The Making of MeLaß

Posted on September 6th, 2016

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By: MiaSci

Welcome to ONSITE, our regular blog and video series giving you a peek into the construction progress at our new museum site in downtown Miami. This month, we feature Vice President of Content Development and Programs, Jen Santer, as she leads you into one of our most exciting new exhibitions, MeLaß, which explores how daily choices affect human health and wellbeing.

MeLaß will sit in the 9,000-square foot Baptist Health South Florida People and Science Gallery, and breaks down into five crucial zones that affect everyone’s health: Eat, Move, Connect, Relax and Learn. The space will also transform at night into the museum’s premier event rental space, and sits underneath the cone-shaped Gulf Stream Aquarium, making for a dramatic room for learning, and for socializing.

In addition to the video series, we wanted to let you know that construction on our downtown waterfront site is 80-percent complete. Since the video was filmed, the People and Science Gallery has seen significant progress. Much of the space has been dry-walled, and we’ve starting hanging metal sheets that will form the ceiling structure. In the North Building, which abuts highway I-395, the Feathers to the Stars exhibition space is now nearly completely dry-walled and air-conditioned, allowing us to time out installation of pieces for the exhibit. The content will explore the evolution of flight, from the first feathered dinosaurs to the adventure of space travel. And within the Frost Planetarium, we’re just about done installing the metal framework that holds up the dome screen.

Frost Science, with our new home in downtown’s Museum Park, inspires people to enjoy science, engage in lifelong learning, and better the world. This is only possible with support from people like YOU!

Not In Our Backyard

Posted on August 31st, 2016

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By: MiaSci

The Mission Continues Group remove invasive plants including Australian Pine and Burma Reed from the restoration site at the Batchelor Environmental Center

The Mission Continues Group remove invasive plants including Australian Pine and Burma Reed from the restoration site at the Batchelor Environmental Center

 

By Fernando Bretos, Curator of Ecology and Director of MUVE

On a recent blustery Saturday morning, over 30 eager volunteers assembled at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay Campus with a mission. They came to hack away invasive plants at the site of Frost Science’s new Batchelor Environmental Center (BEC). Invasive plants such as Burma reed to Australian pine had encroached on the area over the years, and one of our missions at MUVE (Museum Volunteers for the Environment) is to restore native habitats. The site at BEC provided the perfect opportunity. These plants excel at choking off native vegetation and ensuring that nothing lives in their dark and dreary undergrowth.

Opening in 2017, BEC is Frost Science’s 75,000-square-foot facility that will house our animal-focused operations, including our state-of-the-art raptor rehabilitation program; animal husbandry for hundreds of creatures seen in our exhibits downtown; a 113,000-gallon aquarium system to nurture and quarantine fish before we place them in the downtown exhibits; and the future home of MUVE, our volunteer habitat restoration program.

Volunteers remove invasive plants including Australian Pine and Burma Reed from the restoration site at the Batchelor Environmental Center

Volunteers work hard to clear out the invasive plants including Australian Pine and Burma Reed from the restoration site

BEC will also continue the work of the current Batchelor Wildlife Center (located in our Coconut Grove site), which has been rehabilitating injured raptors such as peregrine falcons, Cooper’s hawks and screech owls, either releasing them back into the wild if they are fit to survive, or utilizing them in our education programs.

The purpose of the restoration activity, which is funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is to create a buffer of native mangrove and hardwood forest around the site to attract native wildlife and ensure a more native and resilient area. Additionally, MUVE will establish permanent citizen science data collection with camera traps, water quality testing, tree phenology, and bird monitoring, so as to document the environmental change they are creating over time. Interpretive signage will be installed to guide visitors to the area’s natural history.

Upward Bound Students remove invasive plants including Australian Pine and Burma Reed from the restoration site at the Batchelor Environmental Center

Upward Bound Students remove invasive plants at the Batchelor Environmental Center

The project is part of a broader effort envisioned by MUVE to expand the Oleta River corridor, a riparian buffer area located around Miami-Dade County’s last free flowing river. This six-mile-long corridor provides hope that Miami, one of the densest urban areas in the country, can coexist with nature and reap the benefits that urban wild areas provide, such as higher property values, lower electric bills, less noise, and more encounters with native birds, butterflies and mammals.

The volunteers represented a broad portfolio of local groups, including Mission Continues, which engages recent Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans to give back to their community; FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society; Wells Fargo, which has funded MUVE and provided volunteer support; and the museum’s Upward Bound Math and Science program. Specifically, 13 UBMS students helped remove invasive plants. The invasive plant removal process will continue until Spring, when MUVE will begin planting native mangrove and hardwood trees.

 

Upward Bound and the Dream of College

Posted on August 30th, 2016

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By: MiaSci

Editor’s Note: The following essays on college visitation come to us from students in our Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) program. UBMS is a four-year weekend and summer program that exposes students from Title 1 schools to the world of post-secondary study. Through the program, Frost Science aims is to inspire and prepare these students to complete high school, be the first generation of their family to enroll in college, and engage in pathways toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

 

Finding an Intellectual Home
By Brianna Cineus, Frost Science Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) Student

Brianna Cineus

Brianna Cineus

The 2016 Upward Bound college tour was astounding from start to finish. One of the main contributing factors for it being so successful for me was because I was amongst family. Here I stood, visiting colleges with friends that I have grown up with and watched grow since 9th grade. This camaraderie is part of the environment that Upward Bound creates.

Between laughs, recalling memories, and taking pictures, we visited four colleges (University of West Florida, University of Alabama, Georgia Tech, and Emory University). While all of these colleges were exceptional, the one that I fell in love with was Emory University. Prior to this college tour, Emory was at the bottom of my list of colleges. However, I was immediately taken by the landscape and architecture. Another aspect that shocked me was the hospital on campus—as an aspiring physician I was like a child in candy land. While roaming through the hospital, the classrooms, the gym, the chemistry lab etc., I felt a sense of peace and security. In this moment, I felt at home. That feeling that Emory was the right choice for me solidified when right before leaving, I glanced to my left and saw the School of Medicine sitting there in all its glory. Without this effective and memorable college tour planned out by Maurica Vasquez and Touri White, I would have never been exposed to these four different colleges nor would I have found a college that made me feel so at home.

 

Widening the College Net
By Jonathan Emmanuel, Frost Science Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) Student

Jonathan Emmanuel

Jonathan Emmanuel

College has always been a top priority of mine. In fact, I’ll be the first generation of my family to attend college. So when I first heard I was getting the chance to visit several campuses via the Upward Bound Math and Science program here at Frost Science, I was overwhelmed with excitement. Exploring different colleges, learning about their history and what makes each of them significant excites me, but I was especially enthused about finally getting the opportunity to venture from my native state, look at numerous schools, and hopefully find a college that has everything that exemplifies me holistically. I couldn’t wait to explore each college and see what they all had in store for me.

For the duration of the trip I had a great experience. One of the highlights was getting to know everyone better. Talking, eating, sleeping, and driving with a group of people for 24+ hours gave me plenty of time to bond with each and every one of them. We all found that we weren’t as different from one another as we thought. We are all similar in many ways and we all have the same future goals and aspirations. I feel that because of this trip my classmates and I have become less like a class of students and more like a family.

I would like to thank Upward Bound for giving me the opportunity, which most seniors don’t get, to visit and explore colleges. Thank you, Mauricia Vasquez and Touri White, for facilitating the entire trip. I had an amazing time with these two mentors, and I can honestly say that they’ve done an exceptional job conducting the program. I feel that this tour was vital, because it has given me a chance to see what schools outside of my state have to offer. I learned that there are many different colleges that may not be Ivy League, but still offer an education of exceptional quality. For instance, I would have never known that Emory University was such a prestigious, large-scale, and diverse school had I not travelled there and seen it in person. The tour has opened my eyes tremendously and I feel that because of it I am a step further on my long but exciting journey to college.

Frost Science and Sky-Skan to Bring Outer Space to Life

Posted on August 18th, 2016

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By: MiaSci

Frost Planetarium interior Rendering at Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

Frost Planetarium interior rendering at Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

One of the goals of the Frost Planetarium is to sweep you away to far-off galaxies and immerse you in the beautiful and educational details of other worlds. The experience needs to be believable and transportive. That means we rely on leading-edge technology to succeed. With that in mind, we are pleased to announce that we’ve chosen Sky-Skan, Inc., based in Nashua New Hampshire, to provide a complete 3D digital planetarium and visualization system.

“Sky-Skan’s technology for 3D science simulation and show development is of the highest quality, and we’re excited to be working with them, ” says Brooks Weisblat, our Vice President of Technology. “They really stood out as a company deeply interested in understanding our goals and in making sure we had the tools to achieve them.”

Sky-Skan launched in 1967 as the world’s first company dedicated solely to producing gear to depict the dynamic visualizations of outer space on planetarium domes. Since then, the company has grown to provide digital full-dome science visualization, theater control, and show programming systems for hundreds of planetariums on six continents.

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Frost Planetarium interior during construction at Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

Here in Miami, the Frost Planetarium will feature 250 seats on a raked stadium-style platform, with seats angled back steeply so the visuals envelop your entire field of vision. Visitors will gaze into an immense hemispherical screen and enjoy guided tours of the sky and universe, as well as immersive shows on a wide range of fascinating science and nature topics. In some shows, visitors will wear 3D glasses, further enhancing the illusion of being immersed in fascinating environments.

Behind the scenes, ultra-high resolution, edge-blended video projectors fed by state-of-the-art graphics computers will deliver forty million pixels to the screen every 1/60th of a second, providing a vivid representation of the great wonders of the universe. The new system will automatically connect to science data repositories and update itself with the latest data about the universe so that repeat visitors will always have something new to see and learn. The installation of the system will include super bright LED lighting and a powerful 17-channel sound system.

“Our technology has taken decades to perfect and we are honored to receive a commission to equip a system in one of the world’s most exciting cities,” says Steven Savage, president of Sky-Skan. “Miami has always been a world-class leader in its planetarium programming and this tradition is clearly set to continue,” he adds.

Upward Bound students dive into local ecosystems

Posted on August 16th, 2016

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By: MiaSci

By Mauricia Vasquez, Collage Advisor, Upward Bound Math and Science

Summer 2016 IMPACT students

Summer 2016 IMPACT students

Summer is finally here!  For the Upward Bound Math and Science program, which exposes low-income students to the power of science and paths to STEM careers, that means the start of IMPACT, a six-week intensive marine science summer program in which students get up close and personal with South Florida’s unique marine ecology and biodiversity.

During their time in the program, students get out of the classroom and into the field to cover a spectrum of marine science topics including marine ecology, oceanography, meteorology, resource management and more. The idea is to groom future conservationists and to inspire interest in STEM careers. Although living in South Florida offers many opportunities to experience and learn from nature, many teens growing up in urban areas rarely get a chance to get out and explore.

Summer mentor Rockeven Desir shows a student how to adjust his gear

Summer mentor Rockeven Desir shows a student how to adjust his gear

On the first week of IMPACT 2016 we welcomed a brand new cohort of rising 9th grade students. To gain admission, more than 50 eights-grade students underwent a grueling application process based on a combination of academic grades, teacher recommendations, and an interview with Upward Bound staff. Of the applicants 25 were selected to participate in the program.

One of the most exciting experiences for the kids is to get out in the ocean and under the surface to witness the ecosystems at play there. During this week we spent some time in the water reviewing water safety and swimming techniques and ensuring that first-time snorkelers are acclimated to the water. Then they enter the underwater world. According to Brianna, an incoming freshman, “I was scared at first because I had never seen any fish in person before. The first fish I saw was a baby puffer fish, and then I saw a stingray near one of the jetties in Virginia Key. I realized they weren’t very interested in me so I wasn’t scared anymore.” As the summer progresses, students will be able to observe the diverse wildlife that lives just under the surface, and use the information they collect to inform the research they conduct throughout the summer. Some of the projects include surveys of biodiversity in various beaches throughout the Key Biscayne area, and the tracking of the effects of ocean acidification on local coral and limestone.

Summer mentor Laura De Ara assists first-time swimmers and helps them acclimate to the water.

Summer mentor Laura De Ara assists first-time swimmers and helps them acclimate to the water.

 

A Gathering of the Planetarium Experts

Posted on July 27th, 2016

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By: MiaSci

By Dr. Jorge Perez-Gallego, Curator of Astronomy and Exhibition Developer

Every other year, the International Planetarium Society gathers some of the best minds in the planetarium business to share ideas, insights and creative work. This year, the event was held in Warsaw, Poland, and I was lucky enough to go.

With members representing schools, colleges, universities and museums from over 30 countries around the world, the conference is a great opportunities for anyone to advance their planetarium professional skills and knowledge. Given Frost Planetarium’s upcoming opening, we used this opportunity to not only to learn about how other planetariums do things, but to formally present our project to the industry.

Situated on the banks of the Vistula River in east-central Poland, Warsaw is the capital and the largest city of the country. While it was founded in the 13th century, the city required painstaking rebuilding after the extensive damage it suffered in World War II, which destroyed most of its buildings. Some know it as the “Phoenix City.” Part of the newness of the city is the Copernicus Science Centre, which hosted the event. Named after Nicolaus Copernicus, the Polish Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated the revolutionary model of the universe with the Sun at the center, instead of Earth, the center represented a new type of institution in Poland when it opened its doors in November 2010. The facility has quickly earned recognition as one of the most interesting and innovative centers of its kind in the world, and has welcomed almost one million visitors each year since it opened. It definitely represents a source of inspiration for Frost Science given the significant role it plays in its community today. Through its exhibitions, laboratories, and events bridging science and art, it offers people a chance to become involved in creating culture rather than just passively consuming it.

The Heavens of Copernicus Planetarium at the Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw, Poland

The Heavens of Copernicus Planetarium at the Copernicus Science Center in Warsaw, Poland

The adjacent Heavens of Copernicus Planetarium opened its doors in June 2011, and is one of the most advanced multimedia planetariums in the world. It features live astronomical shows, popular-science fulldome shows related to astronomy and other fields of science, and initiatives exploring the bridges between science and art, just as Frost Planetarium will.

During the conference I had a chance not only to take a look at the latest technological advances, but also to engage in very substantive discussions with peers from all over the world who are facing challenges similar to those at Frost Planetarium. I was able to look at well-known issues from different points of view, and draw together ideas for problem-solving and rising to new challenges. After an inspiring week, I came back from Warsaw with a greater understanding of what Frost Planetarium can be, and what it will represent for our local and global community.

Conference attendees holding properly shaded flash lights recreated the arrangement of the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky.

Conference attendees holding properly shaded flash lights recreated the arrangement of the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky.

Keep looking up!