From the perspective of Mimi Meredith, Senior Vice President of Communication and Chief Development Officer at the Cosmosphere
The Cosmosphere attracts people from all over the world. It’s true! In 2019, 48 foreign countries were represented in the visitors to this great place. But what brings them here?
We know many come to see the collection. (I saw you roll your eyes and mouth the word “duh!”) Students come for the incredible education experiences. In fact, as I write this, a bright yellow school bus is pulling up in the parking lot beneath my window. And there are still others who come purely by accident.
But there was a time not so long ago, let’s say March 17, 2020, to May 22, 2020, that no one could come to the Cosmosphere and those 67 days that our doors were closed due to the pandemic taught us a big lesson. We needed to get out more!
We had to find ways to move beyond our walls and into classrooms and living rooms to deliver Cosmosphere education and space history via a channel that was pandemic, travel budget and travel time proof!
It began with a problem-solving scenario and grew to become a new way to fulfill our purpose for existing, as well as to add to our long-term viability with new revenue streams. We made it our mission to anticipate what teachers and visitors might need and want. We would help them answer the question, “what’s next?
And that is how the greatest new thing to happen at the Cosmosphere since Cosmosphere Camp was born.
It’s a new virtual platform called LaunchNext™ and it truly has so many cool features, you should just go there right now and start exploring. Be sure you’re ready to sit awhile because you will find more cool content than you can shake a lunar surface scoop at. (Hint: you can see cool pictures the lunar scoop we have on exhibit AND the lunar collection box we have, which is not. The Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container (ALSRC), as it is officially called, and hundreds of other artifacts not currently on exhibit are now available to discover for free!)
Let me explain how the LaunchNext™ site is organized. There are four sections:
LaunchWonder™, which is designed to bring the wonder and awe of space history to you wherever you are. You can take Virtual Tours of the Cosmosphere and even take a tour with a guide if you choose. Visit Featured Exhibits that combine everything in the gallery with a variety of other resources to make the history truly come alive. Go behind the scenes to the Cosmosphere’s Artifact Collection. You’ll find digitized artifacts, documents, photos, and resources for serious research or to satisfy your own curiosity. And in the Resource Vault, you’ll find transcripts and video recordings of conversations with legends of space exploration.
LaunchLearning™ is where educators find resources (for a fee) give STEM topics relevance through the lens of space exploration. The Cosmosphere’s content meets Next Generation Science Standards and folds in the excitement of things like preparation for life on Mars to light the spark of interest in every student. (Who doesn’t want to know how many crickets they’d need to eat a day to get enough protein on the way to Mars?!) Included are hands-on activities, livestreamed demonstrations, subject matter experts, lesson plans and more.
LaunchTeaching™ is another way Cosmosphere supports educators. Through a partnership with Hutchinson Community College and Wichita State University, Cosmosphere is designing the content for professional development courses. Because the courses are all delivered virtually, they can be taken anytime anywhere as long as a teacher has access to the internet. They comply with the standards for professional development and can also be submitted for continuing education credit.
Coming in 2022, Cosmosphere will introduce LaunchLeading™, a resource for leaders and teams of all ages and any size organization. Virtual resources and a variety of training topics will help develop the kind of leadership skills required to resolve crises; to build environments of trust and mutual respect and to improve personal and team communication skills.
That’s it! You’re GO for Launch! Click here to begin the adventure!