Musicians from Colorado

Post written by Eisen Tamkun, Music Programming Lead.

Musicians from Colorado

Colorado has produced some amazing musicians. Explore these groups and individuals! Learn where they are based, interesting tidbits, and more!

Pretty Lights

Band Members (current): Derek Vincent Smith- Born Nov. 25, 1981, Fort Collins, CO

Formed: Boulder, CO 2004

Genre: Electronic

Top Album: A Color Map of the Sun

OneRepublic

Formed in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2002, OneRepublic has won several music awards with many nominations. Including nominations for American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, World Music Awards, and Grammy Awards.

Band Members (current): Ryan Tedder,, Zach Filkins, Drew Brown, Brent Kutzle, Eddie Fisher, Brian Willett.

Genre: Pop Rock, Pop, Alternative Rock.

Top Album: Native

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

Currently based in Denver, Colorado. Nathaniel Rateliff grew up in Missouri. When he came to Denver he first formed Born in the Flood (2002-2008), which transitioned into a more stripped down solo focused effort called Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel (2007-2014). In 2013, while still preforming in earlier bands and groups, Rateliff began a more upbeat and soulful project with longtime collaborator Joseph Pope III and other collaborators. Thus Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats was born.

Band Members (current): Nathaniel Rateliff, Joseph Pope III, Patrick Meese, Like Mossman, Jeff Dazey, Mark Shusterman, Andreas Wild.

Genre: Soul, Gospel, Folk Rock, Blues Rock, Americana

Top Album: In Memory Of Loss

Gregory Alan Isakov

Currently based in Boulder, Colorado, Isakov originally lived in Johannesburg, South Africa. He and his family immigrated to the US in 1986 and was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He draws influence from Leonard Cohen, Kelly Joe Phelps, and Bruce Springsteen.

Band Members (current): Gregory Alan Isakov

Genre: Contemporary Folk, Indie Folk, Country Folk

Top Album: This Empty Northern Hemisphere

The Lumineers

Based in Denver, Colorado. The original two founding members Fraites and Schultz began writing and preforming music together in Ramsey, New Jersey in 2005. They were influenced by musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty.

Band Members (current): Wesley Schultz, Jeremiah Fraites

Genre: Indie Folk, Folk Rock, Americana

Top Album: The Lumineers

30H!3

Duo from Boulder, Colorado. They took their name from the area code of Boulder, 303.

Band Members (current): Sean Foreman, Nathaniel Motte

Genre: Synth-pop, Crunkcore, Trap, Electronic Rock, Alternative Rock

Top Album: Streets of Gold

DeVotchka

Denver band, formed in 1997. They take their name form the Russian word devotchka (девочка) meaning “girl”.

Band Members (current): Nick Urata, Tom Hagerman, Jeanie Schroder, Shawn King.

Genre: Gypsy Punk, Dark Cabaret, Indie Folk, Indie Rock

Top Album: A Mad and Faithful Telling

Big Head Tod and the Monsters

Formed in 1986 by three Columbine High School students. Began

touring clubs in Denver, Fort Collins and Boulder until they built up a following across Colorado and the West. Started touring extensively dubbing their van the “Colonel” who drove over 400,000 miles.

Band Members (current): Todd Park Mohr, Brian Nevin, Rob Squires, Jeremy Lawton.

Genre: Rock, Blue Rock, Alternative Rock, Funk Rock, Southern Rock, Country Rock, Folk, Jass-Fussion, Jam Band.

Top Album: Sister Sweetly

Tennis

From Denver, Colorado, Tennis formed in 2010. The husband-wife duo debuted their album Cape Dory in 2011.

Band Members (current):Patrick Riley, Alaina Moore

Genre: Indie Pop, Dream Pop, Surf Pop, Lo-Fi

Top Album: Yours Conditionally

Yonder Mountain String Band

Formed in Nederland, Colorado 1998 this progressive bluegrass group played their first show at the Fox Theater in Boulder.

Band Members (current): Ben Kaufmann, Dave Johnston, Adam Aijala, Allie Kral, and Jake Jolliff.

Genre: Progressive Bluegrass, Country, Jam Band.

Top Album: Elevation

The Fray

The Fray originate from Denver, Colorado in 2002. They achieved worldwide fame with their song “How to Safe a Live”.

Band Members (current): Isaac Slade, Joe King, Dave Welsh, and Ben Wysocki.

Genre: Rock

Top Album: How to Save a Life

 

Educational opportunities like this are supported in part by Bohemian Foundation.

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BFFs: Black-footed Ferrets or Best Friends Forever

Post written by Kim Fraser, Black Footed Ferret Program Coordinator.

BFFs: Black-footed Ferrets or Best Friends Forever

The Black-footed Ferret (BFF) (Mustela nigripes) is the only ferret native to North America and lives on the short grass prairie of the Great Plains. BFFs are members of the Mustelidae family which is often referred to as the weasel family, and includes mink, badger, marten, otter, weasel, fisher, wolverine, and domestic ferret. They are nocturnal, solitary, require large expanses of landscape, and spends their whole life on prairie dog colonies. In the prairie dog burrow systems they seek shelter from predators and weather, eat, sleep, and raise their young. Over 90% of their diet is prairie dog and they eat over 100 per year. BFFs are called fossorial predators, meaning they hunt underground. Their home range is in 12 Western states including Canada and Mexico. Considered one of the most endangered mammals in North America it has been federally protected for over 40 years.  The BFF Recovery Program is one of the most successful recovery programs with over 50 State, Federal, Tribal, NGOs and private landowner partners that all participate in recovery efforts.

Why should we protect black-footed ferrets?

In 1974 when the Endangered Species Act was enacted the Black-footed Ferret was in the top 10 species listed for protection. No one knew then how difficult or easy saving a species from extinction would be. Today, we know recovering an endangered species involves many partners, time, and effort. Since the ESA became law some species have had survival success and some have not. Many people have asked is it worth it?  Is preventing the extinction of an iconic species like the black-footed ferret worth the effort? The answer is yes, it is worth it, and here’s why. The BFF is an important member of the prairie ecosystem and their presence indicates a healthy habitat that supports many other species. Without black-footed ferret conservation efforts, prairie dogs and other associated species such as burrowing owls, swift fox, mountain plovers, ferruginous hawks, prairie rattlesnakes, and many others could easily succumb to current threats. So by conserving black-footed ferrets, we have to conserve prairie dog habitat and that saves an entire ecosystem and its inhabitants that call the short grass prairie home!

  

Why should people care and help save this species from extinction?

Maybe it’s because BFFs capture the imagination that there’s this rarely seen and secretive animal living on the short grass prairie underground. And even though it is one of the most endangered mammals, most Americans will never have the opportunity to see a live BFF.  It’s like a fairytale character of the prairie that represents the wild, and people are passionate about the wild and fascinated about the animals that live there.  When folks learn about BFFs they are amazed that something so cool lives right in their backyard- in America.  We all know about other species that are in trouble across the globe, like elephants, tigers, chimpanzees and rhinos. And it is good to care about what happens to all species on our planet because we are a global living place. Every day we hear about how these other species are doing and how we can help them and that’s important.  But here is an animal that makes its home right here, it belongs to us as Americans as one of our native species. We should care and protect BFFs so they will remain part of the wilds of North America.  One way to help save BFFs is by learning all you can about them.  Because by learning you will come to care about them, and when you care, you will want to help save them. So you see by caring and helping to save them from extinction you are being a BFF or Best Friend Forever not just to black-footed ferrets but to future generations so they too will have BFFs living wild and free on the prairie.

 

The museum is proud to have two black-footed ferrets on-site in partnership with the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. You can see what our BFFs are up to while we’re closed via our Ferret Cam: fcmod.org/ferret-cam!

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Earth Day 2020: 50th Anniversary

Post written by Harli-Jo Rachel, Education Intern.

Earth Day 2020: 50th Anniversary

What is Earth Day?

Since it was officially launched, Earth Day has always been a day to bring about awareness of our planet’s needs – whether it’s climate change, protecting endangered and threatened species, or cleaning the ocean. Over one billion people around the world come together every year to rally for change, advocacy, education, and further awareness about our shared planet.

In celebration of Earth Day 2020, we’re looking back at how this day came to be, while also looking ahead to today’s 50th anniversary milestone, and beyond!

History of Earth Day

The official Earth Day began on April 22, 1970 with U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson’s idea to start a national day where he could combine anti-war protests and the public consciousness of the air and water pollution and something political could come out of it. This was all due to a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969, and he wanted the environment to get on the national political agenda. Gaylord Nelson then created a team where Pete McCloskey, a Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair and a man named Denis Hayes to serve as his national coordinator. Hayes then recruited 85 people to promote events across the nation.

The team chose April 22 as the day to rally because it was between spring break and final exams for college students.  Around 20 million people in America protested about the deterioration of the environment and wanted to start making a change. The first Earth day made such an impact that led to political change and to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the clean air, clean water, and endangered species act.  

As Earth Day 1990 was approaching, a bigger change was about to happen. Denis Hayes was approached by a group of environmental leaders to help promote Earth Day globally. That year more than 200 million people from 141 countries came together to promote recycling efforts. This year was also the year that Senator Nelson was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton for his efforts to affect change in the world. With the mark of the new millennium, it allowed for the internet to become a bigger force in rallying more people to help make the change for the environment.  

Earth Day Today

Now, Earth Day is widely celebrated each year. Earth Day events are planned in major cities to help bring people together to make a change on this day. Whether it is planting a tree at your school or learning about energy saving techniques one small thing that a child or parent can do to help protect the Earth can make a major impact.  Each year since it first began, the day has seen participation of around 1 billion people from 191 countries!

This year’s focus on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day is climate action. To celebrate while responsibly social distancing, Earth Day organizers have launched a 24 hour digital action plan to bring about awareness about this year’s theme and the important conversations surrounding. 

“While Earth Day may be going digital, our goal remains the same: to mobilize the world to take the most meaningful actions to make a difference.”

Earth Day Everyday

While Earth Day itself falls on April 22, everyday is Earth Day. Learn more about how you can get involved today and everyday by visiting www.earthday.org.

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At Home STEAM Activities

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

At Home STEAM Activities

Here at FCMoD, we believe in discovery. And during times like this, we want you to know that discovery can be found anywhere! Which is why we’ll be posting fun, hands-on activities for you and any other life-long learners you’re currently at home with!

In this blog post, we’ve compiled a list of our top STEAM resources. Learn more below!

  • Water Xylophone:

Missing the Music & Sound Lab? Let’s experiment with sound waves! With just some basic materials you can create your own musical instrument to teach kids about sound waves. In this water xylophone experiment, you’ll fill glass jars with varying levels of water. Once they’re all lined up, kids can hit the sides with wooden sticks and see how the pitch differs depending on how much water is in the jar (more water=lower pitch, less water=higher pitch). This is because sound waves travel differently depending on how full the jars are with water.

    • Materials Needed:
        • Glass jars
        • Water
        • Wooden sticks/skewers
        • Food coloring
  • Tornado in a Jar:

    Create your own Tornado Chamber at home!  This is one quick and easy and science experiment for kids to teach them about weather. It only takes about five minutes and a few materials to set up. Once ready, you’ll create your own miniature tornado whose vortex you can see, and the strength of which you can change depending on how quickly you swirl the jar.

    • Materials Needed:
      • Mason Jar
      • Water
      • Dish Soap
      • Vinegar
      • Glitter (optional)
  • Wheel of the Year:

    To help connect kids more with nature and the changing seasons check out the Wheel of the Year crafts – crafts that actually spin! This was a really fun way to learn more about the year, months, and seasons.

    • Materials Needed:
      • Paper plates
      • Construction paper
      • Colored craft sticks
      • Thumbtack
      • Scissor
      • Ruler
      • Marker
      • Glue stick
      • White glue
      • Tape
      • Clothespin
      • Paper (to write month names and draw images)
  • Dinosaur Fossils:

    We love dinosaurs! These DIY dinosaur fossils made with salt dough are so fun. Plus, who knows, it may even inspire someone to become a paleontologist in your home!

    • Materials Needed:
      • Flour
      • Salt
      • Water
      • Plastic dinosaurs
  • Crystal Flowers:

    Have you ever tried making crystals yet? There are quite a few ways of making them, and we’re so keen to try them all!

    • Materials Needed:
      • Borax (laundry detergent alternative)
      • Pipe cleaners
      • Boiling water
      • Glass jars
      • Chopsticks/Pencils
      • Spoon
      • Safety glasses (preferred)

Other resources for at home activities:

Even though the museum is closed, we want to continue to inspire creativity and encourage hands-on learning for all! When you’ve completed any of these STEAM activities, be sure to post a photo and tag us at @focomod on social media!

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Meet FCMoD’s New Executive Director!

Post written by Kristin Stern, Marketing & Communications Manager

Welcome Laura Valdez, FCMoD’s New Executive Director!

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is excited to announce the hire of Laura Valdez as the next Executive Director of the Nonprofit Partner! After an extensive national search, the museum selected Laura to co-lead the organization with current Executive Director, Cheryl Donaldson, who represents the City of Fort Collins Partner. Laura has more than a decade of combined leadership experience in the nonprofit, education, and public sectors, supported by a Masters of Public Administration focused on local government and nonprofit management.

“The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery staff is excited to welcome Laura into our organization. Laura’s dedication and commitment to community impact and strong organizational management will complement and support the work of the team,” says Cheryl Donaldson.

Laura will be joining the museum after eight years working at the City of Elgin, Illinois, most recently as the Assistant City Manager. There, she was successful in leading collaborative, inclusive efforts to further collective goals and achieve shared success. She has worked to consistently build and maintain excellent relationships among diverse groups to facilitate understanding, awareness, and action on community-wide concerns and initiatives, and looks forward to bringing these skills to FCMoD.

“I am thrilled to join the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. It’s energizing to see what the staff, board, donors, and volunteers have already accomplished. I look forward to working hand in hand with the team and greater community as we take the museum to the next level.” – Laura Valdez

We’re looking forward to it, too. Please join us in welcoming Laura to FCMoD!

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Want to learn more about Laura? We interviewed her to learn some fun facts, secret talents, and more!

  1. Fort Collins has an amazing music scene! What was the best concert you ever attended?

The best concert I ever attended was Marc Anthony during the Libre tour. It was my first experience attending a concert in a big stadium. I went with my aunts, and it was a great collective experience for us to have together. I remember there were people all around me waving Puerto Rican flags, dancing and singing – the energy was just amazing! To this day I still know every single word to that album.

  1. We hear you have a Bison named after you. There must be a story here!

Oh my, yes there’s definitely a story here! For a period of time, I oversaw the Lords Park Municipal Zoo in Elgin, Illinois which is also modeled with a public/private partnership, similar to FCMoD. At the time the Zoo had two Bison, Becky and Drew, and we were looking to get another. It was a fairly long process of working with many different partners, and in October of that year we welcomed a baby Bison into the mix. However, we weren’t planning on doing a public naming until the spring. But in order to fill out the paperwork to get the Bison they had to pick a name, so they chose “Laura Valdez-Bison.” I found the gesture as endearing as I found it comical! The Bison was later named Takoda by the public – but in the initial paperwork it’s my name!

  1. What was your favorite museum experience?

My favorite museum experiences are ones that have tactile, hands-on exhibits. It’s something that immediately drew me to Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. The opportunity to learn with a physical element to it is so impactful for me. One experience that comes to mind is the City Museum in St. Louis. If you’ve never been, let me just say that there is a really long, super-fast slide. I’ll leave it at that.

Another favorite museum experience that comes to mind is the Discovery Center Museum in Rockford, Illinois. I grew up going to that museum all the time, so I know first-hand how important and formative experiential museum experiences are.

I grew up going to [the] museum all the time, so I know first-hand how important and formative experiential museum experiences are.

  1. Who inspires you?

 Two people: my parents inspire me. They have continually shown me what strength and perseverance looks like, while also encouraging me to take advantage of every opportunity in life. My dad’s family is originally from Mexico and really instilled in him the value of education, family, and hard work. His story is so inspiring; from immigrating to the United States to later contributing to the Space Shuttle program with NASA. Then there’s my mom. She’s one of the strongest women I know. She’s been such an incredible role model for me since she herself was a municipal leader, too. They have always been supportive of me and my endeavors. That’s why my parents are my inspiration.

  1. Do you have a secret talent? Can we make it not-so-secret?

 This is so nerdy, but my secret talent is the ability to name all the Presidents of the United States in perfect order. (Yep. Definitely nerdy!)

  1. What’s your favorite movie?

 Dirty Dancing! It’s the comfort food equivalent of a movie for me. Plus, I have totally attempted to do the “lift” that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray do!

  1. If you could have dinner with anyone – real, fictional, living, deceased – who would it be?

 Lucile Ball. She was a pioneer of not only comedy, but also of TV production, and representation on the silver screen. From her interracial marriage to Dezi Arnaz, to being the first woman on TV to be pregnant on television, to being the first woman to run a major television studio, to her groundbreaking style of physical comedy – she was such a trailblazer! She has influenced so much of our pop culture – more than we may realize. It’s fascinating what you can learn from history to see how it’s informed our world today.

It’s fascinating what you can learn from history to see how it’s informed our world today.

  1. What is a surprising fun fact about you?

 As I mentioned, my dad’s an engineer. When my parents had my sisters and I, my dad had one request: he wanted to name us so our initials were all roman numerals. He didn’t necessarily care what the names were, he just wanted to initials be roman numerals! So my name, Laura Ilene Valdez, is LIV, or 54. My older sister is CMV, or 905, and my younger sister is CDV, or 405. Growing up, we had mail addressed to “1364,” which meant it was for the three of us because it’s a sum of our roman numerals together!

  1. Geek Week is coming up over Spring Break, March 17-20. With fun themes like Sci-Fi Strikes Back and Fantasy Fanatics, we have to ask – who is your favorite superhero?

 Wonder Woman! I love her! I am really looking forward to the sequel to this summer.

  1. What would you like to say about joining the museum to our visitors, members, partners, and fellow community members?

 I want to say how thrilled I am to be joining Fort Collins Museum of Discovery! The more I learn about the museum, the more excited I become. From then to now, intentional and thoughtful decision making has informed who and what FCMoD is. The community has been so supportive of this organization every step of the way. When I say “community” I mean it in every sense of the word – from the staff, to the volunteers, to the donors, to the members, to the visitors, and beyond.

For me, it’s a privilege to be part of this team. I want to help take the museum to the next level – whatever that level is. The museum is already on the cutting edge of everything, so the possibilities are endless. FCMoD is a mature organization, a growing organization, and most importantly it’s a curious organization. I know there is so much about the museum I have yet to learn, but I’m ready to get started.

FCMoD is a mature organization, a growing organization, and most importantly it’s a curious organization.

We’re ready, too. Please join us in welcoming Laura Valdez as the new Executive Director!

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World Wildlife Day 2020: “Sustaining All Life On Earth”

Post written by Alexa Leinaweaver, Live Animal Husbandry Coordinator

Happy World Wildlife Day!

 

Wildlife, while traditionally meaning all non-domesticated animals in an area, has expanded to mean all the fauna, flora, and other kinds of life. All species have evolved to be dependent on each other. Sustaining all kinds of life on our planet can only help the human race survive and prosper.

Some individual species are so vitally important to an individual ecosystem that they are considered to be a keystone species. So many other kinds of life depend on the keystone species that it would have a disproportionate effect if it should be removed from the ecosystem.

Colorado has amazing diversity in its wildlife. With the massive changes in altitude from the Rocky Mountains down to the Great Plains, the wildlife that live here have adapted to a wide range of micro-climates. With the variety of ecologies in the area, there are many keystone species that keep the whole system healthy. Some local examples include:

In the Mountains: Aspen trees

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) are, for many, a symbol of the Rocky Mountains. They cover 20% of Colorado’s forested land, or 5 million acres.

Aspen are a keystone species, supporting many birds, insects and mammals throughout the year and creating a highly biodiverse ecosystem. Because aspen love sunlight, groves are more open and bright than an evergreen forest. More variety of plant species can grow in the understory below an aspen grove. Additionally, as aspen are short-lived (70-150 years), they quickly add nutrients back into the soil around where they fall. Aspen propagate both with seeds and via cloning. A grove of clones can send up tens of thousands shoots per acre – which many grazing animals love to eat. Aspen shoots are actually higher in fat than many plant species, making it an especially important winter food source for deer and elk. The white bark of the aspen tree can also be used by many species as a food source in winter (elk, deer, beaver, rabbits, voles, mice, etc.), and year-round by a wide variety of insects. Several kinds of woodpecker, chickadees, nuthatches, kestrels, owls, and wood ducks will nest in the aspen.

Aspen trees are unfortunately in decline throughout the Rockies, up to a loss of 60-90% depending on the local climate. The primary cause is believed to be human behavior. Human efforts at fire suppression have allowed conifers to spread into aspen groves, shading the aspen and preventing them from thriving in the sunlight they love. Fire is also a natural part of the aspen’s life cycle: as the older above-ground aspen declines in health it should be cleared out by fire, prompting new sprouts. Without the fire, the sprouts are fewer and grazing animals have more impact on the grove. As the Aspen trees decline, hundreds of species will suffer.

In the Prairie: Prairie Dogs

Prairie dogs (genus Cynomys) are a group of intelligent, burrowing rodents – actually a kind of ground squirrel – native to North American Grasslands. In Fort Collins area, you will see the Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus). Prairie dog colonies will dig a complex maze of burrows as their colony’s home for breeding, raising their young, and hiding from predators, maintaining the town over several generations.

Prairie dog activities change the grassland ecosystem that they live in; they are often labeled “ecological engineers” for the way they shape the world around themselves. Burrowing will actually alter soil chemistry, as well as aerating the soil. Their grazing (both above and below ground) affects the plant life they live in, encouraging more diversity of plant species and plant productivity. The soil becomes richer in nitrogen and more fertile, supporting both more plants and a wider variety of insect life. Because of the positive effect prairie dogs have on the soil and the plant life above, grazing animals (including domestic cattle) often prefer to eat in the middle of prairie dog towns as the forage is better. Prairie dog burrows provide shelter and nesting habitat for many animals, including black-footed ferrets and burrowing owls. Prairie dogs are also a vital food source for a wide variety of predators: hawks, owls, ferrets, coyotes, badgers, bobcats, and rattlesnakes.

Prairie dogs numbers are vastly reduced from their historic populations. Many people believe that prairie dogs are pests, damaging crops or putting domestic animals at risk, and have actively persecuted the animals (e.g. target shooting, poisoning). Humans have also taken up most of what was originally prairie dog territory for agriculture and suburban sprawl. Between 1900 and 1960, 98.5% of prairie dog habitat was lost. Additionally, humans accidentally introduced the bacteria that caused the plague to spread, which can quickly wipe out entire colonies of prairie dogs. Even if you agree that they are pests, the loss of prairie dogs to our grassland ecosystems would have an enormous negative effect on hundreds of other species.

Celebrate World Wildlife Day

Celebrate World Wildlife Day this year by learning more about your local wildlife! Explore one of our many beautiful natural areas and observe the way that the wildlife interacts with each other. Or, visit the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery this weekend and see our Natural Areas Exhibit. Watch the Ferret Feeding Frenzy at 2:30 on Saturday or Sunday! This is not for the faint or squeamish of heart…

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The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades!

Post written by staff members at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades!

As we enter the year 2020, let’s stay focused on using 20/20 vision to look at our past, present, and future through the archives and collections at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery!

The Archive has hundreds of fantastic photos of fabulous Fort Collins eye wear over the years; check out these examples of spectacular spectacles.

 

Martha Trimble, looking cool in some shades, 1914

Paul Marshall in hexagonal specs, 1940s

John Matushima in some classic wire-rims, 1944

Margaret Martinez in some flashy cat-eyes, 1961

Donald Mai in bold frames, 1966

More cat-eye style on Barb Mason, 1967

Helen and Ed Martin sporting some eyeglasses, 1969

Michael Murry in a later style of specs, 1993

An artistic view of downtown Fort Collins through some checkerboard sunglasses, 1967

Fred Evans was a prominent optometrist in Fort Collins in the 1910s and ‘20s.

Here’s an ad for his business, 1921

Here is a view of his office at 116 South College, circa 1924.

Can you see his sign? “Eye” can!

Fred Evans shows up in our artifact collections too, in these amber tinted eyeglasses, for example, with their case from his shop.

The museum’s artifact collections offer a retrospective look (which is 20/20, of course) at the history of innovation in eyewear. Pince-nez spectacles, which had no earpieces and stayed in place with a nose clip were quite popular early in the 20th century but fell out of fashion as they became associated with older generations.

The ideas behind some innovations are difficult to understand today. These “railway spectacles,” with their hinged double lens swung to the sides offered the eyes added the protection from sun, wind, and flying cinders. Placed in front they offered added magnification. But why was only one side of this particular pair tinted green?

Earpieces appear in many different configurations, like these retractable, spring-loaded ones.

The availability and development of strong plastics led to an explosion in eyeglass styles and colors.

Check out these and many more historic glasses and other artifacts on the History Connection, FCMoD’s online archives and collections database. They’re off the charts!

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National Bird Day: Winter Birds

Post written by Alexa Leinaweaver, Live Animal Husbandry Coordinator.

National Bird Day: Winter Birds

Weather changes, snow is falling. But when you look out your window, there are still a bunch of birds hanging out. Which birds are here in the winter, and how do they survive?

Migration

Migration is a strategy that many animals use to cope with seasonal changes. Generally migration seems to be triggered by birds following their food supply or seeking a new type of food, as well as seeking more comfortable weather conditions.

We are most familiar with migration from an area closer to the poles in summer, and toward the equator in winter. This is known as Longitudinal Migration, as it is on a north-south axis. Migration distance can range from thousands of miles each way to only a short distance. While we mostly think of birds leaving Colorado for warmer weather, we get some migrants coming to stay here from much further north. Some examples of birds that migrate to the Fort Collins area for winter:

  • The Dark-eyed Junco spends its summers breeding in Canada and Alaska, and moves down into the continental United States during winter. Juncos are easily recognized by their behavior, hopping around the ground seeking food, and the black and white flash of their tail when they take flight. They are colloquially known as “Snowbirds”.

  • The Rough-legged Hawk breeds in the Arctic, but winters in the U.S. and southern Canada. It gets its name from the fluffy feathers covering its legs – an excellent adaptation for a bird that spends its summers in the Arctic as well as for our snowy Colorado winters.

  • Most Bald Eagles spend their summers further north in Canada and Alaska. They will migrate into Colorado in winter where they breed, usually January through March. (We do have some year-round resident bald eagles in the area as well.)

There are also birds that migrate a short distance, but for a big change in altitude: Altitudinal migrants. Most of the altitudinal migrants in the U.S. are in the American West, thanks to our Rocky Mountains. Many of us humans have experienced the dramatic difference in weather and temperature between the plains and up in the Rockies.

  • Most Prairie Falcons winter in the Great Plains, hunting Horned Larks and Western Meadowlarks. In summer, they move up to 11,000 feet in search of abundant ground squirrels and pikas.
  • The Townsend’s Solitaire spends its summers in the mountains, then moves to lower elevations in winter. They switch food sources from mostly insects in summer to fruit, mostly juniper berries, in winter. They can get extremely territorial over their chosen patch of juniper trees, defending them against solitaires and other bird species.

  • Immature Mountain Chickadees are known to migrate to lower elevations. However, once they are old enough to select a breeding territory, they will generally stay there year-round. (It can be very challenging to distinguish them from our usual Black-capped Chickadees who stay in Fort Collins area year-round. Look for a white “eyebrow” on the Mountain chickadee that the Black-capped lacks.)

Other Adaptations for Winter Survival

For us humans, it seems logical to escape the cold and snow by going south for warmer weather. But birds have amazing adaptations to help them survive weather that we find daunting.

  • Feathers are the best insulation we know of. Imagine curling up inside a cozy down overcoat – birds have one naturally! They can retain heat by fluffing out their feathers, trapping more air underneath to keep them warm. Birds like chickadees or wrens fluff up so much that they look twice as fat in winter! Many birds, like the American Goldfinch, will also change out their sleeker, brighter summer coat for a thicker, drabber winter one. They get better camouflage as well as better insulation.
  • Some birds, like crows, will cluster together and share body warmth. Smart birds like crows and other corvids can also communicate about food sources and predators.
  • Many birds will also plan for the winter by putting on fat. It acts both as insulation to keep warm and as an energy source if hunting for food doesn’t go so well.
  • Birds are also good at predicting when the weather will turn bad and a blizzard is coming. They will eat extra food in advance of the storm, then hunker down and save calories for body heat while it snows.
  • Several species will change what kind of food they eat. The Townsend’s Solitaire and Prairie Falcon, described above, are great examples. Some birds will also stash food in preparation for the cold – if you have a birdfeeder that gets extra busy in fall, some of your avian visitors are probably caching food for later.

Birding in Winter

Celebrate National Bird Day this year by spending some time outside, looking at our seasonal visitors! But remember, winter can be a difficult season for any wild animal. Keep your distance so they don’t waste their precious energy flying or running away from you when you get too close.

Photo courtesy of  Alexa Leinaweaver.

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The Holidays in Fort Collins

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

The Holidays in Fort Collins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Local history lives here. Visit the Archive & Collections at FCMoD – open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm – and like us on Facebook to see more historical images and artifacts. Archival images are available for research, purchase, and more through the online Fort Collins History Connection website.

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Problem-Solvers or Rocket Scientists? Same Difference.

Post written by Laurel Baltic, Grants Coordinator.

Problem-Solvers or Rocket Scientists? Same Difference.

This is part of our “Museum of Tomorrow” blog series, where we explore 21st century skills – FCMoD style – and learn how they prepare our visitors for the future!

It’s a Wednesday morning in October, and 14 kindergartners are flying through space. As they near each planet, they call out its name and count its place in the solar system. Shouts of “Mercury!” started this journey, though like some of the other planets, that’s not the easiest name to pronounce.

These kiddos are not on a rocket careening through the galaxy. Instead, they’re on a field trip to FCMoD, participating in a Space Explorers Learning Lab.

“Learning Labs give kids the opportunity to learn about something in a focused way, to see a concept from start to finish,” says Angela Kettle, School Programs Coordinator. She invited me to join in on a Learning Lab to see how some of our youngest visitors are working on an important 21st century skill: problem-solving.

Take a moment to picture a child learning. What do you see in your mind’s eye? Chances are, you’re picturing a classroom, maybe a desk or chalkboard. Certainly, lots of learning happens in rooms that look like that. In reality, children and adults are constantly navigating an ecosystem of learning opportunities: interconnected experiences that interact with and influence one another. Some of these are formal: think textbooks, lectures, or classes. Some are informal, like the programs and exhibits at FCMoD.

“In reality, children and adults are constantly navigating an ecosystem of learning opportunities.”

Informal learning is special because it is strengths-based: it builds on what someone already knows and can do. It is about the process and the experience. There is no system of values to assign success or failure, so learners can embrace their curiosity and gain confidence in their capacity to learn.

Let’s meet our kindergarteners in outer space again. Their journey has a goal: by the end of the hour they will have built a rover equipped to explore one of the planets. First, Miss Angela (as they call her) introduces them to the magic of the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater.

“Having fun is step one,” she explains. So, the kids start their Learning Lab by reading a book together. It’s not your average story-time: this book has been blown up to the size of a small building, with stars and comets twinkling in the 360° expanse around them. They are learning about the planets in school, but reading the story together in the Dome gives helps them grasp the immensity of the solar system and apply their knowledge.

While problem-solving is a key skill that these learners will practice, the word “problem” isn’t mentioned once. They simply have a mission: to build a rover to explore a faraway planet. That mission comes with challenges: the problems they’ll need to solve. Mars is covered with craters and huge volcanoes. Surface temperatures on Venus are very hot – up to 900° F! Jupiter is covered with giant, swirling storms, including one that’s larger than Earth.

In this way, problem-solving is a positive endeavor rather than a negative one. To solve a problem, you must first identify what you know. This helps learners build confidence in their ability so they can build on it. It’s also an invitation to try something again but a little differently if it doesn’t go quite right the first time. Angela calls out questions to help the learners show what they know.

“While problem-solving is a key skill that these learners will practice, the world ‘problem’ isn’t mentioned once.”

“It’s called solar because of the sun, and because of all the planets going around it, it’s a system!” explains one participant proudly. The kids also know that Pluto is no longer a planet, that there are other bodies like asteroids and meteors in our solar system, and that 900° F is very, very hot.

After reading the book together, the learners are seated around tables covered with rover-ready materials: cardboard, tin foil, pipe cleaners, and more. Photos of the planets are posted on the wall to spark imagination and remind the learners of what they know. This portion of the Learning Lab is open-ended, making space for problem-solving to thrive. Angela models for the chaperones the types of encouraging questions they can ask to get kids thinking like a rover engineer.

Most of the answers lead to planning their next design move: “I want to be able to see!” shouts an enthusiastic explorer. Another answers that she’d like to go to Canada, and the flexibility of informal learning is on display. Angela asks if she knows what planet Canada is on, and she does: “Earth!” Together, they brainstorm the challenges a rover might face when exploring our home planet, and the explorer begins to engineer.

By the end of the hour, the tables are covered with rovers of all shapes and sizes. Some have wheels for covering rough terrain, others are wrapped in foil to protect from the heat. They all have something in common: they were built by children who walked into the museum as students and walked out as engineers and space explorers. That leap becomes a lot less giant when you believe, as we do at FCMoD, that problem-solving is something anyone can do.

“Problem-solving is something anyone can do.”

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