Archive for November 19th, 2013

November 19, 2013

MAVEN Launches Over 1,000 Poems into Orbit!

by Melissa Harding

Yesterday at 1:28 EST, more than 1,000 haikus went up into space aboard the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, beginning a 10-month journey to Mars. These haikus traveled inside MAVEN, short for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN missile, an exploratory spacecraft on a mission to increase scientists’ understanding of the planet’s upper atmosphere. Scientists want to understand whether The Red Planet used to be more like earth, with an atmosphere that supported life.  The reason that it is being accompanied by poetry starts back in May; to make MAVEN more relevant to the public, the mission team at NASA hosted a poetry contest asking people all around the world to submit haiku that would be included on the spacecraft during its mission. The original contest stipulated that only three winning poems would be sent up in the spacecraft; however, the response was so overwhelming – more than 12,530 poems were submitted – that the contest organizers decided to send over 1,100 of them into orbit. That is a lot of poems and a lot of public participation!

MAVEN and the educational efforts surrounding it are a pretty cool way to get the public engaged in space travel and illustrate the power of free choice learning. But you don’t have to take my word for it…

To learn more about the educational efforts surrounding MAVEN, check out this post.

To learn more about the MAVEN mission, check out the website.

This great PSA by Levar Burton is brought to you by the folks at NASA.

November 19, 2013

Evening Ed-Ventures: Art Party!

by Melissa Harding


As Henry David Thoreau once said, “This world is but a canvas to our imaginations.” During last weekend’s Evening Ed-Ventures: Art Party, our campers used their imaginations and the natural world to find inspiration to create works of art. Campers created sculptures, mosaics and healthy snacks, learning about nature through art.

To begin, campers were given a blank inspiration mural. They were asked to draw or write about the things that most inspire them. Campers drew everything from baseballs to butterflies, explaining the different things in each of their lives that make them happy and give them inspiration. They then introduced themselves and their favorite form of art.


After all this talk of inspiration, it was time to get down to business and start prepping their materials. As always, our art projects were made from repurposed items and natural materials. Campers spent time shredding newspaper and submerging it in a mixture of water and glue to create paper pulp. While their paper was getting nice and gooey, they went into the Conservatory to check out the sculptures that make their home among the plants. They learned about Dale Chihuly and how he makes his glass sculptures, guessing what things from nature were the inspiration for each piece. They also found the glass mushrooms in the Serpentine Room and the stone sculptures in the Palm Court, jotting down their favorite ones in their journals.  After looking at all that beautiful art, campers went back down to the classroom to create their own sculptures. They sculpted dinosaurs, snowmen and even a tree with a bird’s nest!

All of this sculpting made everyone feel pretty hungry, so it was time for a snack. Sticking with the theme of art, campers created “snulptures” – part snack, part sculpture – out of pretzels, cheese and fruit. What a delicious project! Once well fed, everyone was ready to head back up into the Conservatory to learn about mosaics. Campers studied the mosaics in the Palm Court and looked for patterns in the Broderie Room. Full of inspiration, they headed back into the classroom to create their own mosaics out of salt dough and seeds. Campers created landscapes, faces and animals out of their seeds. It was such a fun night – truly an art party!

Check out the slideshow below to see more images from camp:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If program sounds fun, check out Evening Ed-Venture: Night in the Tropics on December 20, 6:30-9:30 pm. To register, contact Sarah Bertovich at 412/441-4442 etx. 3925.

The above photos were taken by Lisa Xu.


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