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News Releases
Celebrating OMSI's Birthday: OMSI to Host Events, Science Demos, and More to Commemorate 75 Years of Science Education - 11/07/19

Portland, Ore. – The world witnessed a number of significant events in 1944: Smokey Bear was first introduced to teach about wildfire; the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series; George Lucas, Danny DeVito, and Michael Douglas were born; and Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first U.S. President to be elected to a fourth term. Meanwhile in Portland, efforts to establish a permanent museum had finally paid off and on November 15, 1944, OMSI was born!

During the first few years, a small writing room in the Portland Hotel housed the museum’s headquarters. Then in 1949, a few years after officially becoming a museum, OMSI set up temporarily in a house on NE Hassalo Street and included the first planetarium in the Pacific Northwest.

The museum quickly outgrew that space, and the City Council offered land in Washington Park – and on a single day in 1957, hundreds of volunteers laid thousands of bricks to raise the walls of the museum's new building. Over the next 30 years, millions of children and adults came to OMSI for hands-on science activities, science fairs, featured exhibits, and a memorable blue and green planetarium.

But by the mid-1980s, OMSI was so popular that 600,000 people per year were coming to a museum built to accommodate only 100,000. Longtime OMSI supporter Portland General Electric stepped in and generously donated nearly 20 acres for the current building on Water Avenue, and the museum doors opened on October 24, 1992. 

Next week, the museum is holding a series of special events, science demos and games to celebrate 75 years of inspiring curiosity through engaging science-learning experiences.

November 11
•    10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Submarine Science | Main Lobby 
Learn about density and buoyancy from our submarine staff and volunteers. 
•    10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Meet a Submariner | Main Lobby
Meet a submarine veteran and learn what life was like on a submarine.
•    2 p.m. | USS Blueback Commissioning | Auditorium 
A presentation with Bill Diltz, OMSI’s submarine supervisor, and Ron Bell, submarine veteran and USS Blueback volunteer. Commissioned into the U.S. Navy on October 15, 1959, the USS Blueback earned two battle stars for service during the Vietnam War, and appears in the movie “The Hunt for Red October.” Join us to hear about this submarine and its adventures.
•    3 p.m. | How the USS Blueback Came to OMSI | Auditorium
A presentation with Dave Vrooman and Bob Walters, submarine veterans and USS Blueback volunteers. Hear the story of what it took to get the USS Blueback over 172 miles from Bremerton, Washington, to Portland. Go behind-the-scenes with two Navy veterans who were here the day it arrived.

November 12
•    2:30 p.m. | Soda + Mentos Craziness | Front Plaza
Soda and Mentos make quite an eruption. We plan to scale up and go big for OMSI's Birthday.

November 13
•    1 p.m. | Hydrogen Balloon Explosion | Turbine Hall
We’re filling balloons with hydrogen and blowing them up!
•    3:30 p.m. | Sugar Flares with a Birthday Cake | Chemistry Lab
Sometimes you have a cake...sometimes you use chemistry to turn the cake into a flare.

November 14
•    10 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Before OMSI or After OMSI | Turbine Hall
Test your knowledge of scientific discoveries by classifying events as happening either before or after OMSI was established.
•    1-5 p.m. | Birthday Cupcake Flamethrower | Chemistry Lab
Most people blow out the candles on a cake, OMSI prefers to blow up the candles!
•    3:30 p.m. | Sugar Flares with a Birthday Cake | Chemistry Lab
Sometimes you have a cake... sometimes you use chemistry to turn the cake into a flare.

November 15
•    9 a.m. – 1 p.m. | Musical Tesla Coils | Auditorium
Tesla Coils make lightning. And with the right song, those lightning bolts can sing and dance!
•    10 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Before OMSI or After OMSI | Turbine Hall
Test your knowledge of scientific discoveries by classifying events as happening either before or after OMSI was established.
•    10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Best of OMSI Experiments | Chemistry Lab
A collection of our favorite experiments for visitors to try - flubber, color-changing fire, and more!
•    2:30 – 7 p.m. | Birthday Cards to OMSI | Teen Tech Center
Help us celebrate OMSI's birthday by creating electric, light-up birthday cards for science.
•    3:30 p.m. | Sugar Flares with a Birthday Cake | Chemistry Lab
Sometimes you have a cake... sometimes you use chemistry to turn the cake into a flare.

November 16
•    10 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Before OMSI or After OMSI | Turbine Hall
Test your knowledge of scientific discoveries by classifying events as happening either before or after OMSI was established.
•    10 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Spin Art | Discovery Lab
Show off your creative ideas by adding paint to a spinning disk and see how your creation spins to life.
•    3:30 p.m. | Sugar Flares with a Birthday Cake | Chemistry Lab
Sometimes you have a cake... sometimes you use chemistry to turn the cake into a flare.

Making Music in the Soundstack
Making Music in the Soundstack
OMSI Makes STEAM Learning Accessible and Fun: STEAM is Pouring Out of a Place that Used to Spout Steam (Photo) - 10/24/19

Portland, Ore. – From the first planetarium in Oregon to educational outreach programs spanning the Pacific Northwest, to the first petting zoo in the U.S., the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) has always been an innovative organization. Now, through the center for innovation, the 75-year-old institution is taking the next step in reimagining what a science museum can be by transforming the historic Turbine Hall. 

The evolution in Turbine Hall signals the museum’s continued endeavor to champion science education and spark curiosity in visitors of all ages. As the organization’s 75th birthday approaches next month, this marks the first major conversion of permanent exhibit space at the museum in almost two decades.

“It is no longer enough for science museums to talk about physics, chemistry and engineering as isolated subjects – and especially not if we want to truly invite everyone to the table,” said Nancy Stueber, president and CEO of OMSI. “If we think that everyone’s voice is needed, if we want to solve the big challenges of the future, and if we want to inspire innovation, we have to make science relevant to everyone.” 

Built in the early 20th century, and home to the Physics Lab, Chemistry Lab, Curium and Epicenter, the newly transformed Turbine Hall now hosts the Innovation Stations, which offer hands-on learning experiences empowering visitors to solve some of modern society’s biggest challenges through science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).

“The world is changing, especially the way people get information and the speed at which they get it, and we are constantly thinking about the methods we use to engage people,” said Stueber. “OMSI is one piece of a much larger learning ecosystem, and we want to ensure we bring in as many different tools and partners as we can to cultivate this ecosystem.”

In order to make STEAM accessible to people of all abilities and backgrounds, the Innovation Station learning experiences are organized around four key components:
    1) They are shaped by compelling narratives.
    2) The design challenges rotate to keep content fresh and new.
    3) They connect people with local and regional industry.
    4) They improve accessibility to a diverse audience.

Compelling Narrative
Educational content featured in the hall is organized around the narrative of tackling ‘Global Goals,’ – worldwide threats to humankind’s ability to thrive over the next 100 years. Employing a human-centered design approach makes worldwide issues more approachable and personally relevant. 

Design Challenges
Developed hand-in-hand with industry partners, design challenges provide fresh, rotating content where visitors can employ scientific thinking to design their unique solutions.

Industry Connections
A key goal for the design challenges is to inspire the next generation of STEAM professionals. By highlighting industry and local innovations, OMSI and its partners hope to provide career-centered learning and pathways to STEAM employment.

Accessibility
Science is for everyone and the design challenges are meant to empower youth to self-identify as problem solvers, equipped to address the complex problems of the 21st century. Much of the experience is meant to teach young people that it’s okay to fail, and there are many different ways to solve a problem. The goal is to bolster confidence and enable visitors to see themselves successful in STEAM subject matter.

“By educating people in STEAM we are equipping them with the power to change the community and make the world a better place. We take our mission to share that power with everyone very seriously, which is why the center for innovation matters,” said Stueber.

OMSI’s center for innovation would not have been possible without the generous support, commitment and partnership of the following organizations:
•    Autodesk
•    Cambia Health Foundation
•    Oregon MESA
•    M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
•    Union Pacific Railroad
•    Vernier Software & Technology

Read more about the exciting transformation taking place at OMSI:
•    [Part 1] OMSI Makes STEAM Learning Accessible and Fun: STEAM is Pouring Out of a Place that Used to Spout Steam - https://omsi.edu/press-releases/omsi-makes-steam-learning-accessible-and-fun
•    [Part 2] Connecting People to STEAM: OMSI’s Turbine Hall Gets a New Look and Updated Programming - https://omsi.edu/press-releases/connecting-people-to-steam
•    [Part 3] Preparing People for the Future: Why OMSI is Renovating, Updating and Restructuring the Turbine Hall - https://omsi.edu/press-releases/preparing-people-for-the-future
•    [Part 4] The Global Goal: How Compelling Narrative is an Effective Way to Engage People With STEAM - https://omsi.edu/press-releases/the-global-goal

About OMSI
Founded in 1944, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is one of the nation’s leading science museums, a world-class tourist attraction, and an award-winning educational resource for the kid in each of us. OMSI operates the largest museum-based outdoor science education program in the country and provides traveling and community outreach programs that bring science learning opportunities to schools and community organizations in nearly every county in Oregon. OMSI is located at 1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland, OR 97214. For general information, call 503.797.4000 or visit omsi.edu.