9 Things Derrick Pitts Says You Need to Know About Those Pluto Pics

Derrick Pitts | Franklin Institute. Pluto | NASA

Derrick Pitts | Franklin Institute. Pluto | NASA

Last week, when NASA’s New Horizons mission sent over the first high-resolution images of Pluto, the world got very interested in what they meant, and why it could matter to us on Earth. I’m not the most scientifically inclined person here at Philly Mag, so naturally I had some questions about these Pluto photos, for instance: “Why the heck should we care about a chunk of ice and rock billions of miles away?”

Derrick Pitts, Hon.D, the Chief Astronomer and Director of the Fels Planetarium over at the Franklin Institute, was kind enough to humor me. He tells us all we need to know about the ninth celestial body orbiting the Sun. (Stay tuned on that “orbiting” bit…) Read more »

7 Fun Ways to Get Your Kids Out of Your Hair This Summer

That hand won't go anywhere near your white walls if she's at summer camp. | Shutterstock.com

That hand won’t go anywhere near your white walls if she’s at summer camp. | Shutterstock.com

Yay Clay! Philadelphia
Throw on a smock and fire up the kiln! Yay Clay! is a ceramic art/pottery day camp program that offers a fun and creative outlet for kids and young teens ages 7 to 14. Professional instructors will teach campers the art of ceramics using real potter’s tools, techniques and the potter’s wheel. Yay Clay! offers 3-hour half-day (AM or PM) sessions or 6-hour full-day sessions. Pay by week starting June 22nd through August 15th. 3237 Amber Street. 

Philadelphia School of Circus Arts Camp
Fly through the air with the greatest of ease in a comfortable air-conditioned space. The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts operates three summer camps that accommodate all skill levels and youth ages 5 to 18. Campers will be moving, climbing and swinging upside-down while supervised by the regions most experienced aerials instructors. Here is a perfect opportunity to clown around without getting into trouble. Summer sessions start July 6 and run through August 28. 5900A Greene Street.

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11 Things to Do in Philly This Week

Sixers Finally Introduce New Mascot, Franklin the Dog

An Action News cameraman films Tim McDermott, chief marketing and innovation officer for the Sixers, and new mascot Franklin as they prepare for a TV interview (Photo: Dan McQuade)

An Action News cameraman films Tim McDermott, chief marketing and innovation officer for the Sixers, and new mascot Franklin as they prepare for a TV interview (Photo | Dan McQuade)

It looked like he was going to miss.

Franklin, the new Sixers mascot, had shown off his dance moves, and now he was preparing for his big moment. The Sixers’ Flight Squad, a team of dunkers/cheerleaders for the team, had already dunked on a hoop set up in the Franklin Institute. Now it was Franklin’s turn. He grabbed a ball, sprinted toward the basket and bounced off a trampoline.

And he almost missed. He seemed to hang in the air forever. Fortunately, Franklin was able to stretch and put the ball into the net with a last gasp effort, avoiding a complete embarrassment. He was more successful on a second dunk attempt, though he kind of collided with the rim.

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3 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Philly in February

If your kid likes Legos:

“The Art of the Brick”art of brick franklin institute exhibit opens February 7th at the Franklin Institute with a Lego T-rex, an Easter Island statue and other ambitious Lego constructs.

If your kid likes Dr. Seuss:

The Philadelphia Orchestra pairs his rhymes, stories and images with classical music in Oh, the Music You’ll Hear! on February 7th at the Kimmel Center.

If your kid likes creepy things:

The Academy of Natural Sciences debuts “Titanoboa: Monster Snake” on February 14th, featuring a full-scale model of a 48-foot-long snake discovered in Colombia.

Originally published in the Ticket section in the January 2015 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Children’s Crisis Treatment Center’s 14th Annual Roundup


You might have thought the rodeo was in town had you passed the Franklin Institute on Friday night. The Children’s Crisis Treatment Center held its 14th annual Roundup to raise much needed funds for CCTC’s efforts to assist Philadelphia children and their families who are coping with the impact of behavioral health issues, traumatic events and other challenges that affect childhood development.

This year’s event chairs for the western-themed event were Lavinia and Michael Smerconish, who honored Andrea and Warren Kantor. Guests were asked to leave their tuxedos and gowns at home, and instead encouraged to wear their their best cowboy and cowgirl apparel (which many of them did) for a night of cocktails, delicious cuisine from Frog Commissary, and dancing to the tunes of EBE Entertainment. There was also an extensive silent auction with sports tickets, vacations and theater outings.

Did I mention the mechanical bull? That was a very popular spot all evening.

Photos from the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center’s Roundup after the jump »

Tie-the-Knot Tuesday: Melissa Cooper and Lauren Schmucker


Every Tuesday, we are featuring a recently wed Philadelphia-area LGBT couple. Today: Melissa Cooper and Lauren Schmucker, who took over The Franklin Institute for their special day. 

Lauren and Melissa dancing under a statue of Benjamin Franklin. | Photo fro Facebook

Lauren and Melissa dancing under a statue of Benjamin Franklin. | Photo from Facebook

Names: Melissa Cooper and Lauren Schmucker

How long have you been together as a couple before you got married?: Our wedding took place on our ninth anniversary.

When did you get married?: October 4, 2014

Describe the experience of your wedding. Where did you get married? Who was there? What was the most memorable part?: Our wedding was a dream come true. We were married at The Franklin Institute, which perfectly reflected our individual interests in science and architecture. Our family and friends were there with us to celebrate our day. There were many memorable moments, from our ceremony under the stars in Fels Planetarium, to the cocktail hour in the new Brain Exhibit, followed by dinner and dancing in front of Ben Franklin himself. Our bridal party ended the night with a rousing rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin”” which we will never forget.

Were there any local businesses that were helpful when you prepared your wedding?:

Want to be featured in a future Tie-the-Knot Tuesday? If you’re a gay or lesbian couple married in Pennsylvania, we want to hear from you. Take our brief survey!

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