Written by: Greg Yee, Long Beach Press-Telegram
DOWNEY >> More than a dozen children gathered around three laptop computers at Downey’s Columbia Memorial Space Center staring intently at the glowing screens with wide, eager eyes.
The group, from the Sunrise Child Development Center in Garden Grove, comes to the center every summer. But this time the kids found themselves in the middle of a historic moment, as the space center announced it was joining forces with Google to bring its exhibits to the world.
“This is all for you guys, really,” said Downey City Councilman Alex Saab during a short presentation. “This preserves and shares an important part of Downey’s history and encourages a generation of young people to love science and engineering.”
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who represents the Downey area, greeted the group of children and reflected on what she called a significant moment.
“We will join more than 400 international partners of the Google Cultural Institute,” she said. “Children from all over the world will be able to see the exhibits.”
The Google Cultural Institute functions as a kind of online museum that aims to bring cultural material like museum exhibitions, artwork, photos and documents available for free on the internet.
The Columbia Memorial Space Center includes a variety of exhibits and simulators that highlight the history of aerospace and space exploration.
Scott Maxwell, a software engineer with Google who previously worked for the Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory addressed the children.
“The people of Downey built these big, beautiful black and white birds and watched from afar as they carried (our) hopes and dreams,” Maxwell said. “I hope that you will be inspired to go into careers in science and technology.”
Before the advent of the internet, children interested in space exploration and science had only a few television programs or newspaper articles to fuel their interests, he said. The space center’s participation in the Google Cultural Institute will bring the museum’s exhibits to the internet as a whole.
“You’ll be able to feed those passions with just a few clicks of the mouse,” Maxwell said.
For more information about the Google Cultural Institute, visit www.google.com/culturalinstitute.
Contact Greg Yee at 562-499-1476