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The Best of 2012 from CEO Michael Shanklin

Happy New Year’s Eve to everyone from Kidspace!  It seems like this year has flown by.  I blinked and it is almost gone.  In the spirit of reflecting on 2012, I wanted to offer my personal Top Ten 2012 Kidspace Moments!

10. Being the Principle for a day at Jackson Elementary School—This was such a great opportunity to connect with our community, see the great work being done by Principle Rita Exposito and her team of educators. 

9. Meeting “Mohawk Man” also known as Bobak Ferdowsi, a JPL Flight Director for the Mars Curiosity program.  While at a JPL evening event, I introduced myself and thanked him and the JPL team for Curiosity’s success.

8. Going on KTLA live to promote the new Galvin Physics Forest exhibit—There is nothing like being on live TV.  You wait around for what seems like forever, and then you get a rush of activity and are presenting fun, hands-on activities for children.

7. Presenting Mary Galvin with her Galvin Physics Forest birthday cake on her 90th birthday—The Galvin Physics Forest exhibit is named after a very special friend of Kidspace, Robert and Mary Galvin.  Mary was able to visit Kidspace for the opening of the exhibit, which just happened to be on her 90th birthday!

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6. Hearing the story of one of our educators teaching his former teacher physics on the JPL/Kidspace teacher professional development day—We have an outstanding group of educators that interacts with children and adults to maximize our guests’ experience.  One of our educators had the opportunity to teach physics to one of his former high school teachers.  The educator was nervous at first then realized that he really had something to offer his former teacher. 

5. Welcoming teachers from Beijing to tour Kidspace and play in the Galvin Physics Forest—This summer, we were able to host approximately 50 teachers and administrators from Beijing who were visiting with the Pasadena Unified School District.  While in Pasadena, they wanted to come by and see our new Galvin Physics Forest exhibit.  We had a wonderful time exchanging gifts, playing with the physics exhibits, and learning about physics and one another. 

4. Attending my first Circle of Friends Benefit and getting to dress up as a 19th Century British Admiral—our AMAZING Circle of Friends is a volunteer group of women who plan two major events for us each year: the Pumpkin Festival held every October, and the Kidspace Benefit held in February.  The benefit raises money for Kidspace so we can continue to offer the community things like our Free Family Night and scholarships to our summer camp programs.  I got to dress up and come as a 19th century British Admiral this year!  Who doesn’t like to dress up?

3. Kidspace being featured on CNN—One of our amazing members is also a reporter for CNN.  When asked to do a story on a family friendly location in Los Angeles, she suggested the story highlight Kidspace!  It was gratifying to see the great things we do at Kidspace broadcasted all around the world!

2. Raising eight butterflies with my children then attending my first butterfly release together—I love spending time with my kids who are now 13 and 10.  Even though they are a little bit older, they still love coming to Kidspace.  When I brought home some adopted caterpillars, they thought it was so cool to watch them through the various phases of metamorphosis until they emerged as beautiful butterflies.  They thoroughly enjoyed attending the annual Kidspace Butterfly Release and seeing the thousands of butterflies take flight.

1. Galvin Physics Forest Opening—We all worked so hard to open this new exhibit for our guests and make sure that it was the very best experience it could be.  I am so proud of the hard work and thousands of hours that were put into getting this right and coming in on time and on budget.  We have a great team at Kidspace who are all dedicated to bringing you the very best possible guest experience!

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It has been a great year and I know that we could not have achieved all that we did without you, our wonderful guests.  Thank you for giving us the opportunity to provide you with wonderful educational and fun experiences at Kidspace!

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Blog Entry by:

Michael Shanklin, Chief Executive Officer, has been with Kidspace since August, 2011.  He holds a MA in History and BA in Art.  His museum experience has included positions with Discovery Gateway in Salt Lake City and the Omniplex Science Center in Oklahoma City.  He returns to his native Los Angeles area following three years as the Executive Director at the Discovery Science Center in Tyler, Texas.