“Discovery” is the best word to describe the Museum’s 2012 activities — and not just because we welcomed a space shuttle by that name into the collection. The word also fits activities in research, education, exhibitions, programs, and collections care. Whether it was introducing kids to aviation pioneers, presenting programs that showcased planetary scientists’ most recent findings, or acquiring artifacts that represent ground-breaking technologies, the Museum embraced “discovery” in every sense of the word.
In 2012, our educational efforts increased to serve a broader age group and a wider audience. Through our early learning program, preschoolers are finding out about science at a surprisingly young age, and we are helping teachers improve their skills in pre-kindergarten science education. Super Science Saturdays at the Udvar-Hazy Center and Heritage Family Days at both buildings bring families together to learn about a wide range of topics, from astronomy to the Tuskegee Airmen.
Inspired by the Smithsonian’s new outreach campaign, the Museum is “exciting the learning in everyone” with programming both within and beyond our walls. The How Things Fly Online Exhibition is a perfect example. Like the physical exhibition of the same name, the online version lets kids everywhere explore the flight environment and the forces of flight.
The word “discovery” took on a double meaning through Smithsonian’s Stars, a series of Saturday night lectures geared to people eager to learn more about planets, galaxies, and the universe. Programs feature Smithsonian scientists who take the stage to share news of their findings.
During 2012, the Museum’s collection grew with the addition of documents and artifacts which will help us explore discoveries that changed the course history. A back-up Sirius FM-4 broadcasting satellite illustrates how the space age has changed our lives. The papers of Dino Brugioni, which he donated to the Museum’s Archives, tell of another era and another breakthrough. Brugioni, a former CIA employee who played a critical role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, pioneered the use of imagery to solve intelligence problems.
On Mercury, the Moon, Mars, and the Earth, scientists of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies participated in research projects that gained national attention. They contributed to the mission of the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, and discovered tectonic landforms on Mars unlike any other seen in the solar system.
Reflecting back on 2012, the word “discovery” says it all. It is the name of the newest icon in our space collection. And it describes the work we do and share with the people we serve.