Artist's Rendering of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which is under construction in Dallas
McDonald Observatory works with new Perot Museum in Dallas
The Perot Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas, scheduled to open in early 2013, promises to be a great educational and cultural facility for all of Texas. And McDonald Observatory is helping the new museum’s staff and exhibit planners by sharing some unique expertise and the observatory’s enthusiasm for using astronomy to engage young people with science, mathematics, and technology.
At the suggestion of BoV member Robert C. “Robie” Vaughn of Dallas, Observatory Director David Lambert and Assistant Director for Education and Outreach Sandi Preston have been working with the Perot Museum’s Director of Education, Steve Hinkley, and his colleagues.
The main astronomy-focused exhibit within the new museum will be the 2,200-square foot “Expanding Universe Hall.” According to the museum’s web site, “Visitors can discover that the universe is the greatest physical system in nature. The universe system is populated by phenomena reaching across all scales of size, from the macro scale of clusters of galaxies all the way down to the micro scale of subatomic physics. Our planet is part of systems, a larger solar system, a larger galaxy, and the greater universe. Exhibit elements include Curiosity Over Time; Astro-Training; the Ellipse Theater; the Building Blocks of the Universe: Elements and Physics Phenomena; the Fundamentals of Astronomy, and the Pan-STARRS Training Center.”
In a recent email to Sandi Preston, Steve Hinkley listed the areas that present “good opportunities for collaboration” between the observatory and the museum:
· professional development opportunities for our staff or
school teachers we work with
· image/activity content that we may distribute through our
school and public programs, and
· star parties
Work on these areas of collaboration is going forward, and exhibit makers have recently recorded an interview with Assistant Professor Shardha Jogee for a "Career Inspiration" video to be used in the museum.
Sandra Preston says, "The Perot Museum will open in 2013, and McDonald Observatory's HETDEX project will be under way then as well. It's a great time to be beginning this exciting collaboration."
Says Robie Vaughn: "There is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for both McDonald Observatory and the new Perot Museum of Nature & Science, to develop a long-term collaborative partnership. As I see it, McDonald develops cutting edge scientific content, while Perot has the facility, location, and a million annual visitors (mostly students). This mutually beneficial partnership would dramatically increase McDonald's visibility and teaching/learning umbrella, and it will connect the Perot Museum with unparalleled real-time research and understanding of our Solar system and Universe. With the Commission of 125's mandate of making The University of Texas at Austin the top public research university in the country, the McDonald-Perot collaborative partnership represents a really exciting opportunity and an example of potential game-changing awareness of our University, research, and programs. It doesn't get much better than that!"