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Where is the Moon? A Conversation with Derrick Pitts About Teaching, Learning and the Night Sky

Where is the Moon? A Conversation with Derrick Pitts About Teaching, Learning and the Night Sky
Wednesday, March 6th '19 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

In conjunction with the 2019 Faculty Triennial join The Galleries for a conversation with Derrick Pitts about his life and work, his experience as a scientist and educator, and the power of direct observation. Exhibiting Artist Kristen Neville Taylor will speak with Pitts about The Moon Journal project currently on view as a part of the Triennial where willing participants have agreed to create a month long study of the moon. The project is based on The Moon Observation Assignment created by Eleanor Duckworth formerly of Harvard Education School who lists as part of several guiding principles “to come to know in the sciences as the natural philosophers did."


Eleanor Ruth Duckworth (born 1935) is a teacher, teacher educator, and educational theorist.

Duckworth earned her Ph.D. (Docteur en sciences de l’éducation) at the Université de Genève in 1977. She grounds her work in Jean Piaget and Bärbel Inhelder’s insights into the nature and development of understanding and intelligence and in their clinical interview method. CurrentlyProfessor Emerita at Harvard University and President of Critical Explorers <>, Duckworth also has been an elementary school teacher. Her participation in the 1960s curriculum development projects Elementary Science Study and African Primary Science Program was germinal for her insights and practices in exploratory methods in teaching and learning. She has conducted teacher education, curriculum development, and program evaluation in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia and her native Canada.  Duckworth is also  a coordinator of Cambridge United for Justice with Peace and a performing modern dancer.

Derrick H. Pitts is the Chief Astronomer and Planetarium Director at Franklin Institute Science Museum. He has been associated with the Franklin Institute Science Museum since 1978, designing and presenting many of the museum’s public programs and exhibits. Pitts was the original director of the Tuttleman OMNIMAX Theater, a museum vice-president and many other valued positions. He has been Chief Astronomer and Director of the Fels Planetarium since 1990, having written and produced more than two-dozen planetarium programs. He served as the US National Spokesperson for the IAU ‘International Year of Astronomy 2009’ and currently is a NASA Solar System Ambassador and NASA’s first Astrobiology Ambassador. He has written numerous astronomy columns for newspapers and national magazines. He appears regularly on all the major television networks as a science content expert and, for more than two decades, has hosted award-winning astronomy radio programs for Philadelphia’s WHYY 91 FM and WXPN’s ‘Kids’ Corner’ radio program. Pitts is an ‘on-air’ content contributor for national and international television networks. He’s had stunning appearances on the Comedy Channel’s “Colbert Report” and “The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson” on CBS and met President Barack Obama and his family when he was invited to the White House to participate in the first-ever White House Star Party.

Pitts is nationally known as an excellent ‘teacher’. His presentations are stimulating, humorous, intellectually challenging, compelling and at the same time accessible to the broadest audiences. He puts his emphasis on making sure that everyone can come to appreciate the universe as he sees it – not a watered-down sketch of the universe, but a rich, deep, complex version with human connections that everyone can understand at some level.

Among his many awards are the Mayor’s Liberty Bell, the St. Lawrence University Distinguished Alumni Award, the G. W. Carver Medal, Please Touch Museum’s “Great Friend To Kids” Award, induction into the Germantown Historical Society Hall of Fame, selection as one of the “50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science” by Science Spectrum Magazine in 2004, the 2010 inaugural recipient of the David Rittenhouse Award, honorary ‘Doctor of Science’ degrees from LaSalle University (2011), Rowan University’s College of Science and Mathematics(2016) and in 2013 was named Wagner Free Institute’s first ‘Fellow’ and awarded the honorary degree ‘Doctor of Humane Letters’.

Pitts recently served as the Science Museum, Planetarium, and Urban Outreach advisor for the world’s largest research telescope at Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawaii. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for his alma mater St. Lawrence University, Associated Universities, Inc., and is the immediate past president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc. His twitter handle is @CoolAstronomer and his motto is “Eat, breathe, do science. Sleep later.”

Kristen Neville Taylor’s diverse practice combines drawing, sculpture, and glass which converge playfully in installation style environments. Her work considers nature futures through science, anthropology, science fiction, and mythology. Her process has been described as alchemical and utilizes pseudo-scientific experimentation to reimagine our relationships to concepts such as the Anthropocene, social and political movements, and Western culture’s fetishizing of objects.

Taylor’s work has been shown at Vox Populi, the Woodmere Art Museum and the Philadelphia Art Alliance (Philadelphia), Pacific Northwest College of Art (Portland), Richard Stockton and Rowan University Art Galleries (New Jersey), and Expo Chicago. She has organized several exhibitions including Landscape Techne at Little Berlin, The Usable Earth at the Esther Klein Gallery, and she co-curated Middle of Nowhere in the Pine Barrens. Taylor is the recipient of the Laurie Wagman Prize in Glass, a RAIR Recycled Artist in Residence, and a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship.

Taylor is a recent alumni of Vox Populi gallery and co-founder of Little Berlin, a Philadelphia art gallery and collective renowned both nationally and internationally for its cutting edge programming and distinct curatorial model. Since 2007, Taylor has taught courses in glass and materials studies at The University of the Arts, Tyler School of Art and Moore College of Arts Graduate Studies Program.

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