Museum Week – Women In Culture

This year, Museum Week is all about Women In Culture, so it’s the perfect time to tell you about one of our very own wonderful women, Laura!

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Laura, the GSC’s Robotics Coordinator

As the Robotics Coordinator at the GSC, Laura maintains robotics classrooms for kids age 5-14 years old, creating class themes and lesson plans. She’s also involved in our YAM (Young Adult Mentor), Robotic Ambassadors and Teacher Assistants programs – programs designed for students who have aged out of our camps and classes but would like to remain involved in robotics through volunteering their time to help with teams and classes.

We took a few minutes with Laura to hear about the role of women in our culture.

What does the GSC do to support girls in STEM and what specifically is your role in this?

At the GSC, we support girls in STEM by providing classes in brick building, programming, design, coding, and a girls-only FIRST Lego League team, the Flying Robo Puggles. We also support up to five FIRST Lego League teams and four FIRST Lego League Jr. teams, open to all students. As the GSC’s Robotics Coordinator, I directly provide support to all of these initiatives.

Why do you think it’s important to encourage girls to get involved with STEM?

I think it’s important to encourage girls to get involved with STEM because as they get older, they’ll need confidence to share their ideas. Traditionally, there’s often a focus on male ideas and points of view, more so than the female perspective. As a society, we still have this bias but need to get to a point where gender doesn’t matter. What matters, instead, is a person’s skills and knowledge.

Can you share a success story?

Meenakshi Singh is a young lady who came to the GSC to join the girls-only Flying Robo Puggles in 2012. She spent three years on the team, then became a YAM for four years. As a YAM, she shared her experience being on a team and supported the students with their ideas and projects. This year, Meenaskshi is graduating high school from NC A&T STEM Early College and was a member of FIRST Tech Competition (FTC) team, Wannabee Strange, where she was one of the main robot programmers over the last two years. It has been so wonderful to watch Meenakshi share her love of robotics and to see her find her passions in life. Meenakshi will be attending MIT in the fall to study electrical engineering and computer science.

Left: Meenakshi working on coding the robot. Right: Meenakshi and her FTC team.

Read about Meenakshi’s personal experience here.

How does it make you feel to see girls like her transition through our programming and follow a career directly related to what you’ve been teaching?

I feel so blessed to be a part of someone’s journey through life. It’s incredible how that small amount of time we spent together has given her the confidence to follow her passion.

#MuseumWeek #WomenInCulture #thefutureisfemale

Sustainable Eats + Recipe

Guest blog by Pepper Moon Catering’s Sales and Event Manager, Emily Terranova

At Pepper Moon Catering, we don’t have to worry about the sustainability of the seafood we serve! As one of the preferred caterers for the Greensboro Science Center (GSC), we understand that balance is important. We do our best to balance the needs of the customer (size of group, budget, vision) to what we can offer as meal choices. Fortunately, the food distributors we work with understand that sustainability will help them, not just for the “feel-good factor”, but economically in the long term as well. It’s thinking like this that will push for true changes in practices.

Our food distributors are a wonderful resource for our company, as they have tiers of quality – and with those tiers come guarantees of sustainability! The top two tiers (which we order from) come with universal sustainability standards for ALL of their products, not just the seafood. In the seafood area, the wild-caught foods are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, a third-party verifier. Farmed fish will have at least 4 stars with the Best Aquaculture Practices standard. So, when you an attend an event here at the GSC that’s sponsored by Pepper Moon Catering, you can enjoy your food and enjoy that it’s good for the world too.

Here’s a sustainable seafood recipe for you to try at home!

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Shrimp and Mango Bruschetta
(Serves 10-12)

½ lb chopped shrimp

2 cups mango, small diced

¼ cup chopped green onion

½ cup lime juice

2 tablespoons honey (may add more to taste)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

*Serve with sliced French bread or gluten free corn tortilla cups
  1. Stir the shrimp, mango and onion together in a bowl; set aside.
  2. Whisk the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl until blended, 
    making sure to scrape bottom of the bowl to fully incorporate the 
    honey. Pour over the shrimp mixture. Cover with wrap and refrigerate 
    for at least 30 minutes before serving.

The Greensboro Science Center is a proud partner of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® program to help consumers and businesses make ocean-friendly seafood choices.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….

We all know what a Solar System is, right? It’s a collection of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and other smaller bits (all held together by the gravity between them) that circles around a star — in our case, the Sun — that stands at the center of the whole thing. So, a solar system is where we live. But where does our solar system “live”? What happens when we zoom out and see the effect of gravity at a much larger level?

Our solar system and at least 100 billion other star systems are part of a larger grouping, also held together by the gravity between them, called a GALAXY. And just like the planets of our solar system tend to orbit in a flattened disk or plane around the sun, all the billions of stars that make up our Galaxy orbit the center in a highly flattened disk. In fact, our galaxy is pretty much as flat as a pancake; it’s disk is 1,000 times longer across from side to side than it is thick from top to bottom! If we could zoom out from our galaxy, the “Milky Way,” and see it from afar, it would look like a huge pinwheel or whirlpool of stars, which is why ours and many others are called SPIRAL GALAXIES.

There are something like 100 billion visible-to-us galaxies in the universe. When we look at them, each one is quite literally “a galaxy far, far away.” They are so far away that the light we see from them, traveling at a speed of nearly 6 trillion miles per year, takes millions of years to reach us. Because of that, we see each galaxy “a long, long time ago” — not as it is today, but as it was when its light first started the journey through space to get to us.

For the first time ever, the GSC now has a powerful new telescope which, outfitted with a sensitive video camera, lets us view live, real-time images of distant galaxies from right outside our front doors! Watch for us to offer public viewings in the months ahead. In the meantime, here are are some actual views of galaxies with our new scope…

May the Force be with you.

Conservation Creation: 180 Steps Around the World

Summer is right around the corner and it’s once again time to take a tour around the world – all from within our very own Jeansboro Junction (located in Friendly Farm)! On this tour, you will get the chance to learn about our farm animals and their natural histories, as well as earn a souvenir to take home with you.

While commercial farms tend to focus on a single crop or species of livestock, smaller family farms tend to have many different plants and animals, which is what you will see in our farmyard here at the Greensboro Science Center. When farmers are setting up their farms, they will often think about the relationships between their herds and their gardens. For example, horse manure is a great crop fertilizer and can be used to help grow vegetables for people as well as hay for livestock. Free-range chickens are great for keeping pests out of gardens while also providing eggs to sell or eat.

During the farm planning process, farmers need to be aware of the needs of both their animals and their gardens to ensure an efficient and healthy farm. For our activity this month, you will be planning and creating your own farm diorama! Below, you will see an example of a farm that we created, as well as how to make a horse for your farmyard.

What you will need:a box, craft supplies and a creative mind! Running short on craft supplies? Visit Reconsidered Goods to stock up on donated materials without breaking the bank!

Step 1: Figure out what kinds of animals you want on your farm and what they will need to live happy and healthy lives. To get started, remember that the three essential needs for any living creature are food, water and shelter. If you’re using the internet, search for animal care sheets (ex. Horse Care Sheet) to find out what each animal needs.

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Step 2: Make your cork horse! Start by breaking 3 toothpicks in half. Use the pointy ends to add legs and a neck to your horse. You will have half of a toothpick left over.

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Step 3: Attach a smaller cork to the neck area of the horse; this will become the head. Use glue to attach string for hair and googly eyes (if you would like) for the finishing details.

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Step 4: Create your diorama with the animals you want on your farm! For our farmyard, we decided we wanted to have a garden, free-range chickens with a chicken coop, a fenced-in pasture for sheep and horses, and a well to make providing water easier on our farmer. For an added challenge, try using only recyclable materials or materials from your yard!

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Why We GSC: Featuring Sarah H.

Meet Sarah H., the GSC’s Curator of Aquatics. Her job is to help develop a vision for the department and ensure that the Aquatics team has the tools and knowledge they need to accomplish their jobs.

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Sarah’s story is an especially interesting one. She worked here for a short while about six years ago, then left for five years – but ultimately decided to come back. When we asked her what drew her to return, she had this to say:

I’ve been very fortunate to work at three different facilities and even luckier to find a place I can call home.

After six years in the aquarium field, I was looking for a challenge. The idea of helping the Greensboro Science Center bring a bit of the ocean to a landlocked city seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Shortly after helping to open the GSC’s aquarium back in 2013, I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work at a world-renowned facility – an opportunity that, had I turned it down, I would have wondered about it the rest of my life. So I made the difficult decision to leave the GSC to reach for a dream.

However, I found I missed those intangibles that made the GSC feel less like work and more like home. After five years away, I made a much easier decision to come back to the opportunities that awaited me here.

I am proud to be a member of the Greensboro Science Center family and am excited to create a new dream with Greensboro’s only public aquarium.

Happy Earth Day

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Photo courtesy of NASA.gov

1969 was our first walk on the moon with the Apollo 11 mission and the first chance for us to see Earth as a big blue planet from space. At the same time, global powers were struggling in the Vietnam War and the environment was suffering, with large cars driving on leaded gas and corporate progress (without a lot of the regulation we take for granted). After a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California this same year, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson spearheaded the idea of a national teach-in about the environment, set for April 22, 1970. This quickly became a bipartisan success story; thus, Earth Day was born. Earth Day 1970 gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.

By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

Today, Earth Day is the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.

The fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency as the ravages of climate change become more evident every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day by taking steps, big or small, on a personal or professional level. We’ve only got one Earth – how are you protecting its future?

Find your local Earth Day event here.

 

GSC Volunteer Receives 2019 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award

by Kelli Crawford, Volunteer Coordinator and Curator of Collections

In partnership with The North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, The Volunteer Center of Greensboro has presented the 2019 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award to 10 recipients from Guilford County. The Greensboro Science Center is thrilled to announce that longtime volunteer Linda Kendzierski is among those honored. This award recognizes citizens who have shown concern and compassion for their neighbors by making a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service. The award was created in the Office of the Governor in 1979.

Linda has been a volunteer at the Greensboro Science Center (GSC) since 2011. When people talk about volunteer impact, they usually are quick to sum it up in terms of the hours they dedicate to their service. While the 3,000 hours Linda has selflessly served at the GSC are no small feat, they pale in comparison to what she has done during that time. Linda is a champion for the GSC, for conservation and for volunteerism.

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The GSC team surprised Linda with news of her award on April 1.

When I first started at the GSC as an intern seven years ago, I referred to Linda as a social butterfly. She had so much enthusiasm and energy when she joined the program, but there wasn’t an outlet for it just yet. Enter me, a young new volunteer coordinator who didn’t know what she was getting herself into. Volunteers like Linda presented an opportunity, because they wanted to do so much (and I wanted to give them the ability to do more), but I knew I couldn’t do it overnight. Through many conversations over the years, Linda has been a sounding board. She has been a source of good ideas and opinions as well as the heartbeat of our volunteer program. If I need to know how a change is being perceived by our volunteers, I always know I can go to her. She has helped shape our program. Along the way, she has helped shape me into the volunteer coordinator I am today.

As our social butterfly, Linda connects people like nobody else can. She is good at breaking down barriers that can sometimes exist between staff and volunteers. She is well-known by her peers and our staff. Part of that is because of how often she volunteers, but it is also because Linda is never afraid to ask a question nor reach out if she needs something. She always introduces herself to her fellow volunteers and isn’t stingy about sharing her email address. When we have events coming up, Linda likes to take the lead to organize them. From National Zoo Keeper Week celebrations to a surprise for our housekeeping staff, holiday social potlucks, birthday parties for staff members… you name it, Linda has planned it. She loves to bring people together.  

Linda is always taking care of someone – a family member, a friend, a foster animal that somehow finds a permanent home with her. She is such a caring person and always wants the best for those around her. It is what makes her such an amazing mentor for volunteers who are new to the GSC – she makes them feel at ease. Linda is a natural educator. Her genuine love for our animals and for the GSC is clear in every interaction she has with our guests. The fact that she has volunteered in almost every volunteer program we offer makes her an asset here. It is truly inspiring to watch Linda “in her element”, and we know our mission is in good hands when Linda is on shift. Linda loves her behind-the-scenes time with our animal staff, but she also values the impact she can make in her daily conversations with our guests. What a wonderful example for new volunteers to follow!

For all of these reasons, when Linda came to us a few years ago and sheepishly asked if the GSC would agree to host a business meeting for about 20 zoo and aquarium volunteers, the answer was an easy one. Within a matter of hours, I was able to let her know that our management team had given us the thumbs up to pursue it. Shortly thereafter, the request morphed into hosting a regional conference for almost 200 people. Again, the answer was “yes.” Our management team would not have agreed had Linda not proven herself to be such a talented and amazingly organized volunteer. We had never hosted a conference of this size before, but we knew Linda could handle this responsibility.

What did the conference entail? During the multi-year planning process, Linda was an absolute rockstar. Amping up her drive, she told me that she had finally found was she was looking for. The experience helped her understand more of the behind-the-scenes business logistics that volunteering with us in an animal capacity hadn’t always given her. She reached out to multiple facilities to arrange pre- and post-conference tours, negotiated tour bus contracts, hotel contracts, vendors agreements, speaker details, volunteer-led sessions, and more. It was a truly impressive undertaking.

The impact of Linda’s efforts was especially impressive. In October of 2017, the GSC hosted the Regional Conference for the Association of Zoo and Aquarium Docents and Volunteers (AZADV). The seven-day conference was attended by 266 volunteers representing 58 AZA facilities. The conference raised $10,069 for the Silvery Gibbon Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to save gibbons and their habitat. Linda received a standing ovation from her peers at the closing banquet.

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Linda received a standing ovation at the AZADV closing banquet.

Linda has proven that she is an amazing ambassador for the GSC. Beyond that, she is an ambassador for volunteers. She truly believes that no volunteer is “just” a volunteer. Their efforts are to be valued and they have much to share with one another. Through her work with AZADV, Linda is championing this cause. The GSC, our community and Linda’s fellow volunteers are so lucky to have her driving energy and determination behind them. Linda is now the Director of Public Relations for AZADV, and we are excited to see what she does in that role. It is the perfect fit for such a dedicated, accomplished volunteer as she!

All those recognized will soon receive a certificate with an official Governor’s Office seal, an original signature from Governor Roy Cooper, plus a gold pin with the inscription: North Carolina Outstanding Volunteer.