Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How to look at contemporary art

A good friend and fellow museum professional and I started museum/gallery hopping two weeks ago. Both of us have been away from the Philippines for a while (I for over three years!) and we thought that this would be a great way for us to get re-introduced to the Philippine art scene.

Our recent adventures have taken us to several contemporary art spaces around the metro. I have probably  been to hundreds of museums and seen thousands of art works. But I still get confounded by contemporary art!  I would often ask myself "what am I looking at?" or "what does this mean?". Don't get me wrong, I appreciate contemporary art and most often than not, I am intrigued by them (and the artists who create them). But sometimes I just don't get it!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Diving and Climbing Sparkies Go to a Summer Camp

Tanya Garner, Lemelson Center’s Interpretative Exhibit Manager, goes to a school in Washington View once a week for an all-girls summer camp. She invited us to bring the Diving Sparky and Climbing Sparky to test it out with the camp’s participants. Since I have been testing the Diving Sparky and Climbing Sparky activities with a number of Spark!Lab visitors for over a week, we felt that both activities are now ready to travel.

Inventors' Week at the Spark!Lab

In celebration of National Inventors' Month (2009), the Spark!Lab partnered with Lego for a weekend of inventing. For August 1 and 2, Lego builders set up shop at the National Museum of American History’s lobby to create an eight-foot tall bulb completely made up of Lego bricks. Museum visitors helped by creating the bricks, while the builders assembled the bulb.

The seven-foot LEGO light bulb and its mini-me

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Joe and the Diving Sparky

Experiments and activities at the Spark!Lab normally starts at 11am. However, at the request of two docents who were eager to learn how to conduct the Diving Sparky activity, I started facilitating the first activity at 1030 am.  Ten kids participated during the first round. As these kids were leaving the bench (this is how we call the table where experiments are done), eight more kids immediately took their place! So as not to disappoint them, we decided to conduct another activity right away. This time, however, I asked Joe to facilitate the activity. Joe is one of the docents who has been very enthusiastic about the Diving Sparky activity and was very interested in conducting it himself. He has been observing me conduct the Diving Sparky every time he is on duty at the Spark!Lab. 

Visiting the museum next door: National Museum of Natural History

We usually have two or more docents and volunteers at the Spark!Lab every morning. But for some reason, this morning there weren’t any volunteer or docent at the Spark!Lab. So it was up to me and Danielle Weaver (one of three of Spark!Lab’s part-time facilitators) to conduct all the activities. There were a lot of visitors at the Spark!Lab today so Danielle and I did two experiments simultaneously. Danielle facilitated the DNA extraction, while I chose to do the CO2 experiment. After conducting three back-to-back experiments within two hours (we normally just conduct experiments every hour on the hour unless there are a lot of visitors), I was more than ready to take my break and do something else! Luckily, some of the docents and volunteers arrived and took over.

Developing the Diving and Climbing Sparkies

For my internship project, I was tasked to develop activities/experiments that can be implemented at the Spark!Lab. Since the Spark!Lab focuses on creativity and invention, I decided to create two activities that support both. Steve and I both agreed that making toys that explain basic science concepts would be a good activity for kids. Thus, I started developing one diving toy, based on the Cartesian Diver, and a climbing toy, based on something I read online.

Cartesian Diver

Back to blogging... again

It has been over a year when I last posted an entry. Since then I have already completed my Master's Degree in Museum Studies at the University of Florida. I guess it goes without saying that I finished my thesis-project, "Teachers guide to establishing a classroom museum in the Philippines"! I am now looking for funding to make this project a reality and distribute to teachers here in the Philippines. I will keep you posted on that in my future posts. I have also gone back home to the Philippines. It's great to be back home!