The world's largest children's museum is over the moon about its first Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence — former astronaut Dr. David Wolf. Adding to the excitement is an additional announcement of a new partnership with Purdue University and future programs and exhibits that will be developed, which will focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) principles as well as space exploration, the International Space Station, the Shuttle program and experiments in zero gravity featuring the work of Indiana astronauts and Purdue University, Dr. Wolf's alma mater.
The new Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis will bring the real-world experience of space and innovative science to millions of children and their families. "While Dr. Wolf is clearly a brilliant scientist who has logged 168 days in space over four separate missions, he has a charming way of communicating basic science principles in a down-to-earth manner that is fun and compelling," said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. "That blend of intelligence and charisma is a rare combination that can be invaluable in helping to capture the interest of a child in science, medicine and technology. Where else can ordinary families go to have such an extraordinary experience?"
In addition to exploring space, Wolf is also a medical doctor, electrical engineer, and inventor who has received 17 U.S. Patents, published over 40 technical publications and received over 20 NASA Space Act Awards. His rich and versatile expertise will complement that of the museum staff and partners as they develop a range of new museum programs designed to stimulate youth to discover their passions, and have fun in the process.
Already home to the nation's only biotechnology laboratory created especially for children and families, The Children's Museum will capture the intrigue of space and STEM-based learning first-hand. Families and children will be able to conduct hands-on science experiments and develop critical problem-solving skills modeled after experiments completed on the International Space Station. New programs dealing with cell growth, electronics, the impact of zero gravity and how GPS navigation works will be relevant to our changing world while piquing fascination in the naturally curious minds of the children and families who visit the museum.
"I am thrilled when I see young people light up as they wrap their mind around space flight, the cosmos and zero gravity," said Wolf. "This will be an incredible opportunity to help them think in different ways that are applicable to all problem-solving. When I look back, many of the skills I needed to be good as an astronaut were learned as a young person. I can't wait to help these young people realize what they do now will affect them for the rest of their lives."
The astronaut has big plans for reaching out directly to children and families at the museum through public events. It will be a rare opportunity for young people to meet face-to-face with a real astronaut as he ignites their interest in science, technology, engineering and math. "Curious young minds love to discover how gravity profoundly affects our bodies, changes how machines work, and enables research that is not possible on Earth," said Wolf, "We can take advantage of the instinctual attraction for space — its beauty, dangers, the marvel of accomplishments — to energize our young scientific minds right here on Earth. Yes, we are excited about the new programs and exhibits, but the powerful impact on our young visitors is what really sends us into orbit."
The museum is also pleased to announce a partnership with Purdue University to explore new opportunities in the space and engineering areas and collaborate on future programs and exhibits in conjunction with Purdue University Libraries and its Barron Hilton Flight and Space Exploration Archives, part of the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for children to be inspired at the world's largest children's museum," said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. "Young people can share the same dreams that touched astronauts and scientists like David Wolf and learn how to launch those dreams in the classroom, much as he did during his time at Purdue."
The Children's Museum would like to extend a special thank you to the Irwin Rose family for the lead gift, which made it possible for Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence David Wolf to join our team.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a nonprofit institution committed to creating extraordinary family learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families.