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Lessons from the Magic Planet

Posted by The College of Science at OSU on March 17, 2009

Readers — we’re pleased to introduce Nick Houtman, a writer who will be contributing posts to the Breakthroughs blog. We’re very excited to have him join us!

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lessons_large2On my first visit to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, I saw whales, volcanoes and dinosaurs. I visited planets and stars and saw a giant pendulum swinging from the ceiling, knocking over a circle of sticks, one stick at a time. Evidence of the Earth’s rotation, so someone said. I thought it was a trick because nothing was rotating from my perspective. But then I was probably five years old.

Science museums and aquariums still intrigue me, but now I know a little about what’s going on behind the scenes. That’s because Lynn Dierking, John Falk and Shawn Rowe have a passion for that kind of work and have shared their story in the latest issue of Terra, OSU’s research magazine. These professors in OSU’s “free-choice learning program” want to foster understanding as well as create memories. Check out Lessons from the Magic Planet at


Nick Houtman grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and never forgot how high the snowbanks get at Crater Lake. He has been a journalist, cook, house builder and city council member. He lives in Corvallis and edits Terra magazine at OSU. Contact him at, 541-737-0783.


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