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SCI Blog

At the Science Center of Iowa, our goal is to be a quality community resource for informal science learning where children, families, school groups and individuals of all ages come to explore science and technology.

To continue the learning outside our building, we bring you the SCI blog! Our knowledgeable staff, along with special guests and local scientists, will give you a behind-the-scenes look at SCI activities, in-depth information about science events and STEM connections in the Des Moines area.

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  • How #MuseumInstaSwap came to Des Moines

    By Taylor Soule, SCI communications coordinator

    Last week, we threw a party with our friends for Iowa Museum Week — on Instagram! I organized the first-ever #MuseumInstaSwapDSM, featuring six Des Moines cultural institutions “swapping” stories and photos on Instagram on Wednesday, June 8.

    Where did this idea come from? As I scrolled through Twitter one evening in February, New York City’s #MuseumInstaSwap caught my attention. Air and space museums, design museums, science centers, art museums, history museums and more teamed up for a special, one-day social media event.

    Each museum teamed up with another institution, and the swap strived to pair up institutions with different audiences, exhibits and missions. It was inspiring to see 18 NYC institutions publicly support each other and share each one’s important role in educating visitors from around the world. Naturally, I decided Des Moines needed its own #MuseumInstaSwapDSM!

    Planning Des Moines’ own Instagram party

    Planning a day-long Instagram party is any millennial’s dream, so I started emailing contacts from several institutions that participated in the NYC swap. They provided valuable insight into the process of coordinating the swap and pairing up participating institutions.

    Next, I reached out to our contacts at five local institutions: the Blank Park Zoo, the Des Moines Art Center, Living History Farms, the Salisbury House and Terrace Hill. They all said yes!

    All six institutions submitted a 140-character “pitch” describing why participating museums should partner with them for the swap. Then, each museum had an opportunity to rank the other partners based on which institution it would most like to work with.

    I matched them up as fairly as possible, and by mid-May, we had three pairs!

    • Blank Park Zoo and the Salisbury House
    • Des Moines Art Center and the Science Center of Iowa
    • Living History Farms and Terrace Hill

    I announced the official pairings, and finally, it was time for the best part – exploring our partner museum in pursuit of awesome Instagram photos. I visited the Des Moines Art Center and toured all three of the institution’s distinct buildings and snapped photos of my favorite pieces, the museum’s iconic works of art, as well as an #ArtCenterSelfie or two.

    What I learned from #MuseumInstaSwapDSM

    This project ingrained Instagram in my daily social media routine; I looked forward to posting every hour or so throughout the day after writing all my posts the Sunday before. I had long perceived Instagram as a tool to share what we’re doing here at SCI. #MuseumInstaSwapDSM revealed Instagram’s potential as a collaborative tool, enabling me to share SCI’s brand and mission while advancing the important work of another Des Moines museum.

    It was fun to see how participating institutions adapted their own brands for the day. I loved the Blank Park Zoo’s #WildAboutHistory hashtag from their visit to the Salisbury House, for example. The Art Center incorporated its signature #entirelyunexpected hashtag in posts about SCI’s Blank IMAX Dome Theater and our newCollectors’ Cornermini-exhibit.

    Thanks to our friends at the Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines Art Center, Living History Farms, Salisbury House and Terrace Hill for saying yes to the idea and for celebrating Iowa Museum Week with us!

  • Volunteer Spotlight: SCI staff share their talents through animal rescue, theatre and more

    In her free time, SCI Programs Coordinator and pet foster mom Bridgett Harvey transports Boston terriers to their forever homes. Though the drives can be long and the goodbyes are always tough, she takes comfort in finding new homes for pets with troubled pasts.

    SCI staff volunteer for a variety of local nonprofits, sharing their time and (sometimes hidden) talents. Volunteers off all ages over diverse perspectives and support SCI’s mission through their contributions to special events, daily programming, Summer Camps and more. Staff return the favor through their own volunteer endeavors with animal rescue, theatre, education and more.

    We sat down with Bridgett, Programs Coordinator Maddie Mardesen and Box Office Coordinator Stacie Stearns to learn more about their volunteer work in the Des Moines metro.

    Bridgett connects pets with permanent homes

    Besides sharing her home with foster dogs, Bridgett volunteers with Animal Lifeline of Iowa, where she helps cats learn to socialize and play before they meet their own forever families. An avid Maker, Bridgett shares her latest pet projects and treats at a craft show every year and donates all the proceeds to Animal Lifeline of Iowa.

    “I feel passionate about that rescue, specifically, since they do a lot of good work with puppy mills and re-homing dogs that have had a hard life or have been in a cage forever and don’t know how to act like a dog again,” Bridgett said.

    Maddie shines behind the scenes and on stage

    She’s on stage at SCI with snakes, salamanders and, of course, our Blue-Haired Friend Stuffee. But in her spare time, Maddie works behind the scenes as a volunteer stage manager at the Des Moines Playhouse and Tallgrass Theatre Company in West Des Moines.

    She’s the assistant stage manager for Tallgrass’ upcoming production of “Children of a Lesser God.”

    Stacie: anthropology, animals and the Arthritis Foundation

    Stacie recently took on several new volunteer projects, including National History Day in April.

    An anthropology grad, she judged 6th – 8th grade history projects at the regional event sponsored by the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. With submissions ranging from websites to theatre productions to films, Stacie said she was excited to experience her first National History Day complete with a variety of projects.

    “I was pretty stoked to see what the students created,” she said.

    Besides volunteering at the Arthritis Walk with her family every year, Stacie also recently joined the Animal Rescue League’s volunteer program.

    “I’m excited for these new adventures,” she said.