Archive for ‘Professional Development’

November 6, 2014

Phipps Hosts “STEM in Action” Teacher Workshop with the Pittsburgh Regional Center for Science Teachers

by Melissa Harding

Welcome Center Night_CREDIT Denmarsh Photography Inc

Careers in STEM are a hot topic right now. There is an increased emphasis on improving and increasing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills among our citizenry and students in order to help them navigate the modern world and access the opportunities it affords. Research shows the clear benefits of a STEM related post secondary education in the current job market. However, many educators are wondering how they can help their students develop an interest in science and guide them towards this career path. Last night, as part of the “STEM in Action” series sponsored by the Pittsburgh Regional Center for Science Teachers, Phipps offered an evening workshop for local K-12 teachers focused on STEM-based careers at the Conservatory.

Staff from all over the organization volunteered to spend their evening talking with teachers about their work at Phipps and tell the stories of how they ended up here. Melissa Harding, Science Education Specialist, spoke about how Phipps connects families and children to nature; Matt Quenaudon, IPM Specialist, took participants on a tour of the production greenhouses and explained the integral role that pest management plays in the health of our plants; Chris Stejskal, Display Horticulturalist in charge of the Tropical Forest, explained how we maintain such a huge exhibit and took participants on a tour of some of our most interesting and beautiful plants; Dr. Emily Kalnicky, Director of Science Education and Research, spoke about her work studying the human/nature connection all over the world; and Adam Haas, Interpretive Specialist, took participants on a tour of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes and spoke about the importance of interpreting our mission to a diverse audience. The participants all commented on our passionate and articulate staff, all of whom gave great presentations.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this evening a success!

 The above photo was taken by Denmarsh Photography.

October 1, 2014

Botany in Action Science Engagement Weekend

by Melissa Harding


This past weekend was our Botany in Action Science Engagement, a four-day event that brings our Botany in Action Fellows to Phipps for a series of workshops and public engagement opportunities. The goal of the Science Engagement is to help the Fellows become more skilled at interpreting their work for a public audience, including children, and to give museum visitors a chance to learn more about their research. Fellows spent their time at Phipps developing skills in public speaking, radio, field photography, photo editing, multimedia, and popular and creative writing for a public audience.

In addition to working with Phipps educators and polishing their skills, they also spent some time doing public outreach to students. Last Friday, the Fellows worked with local high school students as part of the Eco-Challenge. They shared their experiences in the field, as well as their love of science, with groups of students. Both students and teachers came away excited about the enthusiasm each Fellow has for his or her work. Many described it as the highlight of their day at Phipps!

 The Fellows also had a chance to work with family and adult audiences. Saturday morning, the Fellows set up informational tables throughout the Conservatory to display tools they use in the field and to talk more informally to visitors about their research. That night, they presented at “Peek Behind the Petals”, a lecture series for members to talk about their research and why science matters.

Check out images from both public events in the slideshow below!

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Additionally, the Fellows were interviewed by the Saturday Light Brigade, a family radio show, to talk about their work as a scientists and a significant plant they each encounter during their work. This will be complied into a short segment called “Herbs in Action” and will be aired throughout the fall.

Check out this space throughout the coming year to see profiles of each Fellow and their research. Read about past year’s Fellows at “Follow the Fellows”.

If you missed any of the public events this weekend or would like to learn more about the Fellows and their work, you can check out the Botany In Action blog!

The above photos were taken by Science Education Staff and volunteers.

September 24, 2014

Save the Dates: Meet Botany in Action Research Fellows at Phipps this Month!

by Melissa Harding


Meet Phipps’ Botany in Action (BIA) Fellows and enjoy presentations about their adventures as global field scientists studying the relationships between people, plants, health and the planet at this special one-day event, free with Conservatory admission.

Members Only: Peek Behind the Petals
Saturday, Sept. 27:  9:30-10:15 a.m.
 The upcoming installment of Peek Behind the Petals will highlight the work of our Botany in Action Fellows, emerging scientists who are conducting plant-focused field research around the globe and sharing their findings with the public through educational outreach efforts.

Meet the Scientists
Saturday, Sept. 27:  1 – 2:30 p.m.
Tropical Forest Conservatory
BIA Fellows will be stationed throughout Tropical Forest India to display their research tools, answer your questions and offer intriguing details about the work of field scientists.

Visiting Botany in Action Fellows:

aurelie jacquet  Phipps Botany in Action science education researchAurélie de Rus Jacquet
Purdue University, Indiana
Geographic Focus: Nepal
Research Focus: Neuroprotective effects of Nepalese traditional medicine on Parkinson’s disease models

anna johnson  Phipps Botany in Action science education researchAnna Johnson
University of Maryland Baltimore County, Maryland
Geographic Focus: Maryland
Research Focus: Novel urban plant communities: causes and consequences of diversity

jessica turner  Phipps Botany in Action science education researchJessica Turner
West Virginia University, West Virginia
Geographic Focus: West Virginia
Research Focus: The root of sustainability: Understanding and implementing medicinal plant conservation strategies in the face of land-use change in Appalachia


Chelsie Romulo
George Mason University, Virginia
Geographic Focus: Peru
Research Focus: Working to conserve and sustainably manage the ecologically, culturally, and economically important palm tree Mauritia flexuosa (aguaje) in the Peruvian Amazon (Peru).


Stephen J. Murphy
Ohio State University, Ohio
Geographic Focus: Pennsylvania
Research Focus: Forest landscape change in southwestern Pennsylvania

Read previous posts about BIA Fellows’ research and science outreach work here.

To follow the fellows as their adventures continue, visit

The above photos were provided by Aurelie de Rus Jacquet, Anna Johnson, Stephen J. Murphy, Jessica Turner and Chelsie Romulo.

September 3, 2014

Amanda and Melissa Attend Portal to the Public Workshop in Seattle!

by Melissa Harding


This week, Amanda Joy and Melissa Harding will be heading to Seattle, WA to attend a Portal to the Public Dissemination Workshop. Portal to the Public  was created to develop a model for informal science education sites to build programs that would allow for face-to-face interactions between scientists and public audiences. Instead of a prescriptive model, the guiding framework is a structured set of concepts designed to be flexible to suit the needs of any institution.  Goals of the Portal to the Public include supporting local adoption of the framework at each dissemination site, building a community of practice, and  increasing the ability of individual museum professionals to confidently design appropriate programs, partner with scientists, facilitate professional development, and execute public programs featuring scientists.

Melissa and Amanda will attend a three-day workshop that will take place at the Pacific Science Center, where teams from a variety of informal learning institutions will create plans to implement Portal to the Public at their institutions.

The above photo was taken by Phipps Science Education and Research staff.

May 28, 2014

Melissa Harding Presents at American Alliance of Museums 2014 Annual Conference

by Melissa Harding


Last week,  Melissa Harding presented at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) 2014 conference in Seattle, Washington. Melissa presented with colleagues from the Museum of Science Boston, Providence Children’s Museum and Phoenix Zoo on a panel entitled “Grown-ups Wanted: Inviting Adult Learners into Early Learner Spaces“. The presentation outlined the different ways in which these organizations reach an adult audience with their mission and message while simultaneously engaging young children. Melissa spoke about our Little Sprouts and Move with Me programs, which model techniques and provide resources that caregivers can use to interact with their children in the natural world at home and at Phipps.

The above photo was taken by Cory Doman.

May 1, 2014

Inspire Speaker Series, May 15 – Sustainability: An American Grand Strategy for the 21st Century

by Melissa Harding

Presented by Green Building Alliance and Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, the second year of this lecture circuit will continue to plant the seeds of inspiration throughout our community.  

Sustainability: An American Grand Strategy for the 21st Century

In July 2009, Admiral Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked Captain Wayne Porter (U.S. Navy) and Colonel Mark Mykleby (U.S. Marine Corps) to develop some ideas pertaining to a grand strategy for the nation in the 21st century.  By August 2009, the men wrote “A National Strategic Narrative,” a concept paper that offered sustainability as the organizing logic for an American grand strategy.

Such a central idea would establish the framework for converging and expanding U.S. domestic and foreign policy toward emerging opportunities, rather than exclusively on perceived threats and risks.  Now at New America Foundation, Mark is working to create the strategic construct to implement the concept of sustainability as the American grand strategic imperative for the 21st century.  Audience members at May’s Inspire Speakers Series will gain insight into an intriguing and sometimes overlooked perspective on sustainability and how it relates to the future of our country’s security.

More About Colonel Mark “Puck” Mykleby

  • Senior Fellow at New America Foundation
  • Graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, 1987
  • Masters of Military Studies and Masters of Strategic Studies
  • Read more about Mark here

Local Speaker: Bill Peduto

Who better to make the local connection to this topic than Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto?  Mayor Peduto has served Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhoods for over a decade and been integral in shifting the city’s economy toward education and medical technology.  He has been a champion of protecting and enhancing Pittsburgh’s recent reputation as a green initiative leader and helped create the city’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan.  Mayor Peduto is the ideal local voice to help celebrate the finale of this season’s Inspire Speakers Series.

PLUS: Since October 2012, the Founding Class of the Green & Healthy Schools Academy has been undergoing advanced professional development for how to integrate sustainability into the school buildings, curriculum, and culture.  Each school of this founding class will give a brief presentation on how they have applied their knowledge and work to a defining keystone project that emulates their school’s values and vision.

Come grab dinner and enjoy an opportunity for networking in Phipps Cafe starting at 5:00 p.m.  Inspire Speakers presentations will follow at 6:00 p.m.  Register here to join the speakers for dinner after their talks.

Check out the rest of this year’s Inspire Speakers presenters here!  GBA Members save $51 by purchasing the entire series!

April 1, 2014

Amanda and Kate Visit Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens in Coral Gables, Florida!

by Melissa Harding


Last week, educators Amanda Joy and Kate Borger attended a Fairchild Challenge summit at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens in Coral Gables, Florida. Home of the Fairchild Challenge, the FTBG invited Challenge facilitators from all over the country to meet and discuss ways to improve their institutions’ program. Participants learned how to effectively evaluate their program, how to successfully write grants and work with local partners, and how to incorporate new aspects of the Challenge into their existing programs. Now open to elementary-age children, there is a whole new audience of students who are able to participate. Additionally, the Challenge has gone global in its reach and offers programs overseas, having trained over 60 gardens all over the world to offer the Fairchild Challenge.

Amanda and Kate had a wonderful time learning and meeting new educators, exploring the beautiful gardens, and just plain seeing the sun. They are excited to use their new knowledge to take the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps to the next level!

This photo was taken by Amanda Joy.


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