No More Porridge

At MiSci, we talk a lot about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). At renowned  design firm Sundberg Ferar, President Curt Bailey and his team are advocating for STEAM – STEM plus art.

The Sundberg Ferar team’s motto – “no more porridge” – reflects their desire to rise above mediocre and create unique products and experiences. Curt’s take on the importance of art in engineering and design is showcased in Model D’s new STEM Hub series. Curt backs up his case with arguments for:

1. Beauty: An exposure to the magical results of great technology and great art.

2. Emotion: An understanding of art and its emotional appeal.

3. Eccentricity: An ability to create things that are new and different.

Continue reading …

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Total Lunar Eclipse

A total lunar eclipse will be visible in the early morning of April 4. A total lunar eclipse occurs only when the sun, Earth and moon are perfectly lined up. Our own Planetarium Coordinator and Staff Astronomer Paulette Auchtung recently discussed lunar eclipses with radio host Frank Beckmann on WJR. Learn more from Paulette in her interview and visit us for Astronomy Weekend, April 24 – 26!

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Fascinating Frescos

The Michigan Science Center is proud to host a limited availability lecture and workshop by renowned Detroit artist Hubert Massey on March 28! This event is organized in conjunction with the Detroit Institute of Arts’ exhibit, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit.

Massey will speak to MiSci guests about the scientific discoveries that inspired Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry. His lecture will be followed by a fresco-making workshop. Both are included with general admission, but space is limited for the workshop – just 30 seats are available. Call 313.577.8400, Option 5, to make a reservation.

Hubert Massey’s installations can be seen at the Museum of African American History, Paradise Valley Park and Campus Martius. He is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and has studied at the University of London, Slade Institute of Fine Arts. He studied with Stephen Dimitroff and Lucienne Bloch, apprentices to Diego Rivera, and is one of few African American artists painting in the true Buon Fresco style.

Hear from Massey himself in this video featuring his work as a Kresge Fellow.

Hubert Massey , 2011 Kresge Artist Fellow in the visual arts from Kresge Arts in Detroit on Vimeo.

Your Guide to the Detroit Sky

By Paulette Auchtung
MiSci Planetarium Coordinator and Staff Astronomer

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The night sky has captured our attention and imaginations for centuries. The ancient Greeks looked up into the night sky and used the stars in constellations to tell stories of Gods and Goddesses, heroes and villains, and monsters and pets. Every culture throughout time has stories that went along with patterns in the sky.

Today, we are more disconnected from the night sky. We have television and video games to hold our attention and we aren’t able to see very much of the night sky because of light pollution. Light pollution is mainly caused by very bright city lights.

Detroit has a lot of city lights, and though they help keep us safe, they also block our view of the night sky. To get away from the city lights, you have to go about 100 miles outside the nearest city, but here in Michigan, there are plenty of places that you can go nearby. To find a dark sky near you, visit the Dark Sky website.

However, if you are interested in star gazing in your backyard, there are still objects that you can see from Detroit. Right now, shortly after sunset, the bright stars in the winter circle are visible in the southern sky and can be seen from the city. Betelgeuse and Rigel in the constellation of Orion the Hunter are bright, and visible almost due south shortly after sunset. The brightest star Sirius is close by.

You are actually able to see more than just stars in the night sky. Shortly after sunset, two planets are visible in the western sky. If you look close to the horizon, you will see Mars and Venus. Venus is the brighter of the two, but both are fairly bright. Venus is so bright that you can see it in the daytime if you know where to look. After the sun sets, but before it gets really dark, you should be able to see a very bright object – Venus – in the west. A lot of people mistake it for a UFO, or unidentified flying object. Along with Venus and Mars, another really bright object is visible in the east-southeast. You’ll notice Jupiter starting shortly after sunset and for the majority of the night. Even if you don’t have a telescope, some of these objects are visible with a pair of binoculars.

To learn more about the stars and constellations that you can see here in Detroit, or to learn more about space, come visit us at the Michigan Science Center for Space Week, March  11- 15!

 

Humpback Whales: Incredible Expedition

This weekend, we’ll be premiering a new IMAX® film, Humpback Whales, by MacGillivray Freeman. The 40-minute adventure explores how these whales communicate, sing, feed, play, and take care of their young.

In his own blog, film producer Shaun MacGillivray described the incredible challenges his crew faced in bringing this film to life. “When you’re on location, every day counts,” he wrote. “You’re always thinking about the time and funding put into it. But that’s how filming wildlife is. You spend a lot of days hoping the animals will do things they don’t do every day.”

Cost
IMAX® film costs $1,000 per minute to shoot. This prevents the crew from filming continuously so as not to miss the perfect shot. Instead, the crew had to be ready for just the right moment.

Weather
Part of the film was shot in Alaska. During two weeks of filming, the crew experienced just two sunny days.  There was a lot of rain, which often ended up on the camera lens.

Behavior
Humpback whales are known for breaching, a behavior that the filmmakers wanted to capture. Breaching is unpredictable, as the whales will jump without warning. “You’re just looking at calm seas and then bam, a 40,000 pound whale is flying out of the water,” MacGillivray wrote.

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When humpback whales spout, the exhaled water drifts in the air and would often hit the crew’s lenses.

Despite these challenges, the filmmakers were able capture amazing up-close footage of these massive creatures – some up to 50 feet long and weighing 80,000 pounds.

“We were able to get really great footage and I’m excited to show people what these whales do,” MacGillivray wrote of the crew’s time near Alaska, Hawaii and the Kingdom of Tonga. “They provide a powerful example to the world as they communicate and work together to find their livelihood.”

Humpback Whales premiers this Saturday, February 14. Members are invited to an exclusive preview on February 14 at 10 a.m.

Win a whale-watching trip to Alaska!

Paging Dr. Eadie

This weekend marks the opening of two new exhibits at the Michigan Science Center: Eat Well, Play Well and Moneyville! These exhibits teach nutrition, physical activity, financial literacy and more.  Both exhibits are especially timely as many of us are trying to keep on track with our 2015 New Year’s Resolutions.

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Dr. Reginald Eadie, M.D., the President/CEO of DMC Harper University and Hutzel Women’s Hospitals, is an expert in eating healthy and staying active. He is the author of How To Eat & Live Longer and will be speaking at the MiSci New Year’s Blast, an event previewing our new exhibits for members of the Michigan Science Center, on January 24.

Eadie has been referred to as the “soda pop doc” for leading campaigns against soda pop and fried foods, including “Say No To Soda Pop” and “The 61-Day Challenge.” His campaigns focus on taking simple steps towards good health.

We look forward to hearing more of Dr. Eadie’s insights at our member preview event, along with family yoga from Nature’s Playhouse, interactive financial activities with Bank of America, and our new exhibits!

You can get involved in the conversation by using #MiSciResolutions on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. If you share your New Year’s Resolution and show your social media post at our Tickets and Information Counter, you save $3 off general admission at MiSci!

UPDATE: Dr. Eadie gave a great presentation this weekend at MiSci and you can find his PowerPoint slides here!

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Thank You & Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Reasons for celebration were plentiful during the holiday season, especially here at the Michigan Science Center. On December 26, we celebrated our second birthday and the successful completion of our first holiday giving campaign on IndieGoGo. Over the course of the campaign, we raised $25,602 to bring over 2,500 local youth to MiSci who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity!

Thank you to all! The success of our campaign is the result of efforts and contributions from everyone: our corporate supporters, board members, staff, volunteers, and friends!  Special thanks to AVL North America, Sundberg Ferar and Ideal Group for their generous donations.  As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we depend solely on the support of the community and stakeholders.  The donations we receive go directly toward educating and giving back to our community.

Our ability to achieve this goal is the direct result of our community recognizing the dire need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and the continuing inspiration that we provide for curious minds here at MiSci. We’ve found that our visitors enjoy contributing to the unique MiSci experience including hands-on participation and discovery – highlighted by our distinctive live stage shows, the Dassault Systѐmes Planetarium and the Chrysler IMAX® Dome Theatre. In my four months as acting Marketing Director, I am consistently amazed at the talent and passion exhibited by our staff which directly enhances our visitor engagement.

Focusing on growth, we are proud to say that our Traveling Science program expanded our community in 2014, as they served approximately 60,000 people all over Michigan!  This year, as Michigan’s STEM hub we will be working with new partners in new channels to drive the Detroit conversation in innovation. In 2015, we look forward to increasing our outreach, engagement, and accessibility to all in our community.

Thank you for your continued support, interest and referrals!

Erin Gaiser
Marketing Director
Michigan Science Center

A Member’s Perspective: Wendy Lesnick

The Michigan Science Center celebrated our 2nd birthday on December 26. We opened our doors with free general admission thanks to Delphi Foundation. Our donors, members, volunteers, guests, employees and community have made us successful and we’d like to say thank you!

One of our longest standing and most loyal members, Wendy Lesnick, recently shared her perspective on MiSci membership. We were excited to learn about MiSci’s role in her family’s education.

How long have you been coming to MiSci and the former Detroit Science Center before that? How long have you been a member?

We began visiting the Detroit Science Center before many of the educators who now work at MiSci were born. The crown jewel of the Center was the IMAX® theatre and the tubular escalators with traveling “rainbow” neon lights which led to and from the theatre. One of the first IMAX® films that we saw was The Dream is Alive, narrated by Walter Cronkite, in 1985. We’ve been members for as long as it has been possible. My husband Anthony was a member of the Board of Directors of the Detroit Science Center.

How did you originally discover MiSci?

We were excited to learn that a science center was to be built in Detroit. We eagerly followed its progress and were quite pleased to finally be able to enjoy a science museum in Detroit. We found it ironic that Detroit, the “Arsenal of Democracy,” and the home of state-of-the-art engineering did not have a museum dedicated to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Now, it’s difficult to imagine a Metropolitan Detroit without the Michigan Science Center.

What inspires you to keep coming back? What are some of the things you enjoy at MiSci?

What inspires us to visit every month is that the Michigan Science Center is like a treasure trove of educational gems. From polymers to the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum, electromagnetism to electricity, phosphates in the shells of arachnids to the frozen worlds beyond Pluto, the Michigan Science Center offers so many exciting, educational experiences that it is often impossible to fit them all in one visit.

Without question, our favorite aspect of the Michigan Science Center is the team of exceptionally dedicated and devoted individuals who make the Center the outstanding educational resource that it is.  It is quite obvious that everyone involved in the Science Center earnestly strives to give every guest the best experience possible. We think of our Michigan Science Center as a group of highly intelligent, artfully trained, and dedicated educators who present science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in an exciting and engaging format. We are most grateful to, and appreciative of, the outstanding individuals who work so hard to make our every visit a memorable one.

What does MiSci mean to you and your family? Specifically, how has it helped your son, Karol?

There is nothing in our lives that is more important than our beloved son, Karol. It has been often stated that “knowledge is power.” What often goes unsaid, and perhaps more importantly, is that knowledge is freedom. What better gift can parents give a child than the freedom to be whatever their hopes and dreams inspire them to be? Unlike the latest toy or device, what he has learned at MiSci will not end up on the floor of a closet or at the bottom of a toy box.

At a parent teacher conference, Karol’s teacher told us that she asked the class, “What are the states of matter?” She was astonished to not only hear Karol state, “solid, liquid, gas, plasma… and Bose-Einstein Condensate” but that he knew what they were. Thinking of our visits to MiSci, we smiled and told her, “We’re members of the Michigan Science Center, and we visit every month.” We learned that she later entered into Karol’s permanent record that he was significantly advanced in science and mathematics as a result of extensive, positive exposure to outside resources.

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What do you hope to see in the future from MiSci and from science and education in general?

Having been there at the beginning of the Detroit Science Center, and as the first ones through the door at the reopening of the Michigan Science Center, we can attest that incredible advancements have been made and that the Michigan Science Center is in a constant state of improvement.

It has often been said that “one can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”  It is equally true that one can lead a person to knowledge, but you can’t make them think.” The Michigan Science Center provides the invaluable opportunity to “learn to love learning.” An excellent example of this is the cooperative effort between the Michigan Science Center and FIRST Robotics in Michigan. The Michigan Science Center is unequaled at instilling in future generations the love of learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  What could possibly be of greater importance?

Without doubt, we most certainly will be seeing great things from the Michigan Science Center on an ongoing basis. We are very fortunate to have inspired, dedicated leadership at MiSci and an intelligent, devoted team of educators worthy of any museum in the world. The Michigan Science Center has come a long way and will only get better. We have every intention of being a part of the future of the Michigan Science Center!

To learn more about MiSci membership, please visit ww.mi-sci.org/membership.

Solstice Science

‘Tis the season… for astronomy and engineering! After all, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21 and there’s more to celebrate than the start of longer days.

The Winter Solstice occurs every December and marks the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. But, why does the length of the day change throughout the year?  Thankfully, astronomy explains it all.

The Earth is tilted on its axis – 23.5 degrees to be exact. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth is tilted away from the sun during winter and toward the sun during summer. The Winter Solstice is just one of four major “way stations” on the Earth’s journey around the sun. The Summer Solstice marks the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes mark the days when night and day are exactly the same length.

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Most of us don’t celebrate the Winter Solstice and we don’t usually celebrate the holidays with math.  However, engineering was a major part of Winter Solstice traditions in ancient times.

Thousands of years ago, monuments all over the world were designed and built to align with the sun on the day of the Winter Solstice. Some of these include Stonehenge in England, Newgrange in Ireland, and Chichen Itza in Mexico. Check out this video to learn how this works at Egypt’s Karnak Temple.

So how exactly did ancient societies construct these monuments? There are many theories, but experts agree that the monuments are impressive engineering feats. For example, one of the most famous sites, Stonehenge, includes 40-ton stones transported from more than 155 miles away. The builders may have used sleds and rollers or even large woven baskets to move the stones. Even the holes that hold the stones in place were dug at specific angles to ensure the stones did not fall. Stonehenge has been dated to 3000 BC to 2000 BC – even before the invention of the wheel – making its construction even more remarkable.

Be sure to celebrate this Solstice with science! Check out our “Cool Experiments” Pinterest board for some fun winter-themed activities.

The Science of Parade Floats

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is right around the corner! For many metro Detroiters, America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van, on Woodward is a beloved staple of the holiday season. The first parade was held in 1924, making it the second-oldest Thanksgiving Day parade in the United States. Although we may not realize it, these amazing parade floats are not just a creative form of celebration, but also an example of science and engineering.

We reached out to the staff at The Parade Company, the organization behind America’s Thanksgiving Parade® presented by Art Van, to discuss the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) behind the floats.

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Renée Rodriguez, The Parade Company’s Volunteer Services & Studio Tours Director, stressed the importance of STEM to the evolution of parade floats over time. After all, when the parade first started, the floats were pulled by horse and carriage! That year, the parade featured four bands, four papier-mâché heads and 10 floats. Nowadays, floats are often pulled by a vehicle and are constructed with steel, wood, and Styrofoam. This year’s event will include over 60 parade units with bands, clowns, specialty acts and more.

One of the parade’s most popular floats was “The Big Red Chair,” standing 14 feet tall and 10 feet wide! Its floor was made of 53 enormous alphabet blocks.  The “Energy Innovators” float was a 33-foot-long recreation of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory featuring a 10-foot-tall Thomas Edison, a 7-foot-tall Louis Latimer, a 6-foot-tall light bulb, and a 12-foot tall gas lamp. More than 800 bricks created the display’s backdrop. These floats will not be featured in the parade this year but can still be seen on studio tours of The Parade Company.

One float that was particularly well-engineered was last year’s Strategic Staffing Solutions float (pictured below), which featured nine different pieces all working together to snake back-and-forth down the parade route. We’re excited to see what this year’s floats look like!

2013 America's Thanksgiving Parade, Detroit, Michigan

The Parade Company offers an educational component in their studio tours program. The curriculum was developed by Eastern Michigan University professors and is geared towards PreK-5 students for use at home and in the classroom.

Renée recommends the “Float Creation!” activity for science lesson plans. In this activity, students conceptualize themes for creating their own floats and proceed to design these floats from empty tissue boxes and other classroom art supplies. This activity promotes friendly competition and expands the creativity of students.

You can visit these links to find out more information about this year’s parade, accompanying activities such as the Fifth Third Bank Turkey Trot, and The Parade Company itself.

And, don’t forget to visit us to continue your STEM learning with MiSci engineering exhibits and shows including Kidstruction Zone, the Toyota Engineering Theater, the Engineering Gallery and more.

Happy Thanksgiving!