Society Matters | MOXI@Night Features NASA Astronaut and NASA Engineer

Event Raises Funds for Outreach, STEAM Education, and Accessibility Programs

NASA Deputy Flight System Manager for Flagship Europa Clipper Project Kendra Short and former NASA astronaut Danny Olivas | Credit: Gail Arnold

On October 1, MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, held an exquisite and fascinating MOXI@Night fundraiser that raised $235,000 for its community outreach programs, STEAM education programs, and accessibility initiatives. All of these further MOXI’s mission of igniting learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity.

Guests entered the dimly lit museum through vapor clouds and enjoyed the cosmic cocktail reception before boarding the very cool, star-illuminated, space portal elevator to the rooftop for a scrumptious five-course gourmet dinner under the stars.

President/CEO Robin Gose welcomed guests and moderated a fascinating discussion with former NASA astronaut Danny Olivas, who was on two Space Shuttle missions and did five space walks and with NASA Deputy Flight System Manager for the Flagship Europa Clipper Project Kendra Short. The Clipper Project will explore the icy crust of Jupiter’s moon and determine if there is life there.

In a Q&A discussion, on the subject of private space exploration, Short shared how she heartily welcomed it. She noted NASA’s ongoing critical role in funding the unprofitable work but stressed the critical roles played by industry and academia — bringing efficiency, new ideas, and new technologies — to form a three-legged partnership with NASA.

Short related that the next frontier of space from a scientific and humanitarian standpoint is to find out if we are truly alone in the universe. She sees a high probability of finding life on Europa, which has all the constituents of what we need for life on earth.

Olivas shared how on a mission, through binoculars, he was able to see the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds 150,000 light-years away and reflected how when the light left that other galaxy, human beings did not even exist as a community. He pondered whether 150,000 years from now, someone will be viewing him in the Space Shuttle. After further reflecting on the vastness of the universe, he shared how looking down at earth, you realize how important it is to protect our planet, because “right now, we are the only game in town.”

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When asked what he would say to a room of 3rd-graders to give them the “fire in the belly” that he had to become an astronaut, Olivas stressed exposure and encouragement — a message that resonated at this MOXI event. According to Olivas, you don’t know what that “burning bush” moment is going to be for a youth, so the more exposure and encouragement, the better.

Andrew Firestone, who is a founding boardmember of MOXI, gave an impassioned and successful plea for funding. He praised the benefits of MOXI for kids who are frustrated at school where they face many challenges, while at MOXI they have fun while learning. For example, while playing with a track car, they are actually learning about momentum, speed, and physics. The evening ended with silent disco dancing and late bites.

According to MOXI Director of Development Amanda Lynn Allen, MOXI is continuously striving to remove barriers that might otherwise prevent families from visiting. MOXI’s community outreach includes a limited number of reduced-price field trips for Title One schools, free admission for S.B. and Ventura County teachers, and participation in the Museum for All Program, which allows anyone who lives in a household that receives CalFresh benefits to visit MOXI for $1, without restrictions. To help get the word out about this great program, the museum advertises it in MTD buses. MOXI also extends memberships to nonprofits to share with their clients and provides summer camp scholarships. This past summer, 10 percent of the 240 campers were on full scholarship.

For the 2022-23 school year, MOXI anticipates returning to its pre-pandemic level of about 15,000 students visiting MOXI with their school. Also this year, it is starting a five-week STEAM after-school program for 120 5th- and 6th-grade students at their S.B. and Goleta schools, in which MOXI staff will facilitate open-ended, student-centered design challenges and culminate in a trip to the museum.

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President/CEO Robin Gose with Board Chair and Event Committee Co-Chair Alixe Mattingly | Credit: Gail Arnold
Elisabeth Fowler, Ginger Salazar, and Boardmember Jill Levinson | Credit: Gail Arnold
Boardmember and Event Co-Chair Donna Barranco Fisher with Event Co-Chair Ginny Gates Lewis | Credit: Gail Arnold
Kevin Almeroth and Boardmember Kelly Almeroth | Credit: Gail Arnold


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