Tag Archives: making science fun

Tribble time!

We rarely exchange your typical ties and sweaters during the holiday season, but lean instead towards gifts that some might consider a bit geek-ish. I was reminded recently, after learning that something called “Star Trek Live” is headed to the Valley, of the year Lizabeth gave her dad a Tribble.

Tribbles are fictional furry creatures that first appeared in a 1967 episode of the original “Star Trek” television series. I’m told they’re gentle and do a little purring thing, but I’m less qualified than my hubby and daughter Lizabeth to address such things. I’m more of a “Tigger” kind of a gal.

Our other daughter Jennifer admits to being in my camp on this one. “I only try and learn about Star Trek so I can understand my sister,” she tells me. I’m an only child so I find this approach to sistering rather intriguing. Maybe we should both head out Sunday to see the ”Starfeet Academy” show at Mesa Arts Center.

Performers from the science meets live theater production of Star Trek Live: Starfleet Academy coming soon to Mesa

“Star Trek Live: Starfleet Academy” is described by its presenters, Mad Science Productions, as “an interactive adventure.” Think “cutting-edge special effects, audience interaction and on-screen appearances from Captain Kirk and Spock.”

School “Star Trek Live” shows are scheduled for Mon, Nov. 21 and Tues., Nov 22 – and there’s even a 69-page teacher guide available online. It’s a cross between serious science and fun activities like crossword puzzles, but my favorite piece deals with rockets (mostly because my own kids had such a great time making and launching rockets at Desert View Learning Center).

Nowadays we’re keeping an eye on what several cast members from the original “Star Trek” television series are up to. George Takei (“Sulu”) is working to bring a new musical titled “Allegiance” to the Broadway stage, planning first for a premiere and run in San Diego. Where are those darn “beam me up” machines when you need them?

Leonard Nimoy (“Spock”) is still working with that whole logical/illogical thing as he explores the vast realms of poetry and photography. Nimoy’s poetry is part of an exhibition you can enjoy at the University of Arizona Poetry Center in Tucson through Dec. 23. It’s titled “Celebrity Poets” and also pays tributes to works by Suzanne Somers, Viggo Mortensen, Leonard Cohen, Tupac Shakur and others.

The most dedicated “Star Trek” fans among us have already added dates for 2012 “Comicon” events to their calendars. For folks in Phoenix, it’s “Phoenix Comicon,” coming to the Phoenix Convention Center over Memorial Day weekend (May 24-27).

Be sure to look for me if you go — I’ll be the woman with a Tribble in tow.

– Lynn

Coming up: “Occupy Bella”


Dance your Ph.D.?

Truth be told, some of my best material actually comes from my husband James, the family “stage dad,” who often shares little oddities from the worlds of art, history and science.

Recently he sent me an article about a competition titled “Dance Your Ph.D.,” which recognizes “the best dance interpretations of scientific doctoral work.” Science magazine just crowned this year’s grand prize winner and winners in three other categories — chemistry, biology and social sciences.

Valley teachers looking for ways to integrate the arts into other academic subjects should take note. I wish something like this had been around while I was researching the “problem of good” during my own doctoral studies in the philosophy of religion. Dance inspired by the theological “problem of evil” could get a whole lot messier.

Judges for this, the fourth annual contest, included scientists from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University. Also the entire dance cast of “Shadowland” and choreographers from Pilobolus — a dance company scheduled to perform in Scottsdale this Friday and Saturday night, Oct. 21 and 22, at 8pm.

Pilobolus performs this Friday and Saturday in Scottsdale

“Named after a sun-loving fungus that grows in barnyards and pastures, Pilobolus began in 1971 as an outsider dance company and quickly became renowned the world over for its imaginative and athletic exploration of creative collaboration,” according to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

The Center describes Pilobolus offerings as “gravity-defying works of extreme balance, contortion and illusion.” Sounds a bit like middle schoolers trying to explain an incomplete homework assignment or high schoolers hoping to outsmart parents who suspect they’ve violated weekend curfew times.

The company’s Scottsdale performance will feature both classic and recent works, including Particle Zoo (1990), a quartet for men with an odd-man-out theme; The Transformation (2009), a shadow piece in which a young woman is transformed; Duet (1992), an exploration of themes of intimacy, misunderstanding and union; Rushes (2007), a surrealist animated dream sequence; and Korokoro (2011), one of its newest works.

Pity they won’t be performing the work of contest winner Joel Miller, a physics student in Australia, whose winning work shows him appearing to “fly over the ground wearing silver spandex and a cape as he danced with women representing titanium’s alpha and beta crystalline forms.”

I’ll bet Miller is the life of all those doctoral student parties, where simply getting a bit tipsy and dancing on a tabletop must feel so last generation.

— Lynn

Note: The Pilobolus performance many include partial nudity. Click here for show/ticket information and here to see the dancing scientists in action.

Coming up: It’s a pajama party!

Bike shorts?

Elizabeth Peterson, Boyd Branch and Steve Wilcox, creators of the Blue Bike Kids Show

I heard from Boyd Branch, part of the Blue Bike Kids Show gang, this morning. He was excited to share that their new venture, a marvelous blend of science and technology for kids, has earned “Kickstarter” project of the day status — something akin to achieving “Freshly Pressed” status for those of us who blog.

I shot back a quick e-mail suggesting he send some photos of the Blue Bike Kids Show trio in their bike shorts for a “Bike shorts” post to follow today’s “Shakespeare shorts” post. But it appears they got a better offer — which means we’re all free to just use our imaginations on this one.

I visited their “Kickstarter” page after coming home from a morning spent at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where I enjoyed my first tour of a rooftop garden for families of young patients. It was the site of a “Sun and Heat Safety Event” — which I’ll feature in a future post. I was pleased to spot a bike rack in the hospital’s nifty new parking garage, where someone placed the real-life blue bike they rode to work that day.

The Blue Bike Kids Show is working hard to meet their funding goals via Kickstarter before June 29

Looks like the Blue Bike Kids Show has just seven more days to reach their funding goal on “Kickstarter” — an enterprise that describes itself as “a new way to fund and follow creativity.” So far they have $2,829 in pledges, which puts them at 56% of their goal. Folks who help with pledges of $5 or more get fun prizes.

The $5 gift earns you a digital download of their wacky mustaches and a $10 gift earns you a fixitology guide. Gifts of just $18 earn a nifty Blue Bike T-shirt (a fun way to celebrate “International T-shirt Day“).

Click here to learn how your child can get a slot in the pilot episode of the Blue Bike Kids Show — or enjoy the Blue Bike Kids Show gang at an upcoming birthday party or school event (in the Phoenix metro area).

I haven’t run this by Boyd, Steve or Elizabeth (E.P.) yet — but I’m guessing that a big old gift to put them over the top might entitle you to a blue bike shorts shot. There are plenty of reasons to support their Blue Bike Kids Show adventure, especially if you’ve got ties to ASU. All three studied theater at Arizona State University (their full bios are on the “Kickstarter” website).

I think they’re going to go big with this baby, and early supporters will get to do their “I told you so!” dance.

— Lynn

Note: The Blue Bike Kids Show will only be funded through “Kickstarter” if they reach $5,000 in pledges before Wed, June 29, at 1:07pm EDT

Coming up: Pondering “Peanuts”

Update: Meet the Blue Bike Kids Show gang Sun, June 26, at Tempe Beach Park when they hold a FREE nostalgic-style picnic from 5-7pm.

Ode to blue

I'd love to see The Blue Bike Kid Show picked up by PBS

I’ve got blue on the brain after learning that one of Lizabeth’s theater teachers, Boyd Branch, is launching a project called “The Blue Bike Kid Show” with Steve Wilcox and Elizabeth Peterson.

Blue Bike encourages kids ages 8-13 to shift their focus on technology from consuming to creating.

It’s got live, video and web components, and is seeking backers via an online “funding platform for creative projects” called “Kickstarter.” Cool.

While running with the blue theme, I discovered that the next “Music in the Garden” at the Desert Botanical Garden features “blues and boogie” by The DelRayz and Sistah Blue. It’s an adults only performance (Fri, June 17) with catered dining options and a “professional ballroom dance floor.” I suppose suggesting that we all wear blue might be a bit much.

ASU Gammage presents Blue Man Group as part of their 2011/2012 season (Photo: Paul Kolnink)

There’s plenty of blue at the Phoenix Zoo. But you’ll find wild of a whole different order when the “Blue Man Group” hits ASU Gammage Nov 1-6. Think three guys. Blue skin. No spoken word. And lots of technology.

If songs like “Blue Suede Shoes” are more your style, hold out for “Million Dollar Quartet,” coming to ASU Gammage June 5-10. 2012.

Chandler Center for the Arts presents “The Official Blues Brothers Revue” Sat, Oct 22. It’s an homage to characters Jake and Elwood Blues, first played by John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd. There’s nothing blue about them, really, except the name. It’s hard to imagine Jake and Elwood trading in those black suits, hats and shades for blue Spandex — though they might be tempted if told their skinny black ties give them a bit of that “The Book of Mormon” vibe.

The Phoenix Symphony performs Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin as part of their 2011/2012 Pop Series

No review of the blue would be complete without a mention of George Gershwin’s famous “Rhapsody in Blue.” It’s be performed by the Phoenix Symphony Jan 6-8, 2012. Again, no Spandex — but lots of women and men in black.

Perhaps those needing a Spandex fix will fare better when “live circus meets the live symphony” March 25-27, 2012 during the Phoenix Symphony’s “High Flying! Cirque de la Symphonie” concerts.

Remember too that the “Blue Star Museums” program offers free admission to more than 1000 participating museums for active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day to Labor Day 2011.

Blue Nude was painted by Pablo Picasso during his Blue Period

Click here for a list of participating Arizona museums — which include Arizona Museum for Youth, Arizona Science Center, Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and more.

Surely somewhere there’s a Blue Star Museum housing works from Pablo Picasso’s “Blue Period.” And I won’t rest until I find it.

— Lynn

Note: For those of you following the adventures of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” (Hey–it’s a mostly blue costume!), there’s a review by The New York Times posted here. If you see the show, please drop me a line at rakstagemom@gmail.com to let me know what you think.

Coming up: Playing “20 Questions,” Is your child a theater geek?, Fun with Free Arts

Update: Check out this blog post from Wired magazine featuring the Blue Bike Kid Show. Meet the Blue Bike Kids Show gang Sun, June 26, at Tempe Beach Park when they hold a FREE nostalgic-style picnic from 5-7pm.