The astronauts deftly dodge the oncoming trickle of rocks and debris from the meteor shower, and as the rubble clears they see the Moon up ahead. It is at this site that they?ll soon establish the first permanent human base. Though it sounds like science fiction, novice astronauts attempt this feat daily at Challenger Learning Center-St. Louis. Part of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education?a nonprofit founded by the families of the astronauts who died in the 1986 Challenger space-shuttle mission?the center educates visitors in science and teamwork with its space simulators. Whether navigating a spacecraft or abetting astronauts at a Mission Control modeled after NASA?s Johnson Space Center, student, community, and corporate groups must maintain a cooperative spirit while assembling a probe, or being the first human to land on Mars.
Before airplanes or helicopters, there were trapeze artists. Defying gravity for a chance at aerial artistry, they quickly became the stars of circuses and traveling shows the world over. At Circus Harmony Flying Trapeze Center ? Union Station, trapeze artists of today carry on this graceful discipline with the next generation of high-flying performers. Seasoned instructors?led by St. Louis native and triple somersault expert Matt Viverito?lead classes designed for all ages and skill levels, from curious adults to kids looking to be the next great circus stars. The only trapeze school in St. Louis recently celebrated the opening of a new facility; there, a state-of-the-art rig complete with brand-new equipment keeps students safe as they pursue jumps 25 feet off the ground.
Fire. Hammers. A pottery wheel. Some of humanity?s most elemental and primitive tools, yet into the 21st century they remain. And Craft Alliance Program Director Susan Donahue Yates attests that they?re some of the coolest. With each season?s catalog of classes, some of the most popular, according to Yates, let students play with fire, hammer metal into jewelry, or shape a lump of clay into something as fundamentally beautiful as a baby seal mimicking the Mona Lisa?s wry smirk.
At Craft Alliance, the focus is art in all its forms. Whether the tool is the raw flame fusing cut copper or a Mac loaded with Photoshop image-editing software, the intention to inspire and to create remains the same. Its two locations schedule seasonal terms with four- to six-week classes, as well as intensive workshops and children?s classes. Guiding each student along his or her adventure, skilled faculty instruct from experience. Most are working artists who exhibit their work and who have reaped their experience from the trenches of the art world.
Craft Alliance is not just empowering people with knowledge; they are also helping people make mugs, bowls, wooden spinning tops, rings, rugs, and digital photo albums. Many of these things are practical and serve a functional purpose. But many do not?they?re just beautiful things, like vestigial tails. A good number of these pieces are created by hand and are meant to remind us, as Yates remarked, that everyone can do something different from their everyday, workaday lives by adding beauty to a world that truly needs it.
The student and faculty artists backbone the Craft Alliance community, which in 2014 celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Grand Center location represents a regeneration of an arts district already pillared by the Fabulous Fox Theatre, Powell Symphony Hall, and St. Louis University.
[[m:####St. Louis Photo Authority
The “authority” in St. Louis Photo Authority comes from the experienced eyes and minds of its staff. On Thursday nights at the company’s West End studio, budding photographers turn to their pedagogues, who instruct groups of 15 during Thursday-evening classes on one of seven subjects. True beginners may wish to sit in on Intro to Digital Photography, wherein apertures and eyes are opened in equal measure as shooting techniques are disclosed. The instructors also cover a class in travel photography that helps vacationers frame the cleanest shots of their visited landscapes, no matter how badly thumbs want in the picture. More advanced students may opt for one of the studio's three-hour Saturday-afternoon seminars, many of which leave the studio to secure shots of cityscapes or local nature.:m]]
Olympia Fencing Academy’s seasoned squad of coaches and trainers imbues swashbuckling pupils with the skills and support necessary to brandish their blades all the way from the classroom to competition. Head coach Sean Horan taught NCAA fencers at Stevens Institute of Technology and the Air Force fencing team, and coach Glenn MacDonald harnesses his training with five-time Olympian Michael Marx to improve his students' lunges and olive-skewering strategies. Staffers stay abreast of annual national tournaments and often teach a number of apprentices who go on to enter the U.S. National Fencing Competition each year. In addition to in-house training, Olympia Fencing Academy supports community outreach and education programs with school fencing lessons, field trips, and dueling-swordfish demonstrations.