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"Firsts" for the Rice – Houston Museum of Natural Science Partnership

  • First NSF-funded teacher research program in Astronomy and Earth Science: 1988-91 (teacher alumni of that program included the Director of Science at HISD, head of Challenger Center at George Observatory, and many other talented master teachers).
  • First meter-class telescope dedicated to the public: George Observatory, and still the largest public telescope within one hour of 5 million people. Also collaborated to get state law passed to protect dark skies near observatories.
  • First internet-accessible but safe (non-html) online museum exhibit, Shoemaker-Levy 9, 1994. HMNS has had Rice-Developed, internet-accessible earth and space science exhibits ever since, with more than two million in-person users. Was developed under NASA's FIRST Cooperative Agreement Notice, that also funded Google!
  • First educational CD-Rom to allow safe (non-html) access to online realtime earth and space science data: Space Update, 1996. (Followed by Earth Update, Space Weather, and Mars Update). Over 300,000 in the field, sold and given away free to teachers.
  • First network of museums for Earth science: Museums Teaching Planet Earth, 1998 Winner of first two NASA Cooperative Agreement Competitions: ESIP and REASoN
  • Charter member, Earth Science Information Partners, 1998 (www.esipfed.org); Cooperating with: DLESE, NSDL, Museum Visualization Alliance, and others
  • First fullview immersive digital theater in the U.S., 1998 (Burke Baker Planetarium) First fullview show: "Cosmic Mysteries" (Dec 1998) Upgraded theater to fulldome in 2000 (6 projectors instead of 4)
  • First fullview Earth Science production for immersive digital theaters: Powers of Time, 1999
  • First fulldome Earth and Space Physics show for immersive digital theaters Force 5, 2000. Additional shows completed: Future Moon, 2002; Saturn: the Ring World, 2004; Secrets of the Dead Sea, 2004; Earth’s Wild Ride, 2005; Dinosaur Prophecy, 2006; Night of the Titanic, 2007; Impact Earth, 2008; Force 5, 2010; Impact! (plus many more other HMNS shows) – http://eplanetarium.com/shows.php
  • First single-projector, immersive portable digital theater: Discovery Dome, 2003 (now in 210+ locations, 33 states, 33 countries – including first digital planetarium in East Africa). Spinoff distribution company: MTPE, Inc (www.discoverydome.com) (user map http://tinyurl.com/discdome )
  • First fulldome show DVD flown in space (on STS-123 by Takao Doi), 2008
  • First fisheye lens flown in space (still up on the ISS; launched 2009)

The following products were developed for Discovery Dome by our partner Avela Corp with our help in design, testing, and distribution:

  • First standup, easy-access portable inflatable dome with an airlock: Go-Dome, 2004
  • First dual-mirror portable projection system: Newtonian-1, 2007
  • First coated front-surface convex mirror for dome: Go-Vex, 2010
  • First semipermanent inflatable dome: Zodiac Dome, 2010

Carolyn Sumners (HMNS) statistics

Vice President for Astronomy and Physical Science, Houston Museum of Natural Science

  • Invented the Challenger Center Concept (many millions of children around the world)
  • Taught virtually all the astronauts celestial navigation
  • More than a million students taught in person
  • Thirty plus fulldome digital planetarium shows produced (wrote all scripts)
  • "Woman on the Move", 1998
  • Many teaching and service awards
  • "Top 100" Irish Americans

Patricia Reiff (Rice University) statistics

Professor, Physics and Astronomy Dept; Founding Director, Rice Space Institute, Currently the Associate Director for Outreach

  • Fellow, American Geophysical Union, 1997
    • "Athelstan Spilhaus" award from AGU for lifetime achievement in public outreach, 2009
    • Space Physics and Aeronomy Richard Carrington Award" for outreach, 2013.
  • "Woman on the Move", 1990
  • Created "Master of Science Teaching" Program (27 MST alumni plus 3 presently)
  • Elected to Cosmos Club, 1992
  • Twelve science PhD graduates plus 3 MS and four Post-doctoral students
  • NASA Group Achievement Awards for Polar, IMAGE, Cluster
  • Co-Investigator on DE, Polar, IMAGE, Cluster and MMS missions (space plasma physics)
  • E/PO lead on MMS Mission; co-lead on IMAGE and Cluster missions
  • PI, "The Public Connection"; "Museums Teaching Planet Earth"; "Immersive Earth"
  • President and CEO, MTPE, Inc. and Space Update, Inc. (Spinoff companies marketing Rice and Museum-developed products).
  • Head of Local organizing committee, Sally Ride Science Festival – Houston. Brings 1400+ middle school girls to Rice for hands-on science workshops annually plus street fair. Keynote speaker 2006: Sally Ride. Keynote speaker 2007: Eileen Collins, with video greeting from Peggy Whitson, ISS commander. Keynote speaker 2008: Peggy Whitson; 2009: Ellen Ochoa; 2010: Wendy Lawrence; 2011: Catherine Cole; 2012: Wendy Lawrence; 2013: Barbara Morgan. 2014: Scheduled for October 25.