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Reaching for the Stars: A Special Day for Exceptional People

Written By: JR Pollnow – Education Outreach Coordinator

On January 26th, 2013, we are proud to announce that for the 3rd year in a row, we will be hosting “Reaching for the Stars: A Special Day for Exceptional People”. For $5, this full day event at the Museums is for participants that may have a developmental or physical disability, as well as their families and caretakers. It is a day filled with sights, sounds, and activities where everyone can feel comfortable and maybe make some new friends. The day’s events include Star Wars re-enactors from the Cloud City Garrison 501st Legion and the Kashyyyk Base Rebel Legion, and Balloon Flying Service of Oregon. And all Museum events are wheelchair accessible. For $20, participants also have the opportunity to spend the day in our climate controlled Waterpark. If you or someone that you know is interested, please contact the education department at 503.434.4185 or email us at education@sprucegoose.org.

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On the Oceanus

Ahoy Land Lubbers! Evergreen educators Katie Lee, Scott McGuyer, Jenna Halsey and Discovery Ambassador, Jorge, visited Oregon State University’s newest research vessel, Oceanus, for a Marine Technology Society (MTS) meeting.  MTS members led tours aboard the Oceanus and explained current research projects, the mechanics of oceanography equipment, and basic functions of the new vessel. They learned about sea conductivity, temperature, density, and even a little about pirates! Arg! Evergreen educators are excited to support the MTS and to continue to learn about ground-breaking oceanographic research off of Oregon’s coast.

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Something Fishy is Going Down at the Evergreen Campus This Weekend…

Written By: Jenna Halsey – Wings & Waves Waterpark Education Coordinator

This Saturday, November 17th, the Yamhill Greater Watershed Council will be hosting a lecture by Tom Murtagh from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife called “Survival Against the Odds.” Topics such as the life-stages of fish, what fish live in the Yamhill Watershed area, which fish are endangered, and which fish make the journey upstream to return to their home to lay eggs. Fish are an important part of Oregon’s ecosystem and it is important for society to learn how we can help these creatures.

This talk is free to the public and Waterpark visitors. Access to the H2O Science Center, swimming, and slides are not included. The talk begins at 1:00pm at the Starcade in the Wings & Waves Waterpark. Access to the H2O Science Center, swimming, and slides are not included. Make sure to stop by the Aviation Museum to hear from the Oregon Coast Aquarium discuss sea birds and their flight in the ‘Things That Fly” series. Presentations at 8AM, 11AM and 2PM.  Click here for details.

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SpaceX: A Side Trip

Written By: Ben Lachman – PR and Marketing Assistant

On the second day they allowed us to explore LA for a bit.   One of the attendees, an OSU student who had visited our Museum, invited me to visit SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) that is an American space transport company that was started by Elon Musk of Paypal and Tesla Motors.

A little background on Space X: They developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, both of which were designed from conception to eventually become reusable. SpaceX also developed the Dragon spacecraft to be flown into orbit by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, initially transporting cargo and later planned to carry humans. SpaceX was fabricating falcon rockets and payload fairings when we visited. The futuristic office and state of the art factory is producing the future of space travel. Their Dragon Capsule was docked with the International Space Station in May 2012, and is going to replace the retired space shuttles.  SpaceX had some neat technology, but the 3D printer stood out among them all. It could print intricately with Titanium. Some display items from the printer revealed the intricacy that the machine was capable of. The highlight of the tour was seeing the first Dragon Capsule, with burn marks from when it reentered the atmosphere.

For more information on SpaceX:
www.spacex.com/
twitter.com/spacex
www.facebook.com/SpaceX

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Touring the Facility

Written By: Ben Lachman – PR and Marketing Assistant

After the briefing was over, we were taken on highly anticipated tour of JPL, nerd Mecca.

The first stop on the tour was to take a look at a life-sized rover replica. Curiosity is about the size of a Mini Cooper, but until you see the replica in front of you, you cannot grasp the actual scale and the numerous items used to collect data. We were lucky to have Randii Wessen, Deputy Manager of the Project Formulation Office at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, on the tour.  He pointed out the 17 cameras (the cameras on the Curiosity rover are the mission scientists’ “eyes” on Mars) onboard the rover and the other scientific tools. One of the fun items that I liked was a laser that vaporizes rock to analyze the composition.

Curiosity stands about 7ft tall with the mast camera (Mastcam for short) is up and her resemblance to the cartoon character WALL-E is popular within JPL’s social media team. The NASA Social team made it clear that they have personified Curiosity as a witty, large-and-in-charge, female rover. Curiosity has her own twitter handle: @MARSCuriosity, and it is fun to follow her.

The next stop on the tour was the Space Flight Operation Facility.  This is a control room and all the related equipment needed to communicate with deep spacecraft. A giant digital reader board has a list of how long it takes to reach all the interstellar spacecraft (a theoretical spacecraft designed for traveling between stars) and the time was measured in light hours.   They explained that it takes around 35 hours for communications to make a return trip when sent to Voyager 1, which is currently the farthest spacecraft from our planet. All communications from exploration missions go through that room, earning it the nickname ‘The Center of the Universe.’

After seeing Space Flight Operations, we visited the Ground Operations room which looked like a college computer lab. Instead of the fancy lighting and a large futuristic interior, The Ground Operations lab had white boards, low ceilings and florescent lighting.  Ground Operations is where the team will plan out and program Curiosity’s movements on Mars. The team operating Curiosity will work on “Mars Time” so they can work during the Mars day which is called a sol. The Martian sol extends 40 min later each Earth day.

The next facility we visited was the test bed for Curiosity’s twin.  This unnamed full scale-working model was exactly like Curiosity except for one piece, this rover has the plutonium power pack instead of the power pack.   She was asleep when we visited her, but they showed us the items they used to test her cameras. One item that stood out was a rubber chicken that she had to locate during testing.

The tours continued with a short bus trip up to the Mars Yard, where they had a stripped down life-sized rover that weighted the same as it would on Mars.   That is where we met Matt Heverly, ( @Matt_Heverly) an Oregonian that has the tough job of driving Curiosity.   Haverly explained that Curiosity’s suspension is better than any car in production today; all the wheels are independent which makes it easier to clear a rock that is about the size of a coffee table.   He then showed us and drove live-size model it over a giant rock. The wheels are machined from one block of aluminum, and the wheels also have cleats to help them to scale up rock.  It continued to surprise me as I learned that the decoy was controlled by an application that a summer intern had programmed. Overall it is a very impressed project!

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