Hobnobbing with Helen
BY HELEN ANN THOMAS
Remember the days when the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum featured a big tank with a small shark and other marine life? Remember the snake (not my favorite) and some lizards and iguanas (which I miss)?
The Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, under the direction of Executive Director Chris Slaughter, is moving toward the future. The living critters have long since been relocated to homes elsewhere and replaced with exhibits that seek to engage young minds in the adventure that is science.
STEM is a term we frequently hear about. In case you forgot—easy to do—STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math, and is at the core of some museum programs.
At the Discovery Museum’s annual fundraiser, “Night at the Museum,” held on Saturday evening, Oct. 15, guests learned about the After-School Robotics Program and witnessed some pretty amazing science demonstrations presented by students from the Orcutt Academy High School Spartatroniks Team under the direction of Ty Fredriks, and Allan Hancock College’s physics department.
Those who enjoy seeing things disappear were delighted that magician Rich Ferguson roamed about and entertained guests with his feats of illusion.I enjoyed learning a little something from Hancock students Juan Macias,Maria Munoz, and Brian Santa Maria. For example, did you know that there is black beach sand that has magnetic properties?
Diane Adam, board president and chair of the event committee, assisted several guests in learning about the movement and power of air via the newish floor-to-ceiling pneumatic tube exhibit at the entrance to the museum. This exhibit has a big wow and fun factor.
The event attracted Jeff Barnes, Franziska Shepard, Suzanne Levy, and board members Roy Reed, Michele Tabisola (with husband Michael Tabisola), and Kim Davis, executive director of CASA. Ali Baily, development director of Orcutt Children’s Art Foundation, attended with spouse O.J.Bailey.
Doug Jenzen, executive director of the Dunes Center (another nonprofit with programs for school children) attended with Leigh Moulder. I was also happy to connect with the Discovery Museum’s program director, Amy Blasco.
Sally Buchanan and Cody Fogh (costumed as a pirate and Indiana Jones respectively) represented the Santa Maria Civic Theatre. Cody’s son was one of “the Things” in the recent Civic Theatre masterpiece, Seussical, which, if you think about it, could be subtitled A Cat for All Seasons.
A source of great delight was the enchanting new Discovery Reading Tree. This handsome exhibit, pretty enough to be in Architectural Digest magazine, is a treehouse, hovering over a bookcase full of books. Youngsters can choose a book and climb the ladder to the cozy interior of the house, where they can curl up and read to their heart’s content.About 150 people milled about the museum enjoying substantial appetizers from Trattoria Uliveto. We are talking sweet Italian sausage, meatballs, grilled shrimp, and chocolate mousse in a cup. The mousse can only be described as delectable and possibly addictive.
Wendy Thies Sell was the mistress of ceremonies for the live auction event. A silent auction was in force during the beginning of the evening. One of my favorite items was Jill Targer’s vividly colored paintings titled Birds of Paradise.
The Discovery Museum is celebrating its 20th year in Santa Maria. Other exhibits, which are not mentioned here, are adult-friendly as well as kid-friendly. Drop in and have some fun.
If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.