Experience area close-up: 1859 Balloon Voyage

Our 1859 Balloon Voyage opened in 2009, and it tells the story of the first airmail delivery in the U.S., which happened in Lafayette, Ind. 

By Hannah Kiefer
For the next two weeks, we’re taking our blog to new heights as we explore another experience area: 1859 Balloon Voyage.

The experience opened in 2009. It tells the story of John Wise, a balloonist who carried out the first airmail delivery in the U.S. back in 1859. The feat occurred in Lafayette, Ind.

Wise was an enthusiastic balloonist and he flew various balloons just about every season for decades. He was especially interested in the “rivers of wind,” or a rudimentary concept similar to the jet stream that we know today. Wise never flew high enough to access the jet stream, though; his balloons were not built for such heights. But his ideas weren’t entirely incorrect when it came to how to navigate the wind above the ground. Continue reading

Experience area close-up: Animal Encounters

Animal Encounters opened at Conner Prairie in 2007. This area allows guests to get up-close with rare breeds and learn about the role these animals played in 19th-century Indiana. 

By Hannah Kiefer
For the next few weeks we’re taking a close-up look at an experience area that many of our guests know and love: Animal Encounters!

Conner Prairie has a history of agriculture. William Conner himself kept livestock and farmed the land near where Animal Encounters is today, and before Conner Prairie was a museum, we were a farm. Developed by Eli Lilly, Conner Prairie Farms began in 1934. The farm raised Percheron horses, Shorthorn cattle, Berkshire hogs, and Shropshire sheep. In the words of Lilly, “The quality of our livestock was second to none.” In 1964, Conner Prairie became a full-fledged museum.

Our Animal Encounters experience area opened in 2007 with the intent of helping to bridge the disconnect between people and agriculture that has developed in recent decades. Additionally, heritage breeds were selected to help support the goal of educating guests on what life was like in 19th-century Indiana. Continue reading

Simple, tasty recipes featuring Apple Store products perfect for fall baking

The Apple Store at Conner Prairie opens for its 31st season on Thursday. These tasty recipes using product from the store are simple to make and delicious to enjoy.

By Hannah Kiefer
On Thursday, the Apple Store at Conner Prairie will open for its 31st season. That means there will be a whole bunch of apple goodness, including apple cider, apple butter, apple pies and just plain apples.

The women of the Conner Prairie Alliance put together four different recipes utilizing various ingredients from the store. Follow the recipes or click the link embedded in each title to see a YouTube video with instructions on how to make each recipe. Continue reading

Promise Road fourth-graders get historical lesson on electricity

Conner Prairie Interpreter Taylor Coonce sits with fourth-grade students at Promise Road Elementary in Noblesville as they demonstrate how to create an electrical circuit. 

Staff Report

Last week, 121 fourth-graders at Promise Road Elementary went “back in time” to get a lesson on electricity.

Manager of Science Interpretation Jason Adams, Interpreter Taylor Coonce, and Education Director Nancy Stark visited the school to try a new program developed by Conner Prairie staff and the teachers at Promise Road.

As a premise for the day’s activities, the fourth graders pretended to be members of a farm cooperative during the 1930s, and they had to decide whether or not to electrify their farms with help from the interpreters’ characters, Kurt Lancaster and Vera Zimmerman, who are mainstays in Conner Prairie’s Create.Connect exhibit. The characters were both considering bringing electricity to their own farms, and while Vera was all for it, Kurt wasn’t convinced. Therefore, they needed some help from the students to decide. Continue reading

Passport to Hi-Tech on March 5 aims to get girls interested in STEM

More than 1,200 girls ages 7-12 are expected to explore STEM interests at Passport to Hi-Tech on March 5. 

Staff Report 

Jocelyn Dunn is well on her way to becoming an astronaut, a dream she’s had since she was a young girl.

At age 28, the Purdue University industrial engineering doctoral student has accomplished some impressive feats, earning a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, a master’s degree in biomedical engineering and living eight months in a simulated Martian habitat.

In 2014, Dunn and a team of five other researchers lived in abandoned quarry about 8,000 feet above sea level in a domed structure on a volcano slope on the Big Island of Hawaii. The team was part of a NASA-funded study of human factors that affect team performance during long-term space travel, like a mission to Mars.

“We as a team went out and explored the area in full space suits as if we were the first Mars explorers,” Dunn said. “We would get tasks assigned to us from our Mission Control and explore the terrain.”

Nearly 1,200 girls with aspirations mirroring Dunn’s when she was young can talk with female science and technology leaders and participate in hands-on, interactive activities March 5 at the third annual Passport to Hi-Tech, a partnership between Conner Prairie and Women & Hi Tech. Continue reading