What’s scarier than Dracula, spookier than the headless horseman, and more disturbing than a Miley Cyrus Twerking costume?
Answer: A mysterious disease called white nose syndrome. The illness is killing North American bats by the millions. Named for the white fungus that appears on the infected bat’s face and wings, the disease infects colonies of bats, making them wake up from their hibernation and causing them to leave their caves in search of insects to eat…in the dead of winter, when it’s freezing cold and there’s no insects to be found. Since 2007, when the disease was first documented, nearly 6 million bats have died from the disease, making this one of our nation’s most critical wildlife issues.
So what can you do about it? Start by learning the truth about America’s bats. They won’t drink your blood or get tangled in your hair. In fact, they are an important part of our ecosystem. This weekend, we have a family-friendly program by the Organization for Bat Conservation that will teach you and your kids the basics about bats. Plus, you’ll even get to see a few live bats in person!
Glass vials, a row of chemicals, and an alcohol lamp. Perhaps nothing symbolized the excitement of science in the early to mid-20th century better than a chemistry set. The classic kits got kids tinkering, experimenting and thinking about science. In the process, they inspired a generation of inventors and scientists, some of whom became Nobel Prize-winners. But somewhere along the way, spurred by safety concerns and legal changes, chemistry sets faded in popularity.
A new competition, launched this week, aims to find the 21st century version of the classic chemistry set. A collaboration between the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Society for Science & the Public, the Science, Play and Research Kit competition (SPARK) challenges participants to generate a new set of experiences and activities that encourage imagination and interest in science, bringing the spirit of the classic chemistry set to today’s children.
Margaret Honey, NYSCI’s president and CEO, is an advisor to the competition, which will offer tangible ways to get more kids experimenting with science.
The competition’s top award is for the best science kit prototype with a prize of $50,000. Additional prizes ranging from $1,000 – $25,000 will be awarded for runners-up and idea submissions.
Last Tuesday, Mars rover Curiosity completed its first autonomous mission, a major milestone for the rover, which has been on Mars for over a year. Back here on Earth, we had our own rover-related milestone: a new rover for the Search for Life Beyond Earth exhibition.
Rover Camille is a robotic replica of a Mars rover that helps our visitors learn about the Red Planet. Named after Camille Beatty, one of the rover’s creators, the robot is made from 750 parts, many of which were built from scratch. But perhaps the most extraordinary part of this story is the creators themselves; two young girls from North Carolina built the rover with their father in their garage.
Camille, age 13, and sister Genevieve, age 11, worked together on soldering, machining, designing and assembling the rover. Just last month, the rover was unveiled to an appreciative crowd at NYSCI.
The two girls are currently working on a second rover for NYSCI, to be named Genevieve. As for rover Camille – will she be given a chance to roam free like Curiosity? Not likely. But word on the street is she’s been eyeing the two rockets located just outside her exhibit.
We are super excited to welcome our (end of) summer collaborators from BioBus
BioBus is the world’s only mobile microscope lab powered by the sun and wind and it is docking in Rocket Park to run bio labs with NYSCI Explainers for our visitors. Using daphnia and a variety of other specimens, BioBus staff will lead hands-on activities with their high powered microscopes to help visitors explore micro-organisms and learn about cell division, development, etc.
The staff and bus arrived at NYSCI on Monday, July 28th, and will be with us through Maker Faire, running their labs for groups and sharing their work and equipment with the general public: Tuesdays through Fridays (9:30am-3:30pm).
From time to time, BioBus will be closed for installation as they commence with their install of 9 polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic solar panels with maximum power point tracking charge controllers.
By Maker Faire 2013, the BioBus roof will be covered in solar cells! At a maximum energy output of 2.25 kilowatts (kW), this system will allow for sun-run science any day and anywhere!
This Saturday night at NYSCI, visitors can collaborate on a story with digital artist and performer, Haeyoung Kim. Part performance, part workshop, Kim’s Moori will use audience members to help create a dynamic narrative. Users will download the Moori app, and use the app to pose questions and answers, and to generate algorithmic sounds and visuals. The result will be an interactive performance featuring collaboration among audience members. Part of Harvestworks’ 2013 New York Electronic Arts Festival, the event begins at 4 pm with Night Games, an interactive dance game, followed by cocktails at 6 pm, and EXPOSED – Sound featuring Moori at 6:30 pm.
Haeyoung Kim is based in New York City and explores the texture of sounds in electronic music. Her work has been presented in various museums and galleries including the American Museum of the Moving Image, PS1, Nam June Paik Center in Korea, and Kunsthalle in Austria.
This Saturday, dance the afternoon away on a science-inspired dance floor at Night Games. Using 3D surround sound and Playstation move technology, dancer’s movements are analyzed by software and used to modify the dance experience. The movements and instrument choices of the dancers create the music, and costumed creatures encourage revelry and participation in this collaborative performance. Throughout the dance, Night Games brings a conscious awareness to participants that their individual actions impact the collective ecosystem. So bring your enthusiasm, good vibes and your best moves to NYSCI this Saturday!
Last week, ten thousand miles from New York, students learned about microorganisms from one of our educators. Anthony Negron, manager of our Virtual Visit program, employed videoconferencing technologies to connect with St. Kevin’s Primary School in Sydney, Australia. Using microscopes, NYSCI exhibits, and a live feed of various microorganisms, the students learned where the tiny creatures are found, and how to classify them. The program helped to launch a new technology room at the Australian school and was attended by students, parents and educators.
Brett Salakas of St. Kevin’s Primary School and coordinator of the event called the program a “wonderful experience” that “greatly enhanced our science unit on microorganisms. The well-balanced program gave the students an insight in the topic which we could not provide here in a regular classroom.”
Last weekend, elementary students from P.S. 139 in Rego Park, Queens brought their families to visit us as part of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs CASA – Cultural After School Adventures program. Prior to the visit, NYSCI staff traveled to P.S. 139 to provide a series of three after-school science workshops, where they taught the students about convex and concave lenses, the properties of light, and how electricity is produced. Last weekend’s visit reinforced some of what the kids learned during the after-school workshops, while also exposing them to other science topics as they explored our exhibits. Thanks to the grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs, now in its third year, we’ve been able to offer the CASA program to three Queens schools this year. Tomorrow, I.S. 72 will visit us to cap off their cultural after-school adventure!