A couple of months ago, my significant other and I were fortunate enough to become part of an innovative new program at Tampa's museum legend, the Museum of Science and Industry - or MOSI for short. Tampa social media champion, Julia Gorzka had teamed up with the executive team at MOSI to create a Virtual Ambassador program. In exchange for promoting MOSI's exhibits and events via our social networks, we receive complimentary annual passes to visit whenever we like.
Now for those on a tight budget (like us), this is a really smart and fun way to connect with your family without spending anything but time. I consider it a huge honor to be a part of this program as I have been a big fan of MOSI for many years. Additionally, I'm a big fan of social media innovation and I think this hits the nail on the head. This is partnering with local community - bartering at its finest. Not to mention the obvious benefit of connecting with other local social media activists and making some new friends.
As a partner in this Virtual Ambassador program, we were also given the gift of a behind the scenes tour of the massive facility. There is an on-site school for underprivileged children, a dedicated hands-on learning area for children called Kids in Charge, a fantastic Butterfly Garden and even a public science library and HAM radio station!
MOSI isn't just another science museum; its one of the nations best. From MOSI.org, "MOSI is a not-for-profit, community-based institution and educational resource that is dedicated to advancing public interest, knowledge, and understanding of science, industry, and technology. MOSI's core ideology is to make a difference in people's lives by making science real for people of all ages and backgrounds."
"Completed in 1980 and permanently opened to the public in 1982, MOSI has provided public programs and exhibits which support its mission and seek to meet the identified needs of a growing and vibrant community. In 1987, an intensive examination of the Museum's mission and goals, coupled with an assessment of the community's needs, produced a 15-year, long-range, three-phase Master Plan for MOSI's growth and development. In 1988, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners set aside 38 acres valued at $6.6 million adjacent to the existing MOSI facility to ensure that the goals of the master plan could be accomplished. An additional 23.5 acres valued at $2.2 million were also set aside for the Museum by the county in 1995 to provide additional space for expansion over the next ten years. In 2000, the county purchased a final three-acre tract to complete the current 74 acre MOSI campus. "
"Phase I of the Master Plan, construction of the 190,000 square foot science center with Florida's only IMAX Dome Theatre, extensive permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a planetarium, and public library was completed in July, 1995. Phase II which began in June, 1996, allowed for renovation of the original structure (now referred to as the Whitney Andrews Lang Center for Learning) and development of The Back Woods Nature Center. Refurbishment of the exhibit and program areas began and much needed classroom space was added along with the Southwest Florida Water Management District/Bank of America BioWorks Butterfly Garden, an innovative water treatment facility/exhibit. Phase III of the master plan was completed in 2005 with the opening of Kids in Charge! The Children's Science Center at MOSI, the largest children's science center in the nation. Earlier, through an innovative partnership with the Institute for Business & Home Safety, MOSI completed the Gladys Shafran Kashdin Welcome Center in 2001. MOSI is now the largest science center in the southeast and the 5th largest in the U.S."
MOSI is so much more than those words that were written for statistical purposes. MOSI is a place where everyone can learn; where you can spend quality time with your children doing hands on activities and learning together. This is so important! Step away from the TV, the computer, the Blackberry.... Have some fun and participate in the education of your children!
If you live in Tampa or plan to visit, MOSI is a MUST on your list of things to do here. You will not leave disappointed. The Butterfly Garden is a beautiful oasis that greets you before entering the museum. Once inside you have 190,000 square feet to explore including the IMAX Dome Theatre, which is also a must see. Don't take my word for it, see for yourself!