Now Open: "Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause"

MOSI recently opened its newest exhibit, Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause. This exhibit created by the Drug Enforcement Administration has been seen by over 20 million people since it first opened in 2002 and started its national tour.

The exhibit’s main goal is to educate visitors on the dark side of drugs and their impact on the human body, families and on the world as a whole. The exhibit has also been expanded to educate visitors on Florida’s history as a drug gateway and local drug issues such as “pill mills.” As visitors enter the exhibit, the grim wreckage of a drug-related car crash greets them and immediately shows the damage drugs can cause to users and innocent bystanders. To the right of the crash wreckage is the section of the exhibit detailing the various ways drugs will damage the bodies of addicts.

Throughout the exhibit, visitors can view informative displays on topics ranging from drug production to money trafficking as well as re-creations of an Afghan heroin “factory,” a jungle cocaine lab and a methamphetamine motel cook room.

The damage to the environment caused by drugs is also featured in a section of the display which details the destruction left by drug production across the globe.

One of the most emotional sections of the Target America exhibit includes a wall of lost talent and two thick binders filled with stories of the casualties of drug use. Here, photos of celebrities and average people remind visitors that the danger of drugs does not discriminate.

The final section of the exhibit has been tailored to feature Florida’s unique history and role in the war on drugs. Displays here include a quiz game on Florida’s role as a drug gateway to the United States, a display on the warning signs of a pill mill and a replica of a police surveillance operation for a drug bust.

The Target America exhibit opened at MOSI on September 16th and will be open until September 3, 2012. This run will be the longest the exhibit has stayed at one location and serves as a reminder of Florida’s importance to the war on drugs. Previous stops for the exhibit have included: the Louisiana State Museum, the California Science Center and the Museum of Science & Industry of Chicago.

Click here for more information on Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damage Drugs Cause. For ticket information please call MOSI at (813) 987-6000.


Sky Trail Ropes Course Now Open

MOSI’s new Sky Trail® Ropes Course is now open! The course opened on July 18th and since then over 10,000 people have conquered their fears and challenged the course.

The course features several types of obstacles in varying difficulties. These obstacles include rope bridges, balance beams and rope swings. The course is divided into three levels and ranges from 12 to 36 feet in the air.

The easiest obstacles are on the lowest level and feature more handles to grab on to while you are crossing. They also tend to be more stable and easier to cross.

The middle level contains slightly more challenging obstacles. While it may feature many of the same types of crossings, these crossings tend to sway the challenger slightly more.

The upper level is slightly smaller than the lower two but features the best views and most rewarding obstacles of the course. At 36 feet in the air feel free to gaze across parts of USF’s campus or simply check out the traffic on Fowler Avenue for your drive home.

Afraid of falling? Don’t be! Before beginning the course each person is strapped in to a safety harness making slips only a delay. MOSI employees are specially trained for the course and are also stationed to help you make it to the end. If you’re still afraid of challenging the next element of the course feel free to hold on to your anchor as you cross to the next island.

The course takes around 30 to 45 minutes to complete on average if you choose to complete every challenge on the course. However you are free to skip any bridges, and you can even climb straight to the top if you’re confident enough to take on the most difficult portions of the course.

The course will be open everyday. Weekday hours will be noon – 5 p.m. Saturday the course will open at 10 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. On Sunday it opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m.

Although you are able to tackle the new course solo, group rates are available. Please visit our website at www.mosi.org or call (813) 987-6000 for more information.

The only requirements are closed toe shoes, a height of at least 48 inches (or 42 if accompanied by an adult) and a sense of adventure.

MOSI would also like to thank the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa for letting MOSI host their team-building exercise and for challenging the ropes course together.


Design Zone at MOSI

MOSI’s NEW Exhibition, Design Zone

At MOSI, science is always magical. Our new exhibition, Design Zone will have you confirming that statement.

Design Zone is a highly interactive, hands-on exhibition where visitors can explore a variety of creative concepts to learn the processes and tools needed to create a successful design. It is organized into three highly interactive thematic areas, highlighting the relationship between mathematical thinking and the creative process in: art, music, and engineering.

So, if you have ever been attracted to a pair of headphones and a turn table, spend your free time creating playlists, pondered how to build a roller coaster, or dreamt of creating your own video game then this exhibit will explain how to make those fantasies a reality.

If only Algebra 2 could be as interesting!

Design Zone is open now and runs through September 5th.


Sky Trail Ropes® Is Almost Here!

These images of brightly colored, eclectic rods are soon to be a source of thrill and excitement at MOSI. We have been polishing our helmets and crossing off days in anticipation of the launch of our new Sky Trail Ropes® course opening this July.

The happy and hardworking construction team is creating the ultimate summer adventure right before our eyes. The ropes course is currently being built outside Kids In Charge! In the grassy area and you can see it as you travel down Fowler Ave..

Doesn’t this look like an adrenaline rush waiting to happen?

Stay tuned into our Blog and our Facebook Fan Page for details and construction photos on The Sky Trail Ropes® Course and remember the opening is just around the corner!

We can’t wait for you to try it!


MOSI Is Reaching New Heights.

Coming this Summer!

Want to explore your wild side?

Well, MOSI’s new Sky Trail Ropes Course promises to get your blood pumping! On a 12 – 36 foot high, multilevel structure, featuring 36 elements, why wouldn’t your heart pound with excitement?

If you love virtual rope slinging games on the wii, you now have the opportunity to get the same thrill outside your living room and the greatest part is you don’t have to drive for hours to find this type of adventure! Just come to MOSI and breathe the fresh air on our Sky Trail Ropes Course.

If you are looking to avoid the awkward first date at the movies, come to MOSI and climb some ropes. Research has shown that first dates that include physical activities leading to an adrenaline rush, have a better chance of success. Now that’s something you might want to consider.

MOSI’s Sky Trail Ropes Course will be open everyday coming this Summer. Weekday hours will be 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on weekends the course will be open from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. The ropes course will also be open evening hours Friday – Saturday until 8 p.m. Group rates and exclusive birthday party packages are also available. Please visit our website at www.mosi.org or call (813) 987-6000 for more information and come fly like a bird with us, sort of, on ropes.

Stay tuned into our MOSI blog as we will be posting construction pictures along the way of the ropes course being built and we will make sure to let everyone know when this is open for all to enjoy!


In Memory of Paul Silveira, MOSI Volunteer


I am sorry to share that Paul Silveira, MOSI’s long time friend and volunteer, passed away on Sunday, March 27th

As many of you know, Paul had been a Thursday afternoon regular in the mailroom for many, many years.  For nearly 30 years, Paul was a regular and enthusiastic part of MOSI.  When he was assigned to MOSI as a Hillsborough County security officer, he quickly became a part of the MOSI team and we left each night knowing MOSI was in his good hands.  Even after being moved to a downtown assignment in the late 80’s, he unfailingly volunteered at MOSI almost every Thursday afternoon. 

Paul had recently retired from the County and was beginning to enjoy his retirement.  I will miss his weekly visit to my office to borrow my keys to retrieve copy paper for the 4th floor.  I will really miss his smile and our 30 years of conversation and dueling puns.  Paul was never a MOSI employee but he was truly a member of our MOSI family.

His email address said it all-  PAULMOSI@aol


Don Toeller

Vice President of Facilities and Special Projects


Our Favorite Things: High Wire Bike

MOSI volunteer Sarah is riding a bicycle over 30 feet above the ground with only a one inch thick steel cable beneath her and she is smiling while she pedals!

So why does Sarah feel so comfortable on this bicycle so far above the ground? Well the net and the five point harness really help, but there is no way for the bike to tip over or fall off that wire. Hanging beneath the bicycle is a 350 pound counter weight which keeps the bike right side up.

Even with the weight of Sarah combined with the bicycle, the counterweight weighs much more and will always be pulling the bike back into the upright position even if Sarah were to get very brave and rock the bike back and forth.

So why is the net there? Two reasons: It makes people feel better and also catches shoes which might fall off before they land on someone standing on the main floor.

MOSI's High Wire Bike is the longest High Wire Bike ride in a US museum with a 98 foot long cable and is truly science in motion! The High Wire Bike is the favorite thing of Vicki Ahrens, Senior Vice President of Operations who has been with MOSI for 16 and a half years and counting.


Our Favorite Things: BioWorks Butterfly Garden

The BioWorks Butterfly Garden at MOSI rears and exhibits Florida native butterflies that are local to the Tampa Bay area. Butterflies can be seen in all life stages: eggs, caterpillars, chrysalis and adult butterflies. In BioWorks, the real message is how you can turn your own yard into a butterfly oasis by providing the right plants and habitat for native butterflies.

The BioWorks Butterfly Garden is the favorite thing of Kimberly Gil, MOSI’s Accounts Receivable Coordinator.

Kimberly writes “It is a beautiful and peaceful area that invites the eye and encourages thoughtful questions. It is especially wonderful when the knowledgeable staff can answer questions in regards to the butterflies, their lifespan and habits. Visiting the Garden is a quick and easy way to recharge so I can finish the rest of my workday.”

Learn more about the BioWorks Butterfly Garden at the garden’s blog: Tales from the Butterfly Garden.


Our Favorite Things: Eye Maxed

This sculpture entitled “Eye Maxed” can be seen in the lobby of MOSI’s IMAX Theater.

Created by sculptor Robert McNabb this piece incorporates the primary mirror (Collector) of our IMAX projector. The collector mirror reflects light from the 15kw lamp inside the IMAX projector to project the film image onto our gigantic domed screen. This particular collector was replaced some months ago and rather than becoming trash, this old and large part from the IMAX projector became art!

“Eye Maxed” is the favorite MOSI thing of MOSI’s IMAX Director, Zarth Bertsch. We invite you to come check out “Eye Maxed”, stay for a festive beverage in Bar 1570 and then catch a movie in the IMAX dome theater.

You can learn more about artist Robert McNabb at his website: http://www.mindinmetal.com/.


Volunteer of the Month for March 2011: Gene King


Gene has volunteered at MOSI since July of 2009 and so far has accrued over 400 hours of volunteer service.  Gene has been almost singlehandedly responsible for completely revamping our HAM RADIO volunteer program.  He has increased the size of the group and the number educational activities available to the general public.

Most notably, Gene brought the NATIONAL HAM RADIO day celebration to the MOSI campus this past summer with hundreds of participants from across the globe.  Thanks Gene, keep up the GREAT work!


Science Right Now: Good morning astronauts!

Morning wake up calls have been a NASA tradition since the days of the Apollo missions when mission control staff would serenade astronauts with lines from popular songs. Since then, morning wake up calls are more often recordings of songs played to begin the day’s activities and are followed by a message from the CAPCOM in mission control. These recordings have included “Rocket Man” by Elton John, “I Feel the Earth Move” by Carole King, the Marine Corps Hymn, “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland and hundreds of other songs.

This morning’s wake up call to the space shuttle Discovery was not a favorite song of an astronaut, instead it was an iconic voice speaking over a piece of iconic science fiction music. At 3.23 EST this morning, William Shatner reprised the role of the Enterprise’s Captain Kirk and addressed the crew of Discovery with the following message spoken over the theme music from the original series of Star Trek:

"Space, the final frontier. These have been the voyages of the space shuttle Discovery. Her 30 year mission: To seek out new science. To build new outposts. To bring nations together on the final frontier. To boldly go, and do, what no spacecraft has done before,"

Good morning astronauts!

After 30 years of service, 39 flights and 13 trips to the International Space Station, Discovery will return just before noon on Wednesday to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the last time.

For a full listing of morning wake up calls that have greeted astronauts, check out this list created by NASA historian, Colin Fries.


Our Favorite Things: Big Dipper

DSCN0053On the third floor of the main MOSI building, just to the right of the High Wire Bike there are seven small white balls that hang from the ceiling. When viewed from near the elevator or the balcony where you can enter Science Works Theater, this group of white globes goes mostly unnoticed and does not contain a familiar shape. Interestingly, this collection of orbs has a unique history at MOSI, which makes it one of our favorite things.

In 1995 MOSI opened its doors and contained exhibits on Florida, health and space. The 3rd floor space exhibit eventually became timeworn and the information out-dated so it was removed in 2010 to make way for our new high-tech health exhibit called The Amazing You. Portions of the exhibit, like a model Apollo capsule were relocated to other parts of the museum and the outdated DSCN0054pieces of the exhibit were scrapped. This cluster of suspended globes is the last exhibit remaining in place from our selection of space science exhibits.

When viewed straight on from just to the right of the High Wire Bike, these orbs resolve into the familiar shape of the well known constellation the Big Dipper. These seven orbs represent the stars in the constellation and their relative distance to Earth:

Star Magnitude Distance (L yrs)
Dubhe 1.8 124
Merak 2.4 79
Phecda 2.4 84
Megrez 3.3 81
Alioth 1.8 81
Mizar 2.1 78
Alkaid 1.9 101

When viewed straight on from the 3rd floor, the shape of the Big Dipper is the same as it appears in our night sky, viewed straight on from earth. A walk down the balcony beside Science Works Theater shows us the distance of the stars from imageone another, especially the star Dubhe which is quite distant from many of the stars in the constellation. Also known as The Great Bear or Ursa Major this constellation has been referenced throughout history including in the Bible as “the seven stars” (Amos 5.8) and in Homer’s Iliad as “the Bear”.

Although there are no longer signs to reference this display, the stars remain in place and are a great talking point for MOSI interactors and a great bit of trivia for our members and guests. The Big Dipper display was the first permanent exhibit installed at MOSI and is the favorite exhibit of long-time MOSI staffer Brian Albury.

Brian is the Director of Facility Operations and Information Technology for MOSI and has been with the museum for 16 years.


The Insects of Jennifer Angus: Leaf Mimics

“Arranging Nature”, the insect art installation by Jennifer Angus has been drawing a lot of interest around the museum. Guests have been asking about what species of insects are used in this art exhibit. We’ve already covered cicadas and grasshoppers used in the exhibit, so now onto the really neat bugs: leaf mimic insects!

Leaf mimic insects exist in a vast array of colors and patterns and exhibit an extreme sort of camouflage. Camouflage is a type of crypsis (hiding) which allows a visible creature to blend into their environment and thus become difficult to see. Tigers have stripes that help to break up their overall form and modern soldiers wear a camouflage print that has the same effect. By utilizing colors similar to their environment, counter-shading, patterns, the eye of a human or predator is tricked

Phyllium giganteum: The walking leaf insect uses an incredible blend of color and shape crypsis. From Malaysia, this insect’s curious outline and green coloring render it mostly invisible among foliage. Males of this species are very rare and females can breed by parthenogenesis. This process allows a female to produce eggs or embryos that do not require fertilization by a male. These eggs will develop The resulting brood of insects will each be a clone of their mother.

Heteropteryx dilatata: The Thorny Stick comes to us from Malaysia.DSCN0128 Males and females of the species are very different in appearance.  The male is mottled brown and looks like a thorny stick, thus the name. The female is large with a wide green body and tiny wings that make her incapable of flight. In the wild, females of the species are very aggressive. They will hiss and thrash their legs at any creatures that approaches.

The Art of Camouflage: There are four main strategies of camouflage: cryptic (or blending), disruptive (or dazzle), mimicry, and countershading.

  • Cryptic camouflage involves colors and patterns that help an organism blend into their surroundings and become invisible to the eye. The dead leaf butterfly has the coloration and shape of a dead leaf and becomes nearly invisible on the forest floor. The walking leaf insect, mention above, utilizes shape and color to blend into foliage
  • Disruptive camouflage dazzles the eye by providing visual cues that override the characteristics of creature. The eyespots found on many butterfly and moth species create an image of large, circular eyes often similar to the eyes of predators. Octopus ink is another sort of disruption that catches the eye and disrupts smell and sight to allow the octopus to escape.
  • Mimicy camouflage allows one organism to present itself likeLeaf Mimic Insect another organism, often a dangerous or toxic creature. A species of snake from Asia, the False Cobra (Malpolon moilensis), mimics the hooded head of the Cobra to scare off predators. Learn more about mimicry in the butterflies of Florida in this post from our BioWorks Butterfly Garden blog.
  • Countershading mimicry utilizes coloration to override the normal cues of depth perception. This mimicry employs light coloration in places where dark colors are normally found and dark colors where light ones are normally found. In nature, most animals are lit from above by the sun and thus have a shadow on their undersides. The bright white bellies of many sharks or of salmon are shadowed so that in the wild the become nearly the same color as the darker top side of the animal. This same principle is used in camouflage makeup for the military where light colors are used in the normally shadowed parts of the face like around the eye and darker colors are used for the normally well lit, protruding parts of the face such as the nose. This swap of visual cues for depth perception tricks the eye into seeing a textured face as flat.


The Insects of Jennifer Angus: Grasshoppers

“Arranging Nature”, the insect art installation by Jennifer Angus has been drawing a lot of interest around the museum. Guests have been asking about what species of insects are used in this art exhibit. We recently covered cicadas and now we move on to grasshoppers!

Grasshoppers: Grasshoppers are insects from the suborder Caelifera which is Latin for “holding up the heavens”. These insects have powerful hind legs designed for leaping, short antenna, and generally have wings as adults. They have powerful jaws made to tear grasses, leaves

and cereal crops. Females are often larger in size than males of a species.

Locusts are several species of grasshoppers from the family Acrididae that can be found in huge swarms that will sometimes cause massive damage to food crops.

Sanaea intermedia: This grasshopper from Thailand has a yellow and brown fore-wing and a deep purple-blue hind wing that is accented with tiny white markings.

Phymates saxosus: Hailing from Madagascar, this grasshopper eats toxic plants and therefore is inedible to humans. This species has deep green fore-wing and a deep pink hind-wing.

Tropidacris dux: From Peru, these enormous grasshoppers are locally called the ‘Giant Brown Cricket’ and are known to be pests of bananna, mango and citrus. This species has brown fore-wings and showy orange hind-wings.

Lophacris cristata: Also from Peru and found into Brazil and Surinam, this grasshopper has brilliant pink hind wings.

Titanacris Albipes: This incredibly large and showy species of grasshopper has purple hind-wings and comes from French Guiana

Worldwide there are some 11,000 species of grasshoppers that have been identified with 660 of those species being native to North America. You can learn more about grasshoppers found in Florida at this link.


The Insects of Jennifer Angus: Cicadas

“Arranging Nature”, the insect art installation by Jennifer Angus has been drawing a lot of interest around the museum. Guests have been asking about what species of insects are used in this art exhibit. Over the next few days we’ll be covering the insects used for this exhibit in small groups. Let’s start with cicadas!

Cicadas: There are some 2,500 species of cicada that live in temperate to tropical climates around the world. These large insects have widely spaces eyes, often clean wings and leave behind shed skins that look like an empty version of the insect. The insect’s name derives from the Latin word cicada which means “buzzer”.

Pompoina imperatoria: A Malaysian cicada with clear wings. The largest cicada used in the exhibit and one of the largest in the world with a wingspan up to 6 inches.

Tosena albata: A cicada from Thailand with dark wings with a white stripe and two orange stripes that cross the insect’s body. This species is also known as a Bee Cicada.

Angamiana floridula: Also from Thailand, this cicada has dark forewings with a pale stripe and pale coloring near the body and a orange-brown hind wing.

Tosena splendida: A cicada from Thailand, this species has a black and white fore wing and a hindwing that is a lovely blue-green color.

Aythia spectabile: The smallest of the cicadas in the exhibit this species has clear wings with dark veins and markings.

Although these insects are from far away, there are 19 known species of cicada found in Florida. You can learn more about them and hear their songs at this link.


Jennifer Angus

Artist Jennifer Angus is installing her exhibit of insect art entitled “Arranging Nature” this week at MOSI in time for the opening on February 19th, 2011.

Jennifer Angus is a Canadian artist best known for her work featuring kaleidoscopic patterns composed of real insects. Some of her recent installations take inspiration from the Victorian era. For the past ten years, Jennifer has been creating installations composed of insects pinned directly to a wall in repeating patterns which reference both textiles and wallpaper. Jennifer says, “When viewers enter one of my installations, they are greeted with something they think they know, that is, a patterned wallpaper which could be in anyone's home. However, upon closer examination, they discover that it is entirely made up of insects! A tension is then created by the beauty one observes in the pattern and the apprehension we feel toward insects.”

Jennifer Angus, who teaches textile design at the University of Wisconsin, became an amateur entomologist in the course of creating her “Victorian Fancy” series of dollhouses and installations. She builds scenes of perfect domestic felicity, but all the patterns on the walls, floors and furniture are arrangements of beautiful insects, and all the characters in the dollhouses are insects, too — electric-green beetles from Thailand, locusts from French Guiana with spectacular wings of purple and blue, striped weevils, polka-dot weevils, leaf mimics, white cicadas and frog-legged beetles that look like their name. “I wanted to create a pattern that suggests a domestic space,” she said, “but of course the one thing people don’t want in their house is insects.”

-New York Times


Recyclosaurus Rex Gets a Facelift

DSCN0050Since 1993, MOSI’s Recyclosaurus Rex has been a Tampa landmark. Standing 20 feet tall and 40 feet long, this dino’s belly is filled with aluminum cans and plastic containers. He stands as a gigantic recycling reminder for thousands of commuters each day!

Recyclosaurus Rex is currently undergoing a facelift. Artist Terry Klaaren, the original designer of the giant orange dinosaur, is currently on a lift working on Rex. The MOSI mascot will be undergoing repairs to his structure, a re-wrapping with more construction fencing and will have his car headlight eyes replaced with gleaming new bulbs. Also his banner post is being re-designed so that MOSI staff can easily switch out Rex’s flags.

If you are driving down Fowler Avenue this week, make sure to take a peek at the work and wave at Mr. Klaaren.


Three Hours, Two Towers, and a Lifetime to Remember

Great tragedies are never easy to understand or comfortable to discuss. Galvanizing dates in history like the Challenger explosion and 9/11/01 stick with us and are the events by which we define generations. One way to explore the feelings connected to these tragedies is to utilize art as an outlet.

The Pasco County Board of County Commissioners donated 13 retired Fire Hydrants to Pasco county students. Students worked alone or in groups to design and paint these fire hydrants with artistic interpretations of 9/11. Each hydrant includes an artist statement which explains the concepts and creation of individual pieces. During the art creation process, another group of students recorded the work in video that will be used to create a documentary about this experience.

Three Hours, Two Towers, and a Lifetime to Remember exhibit is located in the 2nd Floor connecting corridor of the MOSI building and runs through Feb 12th. After leaving MOSI this exhibit will be moved to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City.