Fill In The Blanks With Vice President Of Education Nicole Temple

October 30, 2020
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The force of nature known as Nicole Temple is responsible for so many of the experiences that make the Houston Museum of Natural Science a wonderland of weird and wonderful. A member of the HMNS family since 1997, she has worked or volunteered continuously since then to make the museum a thought-provoking and engaging destination.

As the current vice president of education, Temple and her team are always hard at work looking for ways to make science accessible to everyone who walks into our Hermann Park campus. Her team has planned movie nights, scavenger hunts, and even the random science-laden brewery crawl. If you have ever spent hours inside our critically-lauded and “marvelously macabre” blockbuster Death by Natural Causes exhibition you can thank co-curator Temple and her intriguing handiwork. Since opening in the middle of 2018, it has continued to be a hit at the museum.

For this installment of “Fill in the Blanks” Temple shared with us her favorite things at HMNS, her biggest fear, and the importance of her father in her professional life.

If there is one thing I have learned at HMNS​ it is that you should never stop learning.

I discover new things every day, like did you know bees can count to four or that bird eggs come in different shapes for a reason? See!

If I had only ten minutes to visit HMNS I would ​invent a time machine or at least come again another day.

I tried to think of one thing that everyone should see, but I ended up with five items from every hall so that doesn’t help. Mostly I love particular objects because they have weird or fun backstories that aren’t on the text labels. So this can be a choose your own adventure answer… If you love fossils, visit the paleontology hall and see Wyrex and Lane. Wyrex for the incredible story of the last months of this particular T. rex and the vestigial finger and Lane for the skin and proof that dinos had feathers. I would visit Ankh-hap, the museum’s original mummy, in the Hall of Ancient Egypt; and just next door I would check out the seal gut parka. I would suggest trying to locate all the amphibians in the Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife. Of course, you can’t pass up seeing the elephant and its closest living relative, the hyrax, in the Frensley/Graham Hall of African Wildlife.

I could go on, but you get the point. You could also just visit the museum store, too.

Some people probably don’t know that I am ​​afraid of spider webs.

I understand the importance of spiders and don’t want to kill them, but I do not like the feeling of walking into an invisible spiderweb and wondering where the animal is now. That being said, I have no problem with venomous animals, including the fairly slow-moving Black Widow. I regularly prep dead things as educational specimens. Everybody’s got a thing, mine is mystery spiderwebs.

If I had the world’s ear for just five minutes I would tell the world that science matters.

Science is alive and is constantly improving and changing as we get access to better data. It does take some time and effort to figure out what’s new and why it matters, but even incremental improvements in science can prove amazing. For example, less than five years ago scientists figured out that your lungs don’t just help you breathe, they also make blood. Years from now, this information may help fight cancer or give us insight into how air quality affects us on a microscopic level.

The wisest person I ever met is my father.

He is whip-smart, mechanically-inclined, and has forgotten more things than I will have time to learn.

Working at a science museum has allowed me to work with some of the most amazing people on Earth.

I am not talking about high-profile speakers and scientists, necessarily. I am talking about the people who show up at the museum every day. All of us love the museum as if were a member of our family and it creates an unspoken sense of kinship. Beyond sharing that that common bond, the staff also speaks a myriad of languages and has expertise in dozens of fields. If you have a question, there is always someone to ask.

Authored By Craig Hlavaty

Craig Hlavaty has been covering Houston pop-culture since 2006 at various outlets around the city. He is currently the social media manager at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and eats his tamales with ketchup.

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