Press Release

Avatar Meets Superman At Miami Science Museum

By SpaceRef Editor
May 18, 2011
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Avatar Meets Superman At Miami Science Museum

Pro-football-player-turned-multi-mission-astronaut (an all-around Superman), Leland D. Melvin will meet and talk with museum-mentored high school students in a computer-generated, 3-D environment created by students on the Miami Science Museum’s virtual world island in Second Life on Saturday, May 21st at 10 a.m. Using avatars that they have created, youth will interact with Mr. Melvin’s avatar, who will talk about his passion for science, lend insight into his career path, and answer students’ questions.

Young people interacting with such a powerful role model through this computer-simulated world is a revolutionary new way of making the presentation more engaging, deepening their science knowledge and making the students more comfortable asking questions of the speaker. The presentation will be broadcast in the virtual world and projected in the Museum’s Theater so that the public can observe the virtual event and also participate through an avatar.

The secondary purpose of the event is to showcase Youth EXPO, an educational resource based on NASA’s climate visualizations. Youth EXPO is available to other on-line visitors to the Museum’s island where they can investigate the causes and repercussions of climate change.

The “Youth EXPO” youth-development program, funded by NASA’s Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums, serves as a model program to engage underrepresented minorities in science. The high school students serve as evaluators and testers of the climate change simulation.

“We feel so privileged that Mr. Melvin has selected our program to ‘visit’ and know it will be an interesting and inspiring event for all,” said Dr. Judy Brown, the Miami Science Museum’s Senior Vice President for Education. “This is a great opportunity to share with the public what wonderful work NASA is funding within our youth community.”

Leland D. Melvin joined NASA in 1989 as an aerospace engineer at the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. He joined the astronaut corps in 1998 and has served as a mission specialist on two space shuttle missions. In 2003, Melvin co-managed the former Educator Astronaut Program, which recruited teachers to become fully trained astronauts in an effort to connect space exploration with students across the country.

Mr. Melvin was named the associate administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in October 2010. He is responsible for the development and implementation of NASA’s education programs. As a passionate advocate of science education, he has been developing strategies to improve NASA’s education offerings and to assist in establishing goals, processes and evaluation techniques to implement a sustainable and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program. He is a two-time space shuttle astronaut and flew on missions STS-122 and STS-129 in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Prior to joining NASA, Mr. Melvin played in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys.

About the Miami Science Museum

Miami Science Museum aims to make a difference in people’s lives by inspiring them to appreciate the impact that science and technology can have on every facet of our world. For over 60 years, Miami Science Museum’s award-winning educational programs, family-focused exhibits, historic planetarium, and rehabilitative Wildlife Center and Clinic have enriched locals and tourists alike. In 2014, the legacy continues with the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, a new world-class, state-of-the-art facility designed by Grimshaw Architects in the heart of downtown Miami. Miami Science Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information, visit or call (305) 646-4200. Miami Science Museum is funded with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.

SpaceRef staff editor.