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EPO Journal: Dr. Tim Livengood reports on Family Science Night

11 Mar 2009

Ninth and final FSN of the season on Tuesday (March 10), Harri Vanhala presenting Voyage to Prince George's County and Fairfax County schools, Calverton and Cameron Elementary schools. They recorded Harri from the booth. We need to get those recordings!
Attendance was very good: 392 out of 428 signed up, 91.6% attendance.
The grand total is 3144 attendees out of 3768 signed up, for 83.4% attendance (average 16.6% attrition).
No still pictures! I shot some video. We'll have to get it on the web. It'll be nice to get some rest - these FSN's are tiring!

11 Mar 2009

Update: We have some feedback from a parent with Fort Belvoir. Very positive. He expressed disappointment only in that he wanted to go back to the exhibits after the talk reawakened his interest, but there was no time. Perhaps we should do some weekend events at the beginning of the day?

6 Mar 2009

Seventh FSN of the season on Wednesday (March 4), Harri Vanhala presenting How Big is Big? to Alexandria City and Arlington County schools. The eighth FSN was on Thursday (March 5), Jeff Goldstein presenting his version of Human Exploration: the Journey Continues for Fairfax County schools, mainly Fort Belvoir Elementary. This was the first FSN we have presented at the Udvar-Hazy Center, so this was an entirely fresh crowd. They responded very well, and the museum was very popular with them. An interesting feature is that they had a substantial crew of teen-age volunteers who interacted with the audience on the museum floor and then got to attend the FSN.
Attendance on Wednesday, Mar 4, was 261 out of 362 confirmed.
Attendance on Thursday, Mar 5, was 437 out of 450 confirmed, 97.1% attendance!
The running total so far is 2752 attendees out of 3340 signed up, for 82.4% attendance.

26 Feb 2009

Update: We have some feedback:

I heard from a parent who attended the FSN on Feb. 19, that it was FABULOUS! I'm so sorry I missed this one. She said her son was So excited! She thought the presenter was fantastic - who did the show?
We had such a great time at the Family Science Night last week! I was so thrilled to get off the bus (after an hour ride) and to be greeted by cheerful docents who had a huge telescope ready for the kids to view Venus!!! That was such a special opportunity, but then we viewed the first floor displays... with just a few other schools, it was like having our own private museum tour. The sessions in the IMAX theatre were engaging and so informative. I enjoyed myself on this trip and our families gave it rave reviews. Thank you for the opportunity!!

25 Feb 2009

Sixth FSN of the season last night (Tuesday), Jeff presenting his version of Human Exploration: the Journey Continues for DC Public Schools. We had been hoping for attendance from someone from the DCPS Chancellor's office. I'm not clear if that happened or not.
Attendance was 258 out of 357 confirmed. The running total so far is 2054 attendees out of 2528 signed up, for 81.25% attendance (average 18.75% attrition).
We have a very positive email from Katherine Latterner, the Principal at Fillmore Arts Center and the coordinator for the evening from DCPS:

Jeff - thank you so much for the great evening last night. I wanted to share this with you - I brought in my car a girl and her mom who live off of North Capitol Street. The mom was going to bring her daughter, take our buses to and from the museum then take two city buses to get home at 9:30 at night. In addition, the child is taking cello with us so she had her cello also. On the way home the mom said it was the best evening she had ever spent. Her daughter was equally excited and talked about being a scientist. ... These are the types of families you are hoping to reach and inspire.

23 Feb 2009

Tim reaches out to grab a handful of universe and figure out what kind of atoms it contains.

Tim reaches out to grab a handful of universe and figure out what kind of atoms it contains.
Credit: Tim Livengood

Fifth FSN of the season last Thursday night, I presented "The ABC's of Comets" for Fairfax (VA) County schools. No explicit feedback yet after the night, but I feel like it went really well. The audience was very involved, and people were taking photos right up through the "Cookin' Up a Comet" demonstration at the end. Interactions at the bottom of the escalator were friendly and positive. We recruited teachers to evaluate DIXI comet activities as a follow-up to the FSN - Carolyn Crow, from UMd, met them at the bottom of the escalator and handed out activity and evaluation packets. No telling how many responses we'll get back on that, but we can hope! Attendance was 392 out of 454 confirmed. The running total so far is 1796 attendees out of 2171 signed up, for 82.73% attendance.

19 Feb 2009

Fourth FSN of the season last night, Harri Vanhala presenting How Big is Big? Howard County schools last night - on the way home, I caught up to a convoy of 5 buses on the BW Parkway, definitely them heading back to Patuxent Valley and Patapsco Middle Schools. I paced them as far as the turnoff from Rt. 32 to Interstate 1, then headed home myself.
Attendance was 307 out of 352 confirmed. This was the group scheduled for the very first FSN of the season, that was canceled due to snow. We had some snow and sleet at mid-day yesterday, but fortunately all melted off before the end of the school day. The running total so far is 1404 attendees out of 1717 signed up, for 81.8% attendance.

Jeff Goldstein told Cool Museum Stories in the Milestones of Flight Gallery

Jeff Goldstein told "Cool Museum Stories" in the Milestones of Flight Gallery.
Credit: Tim Livengood

Harri Vanhala used a trusty basketball, first as a model for the Earth, then as a model for the Sun, to express the size scale of the solar system and space exploration.

Harri Vanhala used a trusty basketball, first as a model for the Earth, then as a model for the Sun, to express the size scale of the solar system and space exploration.
Credit: Tim Livengood

11 Feb 2009

Third FSN of the season last night, first one where we mentioned that it's the International Year of Astronomy and that it's the 400th anniversary of Galileo originating the astronomical telescope. I presented Human Exploration: the Journey Continues. Attendance was 317 out of 445 confirmed.
The Human Exploration talk was a new one for me. I elected to use it as a short history, current summation, and prospective on the discovery and exploration of 'new worlds', both discovery of new lands on this planet and the discovery of new planets in the universe. This allowed me to go into some detail about EPOXI and the EPOCh investigation goals.

Dr. Tim Livengood's dance.

Tim illustrates telescopic exploration through interpretive dance.
Credit: Tim Livengood

Dr. Tim Livengood and the grapefruit Sun.

To get a grasp of human exploration of the universe, we need a notion of length scale. Compared to a model Sun the size of a small grapefruit, the next nearest star would be all the way across the United States.
Credit: Tim Livengood

5 Feb 2009

Second FSN of the season last night, Dr. Jeff Goldstein presenting Voyage, a journey through our solar system, home to the EPOXI-DIXI target (Comet 103P/Hartley 2), and our model for extrasolar planetary systems observed by EPOXI-EPOCh and by future missions. We had attendance from Friends Community School, Sandy Springs Friends School, and Sidwell Friends. No Obamas in attendance. Attendance was 387 out of 430 confirmed.
Jeff did an excellent job last night, very inspiring - he was really at the top of his game. He had a girl hold up the model Sun, the prototype Sun from the Voyage exhibit on the Mall, but he sort of forgot that he left her hanging as he moved on. I [Tim] sneaked over in the dark and took her place, so when the lights came up, Jeff found me holding the Sun instead of her.
Jeff relayed a testimonial that he received from a parent with one of the schools last night. Here are some excerpts from it:

Dr. Jeff Goldstein with a globe.

Dr. Jeff Goldstein is passionate about what he thinks is the best model ever - the globe, which lets you explore the whole world in your hands and compare Earth to distances in space.
Credit: Tim Livengood

Thanks so much ... for taking your evening to share your passion for learning and science with all of us. Honestly, until you did science night last year and now again this year, I used to find the Air and Space museum a sad place. It's mostly filled with the glorious things we did through about the time I was in high school, and then to me is a sad reminder of the tremendous budget cuts that occurred after Apollo and the space station. I have friends at NASA and at the Hubble, and know they're doing amazing things. It's just frustrating to know how much more they could be doing ... You've done a lot to restore my enthusiasm and hope for the future. Thank you.
You have a gift for sharing your love, excitement, and enthusiasm for science and engineering with kids. [I really appreciate you including engineers -- so often we're overlooked by the "real" scientists :) ] I really think one of the science nights could be the thing that inspires them to become a scientist or engineer. For me, it was my second grade experiment where we put food coloring in water and added celery to see the celery take up the color with the water. I am convinced that for some of the kids fortunate enough to participate in a family science night, that will be the sentinel event that sets them on their lifelong journey.

30 Jan 2009

Last night (Thursday, 29 Jan) was the first Family Science Night of the Spring 2009 (academic 2008-2009) season. It was supposed to be the second, but Tuesday night's FSN by Harri Vanhala was canceled when Howard County schools were closed for the day due to snow and ice. Last night's schools were from Fairfax and Arlington Counties in Virginia. 393 people showed up, compared to Harri's estimate of 400. So, good job, Harri! We had 80.2% of the sign-up crowd, or 98.3% of Harri's estimated crowd.
The talk was "How Big is Big?" and the movie was "3D Sun." The movie is a relatively new one, based on images from STEREO and prominently featuring Lika Guhathakurta. I updated about half the pictures in my talk, aiming for personal photos when possible and including EPOXI images.

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