NSF PR 99-27 - April 16, 1999
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"Midwest Wild Weather" Goes on the Road
The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced this
week a three-year, $1.6-million grant to the Science
& Technology Interactive Center (SciTech) in Aurora,
Illinois, to disseminate a traveling exhibition, "Midwestern
Wild Weather." The project is intended to reach audiences
in small and rural communities and the science centers
and museums in the states of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana
This project will replicate five of a set of nine
interactive exhibits on the topic of destructive weather
that is prevalent in the Midwest. This exhibition
is being produced in collaboration with SPARC (Springfield,
Peoria, Aurora, Rockford and Carbondale, Illinois)
and represents a strong model for collaboration between
museums, science centers and the formal educational
system. The SPARC Collaboration developed this program
of traveling exhibits, demonstrations, and teacher
materials under a major grant from the Illinois State
Board of Education, Center on Science Literacy.
Founding Director of SciTech Ernest Malamud said, "Weather
is a topic that affects and interests everyone, and
through it we can teach principles of science and
mathematics. Students will calculate dew point and
learn how Doppler Radar is used to track a tornado.
They will learn about the water cycle, air pressure
and how snow fences work. The 'Thunder and Lightning'
exhibit dramatically demonstrates the difference between
the speed of light and the speed of sound and how
electric charge builds up in a cloud. Students will
begin to realize how much science is in things around
An innovative feature of this project design is the
use of "attractor" exhibits to entice persons to come
to the museum or science center. The project also
delivers a set of exhibits to a school to set up a
"Museum in a School" for one week, reaching 4th- through
8th-grade students. This collaboration of nine museums
expects to serve over 79,000 children and 2,640 teachers.
The teachers whose classes use the exhibits will receive
additional training and hands-on activities for the
"This unique effort promises to effectively educate
the rural Midwest public about the fundamental science
underlying wild weather and disseminate to them practical
information and facts of wild weather," said James
Oglesby, program director for science literacy and
informal science education at NSF.
"This project has the potential to fill the real need
of making available quality exhibits to small museums
and bringing informal education resources to small/rural
communities," said project director Olivia Diaz at
the Science & Technology Interactive Center.
The grant was awarded by NSF's Informal Science Education
program and continues through early 2002.