I've just returned from visiting our first two of five Richmond Public Schools participating in the Science Museum of Virginia's pizza garden. Today, John B. Cary Elementary and Maymont Elementary planted basil in their classrooms. When they've finished their SOL testing in early June, they'll visit the museum to transplant their seedlings into our on-site pizza garden. Bellevue Elementary, William Fox Elementary and Linwood Holton Elementary will also participate in this endeavor.
This spring, I've been tasked with creating a one-acre farm for the Science Museum of Virginia. Ever since I was a child, I've been fascinated with growing plants. I still remember growing a bean in a wet paper towel wadded up into a baby food jar when I was in third grade. I remember my fourth grade teacher taking us to her parents' farm to visit on a field trip. It's experiences like these that I hope to be able to pass on to a new generation of students.
At 12:47 pm today, December 21, 2009, winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere. The first day of winter is called the Winter Solstice; likewise, the first day of summer is the Summer Solstice. The word solstice is derived from Latin and means “sun standing still.” On these two days of the year, the sun’s apparent position in the sky has reached its most southern or northern extreme. Today there will only be 9 hours and 33 minutes of daylight in Richmond, but tomorrow the number of daylight hours will once again begin to increase.
We trooped through the woods to our first test site; a third order stream. The weather was hot and humid, with a few clouds in the sky. We all made sure to cover ourselves with bug spray and sunscreen. Gene and his crew began our expedition by working downstream, shocking and collecting the fish.
SMV is conducting a multi-year study of fishes and invertebrates. Yes, we’re collecting, identifying, and counting critters! But we’re also looking at the physical environment: water temperature, current, pH... all sorts of other factors that determine what critters live where.
Between August 10 and August 14, 2009, ten brave Virginia educators will trek into the wilds of Northern Virginia with Dr. Maurakis and me. They’ll be participating in classes, labs, and field collections in streams and rivers… all in an effort to… well… do lots of things, actually. Check out this blog next week for pics and reports from the field. (No snow this time!)
What would have to happen for energy not to be a bigger and bigger focal point in our lives? The world’s population continues to grow, now projected to hit 9 billion by 2050. (It sometimes seems like the bulk of this commutes in from Short Pump on many weekdays.) The standard of living expectations for more and more of us continue to go higher. If residents of developing nations have access to "CSI: Fort Wayne, Indiana" showing improved living conditions around the world, why shouldn’t they also aspire to this quality of life?
When I first arrived at the Science Museum in January 2008 as just the 3rd director in nearly 40 years, I heard a lot of staff and Board members tell me they wanted SMV to become the “Go-To” place for science. When pressed into specifics, this usually came down to a student or any individual that had a question related to science contacting the Science Museum via phone or internet and getting their question answered. This sounds innocuous enough, however, on further inspection, you might see how challenging this type of exercise might be.