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Behind the Scenes

Showing 221 - 230 of 302
Fri, November 9 2012

Stanley Moves In

On October 24, Stanley, winner of a historic robot race, left its home at the National Museum of American History aboard a flatbed truck and arrived safely at its destination, just seven blocks away. For the foreseeable future, Stanley will be here at the National Air and Space Museum, a centerpiece in the exhibition Time and Navigation:  The Untold Story of Getting From Here to There. The irony of the situation escaped no one.  Stanley, a driverless vehicle that had navigated 132 miles on its own to win the 2005 Defense Advanced Research Projects Grand Challenge, needed the help of scores of people AND a truck ride to get from there to here.  

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Stanley
Mon, November 5 2012

Learning Takes Flight

Washington, DC is filled with museums of all shapes and sizes that feature educational exhibits and activities for kids. Developing learning opportunities for different ages at a museum requires a lot of planning. Staff must identify an audience for each program, know how to best engage that audience (combining the latest scholarship about informal learning with an understanding of various learning theories and recognition that people learn in many different ways), define a learning objective (what do we want the audience to learn?) and figure out how to make it fun.

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How Thing Fly Explainer Assists Visitors with Gyro Chair Interactive
Tue, October 23 2012

“A Company of Scholars”: A Brief History of the National Air and Space Museum’s Fellowship Program

In the past, fellows have written about everything from spaceflight in the Soviet Union to the "Nisei" stewardesses on Pan American Airways. If you were to apply for a fellowship at the National Air and Space Museum, what would you research?

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Book cover: Red Phoenix Rising
Wed, October 17 2012

The Curious Story of a Cuban Missile Crisis Artifact

On Monday morning, October 15, 1962, CIA photo interpreters (PIs) hovered anxiously over a light table at the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC).

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U-2 Photo of Missile Launch Sites in Cuba
Fri, October 5 2012

Are You Sure You Want to Donate This?

“Are you sure you want to donate this?” I asked the intern. “This” was a slightly-used Smartphone, in perfect working condition. The intern, Rebecca Bacheller, was, indeed, willing to donate it. She heard that the Time and Navigation team wanted to disassemble one and showcase the current state of geolocation devices, enabled by the Global Positioning System and other advanced electronics. Our plan was to label the phone’s circuits, and show how they correspond to classical methods of navigation that had been practiced for centuries. Becky was excited that she would be credited in the label; she also had another motive: namely a reason to trade up to the newest version of the popular phone.

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SINS Typewriter
Tue, September 11 2012

Langley Preservation Project: Thinking Outside the Box

In 1887, Samuel Pierpont Langley became the third Secretary of the Smithsonian.  Included among his many accomplishments is his founding of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in 1890.  His research in the fields of astronomy, physics, and aviation remain a testament to his diverse...

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Langley Box Wing
Fri, July 13 2012

Preserving and Displaying the “Bat-Wing Ship” - July Update

This post is a follow up to Preserving and Displaying the “Bat-Wing Ship” published on September 9, 2011.This post is a follow up to Preserving and Displaying the “Bat-Wing Ship” published on September 9, 2011.

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Center Section of the Horten H IX V3
Fri, June 8 2012

Ray Bradbury and the Lost Planetarium Show

When I learned Ray Bradbury died on June 5, 2012, two things came to mind.

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Ray Bradbury and the Lost Planetarium Show
Fri, April 13 2012

Toilet Training

What is the first question most people ask about spaceflight?  “How do you go to the bathroom in space?” It’s a puzzlement. The Education staff has decided to seize a teachable moment.

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Waste Containment System
Fri, March 30 2012

Bringing Buzz Lightyear to the Museum

When Disney•Pixar approached the National Air and Space Museum about donating the Buzz Lightyear figure that had flown to the International Space Station for 15 months, I was delighted.  As the curator for the Museum’s social and cultural space artifacts, I have the unique job of getting to take toys seriously.

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Buzz Lightyear at the Launch Pad

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