker soaks in the piece they are treated to a near never-ending view of neon and brain coral, an effect hoping to simulate an actual coral reef under the waves.
Dr. Baker, discussing corals
Sinisa Kukec, sketching initial concepts
Meeting in Sinisa’s studio
Production in Miami Science Museum shop
The piece itself is entitled “Do brain corals dream of algal symbionts?” with the materials used being brain coral, neon, acrylic two-way mirror, red oak, soundtrack and electronics. It is now on exhibit to visitors to the Miami Science Museum and it is spectacular to behold.
“Do brain corals dream of algal symbionts?”, 2013
Brain coral from the Miami Science Museum collection, neon, acrylic two way mirror, red oak, soundtrack and electronics
33 x 34 x 34 inches
Courtesy of the scientist, the artist and Spinello Projects
While Kukec’s deft hand was responsible for physically putting the piece together and the final visual presentation that viewers will experience, it’s worth noting one of the main obstacles the team had when initially encountering the collection. The massive piece of brain coral chosen by the artist and scientist was filthy. The coral was covered in a film of hunter green paint. Though the Curious Vault team wasn’t really sure why, it seemed that perhaps an earlier exhibition team at the Miami Science Museum had used it in a display and hoped to give off the appearance of being underwater. Dr. Baker, being a coral expert, knew exactly how to restore the piece to its pristine pearl white glory, making it visually much more stunning for the artistic purposes at hand.
Dr. Baker has also, quite charmingly, used his children as well as himself for the audio portion of the display in hopes of engaging all walks and ages of life. Translation in Spanish was provided by the Science Museum’s own Fernando Bretos. Together they all read a history of man’s relationship with corals as well as basic factoids that visitors may find interesting, which will play alongside the display. For instance, did you know that in the Middle Ages, people believed that anything touched by coral could not harm them? So not only is the object visual, but it is also aurally stimulating.
As Sean Duran, Vice President of Exhibitions and Design at the Miami Science Museum explains, “Classic to the way an artist thinks is to question how an object is contextualized. In this place, what message is that object sending? So, under different circumstances the artist can place the object where it tells a new story.” He goes on to clarify that, “a scientist sees a much more consistent message behind that object. We think that interconnected riffing between the artist and scientist creates new messages and new pathways for museum visitors to think about the object’s meaning.”
But with each display, there is an individual and overarching goal, reflective of the scientist’s professional background and the artist’s visual interests. As Dr. Baker explains, “the aim is that people come away with the impression that corals are beautiful, valuable in ways they may not have thought about before.” He further details that corals are, “Fascinating, fragile, romantic, and disappearing fast,” which both Baker and Kukec hope people will see and feel when looking at their collaborative work.
The Curious Vault Collaborations is a periodic exhibition and online cabinet of curiosities featuring objects from the collection of the Miami Science Museum, which are integrated into a project by a Local Artist and Scientist presented by writer Nathaniel Sandler and Kevin Arrow, Art & Collections Manager. For more information, email email@example.com.
Lots of exciting things are happening at the construction site of our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. And as always, lots of exciting things are happening at our current Miami Science Museum. But what you might not know is that some things happening now in our current Museum are actually helping us create the best future Museum possible. Check out this video of Jennifer Santer, Vice President of Content Development and Programs, to learn how we are prototyping flexible furniture systems, exhibit components, and interactive experiences as we speak, AND how we will be using feedback from you to make our iconic Living Core aquarium and surrounding exhibits at the new Museum unlike any other in the world.
Science Stars, onward! Our second school of the year, Bunche Park Elementary, participated in this program with the Museum and Miami-Dade County Public Schools, in order to give students and their families access to the Museum and real local scientists – and to amp up excitement for our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science! The Museum’s own Fernando Bretos and Michelle Beumer first visited the school, and told the students all about sea turtles, and the mangrove environments that are so important to people and animals in south Florida. Then on September 26, students and their families were invited to return to the Museum for a special visit designed just for them. Over 190 arrived on 3 complimentary school buses provided by the Museum and the Science Stars program, who then had access to Museum exhibits in the evening, and were treated to a special planetarium show, a nice pizza dinner, and even a game of sea turtle bingo!
The new Science Stars year has begun! The Museum is continuing to work with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, from now through the opening of our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, to provide a larger portion of the community with access to real science, local scientists, and of course, the Museum itself! For our first Science Stars school of the year, Johnna Infanti and Katinka Bellomo from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, traveled to Linda Lentin K-8 Center to talk about weather and climate – with a focus on severe weather. Then the students and their families (129 in all) were invited back to visit the Museum free-of-charge on September 12 – we even provided two complimentary school buses and yummy pizza for dinner – to see a special planetarium show and enjoy the exhibits after the Museum was closed to everyone else!
This past Saturday, almost 100 Miami-Dade College students, and Miami families volunteered at Virginia Key North Point to wipe the coast clean of non-native plant species. The day started with granola bars, fruit, Gatorade and a 9:00am meeting time to start tearing out the invasive plants.
Scaevola taccada, more commonly known as inkberry, is invasive in Southern Florida. It has waxy, broad leaves and white berries, which is different from the native Scaevola species, Scaevola plumerii, which has dark berries.
This removal event is one of three planned volunteer events this fall, where community members will come together to tackle the beach dunes and create room for native plants. Native plants are out competed by the non-native Scaevola species, thus taking over the area and not allowing for other native plants to grow.
Immediately, the volunteers saw progress, the shear amount of space the non-native plants take-up was staggering. A chorus of “die Scaevola die” was cried out by the younger helpers, which inspired all to push forward through the sweat and tears.
Our next removal is on October 12th in which University of Miami students will be participating. For November 9th, we are looking for volunteers to help rid the North Point of this invasive plant species.
If you are interested, please email Michelle Beumer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scaevola was stockpiled all around the work area
Our two most helpful volunteers who rallied the group to scream “bad Scaevola” while throwing branches onto the pile.
This whole area was chalk full. The group was very effective at removing the species.
Miami-Dade College Y.E.S. Club
The group is MUV-ing
This past weekend Museum members, Wells Fargo employees, their families, and other community members visited the Miami Science Museum to test out some of the prototype exhibits planned for the “Living Core” aquarium in our new Museum.
The 3-story “Living Core” aquarium will feature a 500,000-gallon ‘Gulf Stream Tank’ with sharks and rays, as well as other large, permanent tanks exploring the mangroves, the coral reefs, and the Everglades. The space around the permanent big tanks will feature changing displays of smaller ‘focus’ tanks, hands-on interactives, digital media, and objects from our collection that will go into more detail about particular species as well as the underlying science and research. Over the past year the Museum has been working with a firm called 8 Inc. out of San Francisco, creators of the Apple stores, to design a flexible exhibit system that we can use to create these changing, in-depth displays. Earlier this month we received the very first mock-ups of this furniture system, and we used this to develop some sample exhibits to test with our visitors this past weekend.
For this prototyping process, we developed some exhibits about mangrove communities: what makes them special, the animals that live there, and why they are so important to us. Some of features of the mock-up exhibit include small tanks with live fish, a tabletop interactive exploring how mangroves protect the coastline from erosion, which our Upward Bound students helped develop, and another interactive that lets visitors experience the stench of actual mangrove muck (without getting their hands or feet dirty!) The mock-up also explores how we can use our new aquarium to engage our visitors in action outside of the Museum, by featuring a video about our ongoing eco-restoration program, MUVE (Museum Volunteers for the Environment), along with a link to sign up, to help restore mangrove habitats.
While visitors explored the hands-on components, an evaluation team was on hand to observe and ask questions, obtaining feedback from about 150 visitors related to the exhibits’ accessibility, as well as what was engaging and interesting to them, and what needs further work. The Museum will be continuing this prototyping for a few more weeks, and will then review all this information with the design team, to make sure that final version of the “Living Core” exhibit is as engaging and informative as possible.
The mock-up exhibit will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00-4:00 from now until October 13th, as well as Monday October 14th from 12:00-4:00. If you would like to visit the exhibit to participate in the prototyping, please RSVP to Michelle Beumer at email@example.com.
Fish tanks, mangrove muck, and puzzles, Oh My!
After learning about the mangroves, visitors can explore the rest of what the Museum has to offer.
Wells Fargo employees discovering mangrove ecosystems with their families.