By Peter Gustafson, Resource Development Specialist
I signed in at 1:07 pm and checking my keys, mobile phone and wallet at the security desk, followed my guide through a metal detector and a series of electronically locked doors.
It was in a gymnasium. The boys and girls, age 14 to 17, entered in small groups of 5 to 10 each. They all had color coded shirts and the same grey elastic waist-band pants with no pockets. White socks and plain white sneakers. Guards in street clothes directed each group to sit in a specific area on the floor. Voices echoed in barks and shouts as more groups entered the high ceilinged room, the energy mounting as additional guards arrived, speaking into hand-held radios, “make sure the blues don’t sit near the greens…”
This was the setting for my team building/engineering/problem solving challenge for about 35 boys and girls who are current residents at the John H. Sununu Youth Services Center here in Manchester, NH. My main focus here at the SEE Science Center is development, but when our educational staff is busy, I’m happy to get out of the office and run a program or two.
Yes, these kids are locked up and probably made some bad decisions recently, and they initially hemmed and hawed when they found that they would be working in teams and building vehicles with LEGO® bricks, but once they got down to business and started to build and test and observe and re-engineer and re-test, things got the best kind of quiet: Quiet interrupted by “oh, let’s try it this way!” and “we need more weight in the back” and “what if we use a longer axle?”. The mood of correctional facility drifted away and these difficult, tough kids quickly transformed into inquiring, inspired young people, working together to solve a problem and reach a goal. And they didn’t want to stop. They wanted to make their vehicles better, faster, run further, run straighter.
And just as quickly as that transformation occurred, it was over. It was back to reality. Shoes off. Hands against the wall. Feet spread apart. Pat-down. “Gotta check for LEGOs in their socks, could be used as a weapon”, the guard told me. They found none.
In August I am scheduled run the classic “egg drop” challenge with this same group of kids. Can’t wait.
By SEE Staff
As you probably realize, SEE is a small museum, especially when compared to the big science centers in Boston, New York and Chicago for example. (BTW you can use a SEE membership at science centers large and small all over the country for reciprocal benefits). And because we are smaller we don’t have any evaluators on staff. What do museum evaluators do? Well, they make sure all the exhibits, programs and endeavors of the organization are in line with its mission and goals. That is very important! SEE is very grateful to have recently had two volunteers, Jake and Jo, undertake the evaluation of SEE’s exhibits. Their report and continued efforts will help SEE make plans for how to better serve our community with our exhibits in the future.
As a member of SEE’s community your input is important as well. We listen to customers comments when they visit or write to us. We read what people say about SEE on sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp. And we try to incorporate the comments in what we do. A great example is the return of the train engineering exhibit for early explorers last summer after Charles successfully advocated for the return of his favorite exhibit. Read our blog post: Inspiring and Enthusiastic SEE fans to learn more about his efforts.
So as we take a fresh look at our exhibits, leave us a comment, let us know which exhibits are your favorite and which ones really helped you or your family learn something new about science!
By Douglas Heuser Executive Director
This past weekend we took the inflatable T-Rex out for his first public appearance at the Stonyfield 5K Earth Day Race and Fair to promote the coming robotic Dinosaurs exhibition.
On Saturday three of our staff members and 3 family members headed out with a van filled with our dino gear. We all spent the better part of the day at the Fair promoting SEE and the coming dino exhibit. I am so grateful that we have such dedicated staff that they are willing to give up weekends to help promote SEE and convince their family members to come along too!
Sometimes it is easy to lose touch with those we actually serve. It was rejuvenating to me and eye-opening for my wife to hear so many comments like: “Oh, the SEE Science Center? We love that place!” “We take our grandkids there all the time – it’s wonderful!” Said to Glenna: “We were just there last week on a field trip. You did the tour, and you were awesome!” Of course there were those who were not aware of us, but they were mainly from Massachusetts so we were able to educate them as to how close SEE is to them.
Look for us the next time our T-Rex hits the road and if you are interested in joining our dino brigade give us a call at 669-0400. Spread the word: DINOSAURS will be in the same building as SEE from Oct. 10th 2015 to Jan. 17, 2016. Don’t miss it!
You may think that it takes a lot of effort to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle, but it’s actually pretty easy to be green! Here at the SEE Science Center we are very conscious of how we can be more eco-friendly and wanted to share some tips on how to be more green. The smallest changes can make an immense impact!
1. Save Water, Turn Off The Faucet!
Instead of leaving the water running while brushing your teeth or washing dishes, you can turn off the faucet in between rinses or washes. In the long run this will save a lot of water.
2. Turn The Lights Off & Unplug!
Walking out of a room and leaving the lights on can be a bad habit. Just by turning off the light switch you will not only save energy, but your electricity bill will be lower too! Sensor lights are also an eco-friendly alternative. Speaking of electricity, make sure to unplug those cellphone or laptop chargers when they are not in use. They consume energy too!
3. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
This may be easy to forget and it may be tedious but recycling is very important to preserve the Earth’s resources. Check your communities recycling plan, there may be more things accepted or it may be easier to recycle than just a few years ago. It can be as simple as having two separate bins, one for regular trash and the other for recyclable materials such as plastic or aluminum. It will make the Earth smile!
4. Buy Organic or Local Produce!
Not only will this support your local farm stands, but it will help the Earth as well! Organic food is a smart alternative because not only is good for your health but also for livestock. A lot of the produce that is at the large supermarket chains contain synthetics and Genetically Modified Organisms, thus proving that buying fresh produce is a healthier and more green option.
Love the Earth we live on!
The SEE Science Center will be at the Stonyfield Organic Earth Day 5K Race!
Click here for more details! http://bit.ly/1e3r1Or
People often ask us: How do you clean the LEGO Millyard Project? The answer is: very carefully!
Seriously though, we thought we’d share some of what we do and use to keep SEE looking great 7 days a week.
We always want to be clean and welcoming for our guests – even during those snowy winter months when the sand and salt that we need outside gets tracked in every day. So what do we do? We roll up our sleeves and clean every morning before we open. Just like at your home that means vacuuming, sweeping, washing and disinfecting. Also, Capitol Hill Cleaners help us keep the restrooms clean at SEE 3 nights a week.
According to the Center for Disease Control, cleaning works by physically removing germs and dirt from surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Table surfaces, plexiglass exhibit coverings and mirrored surfaces are cleaned every day and more often if needed.
According to the CDC disinfecting works by using chemicals to kills germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Because chemical cleaners and disinfectants can cause allergies to act up –our staff tries to use them before SEE is open to the public.
The big projects, like painting the walls and floors, shampooing the carpets or thoroughly cleaning the LEGO Millyard happen at the beginning of September. We close for one to two weeks to get everything in tip-top shape.
Oh, by the way, our best friend when cleaning the LEGO Millyard Project: Swiffer dusters –and lots of them!
SEE’s Executive Director and Board Members have been busy these past few months working to bring Kokoro’s robotic dinosaurs back to 200 Bedford Street sooner rather than later. Between our 8 past dinosaur exhibitions, SEE staff members repeatedly field the questions “Are the dinosaurs still there?” and “When are the dinosaurs coming back?”. So we are very happy to be able to answer that DINOSAURS will be opening in October 2015. What does that mean for the SEE Staff? We have a lot to do to get ready for these very special guests over the next few months! The dinosaurs will be a different group of robots than our most recent exhibit (psst: there will be a T-Rex); the next few months we will be busy researching these different species and learning how best to showcase them in our space. We will also be reaching out to community organizations and businesses to assist with the growing cost of hosting such a major exhibition. We will also be learning about new academic standards and cutting edge paleontology research as we develop our school field trip program offerings. Then we will have to make sure everyone hears about this great exhibit so people don’t call us right after it closes to ask “Are the dinosaurs still there?”. So look for us marketing and promoting DINOSAURS over the next few months and give us a call at 603-669-0400 if you would like to get involved!
The SEE Science Center is partnering with the City of Manchester and FIRST to bring interactive Science, Technology, Engineering Art and Math learning experiences to Manchester 4th grade students. The endeavor is called Junior STEAM Ahead. SEE’s role in the partnership is to host all Manchester fourth graders for a field trip experience. Busing to SEE is provided by a donation from Dean Kamen. Who recently joined Mayor Gatsas in visiting some of the students at SEE. http://www.unionleader.com/article/20141014/NEWS04/141019446/0/SEARCH
So far have 916 Manchester 4th grade students with about 100 more to come over the next week. At SEE the students participate in perennial teacher’s favorite Slimy Science Lab which introduces basic chemistry concepts. In the lab, students make their own batch of Silly Putty to take home. Students also enjoy a highly interactive guided tour of the SEE facility including demonstrations on electricity, Newton’s laws of motion and more. In addition, SEE educators will be offering a special team building activity for the students to prepare them for the FIRST LEGO League program. This highly engaging activity is called the “slow magnet marble race”. It has been an extremely popular part of SEE mini courses and workshops in the past. Students race to be the slowest team from point A to B by working together and thinking creatively. They use common household items such as straws and paperclips to create their path.