Friday, November 29, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Live Streaming December 2013

                            Full STE(A)M Ahead 
Current Happenings by Susan Joy 

Susan Joy
Season’s greetings to all HSC members, supporters, volunteers, staff, and board! I’d like to use this space to thank all of you for your commitment to supporting high-quality, informal Science, Technology, Engineering, (Art) and Math (STE(A)M) in Northwestern Minnesota! HSC is invested in, and committed to, the people of Bemidji and the surrounding region because of the support we receive locally.

Donors are critical to supporting our mission, as we are a not-for-profit organization and receive no operating support from Federal, State, or Local governments, nor do we receive support from a national or regional science museum organization. We are supported locally by individuals who choose to support our mission through annual giving, businesses who provide sponsorships for various activities, and our loyal visitors and members.

Individuals who choose to make a gift to HSC make a difference in the lives of the 13,000 school children who participate in an HSC activity either at their school or on our exhibit floor. 100% of donations made to HSC stay right here to support our organization. There are lots of different ways to support HSC. We have openings on our board of directors for individuals who are willing to donate 10 hours per month to supporting our mission through governance. Friends of Headwaters Science Center, a new group of volunteer ambassadors, also seeks new members to help with HSC events and outreach. If you don’t have time to commit to a volunteer position, we always welcome the donation of an item from the wish list that is posted on our website.

Did you know that the best way to support HSC doubles as the perfect family gift? That’s right! A $65 family or grandparent membership supports the programs and activities that we do every day and gives
you FREE admission to our exhibit floor for a year, a 10% savings on merchandise in the HSC Science Store, and discounts on summer camps, Science Club, and birthday parties. In addition to all the amazing benefits listed above, your membership is portable and provides reciprocal admission at over 350 science centers worldwide through the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) passport program. Stop in today and find out how you can support HSC and enjoy the benefits of membership.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Understanding Headwaters Science Center

Perspectives from a Volunteer - John Mathisen 

Does Headwaters Science Center really matter? Is the lofty mission and vision of HSC being achieved, or is it just a place for kids to come and play with cool stuff?

I have been a volunteer there for almost 20 years now, long enough to see how HSC has affected the lives of individuals from childhood to adulthood.

This is what I have seen over the past two decades.

Children and young volunteers from years ago have grown up and moved into science careers. We have kept in touch with some of them and know they have become biologists, chemists, physicists, museum curators and medical doctors. They all say that HSC played a significant role in their career choices and initially turned them on to science. Score 1 for HSC.

Every time I’m on the exhibit floor I see the eyes of children light up as they discover something new about science, and their imaginations soar just like the hot air balloon. They ask questions and get answers from the ever-present professional staff. Is it possible I am seeing the beginnings of future scientists that our country so desperately needs? I think so.  Score 2 for HSC.

The live animals at HSC offer a huge learning opportunity. Not only do kids and adults learn a few facts, but they get the notion that all living things are valuable and deserve our respect – even snakes and tarantulas! So often I see fear and apprehension transformed to admiration and wonderment. Teaching at HSC is not about the facts of science – it’s about a way of thinking about science. And it’s so much fun. Score 3 for HSC.

Finally, it is wonderful to watch kids, parents and grandparents learn and explore science together on the exhibit floor, and family activities are often the focus of events and programs. Clearly, a benefit to our society. Score 4 for HSC.

Headwaters Science Center is a nonprofit organization and receives no public funding. About one-third of operating expenses comes from gifts and donations. And therein is the rub. They have to ask for donations. You can help to “Make a Difference” by participating in Give to the Max Day on November 14. Check out the HSC web site  for information. Open your heart and your wallet to keep HSC going strong, Drop By Drop.

John Mathisen

Friday, November 1, 2013

What is a Vernal Pool?

Our current fundraising effort at Headwaters Science Center called Drop-by-Drop refers to "Vernal Pools" as part of the metaphor for levels of giving in relation to bodies of water. Some people are not familiar with this term and are asking for a definition.

So here goes.

A vernal pool is a type of temporary wetland formed each spring from snow-melt and spring showers. By early summer, after the frost is out and evaporation increases, vernal pools disappear. Some people refer to them as leaf-litter ponds, because in wooded areas the substrate under the water consists of decomposing leaves.

 And therein lies their little secret.

Fairy shrimp
(courtesy Vernal Pool Association)
A vernal pool is a great habitat for invertebrate life because of the nutrients released by rotting leaves and vegetation. Invertebrates such as fairy shrimp and mosquito larvae thrive in this aquatic environment providing a source of food for many animals that we are familiar with, such as salamanders and frogs that have an aquatic larval stage in their life cycle.

Fairy shrimp, mosquito larvae and other invertebrates provide an important source of protein for birds, such as mallards and wood ducks, as they begin their reproductive efforts - and the pools actually serve as courtship and mating areas for the breeding pairs although nesting and brood-rearing may occur at some distance. A host of other animals visit vernal pools for drinking water and to prey on the tadpoles, frogs and salamanders.

Vernal pools are often destroyed by draining and filling as development of forested areas occurs. Timber harvest opens the canopy, raising temperature and increasing evaporation, and the pools dry up much earlier compared to those in an uncut forest.

So our metaphor is complete. Vernal pools are small and to some people insignificant, but they have an important role to play in forest ecology.  Likewise, a donation of a small amount of money to Headwaters Science Center may seem insignificant, but can make a huge difference when combined with other small donations. Even a single drop of water can make big things happen when combined with many other drops!

Please visit our donation page, choose a level of giving and make your donation on Give to the Max Day November 14th.