For release: 02/12/02
Release #: 02-031
Project officially kicks off with delivery of NASA Marshall Center study guides to 6th graders in five counties:
15th Von Braun Forum celebrates science with multimedia show, youth writing competition and educational outreach
For 15 years, the Von Braun Forum has celebrated Dr. Wernher von Braun's contributions to the Tennessee Valley and the U. S. Space Program with speakers who have a love for space science and the space program -- John Denver, Dr. James Burke, and Walter Cronkite, among others.
But this year's Von Braun Forum features a new focus and format. Rather than a single event highlighting a high-profile speaker, this year's Von Braun Forum is actually a series of projects that build toward a highly produced multimedia show April 6 at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Ala.
A Multimedia Experience - The "Unseen Majesty of Science"
The multimedia show, the "Unseen Majesty of Science," celebrates the contributions of engineers and scientists, and has several elements. Visually, it intertwines images from space and space sciences with technology-themed artwork on three 15-by-20 foot screens.
The show incorporates live music by the 60-member Metro Youth Orchestra and several soloists, and is punctuated by a sophisticated light show and pyrotechnics. Also, WAAY TV news anchor Don Phelps will present a detailed retrospective on von Braun and his accomplishments.
Educational Outreach - Sixth Grade Study Guides
A significant change from previous Forums is the addition of an educational outreach project. This week, more than 10,000 study guides - "The Habits of Science" -- are being distributed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville to every sixth grader in Marshall, Madison, Limestone, Morgan and Jackson counties.
"We felt it was extremely important that our project reach the entire Tennessee Valley to include as many area children as possible, and give everyone the chance to be as excited about space and the possibilities of scientific discovery as we are," said Teresa Washington, director of the Customer and Employee Relations Directorate at the Marshall Center.
The study guide includes Web links, activities and learning exercises designed to teach six "habits" needed for scientific discovery: creativity, imagination, curiosity, patience, honesty and attention to detail.
"We asked a panel of educators to design the study guide to lead students through the same material on which the multimedia show is based," said Washington. "For example, the students will hear about visionaries like da Vinci and Galileo. They'll learn about discoveries made by the Hubble Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory. And by doing so, they'll begin to understand the basic principles that allow men and women to see new possibilities.
"The study guides are free to all sixth graders and are designed to meet the criteria for the Habits of Science module in the Curriculum Guide for the State of Alabama, 2001-2.
To complement the study guide curriculum, the Marshall Center is sending volunteers from its Speakers Bureau to schools throughout the Tennessee Valley. The Bureau include specialists from engineering, aeronautics, astronautics and space science as well as space history.
Creative Writing Competition
While the multimedia show serves as the focal point for the April 6 event at the Von Braun Center, it is not the only activity. The evening also is the platform for honoring winners of the Unseen Majesty of Science Creative Writing Competition. Sponsored by the Marshall Center and supported by WAAY TV, the competition seeks poems, short stories and essays from area students in grades 5 through 12.
"It's important to give our children opportunities to be creative," said Shar Hendrick, manager of the Government and Community Relations Department at the Marshall Center. "The competition lets them choose the best vehicle for their own creative voice, while still focusing on science and space exploration. This event allows students to explore and appreciate the link between art and science.
"Entries will be accepted through midnight March 20, and the winning entries will be posted on www.unseenmajesty.com/.
Pulling it All Together
The 6th grade "Habits of Science" educational outreach project, the creative writing competition, the "Unseen Majesty of Science" multimedia show - it all comes together as the Von Braun Forum, which marks its 15th anniversary this year.
Tickets to the event Saturday, April 6, are free -- but limited. Those who want to attend may pick up tickets (limit four per person) at the Von Braun Center box office after March 15th. Larger groups of tickets may be requested through the "Unseen Majesty of Science" Web site. The Marshall Center has arranged for free parking in the South Hall parking garage for the event.
For further information on the Von Braun Forum projects and "The Unseen Majesty of Science" go to www.unseenmajesty.com or call 256-704-0068.
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