Posted by: COSI | September 28, 2009

COSI’s Appeal versus Serious Meeting

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the federal government’s $6 billion lead agency supporting non-medical research for our country. This significant enterprise guiding our country’s science and technology strength is overseen by the National Science Board. The National Science Board is filled with important people (university Presidents and Provosts, leading scientists and researchers, etc.) appointed by the U.S. President and approved by the Senate. A pretty august group with a serious purpose.

The board periodically holds their meetings at a research based university to gather feedback and insights from those that benefit from NSF funding. Thanks to Dr. Kathy Sullivan, former COSI CEO and a member now of the National Science Board through her extensive background and current role at The Ohio State University, the National Science Board just held their recent meeting at OSU.

Also thanks to Kathy, we hosted the National Science Board for lunch at COSI and for a quick tour to help them understand the growing number of ways in which COSI is serving as a strong outreach arm for the scientists at OSU (and other universities).

As you can imagine, I was anxious to make sure we were able to make the points we wanted them to understand about the novel ways in which COSI and OSU were partnering to engage the public with real science and scientists.

The tour started fine with Dr. Kim Kiehl, our Sr. Vice President, leading the way since she’s played such a huge role in imagining and developing the outreach partnerships with the university. I was to herd from the back and try to keep the group together on our brief tour opportunity with them.

You can imagine my dismay as we left the OSU research Labs in our Life exhibition and a number of board members spotted our high wire unicycle and were drawn to it like moths to a porch light. Kim kept going with the front 1/3 of the group, while I watched the back 2/3 march to the high wire and line up to ride or watch a distinguished colleague pedal suspended high above our atrium. What was going to happen to all the great insights we were going to share with the National Science Board if they spent the last precious minutes lined up for unicycle rides like a group of 5th graders?!

Looking on

Looking at the High Wire unicycle

High Wire Unicycle

High Wire Unicycle

Kim was much cooler than I. She realized that there is something about many of our iconic features that is appealing to all ages. So as we watched a few university presidents and well known scientists ride the unicycle, I slowly recognized that they were probably making their visit to COSI even more memorable—hopefully carrying along the message of novel partnerships we’ve created 😉

And who said we’re just for kids!

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