National Book Lovers Day

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant. 

National Book Lovers Day

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery interviewed local children’s books illustrator and current FCMoD volunteer, Cathy Morrison, in celebration of National Book Lovers Day! The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your connection to FCMoD?

I met my husband soon after moving to Colorado in the early 80s. Even back then we had a dream of buying land and building some sort of energy efficient cabin. It took another 30 years or so, but eventually we did make that happen. Now we live about thirty miles northwest of Fort Collins in an area called Glacier View Meadows. Our cabin is passive solar and constructed of SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels). I remember driving past the museum as it was under construction, wondering: “What’s that big, weird shaped building?” I did not have much connection with Fort Collins at the time, so I began to read about the museum online. In the past I’d volunteered at my kids’ schools and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver so I was excited to learn that the museum was recruiting volunteers. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time! On the opening day of the museum I helped in the museum gift shop. Since then I’ve been mostly involved with the education team, greeting school groups, being a docent for the school tours in Heritage Courtyard’s “Journey through Time” program and volunteering for Storytime in the Dome.

  1. Who or what inspired you to first become an illustrator?

In college I earned a double major in fine arts and education. After student teaching I knew it wasn’t for me. One day I heard about an opening at K&H Productions, an animation studio in Dallas, Texas and I applied. I was fortunate to walk into the interview with my college art portfolio and walk out with a job! I started out as an in-betweener then moved into traditional cell animation and audio lip syncing for characters. I worked for the studio for about five years. The studio manager suggested I freelance on the side – she knew I wanted to be an independent artist and tell stories. My freelance business began expanding and I ended up quitting that job and moving to Colorado. – I figured if it didn’t work out I could always get another job. The freelance illustration grew into a boutique graphic design and illustration studio, Big Chief Graphics, in Denver. This lasted for about ten years until I had two kids, scaled back the business and began working from home. This is when I discovered picture books and realized this was what I wanted to do next.

  1. Your illustrations are so detailed! What are your favorite elements or scenes to illustrate and why?

I really like animals, nature, and conservationism. When I started to volunteer at FCMoD, a staff member from the museum was chatting with me about her love for Fort Collins’ short grass prairie. This was a real spark for me! This was around the same time I began illustrating nature related children’s books for Arbordale Press and Dawn Publishing. I enjoy gaining inspiration from my natural surroundings.

  1. Roughly how long does it take to illustrate a book? How does the process ebb and flow?

“Roughly” is a good way to describe it! It usually takes about 6-8 months to illustrate a 32 page picture book because I am always working on multiple projects, rarely focusing on just one book. It’s typical to work on 3-5 projects at a time. It’s a feast or famine sort of life and I do wish the process were a bit smoother. When I do have down time I like to write.

The process of illustrating a picture book is not what most people imagine, there is no collaboration between the illustrator and author. The publisher acquires the manuscript from the writer. Next they match up the story with an illustrator who they believe can best bring that book to life. The author does get input throughout the process, but there’s no communication with the illustrator. The publisher is the middleman between the illustrator and author. I have a couple of publishers that I work with a lot. Since they know my style and trust me, they let me do my own process in creating the illustrations. I mainly work on creative non-fiction picture books, these are books that read as a story while being based on facts. I create the thumbnail rough sketches, then place those into in an InDesign layout along with the text so I can be sure to leave enough room for copy. There are multiple editing rounds as the manuscript is being adapted so are the illustrations. I fine tune as the process continues and finally everything comes together.

  1. What are the qualities in yourself that you believe made you a successful illustrator?

I feel like I still have that ability to think like a kid and see things through their eyes. I like a challenge and juggling projects, staying on deadline, being creative and collaborating with editors and art directors long distance can be challenging at times. I try to treat my clients the way I want to be treated and that usually works well. When a kiddo picks up one of my books I hope they enjoy it as well as learn something new. I love how curious and smart these kids are today.

  1. On the flip side – what is the hardest thing to describe about being an illustrator?

Illustrating is a very competitive industry and there are so many amazing illustrators out there. Trends in art styles are always changing so you need to be able to adapt to keep up. It can be tough financially without a steady paycheck. For most book contracts the illustrator gets an advance to illustrate the book, then additional royalties once the book is published. Also, juggling several deadlines with a variety of clients can be stressful. And many publishers expect the book creators to participate in marketing once the book is published. That might involve school visits, presenting at conferences, book store launches, etc. So the process of illustrating a book is a very solitary sort of life style, then you have to put on your public persona and go out in the world and engage, not always an easy transition. Illustrating is as much a “give” as it is a “take” sort of career.

“I enjoy gaining inspiration from my natural surroundings.”

  1. What role would you like to see museums like FCMoD play in helping prepare young people for a career in the arts?

A career in the arts doesn’t limit one to being a traditional artist. Having a background and focus in the arts should help a person to think creatively which really frees a person to do almost anything they choose. I love the museum’s sensory based educational approach to learning, their focus on STEAM, Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics. I love how open the folks at the museum are to experimenting with new ideas. I feel like this passion rubs off on the kids who come to the museum. And the museum engages kids at such a young age to enjoy learning, playing and experimenting. There’s a strong correlation between science and the arts and how they enhance each other. Albert Einstein said “The greatest scientists are artists as well.” Leonardo da Vinci was best known as an artist, but his interests in music, invention, and science are what really made him a renaissance man. This is how I envision the museum. It creates a safe, welcoming environment where young people can make art, music, play, experiment and create their own world.

For example, Storytime in the Dome, is a very interactive format to get kids and their families involved in books and stories. Ben, the Dome Manager recreates the picture books to fit on the huge dome screen, animates page turns, even has added some sound effects. There’s always a live narrator to engage the kids with the book. Then afterwards we head to the Learning Lab to create a related craft. I love how unique and tactile this experience is. When I volunteer I see a lot of the same families coming again and again. If I had a do-over in life I’m reconsider being an illustrator and maybe be an employee at the museum.

  1. You’ve posted such amazing photos on your Instagram, @CathyMorrisonIllustrates, of the views from your studio. How does your studio space impact or enhance your creative process?

Through the years I’ve had a variety of studio spaces. I converted an extra bedroom into a home office, subleased office space from various advertising and marketing agencies in Denver, shared co-working space with other artists, photographers and animators in the Old Colorado Institute of Art Building in the Golden Triangle. So when we built our cabin I had a good idea what I wanted – tall ceilings, good lighting, nothing fancy, a comfortable work space that feels good. And now, my studio is just right. I have a great view of the mountain and plains, which is always changing and inspiring. I like being here every day.

  1. Do you have a favorite artist or piece of art? What is it about it that you like?

I do not have one favorite artist. One thing I love to do locally is go to the RiNo District in Denver and see the murals and street art. I lived near that neighborhood over thirty years ago when it was a very unsafe area. Now most alleyways are a mixture of graffiti and street art and you can safely walk around engulfed in the atmosphere. I love watching the artists creating their murals too. If you take a blank wall and add art to it – it becomes a whole new universe. The RiNo District has lifted the area up and is an attraction for all ages, all backgrounds, all means. Art brings the community together. You can just walk around outside and be amazed and inspired.

  1. If you could give advice to someone interested in illustrating children’s books, what would you say to them?

Keep at it, but do not expect it to be easy. It’s great to do a job that you love, but it is also hard work with long hours. Joining the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI.org) is worthwhile. They have national and regional conferences, monthly events, plus you’ll connect with publishers, editors, agents and like-minded folks in your field. If you keep at it, you will be successful.

  1. What is your favorite part about volunteering with FCMoD?

My favorite part about volunteering with FCMoD are the people. The staff is great as well as the other volunteers and the folks who visit the museum. It’s a fun, informal environment for learning and volunteering. I always enjoy it and come away energized.

  1. And, lastly, what can we keep an eye out for next from Cathy Morrison Illustrates? Are there any books or projects you are working on that you can share with us?

I have two books coming out next year. One in the spring with Dawn Publishing is called What’s This Tail Saying? This book talks about how animals communicate through their tails. For example, a skunk warns of danger by raising its tail before spraying, whereas a rattle snake makes a rattle sound before attacking. You need to pay attention to those tails! Then in the fall I will have another book coming out with a new publisher – this is a book that a friend and I created and submitted to several agents and editors. Schiffer Publishing in Pennsylvania acquired it. The working title is The Tiny Giant – it is a story of an oak seed becoming a forest.

“Art brings [a] community together.”

Thank you to Cathy for her time and for sharing her stories at Storytime in the Dome!

To find out more about Cathy’s books, and to hear more from a local illustrator, check out her blog at: https://cathymorrison.blogspot.com/. And don’t forget to stop by The Museum Store during your next visit to purchase one of Cathy’s illustrated books!

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Happy #MoonMonth!

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

Happy #MoonMonth!

“Your mission is ours.” This is the mission statement of Colorado company Lockheed Martin. In June, the Archive & Collections received a donation of 2D prints of aerospace technology that Lockheed Martin Denver assisted in building for NASA. Today, we’re sharing information on that donation as well as exploring Colorado’s connection to the Apollo 11 lunar landing, which took place 50 years.

Who is Lockheed Martin?

Lockheed Martin was formed in 1995 after a merger of Lockheed Corp. and Martin Marietta, which both had decades of aerospace experience behind them. (Martin Marietta was formed in 1961 in a merger of Glenn L. Martin Co. and American Marietta Corp.) The companies’ aircraft have set records and achieved milestones in aviation and space exploration. In fact, Lockheed Martin is the largest provider of IT services, systems integration and training to the U.S. Government.

Lockheed Corp.’s projects also included the Hubble Space Telescope, the Apollo launch escape system and the Corona surveillance satellite series. Martin Marietta was known for spacecraft such as the Viking Mars landers and the Magellan Venus spacecraft.

In aerospace, some of Lockheed Martin’s major projects today include the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter plane, the C-130 Hercules military transport, the P3-Orion maritime patrol aircraft, and the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter (with Boeing), according to Encyclopedia Britannica. In space, Lockheed Martin is known for the Titan IV and Atlas launch vehicles and the Trident II submarine-based missile. Lockheed is also part of the joint venture International Launch Services, along with Russian companies Energia and Khrunichev.

The Apollo Project

Project Apollo was announced by NASA in 1960. Many companies were contracted to design and build parts of the Apollo spacecraft, including the Lockheed Propulsion Company. Lockheed Propulsion Company designed and built the solid propellant launch escape motor and the pitch control motor for the Apollo spacecraft. 50 years ago, Apollo 11 touched down on the Moon on July 20, 1969. The space race had been won, yet in many respects had only just begun.

Lockheed Martin’s contribution to the Apollo Project

Years later, on April 12, 1981, the space shuttle Columbia launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on its first official mission, beginning an era of manned spaceflight unlike any before or since. Columbia looked more like a sophisticated plane than the bubble-with-legs design of the Apollo moon landers. The space shuttle missions were also quite different. This was no race to the moon—this was to be sustained science and space exploration.

For decades, space shuttles were the symbol of space exploration and innovation, and they were fueled by an iconic burnt-orange external tank that was designed and built by Lockheed Martin.

The structural backbone of every shuttle takeoff, the tanks were the largest component of each shuttle at 154 feet in length—longer than the Statue of Liberty—and were composed of nearly a half-million parts. The external tank that launched Columbia’s first mission in 1981 weighed nearly 76,000 pounds, but by 1998 Lockheed Martin had developed the Super Lightweight Tank, lowering the weight of the external tank to approximately 58,500 pounds. This change in design and the shift to a lighter aluminum-lithium alloy made it possible for shuttles to carry greater payloads, a breakthrough that allowed the shuttle to deliver to orbit the construction modules that became the International Space Station.

Lockheed Martin & NASA Partnership Today

Today Lockheed Martin still partners with NASA. Currently, Lockheed Martin is working on the next generation of commercial supersonic aircraft to reduce a sonic boom. Lockheed Martin has designed X-59 to cruise at 55,000 feet at a speed of about 940 mph. On July 2, 2019, NASA will test Orion’s launch abort system. This test will verify the system can steer the crew module and carry astronauts to safety in case of an emergency during launch. Lockheed Martin has been the prime contractor building NASA’s Orion, the only spacecraft designed for long-duration, deep space human exploration.

Lockheed Martin & the Archive & Collections at FCMoD

Members of our Fort Collins Community have contributed to many space exploration projects over the years through their work at Lockheed Martin. One Fort Collins family had multiple generations working there, and the museum was thrilled when they donated models and prints documenting this work. Through this multi-generational family influence the museum is able to display some of aerospace’s greatest achievements in history. We’ll be displaying some of these prints in the Archive, as part of our exhibit commemorating #MoonMonth. The display will feature posters, photos, and more from the history of the lunar landing and will be on view until July 30, 2019. Visitors may view the exhibit during our open hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm-5:00 pm.

3…2…1 BLAST OFF 🚀 It’s #MoonMonth at FCMoD!

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The Museum of Tomorrow, Today

Post written by Laurel Baltic, Grants Coordinator.

The Museum of Tomorrow, Today

At FCMoD, it’s not hard for us to imagine what the future looks like. Every day, hundreds of people stream through our front doors. They tinker with hands-on exhibits, spark new connections in a Museum Takeover program about germs or trees, or dream big (and Big Bang) during a Space Explorers summer camp.

Inquiry, ideas, and the connection between the two are the drivers that transport us from now to what’s next. The future may be 2 minutes away: what changes when I try this? Or it may be decades away: what invention can I dream up that would make my life – and the world – better? We also spend a lot of time looking to the past, helping us spin stories about how we got from then to now, and how we’ll get to that future we’re imagining.

These days, it feels like everyone is forward-focused. Preparation for what’s next is a central outcome of formal and informal education. The phrase “21st century skills” echoes through the hallways of schools, businesses, after-school programs, and – of course – museums.

It wasn’t so long ago that talking about the 21st century required visions of hovercraft cars, colonies on Mars, and robotic pets retrieving your newspaper. Hello, Jetsons! But now, two decades into the 21st century, we have arrived.

What have we learned? Well, our parking lot is full of cars that still roll on wheels, our animals are still furry, and the closest we’ve come to the Jetson’s was our groovy 60s-themed Night at the Museum event last fall. The future may be impossible to predict.

But one thing is certain: our world – and the skillset it takes to thrive in it – is always changing.

When we talk about 21st century skills, we are not talking only about what is needed to prepare for future jobs or face upcoming challenges; we are thinking about the present moment. Our deeply held belief is that every person who walks through our door has these skills already. Our museum, our exhibits, and our programs are designed to activate them.

Because of this belief, it’s easy for us to think that 21st century skills are self-explanatory. You know, 21st century skills! The ones everyone is talking about? The ones that everyone knows?

Except… does everybody?

We recently read a blog post by one of our board members, John Williams, who leads the Global Services division at Advanced Energy. It was inspiring to read about how AE is investing in education and equipping talented people for careers of the future. Maybe they’ll be the ones engineering those hovercrafts!

John closed his post with a challenge: “What further investments can we all make in our future to ensure that the emerging workforce has the skills, motivation, and inspiration needed to continue to improve both our products and the world at large?”

Okay, but we’re a discovery museum. Our mission is about learning, reflecting, and having fun while exploring science and culture. What does this have to do with an emerging workforce?

Everything, actually.

That mission is our “what.” Every exhibit we build, every program we offer, furthers that mission. Look a little deeper at our vision, our “why,” and there’s more: to inspire inquisitive thinkers and encourage responsible stewardship of the future. That is the heartbeat of our everyday work, and where we rise to John’s challenge. Everything we do at FCMoD, we do looking toward the future. And when we look toward the future, it’s one rich with questions and learning.

Let’s break down what we mean by inquisitive: it’s about asking questions, constantly. The only way to move effectively into the future is to ask questions, and believe in our individual and collective ability to answer them, and then ask more.

Why? Why not? How?

…what if?

That is why our “what” is so important. To learn. To reflect. To have fun. We delight in the opportunity – the gift – to remind kids and adults how much fun learning can be. How good it feels. How asking questions and admitting what we don’t know doesn’t have to feel scary. If we admit how much we don’t know we can embrace how capable we are of knowing more. If we imagine the possibilities, we won’t spend so much time dwelling on the limitations. We really prepare ourselves for the 21st century.

This is how FCMoD invests in our future.

This is how we change the world. We’re excited to continue sharing our process – and our partnerships – with you. So, we’re going to use this blog series to break down the 21st century skills that we’re all so excited about. We want to share with you, with our partners, with our community, how proud we are of the ways that people learn at our museum.

Check back each month for a breakdown of a new 21st century skill, and how our team infuses it into specific programs and exhibits (that you can come experience for yourself!). Sometimes, they’ll feel familiar, like our next two posts: problem solving and collaboration. Sometimes, they might be a little jargon-y, like cross-disciplinary thinking or information literacy. Don’t worry: in every post, we’ll share how we define that skill, and how accessible it’s development is to anyone, right here at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

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Happy Earth Day!

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

Pedal and Paddle on into FCMoD this Earth Day!

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to show support for the protection of the environment. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in over 190 countries. Earth Day is a day dedicated the environment and finding sustainable solutions. Today, FCMoD would like to share some of the ways that our community can be rewarded for being environmental stewards.

Sustainable modes of transportation

Transportation alone is responsible for about 25% of energy related CO2 emissions and about 15% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Because of this, cycling is one of the most effective ways for individuals to minimize their role in adding to global warming. Bikes have an important role to play as sustainable transportation. Cycling creates a healthier planet, and for each mile that someone bikes instead of driving, they can keep one pound of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere. Other modes of sustainable transportation include carpooling or use of public transportation. Those who carpool or bus significantly lower CO2 transport emissions. Walking is another mode of healthy and sustainable transportation. According to the CDC, if the destination you are walking to is within 1 mile you are more likely to walk to that destination, however, if the destination is between 3-4 miles there is still a likelihood of choosing walking as the main mode of transportation. FCMoD would like to encourage all guests, if physically possible, to consider choosing a sustainable mode of transportation to the museum.

To show our commitment, we have recently partnered with the Pace app in order to create a friendly and welcoming environment for those who would like to bike to the museum.

Our commitment to you

Since parking at FCMoD is limited and we strive to create a sustainable environment, if you bike, tube, walk, or take public transportation to get to FCMoD, we’ll offer 10% off your total admission for the day. We value the environment and we want to reward those who take great initiative to be environmental stewards.

Learn more about cycling

Next month, FCMoD will host Discovery Distilled: Beers & Bikes. This is a fun way to learn about biking paths and tune-ups. This is a great opportunity to chat with bike experts around town, drink some beers, learn something new, and have fun exploring the museum after hours. What’s more Fort Collins than beers and bikes? To find out more about the upcoming Discovery Distilled visit: fcmod.org/discoverydistilled

Interested in Biking to the Museum?

Here are the quick steps to use the pace app:

  1. Find your Pace (Use the Pace app to find a nearby bike)
  2. Make quick stops (Tap “Hold bike” in the app and lock up in order to have the bike waiting for you)
  3. Lock and end ride (Close the built-in lock and secure with the cable. Tap “End Ride” in the app)
  4. To find out more information about Pace click here https://ridepace.com/fortcollins/

Fort Collins community strides to be bike friendly. Fort Collins also offers an array of other bike share options. This Earth Day, let’s pedal our way around town to show our support of the environment.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Connie D.

Interview conducted by Laurel Drasner, Volunteer Coordinator.

Volunteer Spotlight: Connie D.

Position at FCMoD: Gallery Host & Museum Store Volunteer

When you started volunteering here: I started at FCMoD in January 2018.

Hobbies/Interests: I like to travel, read, volunteer and I love puppets!

Hometown: I’m from Pueblo, Colorado, but I’ve also lived in Greeley and Estes Park.

Current/previous occupation: I taught elementary school for most of my career, but I also worked at the Rocky Mountain National Park Conservancy for 11 years. I worked in the Gift Shop and was able to give puppet shows.

Favorite book: My favorite book is The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister. The book is about age and retirement and it inspired my recent move from Estes Park to Fort Collins and reignited my passion for volunteering.

Favorite vacation memory: My favorite vacation memory was when I spent 6 weeks in Africa with Earth Watch Volunteer Services to Scientists in ’95. We provided data to scientists by documenting what the elephants had been eating in the way of seeds and woody plants by going through their dung. Elephants do not assimilate their food well. We were also able to indicate how long the dung had been on the ground by documenting the insects that were on it. Very interesting!

One thing you want people to know about you: I also volunteer at the Demonstration Farm at Lee Martinez Park cleaning the chicken enclosures. I didn’t have any farm experience as a child, but it’s something that I’ve become interested in as an adult. I even put my last kid through college by milking cows on the weekend!

Favorite thing about volunteering at FCMoD: The staff is superb, and I also love getting to meet all the wonderful kids and adults who come to the museum!

Thank you for all you do for FCMoD, Connie!

Interested in volunteering? Learn more here.

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Interview with Write Minded’s Guitarist, Forrester

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing & Design Assistant. 

Interview with Write Minded’s Guitarist (& FCMoD Employee), Forrester

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery was thrilled to interview local musician and Music & Sound Lab employee, Forrester Tamkun. Forrester, a Colorado native, is the guitarist for local band Write Minded. Based out of Fort Collins, CO, Write Minded features a unique mixture of hip hop, rock, reggae, funk, and soul. Write Minded pushes the confining boundaries of genres to bring Northern Colorado something new.

Forrester sat down with staff for an interview to talk about the music scene and FCMoD. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your connection to FCMoD.

I am a music assistant at FCMoD. I help in the Music & Sound Lab with programs, exhibit care and maintenance, and program development. I became a volunteer with the museum when I was… about 6? So I have been with the museum for almost 20 years.

  1. When did you first discover a passion for music?

I started playing piano around the same time when I started volunteering at the museum, so around 6. I pretty much always had a passion for music. In junior high school I started to play with bands and learn cover songs and play concerts and battle of the bands. Then when I was 14 I started playing guitar. I continued to play in some bands during high school, and after high school is when I got more serious about music. My first concert was at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery Heritage Courtyard. It’s great that the museum has been involved in my music career through multiple events over the years. As an Eagle Scout I helped organize six local bands to play at a concert in the museum’s Heritage Courtyard in awareness of suicide prevention.

  1. What instrument do you play and what drew you to that instrument?

I primarily play guitar, and also a little piano. I like the piano because it is an expressive instrument. When you play a note on the piano it is different than with a guitar. With a guitar you can slide, bend, or do vibrato with the string, whereas with piano it is one note and one dynamic. Guitar is challenging, and I like that. I was self-taught in guitar for the first 5-6 years, and then I took my first guitar lesson when I was 20.

  1. Can you please describe your typical day at the museum?

A typical day at the museum for me consists of running different music programs, such as those hosted in the Music Garage. I instruct kids in mini-lessons, as well as maintain the area, and make sure none of the instruments are broken. (No guitars smashing at the museum, please.) My responsibilities include keeping an eye on the Music & Sound Lab exhibit, maintaining supplies, fixing exhibits when they break, giving Reactable lessons, and providing pop-up lessons.

  1. Tell us about how Write Minded started as a band.

I met Jarod, our bassist, the first day he moved to Fort Collins and came with his family to the museum. He came into the Music Garage and his roommate and him started jamming with me. From there I got his number, but didn’t hear from him for a few weeks. When we finally connected the next thing I knew we started the band- Eye Above right away. That was the initial creation of Write Minded. Write Minded started out of three different groups – a band I was previously in called Eye Above, the newly formed Write Minded cohort, and then an additional keyboardist. The original band was an acoustic rap with djembe. The keyboardist, Wilson, joined and I knew a drummer from high school that we approached about joining the band too. Once we all got together we were offered a show – opening at the Aggie. Then we ended up getting invited to play a Colorado band showcase at SXSW in Austin, TX. The rest is history.

  1. How has FCMoD developed a creative and open space for music?

Oh boy, having the space we do, it’s awesome. Our Music & Sound Lab exhibit allows the public hands-on access to real instruments. On Thursday nights we have Musician Meetup, which is an open jam session for musicians of all skill levels. It’s great – participants bring their own instrument and receive free general admission. People show up and play music together, and volunteers help facilitate it. The open exhibit gallery space offers a comfortable environment. And the program is free, which is important. So many spaces created for jamming together throughout town can be intimidating and scary, especially if you’re alone and just getting started. Ours is facilitated, and we do our best make it as welcoming as possible for everyone. It’s cool seeing younger kids have that opportunity.

“It’s cool seeing younger kids have that opportunity.”

  1. Who is your favorite band or artist? How have they inspired you?

If I had to pick one, I’d have to say Umphrey’s McGee. They’ve been playing for about twenty years and are a total jam band from the Chicago area that regularly plays at Red Rock Amphitheater. They have progressive rock influences. Their guitarist is one of my favorites to see and experience. How they connect and vibe as a band is cool. I’m a jam band fan. They have head signals to improvise like crazy. They are really into their art and connecting with their fans – which I think is important. I think I see them perform twice a year.

  1. What’s the hardest thing to describe about being a musician?

Any art form requires perseverance and confidence. You will never be able to get better at a task if you don’t believe you can. Confidence is key, especially when it comes to performing. You have to have perseverance in the art form and remember there are certain things that take years to develop.

  1. What role would you like to see museums like FCMoD play in helping encourage and support an artistic community?

I think we do everything pretty well. But there is always more that can be done. We can look for ways to plug in with other groups in the community promoting local music, like the Music District. We do so many music programs and events, from live music in the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater, to our  LaserDome series, to Musician Meetup, to providing hands-on instruments in our Music & Sound Lab exhibit, and more. Plus FCMoD is a venue for music festivals in town, like FoCoMX. Providing feedback on how else the museum can get involved is welcome.

  1. What is your favorite part about working at FCMoD?

It’s great getting to be involved in the music programs and exhibits so much, since that’s where my passion lies. I really like the family vibe that not only the staff, but community has. Being at FCMoD every week, you really see the community connection. Walking through the doors you see community members from local bands, City Council members, regularly visiting museum members, and more. You get to see and experience the big picture of our community. It takes a bunch of people contributing their time, talents and more to create spaces like FCMoD. It’s really cool getting to meet everyone.

“Any art form requires perseverance and confidence.”

Thank you to Forrester for his time and for sharing his skills at FCMoD!

To find out more about Forrester’s band, Write Minded, and hear more from local musicians follow: www.writemindedmusic.com. Write Minded will also be performing, January 25th at Hodi’s Half-note with new music coming soon!

Image Credit: Daryl Love

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Volunteer Spotlight: Rawan J.

Volunteer Spotlight: Interview with Rawan J. by Laurel Drasner, Volunteer Coordinator

Position at FCMoD: Public Programs/ Special Events and Tot Spot Gallery Hosting

When you started volunteering here: I started at FCMoD in November 2017.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy playing my violin, going on hikes, listening to podcasts, and playing with my cat and dog.

Hometown: I’m from Dallas, Texas.

Current/previous occupation: I am currently working as a Medical Scribe and Assistant at a Neurology Clinic. I graduated with a B.A. in Music and was a Pre-Med, so I am currently applying to medical schools. I am interested in either pediatrics or academia to become a medical school professor. I am keeping my options open!

Favorite book: My favorite book is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Favorite vacation memory: My favorite vacation memory was at my grandma’s house in Akka, Israel when my cousin and I found a dove with a broken wing. We were able to foster it and get it the help it needed, so that was neat! My grandmother taught me the word for “bird” in Arabic and I never forgot it!

One thing you want people to know about you: I love meeting new people and learning about what makes everyone unique so if there is anything you would like to know about me, come and introduce yourself!

Favorite thing about volunteering at FCMoD: I like being able to interact with different age groups here at the museum. I also love seeing what kids can teach me and discovering what they are passionate and excited about. The museum creates an excellent space for learning and exploring.

Thank you for all you do for FCMoD, Rawan!

 

Interested in volunteering? Learn more here.

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Honoring Dee Wanger

Post written by Kristin Rush, Marketing & Communications Manager. 

At this year’s Celebration of Gratitude, the museum’s annual event recognizing the support of donors, volunteers, and Founders, FCMoD honored Dee Wanger. Dee is the woman responsible for the establishment of a little organization back in the eighties called the Discovery Science Center (ever heard of it?). Thanks to Dee, and a number of highly motivated community members, their dream of an interactive, engaging, and hands-on organization focusing on science and technology for children came to life. At the museum’s Celebration of Gratitude, Dee gave the timeline of events that led to where we are now:

1986: Dee visited the Houston Children’s Museum and thought, “Fort Collins could use something like this!”

1987: Dee turned to the yellow pages, calling about six different museums to ask about what it takes to create a museum from the ground up.

1988: The ball began rolling and did not stop! Dee attended the Boston Children’s Museum seminar in April and then, in October of 1988, Dee and 15-20 people came together to begin the process of opening a museum in Fort Collins.

1989: In March of 1989, with the help of $50 donations from committee members recruited by Dee, the Northern Colorado Children’s Museum became incorporated. In the same year, it was officially renamed the Discovery Science Center.

It took 2.5 years to go from concept to launch. The Discover Science Center was located in the old Barton Elementary School off of Prospect Rd. When discussion began of merging the Discovery Science Center with the Fort Collins Museum in 2008, the Discovery Science Center temporarily relocated into the Fort Collins Museum’s building, then located in Library Park. After that, as they say, the rest is history. The two organizations then became what the museum is now: the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.

Dee giving her remarks and being honored at Celebration of Gratitude, April 23rd, 2018.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

As Dee said at Celebration of Gratitude, “Then, as now, it was with the contributions of time, talent, energy and funding by passionate, dedicated people that has enabled the museum to grow and thrive beyond a current vision. I have tremendous gratitude for that.”

“At the time, we had a vision, but I think the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery has far-surpassed what we could imagine.”

Thank you, Dee, for your time, talent, energy and passion. We wouldn’t be here without you.

The museum relies on the generosity of you – our community – to do everything we do. Please consider donating to support explorations in science and culture for all.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Jim C.

Volunteer Spotlight: Interview with Jim C. by Laurel Drasner, Volunteer Coordinator

Position at FCMoD: Exhibits Assistant

When you started volunteering here: I started at FCMoD in July of 2014, but I used to help at the Discovery Center around 2006 when it was at Barton Elementary.

Hobbies/Interests: Firstly, I like telling silly jokes! Also, I have a woodshop at home in my garage, and I like to make tables, dressers, bookcases, bowls, and gavels- to name a few. I also enjoy singing in the church choir, trout fishing, and running.

Hometown: I’m from Alamosa, on the south bank of the Rio Grande.

Current/previous occupation: I am a retired Hearing Officer for unemployment insurance claims with the State. Prior to that, I was an unemployment fraud investigator, although my degree is in Agriculture!

Favorite book: My favorite book is Bowser the Hound from my childhood.

Favorite vacation memory: My favorite vacation memory was taking a road trip with my family to the Grand Canyon in my motor home. It started snowing, and my daughter-in-law, Jittima, had never seen snow. She made snow angels and snow balls, and it was so much fun. It was like seeing a kid discover snow for the first time.

One thing you want people to know about you: I ran for the first cross-country track team at Alamosa High School, and we got second in State that year! Later, I met my wife at a square-dance. She saw my Alamosa letter jacket, and we both asked at the same time if we knew the same fellow, which happened to be her brother! I later had the opportunity to go back and square-dance with our son on my shoulders.

Favorite thing about volunteering at FCMoD: I like getting to create new things, and I like seeing projects from beginning to end. It’s neat to get to help others with their projects.

Thank you for all you do for FCMoD, Jim!

 

Interested in volunteering? Learn more here.

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Interview with Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger

Post written by Kristin Rush, Marketing & Communications Manager.

The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery had the honor of hosting former NASA astronaut, Dorothy “Dottie” Metcalf-Lindenburger, at this year’s Celebration of Gratitude on Monday, April 23rd. Celebration of Gratitude is the museum’s annual event honoring donors, partners, and volunteers. Dottie, a graduate of Fort Collins High School, was selected by NASA to be a Mission Specialist on the STS-131 Discovery in April of 2010. When she flew to the International Space Station, she took a Fort Collins High School Lambkin with her, which is on display at FCMoD, along with her suit and helmet. The exhibit display is located in the Woodward Special Exhibition Gallery, with the Smithsonian developed exhibit, Earth from Space, currently on display until June 3rd.

 

Dottie, the keynote speaker at Celebration of Gratitude, sat down with staff for an interview. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

 

  1. How did growing up in Colorado shape your ambitions and goals?

I grew up in Loveland and graduated from Fort Collins High School, and I think what I like to credit Colorado having is big skies and great rocks. My parents took me to visit our local museums, and I also had a really great education. The experience of being outdoors often, and being able to see the stars at night was so special. Now raising my daughter in Seattle, I realize that it’s actually rare for people to see the night sky so regularly. It’s a pretty big deal to have that all the time in Colorado. So I really credit all of those things with helping to shape my perspective.

 

  1. What were your biggest fears and biggest dreams when entering the Astronaut Corps?

It’s a bit intimidating to be joining the people who are considered to have “the right stuff.” Even though lots of people have “the right stuff” for all different reasons. Just living up to the expectations of being an astronaut, and then fulfilling those expectations of what people see and expect is a lot. It’s a dream and a fear at the same time.

Also, you want to make sure you keep your crew mates safe. You’re aware of the risks. I wasn’t afraid when I signed up. I had been aware of the risk of space flight with other missions. It’s helping others that care about you understand those risks and how we try to mitigate them.

 

  1. What are the qualities in yourself that you believe made you successful as an Astronaut Candidate?

I worked hard in school, in math and sciences – actually in all my classes I did well! Also, being an athlete was very important. A lot of being an astronaut is being physically fit – like the training that’s in the water in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, where you work over 5-6 hours in the water moving big bulky suits. You need to be able to fly in your T-38. You need to be healthy. Therefore, being an athlete was important. It also just so happens that they were hiring teachers in 2004, and I was a very motivated teacher. A number of these factors helped me rise to the top.

 

  1. What role would you like to see museums like FCMoD play in helping prepare young people for a career in STEAM related fields?

I see museums as a collective that allow you to experience things that you could not individually do by yourself. Museums allow you to time-travel into the past, but also fast forward way beyond into the future. They allow you to keep coming back, revisiting, and rediscovering. Every time you visit there is something new. From taking small children and hitting the highlights, to visiting with students for a particular subject, such as growing up in Colorado or a specific unit in science, to doing research. A unique thing about museums too is special traveling exhibits! The special exhibit FCMoD has right now is great!

 

“Museums allow you to time-travel into the past, but also fast forward way beyond into the future.”

 

  1. What were the biggest differences in your training and the actuality of being in space?

Well, the good thing is that you don’t have nearly the problems that they put you through in the simulator. We would go into a simulator just about once a week as we were leading up to our flight. They break main engines, fuel cells, computers, the communication systems, with the point of helping you understand how these systems work and helping you recognize that you can work well under pressure, and back each other up. So when you get to space it’s a lot easier! But when you get to space you have “space brain” because there’s all this new stuff that’s very stimulating, so you start paying attention to other things. It’s good they overstimulated you with potential failures, so you’ve been trained to focus on the important things.

 

  1. Does your all-astronaut rock-band, “Max Q” still perform and what were/are your songs about?

We tried to get back together! Chris is in Canada, Ricky and Drew are on the space station now, Tracy’s in Houston, and Steve is in California. We’re all pretty far flung. That’s what was hard about the retirement of the shuttle. We tried to pass on the band to the next classes of astronauts, but those classes were small – they had musicians within them – but they were already overtasked with so many other things in their life that adding in music was challenging.

Our songs were just cover songs. [Laughs] We had one original song, but it’s a little bit like a song that already existed, with some different lyrics. We covered some Train with “Drops of Jupiter.” They weren’t all space themed though!

 

  1. What’s the hardest thing to describe about space?

Just the everyday things you do that you take for granted are a little bit harder. Putting your contacts in, combing your hair, brushing your teeth – it takes additional time to do everything. I am sure people who live on the space station for extended periods of time are able to adapt, but being on the station for 15 days, it’s like being on a camping trip – you just take those extra steps to do normal, daily things. It’s hard to describe to people something like you can’t shower in space. That blows kids’ minds, they are like “that’s gross!” I mean, we keep clean. You can show what happens to water when it’s floating around. We have water – you just can’t shower!

 

  1. Now that you’ve had the view of Earth from space, what do you think about when you look up at the night sky?

I think it’s still so beautiful. I’ve always thought it was so beautiful. I had a telescope (gifted from Santa!) in sixth grade. I taught astronomy, and even now I build a telescope with my students, so I’ve always liked looking at the night sky. Now I take my daughter to check these things out. I took her to see the eclipse in 2017, and at first she was like “why are we driving 8 hours to the other side of Oregon” but then when she saw the actual totality of the eclipse, she understood why I wanted her to see it and experience it.

 

  1. What was the most impactful take-away from your time at the International Space Station?

As an Earth scientist, as someone who saw the atmosphere, I realized I have a voice. People listen to me now that I’ve been in space. So what I try to always tell people is: Earth is our spaceship for 7 billion-plus people and it needs to be taken care of.

 

“Earth is our spaceship for 7 billion-plus people and it needs to be taken care of.”

 

  1. FCMoD displays an exhibits case with the Fort Collins High Lambkin you took into space. How does it feel to have your story preserved in a museum? 

It was really cool to see the display! It’s amazing! As a kid, when I’d come to the old Fort Collins Museum, you see things from the past and you wonder about the people, the objects, everything. I hope my story in FCMoD helps inspire kids to be whatever they want to be when they grow up. In my case, I wanted to be an astronaut!

 

  1. What do you wish people would ask you about space?

Hmmm, people ask a lot of really great questions about it, but that’s a good question… I try to be pretty transparent about my experience. One thing I’ve been telling kids about is that astronauts also get disappointed, and that it’s ok to be disappointed. There were some things I really wanted to do in space, like I wanted be a space walker. I was the backup – which is awesome in and of itself – but I wasn’t able to actually do it. I also wanted to run on the treadmill, but there was only one and it had some issues. If I used it and anything happened to it, the exercise of the ISS crew members would be impacted. I think it’s important to know you don’t always get everything you want. You learn this as you grow up.  This is a lesson I try to teach my daughter. And it doesn’t have to be a bad thing! I got to go to space and loved it, but there might be some disappoints that you hold to – and that’s ok! It’s ok to be a little disappointed – that’s life.

 

  1. What type of research do you think will be done in the future of space travel, NASA, and the like?

There are so many breakthroughs with the human body. We saw just this summer that genes may change as people are in space. We know that interocular pressure has changed. So understanding “why is this happening?” – why is there a fluid shift in the head? Is that bad? What are the long-term implications of that? So there’s a lot of medical studies coming out that I think will be interesting research and data to explore. Of course, research takes time, so that is important to remember.

 

  1. Here at FCMoD, we host Space Explorers and Space Adventurers Summer Camps. What advice do you have for the future little astronauts, scientists, explorers, and dreamers of the world?

Always be curious. Curiosity took me a lot of different places. It’s allowed me to climb mountains, go to space, and also just enjoy every day – some little piece of the day will always be new or different. I just saw an odd bird on my way here – that was fun! Curiosity will keep you going and excited about each new day. In their lifetime, their jobs are not even created yet! By being curious, they get to create their own futures! Be curious: explore & discover.

 

“Always be curious.”

 

Thank you to Dottie for her time and inspiration!

FCMoD relies on your generosity to do everything we do. Please consider supporting discovery for all today. 

 

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