Blog: Mel Drumm

He blinded us with science! Not really. But Mel Drumm does help make science fun and accessible for Ann Arbor area kids as director of the Hands-On Museum. Under his leadership the museum  has broken attendance records and updated its exhibits and programs. Mel will talk about how lessons learned at the museum don't only apply to kids.

Mel Drumm - Post 1: The Magic Of It All

As the Director of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, I find myself involved in a non-profit that has been part-and-parcel of the greater Ann Arbor community for nearly thirty years. Like you, I often hear about the demise of Michigan as a viable place to live or work. While I know it is tough (and trust me, I've experienced the highs and lows), I am convinced that we are on the edge of a great, and positive, transformation. That transformation may not yet be visible to many, but in my position, I often sense that I am getting a glimpse of the future each and every time I step out into our community. In my opinion, the continued vibrancy of Ann Arbor, and the renewal of our regional economy, distills down to community ownership and engagement.

The very existence and continued sustainability of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is based upon community, and the idea of community ownership and engagement. Yes, this may appear to be a story about the Museum, but it is really about you.

While you probably consider us the "children's museum" or the "children's science museum", the Museum is a burgeoning community gathering space where kids of all ages explore, become inspired, or learn that learning is a lifelong adventure. Those that have ventured near the Museum on a busy day know that the adventure is one of excitement, curiosity, teamwork and social interaction. The best part of it all is that regardless of age, ethnicity or socio-economic background, this grand community gathering space is welcoming to everyone. In our environment, science, technology, math, engineering and culture are celebrated by all.

You've probably noticed the multitude of yellow school buses or the scores of people walking with families to the Museum each year. They, like most of the guests to the Museum, arrive from points near and far, with over 60% of them arriving from outside the county. Even with the economic crisis in Michigan, we see school groups from Detroit, Flint, Jackson and all destinations in between. The same is true on weekends, holidays and at other times where families routinely arrive from more than nineteen counties in southeastern Michigan and northern Ohio. They are not just visiting our Museum, they are visiting and participating in everything we call community.

So, where is the magic? The magic is in seeing how our community cares and embracing education, culture, innovation and creativity. Just as science often appears to be magic to many, I believe the science of success is firmly rooted in the magic generated in our community. My challenge to you is to think of how you represent community in your life, and, in turn, how community represents what you want for your life.

I'm convinced that our community partners are leading the charge in the transformation of Michigan into a knowledge-based, innovation-based and creative-based economy that also remains true to our roots of manufacturing and engineering. The stage for tomorrow is set and YOU have a front row seat.