Watch the Apollo 11 mission land on the moon
The Living Arts and Science Center’s new executive director has big plans for the center. In fact, she’s taking it to the moon.
“We are always doing programming,” said Lori Halligan, who was named executive director of the science and arts organization in May.
On July 27, the center will honor the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969, with space-themed planetarium shows and other activities, including performances from the Squallis Puppeteers.
The Squallis Puppeteers will be performing shows about space heroes from the past, such as Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, the first two men on the moon.
Newton’s Attic, a Lexington organization that aims to educate younger generations about sciences, will be providing their SPINtron for attendees to use. Their SPINtron is a device that is based on the NASA Multi-Axis trainer used by original Project Mercury astronauts. It helps train astronauts for what they will experience in situations of rocket take-off and zero gravity.
There will also be model rocket launches by the Aviation Museum that attendees can participate in.
The event is free, she said.
The LASC attempts to promote learning about sciences and the arts in fun, interesting ways.
The organization offers over 400 arts and science classes and workshops annually. These workshops are offered to children starting at 18 months old to adults.
They also offer field trips for students, monthly Discovery Night programs, free art classes for thousands of at-risk, special needs and under-served children, teens and adults, and community arts projects.
Halligan said the 51-year-old center, which reaches more than 40,000 people a year, is developing a new strategic plan to reach even more.
“They are doing wonderful things and wonderful outreach,” Halligan said. “But strategic planning is a way to dream big.”
Halligan hopes to add more programs for middle schoolers, teens and adults. Right now, she feels they are doing a good job reaching younger groups such as preschool and elementary school levels, but wants to offer more options to older groups.
“We want to listen to the community,” she said.
She plans on conducting surveys and creating small focus groups to find out what the community’s needs are at the moment.
“We don’t follow the philosophy of, ‘If you build it, they will come,’ ” Halligan said. “We want to see whose needs aren’t being met and what we can do to meet those needs.”
She wants to focus on the science area as she feels that their digital media lab can help these groups learn valuable skills as they move forward.
Halligan said they currently do a lot of work with Title I schools and is wanting to expand some of that programing, including looking for additional grant money to assist in this expansion.
They have gone to other counties in the state with what they call “WOW” which stands for Wonders on Wheels. This is a van that takes programming out to schools and libraries, which she feels helps teachers in schools teach science and art education to their students.
From the Chicago area, Halligan intends to continue reaching out to the community and getting to know as many people as she can from Lexington and surrounding areas.
“It’s a wonderful challenge to have,” she said. “I want to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can. It’s not as much of a challenge as much as it is an exciting opportunity.”