New Program Coming to the Greensboro Science Center Volunteer Program

Since 2013, the volunteer program at the Greensboro Science Center has grown by 43%:  from 579 volunteers in 2013 to 830 in 2016!  That growth necessitates changes to ensure a more positive experience for our volunteers.  A new change is coming to the volunteer program which will allow us to better serve the volunteers who participate in the program as well as the visitors who benefit from it.

The Center has traditionally operated three summer volunteer programs:  Animal Ambassadors, Exhibit Guides, and Teacher’s Assistants.  Starting in Summer 2018, the Center will operate one summer-only program, the Teacher’s Assistant program.  This program will continue to serve 75 teens each year, with recruitment starting in March.  As always, returning Teacher’s Assistants will be given first priority to gain admission into the program.  Any remaining spots will be filled with new candidates who apply and interview.  That program will start in June and continue through the month of August.

You may be wondering what that means for our Animal Ambassador and Exhibit Guide programs.  At the end of this summer, the two programs will merge to create one new program:  Museum Ambassadors.  The upcoming Museum Ambassador program will combine the best of the two existing programs, with input from current teens about the areas in which they most enjoy volunteering.  This new program will operate year-round, requiring candidates to make a 6 month commitment in order to participate—just as Zoo and Aquarium Docents do currently.  In making this commitment, these teens will benefit from increased exposure to our daily operations as well as continued mentoring from Zoo and Aquarium Docents.  Eventually, they will take on the role of mentor themselves as new volunteers join the program.

So what will Museum Ambassadors actually do?  These teens will rotate through different exhibits, likely to include Friendly Farm, the Aquarium Touch Tank, Destination Dinosaur (and later Prehistoric Passages), Jeansboro, SciPlay Bay, Health Quest, a cart in the Herpetarium, and Coins for Conservation (a favorite of many of this summer’s teens).  Teens will be volunteering on their own as well as alongside other Museum Ambassadors or Docents.  The program will operate on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the school year, as well as on Guilford County Schools workdays and during breaks and holidays.  Museum Ambassadors will complete two, three hour shifts per month.  Shift times are 9:45-1:00 and 12:45-4:00.

The implementation of the Museum Ambassador program is a big change, but one that we feel will be highly positive for our volunteers and our organization.  The target age for Museum Ambassadors is 13-17, meaning that 13- and 14-year-olds will now have three, as opposed to only one*, opportunity to join the Center’s volunteer program.    This change also means that Museum Ambassadors will benefit from smaller training classes in which they’ll receive more individualized attention as opposed to our current summer on-boarding frenzy during which 200 teens join the volunteer program at once.

The Museum Ambassador program will launch in September with a maximum of 55 teens from Summer 2017.  Following a few months of running the new program with current teens, the first new recruitment will take place in January 2018, with a training class scheduled for March.  Those volunteers will make a six-month commitment of March through August.  Another training class is slated for July, with recruitment beginning in May; their six-month commitment will be July through January.  Current teens will be given first priority for training classes, as we understand that some of them may be unable to continue this fall due to sports or extracurricular activities.

Our teen program exists to develop young leaders, with an emphasis on science and conservation.  This new Museum Ambassador program is a great next step in continuing to provide those opportunities.

Please direct any questions or concerns to GSC Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Crawford, kcrawford@greensboroscience.org.

*The Docent program will continue to operate year round, with openings for candidates who are at least 15 years old.

DIY Science: Light Maze

With spring in full swing, we thought it was a good time to shine some light on an experiment involving plants! Today we are making a plant maze!

For this project you will need:

  • Shoebox with a lid
  • Several pieces of cardboard
  • Extra cardboard
  • Bean sprout, or a seed (corn and beans work really well for this)
  • Scissors
  • Masking Tape
  • Damp soil
  • Flowerpot or cup small enough to fit in the shoebox when you close the lid

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Start this experiment by cutting a small round hole, about the size of a quarter, at one end (one of the short sides) of a shoebox.

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Next, cut  several pieces of cardboard, and tape them to the inside of the box, creating a winding path through the inside of the box. The pieces should be the same depth as the shoebox, but slightly shorter in width. You only want the light to pass through narrow openings you create with the gaps between the cardboard “maze”. Any other stray light may confuse your plant. Use plenty of tape to block out light in the cracks.

Put the seed or sprout into the flower pot, and cover it with moist soil. Water well, but do not flood the seed.

Place the flowerpot on the opposite end of the shoebox, away from the hole. Cover the shoebox with the lid and put it in a sunny place, with the hole facing the light.

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Finally, close the lid and set your shoe box in a sunny area. Make sure to check on your plant’s progress every few days to record what happens!

What’s going on?

Plants need light, water and carbon dioxide to produce food. When you place obstacles in the sprout’s way, it will find a way around the obstacle (in this case cardboard) to find the light, even without muscles!  The process of growing towards the light is called phototropism, and is controlled by a plant hormone known as auxin. The hormone auxin is formed in the top of a plant and then spreads itself out evenly into all the cells of the plant. This hormone tells plant cells to grow longer. However, if the light does not come from above, auxin will move toward the side that is not lit. This hormone buildup will result in the plant bending toward the light, as you will see from your experiment.

Remember, it is important to note that an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! Check out these questions to get you started:

  • Will different plants grow at the same rate in the same conditions?
  • Does the brightness of the light going into the box make a difference in how fast the plant grows?
  • How tight a turn can a plant make?
  • How many turns can a plant make?
  • Can you make your plant grow down?

Give it a try and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages using the hashtag #gscscience!

Volunteer Spotlight(s): Mary S. and Lacy M.

At the Greensboro Science Center, we are honored to welcome approximately 750 volunteers each year, giving a cumulative 36,000+ hours of their time. With a friendly greeting and a warm smile, our volunteers help us carry out our mission each day, educating our visitors about our animals and exhibits and inspiring them to learn more.

Today we would like to introduce you to Mary S. and Lacy M.

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Mary S.

I have been volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center as an Animal Ambassador since June of this year.  I volunteer at least twice a month where I work at the Friendly Farm, the Touch Pool, the Aquarium cart, and the Herpetarium Cart.  

I visited the Science Center for many years as a child, and I have always loved seeing the animals and learning new things. When I heard about volunteer opportunities at the GSC, I was very excited because I have had many positive experiences at the Science Center. I have volunteered for many different organizations, so I thought I’d give volunteering at the GSC a try, and I have loved it so far!

Volunteering is fun and rewarding for me because I have gained new knowledge about animals, shared this knowledge with others, gained social skills, and met new people. Volunteering with the GSC is a fun way to help people and gain experience with animals.

Lacy M.

I have been volunteering for a really long time with different organizations, but I have been volunteering with the Greensboro Science Center since June 2016.

I volunteer a lot throughout the year, and I volunteer with the Greensboro Science Center, Autism Unbound, and Westminster Presbyterian Church.

I have always loved to volunteer, and I spent a lot of time as a child at the Greensboro Science Center, so when I found out that I was eligible to volunteer here, I was so eager to apply. I am so thankful that I am a volunteer at GSC and I would love to continue working in the future.

A meaningful memory that I have at GSC is when I was at the Aquarium Cart and I was teaching a big group of kids during the summer. They were all so interested in the artifacts and what I had to say, and I really appreciated it. It made me feel like I was special and that I truly belong here at the GSC.

Something that always makes me laugh at the Greensboro Science Center is when I am at the Herp Cart and I see people get scared when they walk in because of the rattlesnake sound. Even I get scared sometimes.

Watching people smile and learn things from me is really rewarding to see. To feel that I am impacting other people’s lives makes me feel really significant and valued. Working around the different animals is really fun as well and I hope to continue to work with them. I am so glad that I got the opportunity to work at GSC; this has been a life changing experience for me.  

Mary Slade and Lacy were the 2016 recipients of the Emerging Volunteers Award for the Volunteer Center of Greensboro. Along with their recognition, they received a $250 check that they donated to the Volunteer Program at the GSC. The money will be used to add new artifacts and activities to the Animal Ambassadors Aquarium and Herpetarium Carts.

Volunteer Spotlight: Jisoo K.

At the Greensboro Science Center, we are honored to welcome approximately 750 volunteers each year, giving a cumulative 36,000+ hours of their time. With a friendly greeting and a warm smile, our volunteers help us carry out our mission each day, educating our visitors about our animals and exhibits and inspiring them to learn more.

Today we would like to introduce you to Jisoo K.

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I have been volunteering since October of 2014, and because I currently attend high school, I volunteer mostly on Saturdays. I try to volunteer in the Aquarium at least one time every week. I started to volunteer because I wanted to have the opportunity to interact with many different types of people, which I knew I would have the opportunity to do at the GSC. In addition, when it comes to anything related to science, I am infinitely curious, always seeking to learn more about anything that I can. The Greensboro Science Center, with the museum, the zoo, and the Aquarium gives me the chance to explore my curiosities. 

One of my favorite things about volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center is answering questions. I try to answer any questions that I am asked thoroughly and in an interesting way. I also love staying near the fishing cats and talking about them during my time volunteering in the aquarium. I love volunteering, and hope that I continue to have many rewarding experiences through volunteering in the future. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Morgan T.

We’d like to introduce you to Morgan T. , for this week’s volunteer spotlight. Check out her story below!

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I have been volunteering at the Greensboro Science Center for two years as an Aquarium Docent. I try to volunteer at least four shifts each month which calculates to eight hours in the Aquarium.

What drew me to the Greensboro Science Center is my passion for marine biology and wanting to share my knowledge with others.  I have also been able to gain more knowledge of marine animals and their environment.

I will be attending college next year and studying Marine Biology so this opportunity provides me with a background for my intended major.  It is great to be able to meet new people and share what I have learned about the Aquarium animals.   Volunteering is also rewarding to me because I am able to mentor new Aquarium Docents and share with them the true duties of what it means to be a Volunteer.  This opportunity is also important to me because it  has allowed me to become more involved in my community. Lastly, volunteering  has improved  my communication skills and has given me confidence when it comes to public speaking.

GSC Gift Guide: TriceraShop Treasures

Today through Sunday, November 20, 2016, Greensboro Science Center members will receive 50%* off purchases in our gift shop, the TriceraShop! With that in mind, what better way to kick off our GSC Gift Guide series than to highlight a few TriceraShop treasures?

Holiday Knick-Knacks dsc_0476The TriceraShop has a wide variety of festive knick-knacks the whole family will love — from beautiful winter-themed jars to hold candles for a cozy winter glow to colorful cardinals sure to add a pop of color to your holiday decor!

 

 

Pocket Scarf dsc_0482 Pocket scarves are a great gift for the traveler – or the mom on the go! Travel in comfort and style knowing your essentials are right there with you. These unique scarves have a sizeable pocket, perfect for carrying cash, credit cards, phones, or passports!

 

 

Stuffed Penguins dsc_0480Looking for something cute and cuddly to gift this holiday season? Our holiday-themed penguins are available in four sizes, and are perfect for the stuffed animal lover – and the penguin lover!

 

 

Science Kits dsc_0481Give a gift that’s both fun AND educational! Young scientists are sure to love our science kits, like this Deluxe Microscope Set.

 

 

 

Dino Slippers dsc_0478 These dino slippers are sure to keep your feet toasty and terrifying!

 

 

 

Mugs and Drinkware Galore! dsc_0485 We have a large selection of mugs and drink wear, perfect for keeping your cocoa warm on those cold winter nights.

 

 

 

 

 

Poison Dart Frog Backpack  Carry your daily essentials in style with an animal backpack! One of several options, the Poison Dart Frog comes in two colors.

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GSC Ornaments These beautiful ornaments feature some of the lovable animals you can see right here at the GSC. They make great mementos of your trip to the GSC as well as a unique addition to your holiday decor!

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The member sale will last from Monday, November 14th through Sunday, November 20th. Be sure to present your Greensboro Science Center membership card to receive our discount. Not a member yet? Learn more about the benefits of membership on our website: www.greensboroscience.org.

*Items excluded from the sale are animal enrichment ornaments and the gibbon plush.

Volunteer Spotlight: Elisha M.

We’d like to introduce you to Elisha M. , for this week’s volunteer spotlight. Check out her story below!
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I have been volunteering for a little over a year as an Exhibit Guide. About twice a month, I work in areas around the museum like SciPlay Bay, Health Quest and Destination Dinosaur.  I was interested in becoming a volunteer because I know lots of people that volunteer here and have great things to say about their experiences.

I love seeing the kids having fun in a welcoming and safe environment. There once was a little boy who loved the kite machine in SciPlay Bay and would giggle every time a ball flew out. Another time, I remember playing with a little boy and a few weeks later I saw him again and we remembered each other. It was great to see him and play together again.