This area is now home to the second Voyage Exhibition in the world, thanks to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Voyage is a one to 10-billion scale model Solar System that stretches one mile between the Sun, positioned at 13th and Baltimore, and Explorers– the last stanchion, located in front of Union Station.
Voyage: A Journey through the Solar System takes cosmic learning outside the walls of a classroom, offering a perspective that goes beyond science textbooks. The permanent replica promises to be a must-see, must-do field trip option for science classes throughout the region.
The project was created by Jeff Goldstein, Ph.D., the center director for the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education.
Voyage is based on the original model that currently stands on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Dr. Goldstein knows now, that it’s not an easy thing to put something on the National Mall. “It’s U.S. National Sacred Ground. You have to go through a remarkable approval process. The same that the World War II Memorial had to go through…The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, The National Capital Planning Commission. It’s a very long process.”
Kansas City’s exhibit is the first to replicate the scale of the original. “The idea is taking our solar system…and shrinking it down so the visitors can walk through the solar system and really get a sense of our place in space,” said Dr. Goldstein. The real solar system is exactly 10 Billion times larger.
At a luncheon to launch the exhibition, City Manager Wayne Cauthen said, “We (Kansas City) see it as a great opportunity to further promote the ‘walk-ability’ of the downtown area. And, we wanted to include streets other than the entertainment district.”
Also at that luncheon, Dr. Steven Hawley, Kansas-native, NASA Astronaut and current Professor of Physics at Kansas University who discussed his memories (and, lack of) from his space experiences. “What a marvelous thing the brain is. It starts working before you’re even born and doesn’t stop until lift-off,” he joked. “Simulations are wonderful, but nothing prepares you for the experience of launch.”
The Voyage Exhibition, a $500,000 gift from the Kauffman Foundation, is designed to provide the Kansas City community with an understanding of the Earth’s place in the Solar System and the Sun’s place among the stars, through an educational experience that fuses sculpture and science. Look for an Explorers Unit, which will spotlight humanity’s many discoveries and achievements in space, as early as this fall.
To support the educational potential of the Voyage exhibit, the Kauffman Foundation is providing free lessons to teachers in the metro area. Sample lesson overviews on PDF can be accessed at www.voyagesolarsystem.org/education/ed_pedagogy.html.
If you have read all the way to the end of this post, I’d like to reward you with one additional “model” that Dr. Goldstein shared with the audience. If you used the same scale, and continued going the direction of the model (remember, the model ends at Union Station,) the nearest star would be in Anchorage, Alaska.
It completely ruined Star Trek for me.