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Last updated: Oct 21, 2005
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Outreach Report - Bell Museum's Science on Screen Series (10/7/2005)

About a month ago, I got an inquiry through the Rocket Team Vatsaas website from a program coordinator at the University of Minnesota Bell Museum.  The have a program series called "Science on Screen wherein they show a science themed movie followed by a presentation by a knowledgeable person about the subject.  (next months movie is "Being Caribou", so the guest speaker must be someone from the Elk's Lodge, I'd wager).  Anyway, the original program promised a "real rocket scientist"  but in the end they settled for me.  

After the initial contact, I asked Ted Cochran to get involved. That at least bumped the presentation up to the "real scientist" category.  Thanks to Ted and his already polished slide presentation,  all I had to do was show up with some show-and-tell, and be ready to answer questions. 

The museum coordinator was terrific in setting us up with convenient parking, making us feel welcome, and getting our equipment in place.  The only problem was another film was screening beforehand in the theater, preventing us from getting started on time.  That was ok because it gave us a chance to chat with audience members beforehand.  Evidently Ted met someone who worked on the Sprint missile program.  There were older audience members that I guessed might be faculty or perhaps museum patrons,  I was disappointed not to get  a chance to talk to them. 

Other members of the audience included a large group of Osseo High School students and their teacher, plus a smattering of university students and locals.  In total the crowd was about 50-60 people. Pretty good, I thought.

Once we got into the theater, the movie started promptly.  This must have been the DVD extended version as there were scenes in the movie I hadn't seen before.   I couldn't help weeping during the part where the rockets blew up over and over again.   For those who haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it.  I also recommend the book on which it
based, "Rocket Boys" by Homer Hickam.  The movie is about 30% true story; "Rocket Boys" is about 80% true story, and then for the truest version, you'll want to read "The Coalwood Way" which covers a portion of the Rocket Boys Saga in greater detail, and you'll learn more than ever wanted to know about coal mining, and the love lives of Appalachian teens in the 50's.

After the movie we quickly shifted gears, set up, and Ted launched his presentation.  People started coming in for the third (different movie) showing of the evening so we got to present to them as well.  Ted's presentation was well received, and the Q-and-A was fun, however it was getting late and the pressure of the next showing pushed us out. 

All in all, it was a great experience, and we got the opportunity to promote rocketry to a different type of audience.  Thanks Ted, for stepping up and helping me out on this.

 [Rick Vatsaas]

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