Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 2, 2016

In this episode: Vice President Joe Biden speaks in a rally at MOSI in support of Hillary Clinton; the Florida Solar Energy Industry Association and Floridians for Solar Choice file lawsuits against Amendment One; a tutu-wearing suspect breaks into a Tampa Farmers Market; Lakeland residents are hiding painted rocks around the city.


Florida Focus Education Brief Sep. 23, 2016

In this episode: Hillsborough County Deputies designed a campaign to educate drivers about bus safety; a study says that the learning gap between higher and lower income students is closing; the University of South Florida ranks 9th nationwide for universities granted patents; the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) now has more autism-accessible experiences.


The Bay Area Renaissance Festival is a step back in time

For the 38th straight year, the Bay Area Renaissance Festival is taking place. The festival, which moved to Tampa in 2004, is coordinated by the Museum of Science and Industry, across the street from USF.

The festival is open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., until March 20. No matter a person’s age or interests, anyone who has been will tell you there is something for everyone.

For people looking for a taste of medieval athletics, the event goes above and beyond what would be expected at most renaissance festivals. Archery is available, but there is also an all-day Highland Games event, where visitors can try their hand at a number of activities such as stone throws and hay tosses.

If you’re looking for some new accessories, Kristiyan Bangov has you covered. Bangov is a vendor at a stand specializing in custom leather work, “I do mostly masks and crowns, but I also do armor pieces and anything in between really”, said Bangov. Bangov only got interested in working at fairs last year, he said “I love the whole feeling of the event, it’s a completely different world from the outside once you enter here.”

You can’t talk about a renaissance festival without mentioning the food. Head Chef Ruben Beltran has been working at the event for 15 years. Beltran is in charge of four separate kitchens, “We have the health department always checking on our four kitchens,” said Beltran.

While most would assume Shepherd’s Pie would be the most popular item on the menu, Beltran has a different answer.

“The most popular item is the pot roast sandwich,” said Beltran. When asked if that was his favorite dish, he didn’t hesitate, “Oh yeah, I love it.”

Dinosaurs in Motion

Gaming technology can open up a new realm of ideas and possibilities to those involved in gaming, computer engineering, and for other fields and occupations. MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, is the prime example of its technology by bringing dinosaurs to life with levers, pulleys and the Sony PlayStation controllers in their new exhibit “Dinosaurs in Motion.” 

Grayson Kamm, the communications director of MOSI, explained the concept of the mechanics of the way the dinosaurs are manipulated. 

“Controls can get more complex and machines can get more complex,” said Kamm. “So you start with a lever moving the T-Rex all the way up to a PlayStation video game controller, and getting that to work to where you’re using these controls to run electric motors to coordinate everything is not an easy task. 

It’s an interesting experience to everybody who visits MOSI, especially the employees who work at the exhibit. Stephen Shuey, a MOSI employee, has witnessed the visitors’ experiences and expressions with how the PlayStation controller controls the dinosaurs. 

“It’s like manual and game control both are fun,” Shuey said. 

This exhibit expands visitors imagination of what game controllers can do besides controlling something in a video game. Things like controlling robots, a crane, or anything in the real world.  

“By getting to think about new ideas, fresh ways to do different things, that’s what it’s all about at MOSI because the possibilities down the line are going to be totally different and totally endless,” Kamm said.


MOSI plans new exhibit



The Tampa Museum of Science and Industry is working on adding a new major exhibit that is scheduled to be up and running sometime this year.

“We’re not quite ready to reveal any secrets just yet,” said Megan Haskins, a member of MOSI Marketing and Communications, “but let’s just say we have some very exciting things coming, hopefully as early as the fall, so stand by.”

MOSI used to have a history of hosting traveling exhibits, such as a Titanic exhibit or Bodies, but in recent years the museum staff has decided to halt those and instead create their own new exhibits.

“We’ve decided to take an internal look at our core experience,” said Tanya Vomaka, Vice President of Guest Experience and Marketing. “We’ve been working very hard on updating our current visitor experience.”

While the museum staff has been very quiet about their new exhibit, they have said it has something to do with “looking to the future.”

The last major new addition to the museum was the inclusion of a 3-D printer exhibit, where visitors can watch the printer in action and see some of its creations.

The entertainment and education the museum provides makes it popular with families, getting roughly 500,000 to 800,000 guests per year, despite the big theme parks nearby.

MOSI admission is only a little over $20, and as a non-profit organization, ticket prices help to fund summer camp programs, MOSI’s own education classes and various scholarships.