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Letter from the President
The Measure is People
What is the real value of the Science Museum of Minnesota?
You can attempt to appraise our building, designed to inspire, foster ideas and create conversations, but that's not our real value.
You can attempt to quantify the dollar amount of the centuries of artifacts we present on our floor and within our archives, but that's not our real value, either.
Try to place a market value on the proprietary science research conducted within our walls and throughout the state, but you're still not measuring our true value.
Our real value is our people. By "people" I mean more than our staff, though they are tremendous educators, informers, administrators and personalities, every one of them.
I also mean David and Audrey Olsen, who have volunteered at the museum for more than 30 years because they treasure engaging others in science.
I'm also referring to Malakie Gbolo, a junior at Central High School in St. Paul, who works at our Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center and is among 10 other siblings who have done the same in the past dozen years.
It's Kirk Allison and Dr. Ellen J. Kennedy from the University of Minnesota, who worked in deep collaboration with our team to create programs built around the exhibit Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race to foster conversations within our community about the horrors of the Holocaust and the racist ideology Nazi German scientists attempted to legitimize.
It's Marge Allen, who started volunteering at the museum in the late 1950's. She passed away last year. This year, Marge's husband, children, grandchildren and brother created an endowment in her honor to support volunteer-driven education projects.
I'm also referring to the educators who seek out our Science House, which we created not only to help teachers expand their expertise, but also have greater pride in their profession.
It's the students who light up and alter the way they perceive science when they take a class here and use our education resources.
It's policy makers from around the world who visit our institution and take ideas and conversations back with them.
It's the young couple visiting the museum on a first date; a growing family purchasing an annual membership; and a group of seniors from central Minnesota spending a day in our facility learning something new and relishing the camaraderie.
It's the generous donors who support the Science Museum because they believe in an organization that works across generations to advocate for science, technology, engineering and math education.
When people are your measure, you will find our value is limitless.
To honor these people, we focus our 2008 annual report on the stories of the individuals who work within the Science Museum, as well as those within the community who have a lasting connection with us.
Throughout this report, we underscore the unique impact the Science Museum has made on their lives, as well as the impact these fascinating individuals have made on other people's lives through their distinct work here.
They represent hundreds, if not thousands, of like-minded people who work with a cooperative spirit to advance our community. Because of these individuals, the Science Museum always has been and will continue to be much more than a place for fun, though we are surely that as well. These people collectively form a beacon that makes our Science Museum a shining example to other museums and educators nationwide.
Yet, I find it somewhat ironic I'm drafting this letter the same day the Star Tribune cites a Minnesota Department of Education report finding only four in ten Minnesota students can be labeled "proficient" in science.
The data underscore the battles we face, and requires us to ask ourselves how the Science Museum can help close this proficiency gap as well as the gap in individuals aspiring to professions in science, technology, engineering and math.
Our recent creation of the NISE Network—a national community of researchers and informal science educators dedicated to fostering engagement and understanding of nanoscale science, engineering and technology among a broad audience—is a grand example of just one of our "battle" strategies.
We also will continue to present a wide spectrum of exhibits, such as Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, to attract and engage diverse audiences who otherwise never would have visited our institution.
Similarly, we will continue presenting programs such as Deadly Medicine to expand our role as a socially responsible leader and conversation starter.We will find new ways to offer hands-on tools that empower educators and inspire imagination among their pupils.
We know it will take more hard work. We know it will take creative ideas. We know it will take financial commitments from the community and from government. We know it will take courage.
First and foremost, we know we can't do it alone. We need people. People like you. People like the ones you'll find within these pages. Dedicated people. Empowering people. Engaging people. Fascinating people.
We thank you for your participation and commitment to the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., President
Download the Annual Report
To learn more about our museum and its programs please read the full 2008 Annual Report. (PDF | 1.9 MB)
2008 Annual Report - Financials (PDF | 38 KB)