Photo by Megan Stewart
Sailing Science Center News
June 2021
Vol. 4, No. 10
Welcome to the June issue of the Sailing Science Center News! With California just two weeks from reopening, the SSC is getting ready! In May we had three in-person events, including an Exhibits Dry Run, a Video Shoot on the tall ship Matthew Turner, and a volunteer picnic in Golden Gate Park.

The success of these events reminds us of the saying that timing is everything, leading to the theme of this month's newsletter, which is... Timing.
Observe due measure, for right timing in everything is the most important factor.
― Hesiod, Greek poet
June Spotlight - Megan Stewart
Megan Stewart
When Megan Stewart was introduced to us by one of her former co-workers, he described her as having “deep museum experience,” giving her his highest recommendation. Six months later, that description has proven true, with Megan contributing on the SSC Exhibits Team and the student STEAM Competition Team, providing insights on everything from matching paint colors to the best ways to reach educators.
Born in Berkeley, Megan spent most of her early years in San Bernardino, before attending college at San Francisco State, where she studied theatre. Since college, Megan has focused most of her energy on project management in the museum space, spending seven years at the Discovery Cube in Orange County, three years at exhibit builder, Group Delphi, in Alameda, and now pushing three and a half years with Silicon Valley’s Virtual Science Center.
Megan and Husband Jeff
Megan with her husband, Jeff, at the 2018 Renaissance Faire
I love exhibits, events, spreadsheets, and free-choice learning for folks of all ages.
When she is not creating museums and exhibits, Megan might be found with a folk band called The Naughty Minstrels, playing auxiliary percussion, singing, or plucking strings on her mountain dulcimer (see picture). And if not there, she might be found growing native plants in the back yard of her East Oakland home. She and her husband have two cats, which Megan argues is half the number required by the one-cat-per-arm rule.
Megan is enamored by sailing, despite having sailed only once, when at age 12, she went out on a dinghy with her dad on Bear Lake. It was a singular experience for her. Later, as an adult, she was struck by the enormity of the vessels at the Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival, bringing to life the fictional story of the Master and Commander series that she was reading at the time. Going out on a boat during a college ecology class, Megan says she stayed perfectly comfortable, while students around her were getting seasick.
Being on the water is exciting and relaxing at the same time.
In juxtaposition with that comfort on the water is Megan’s phobia of sharks. She says it is so bad that when she was at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, she ran away screaming when a small shark swam by in the “Touching Tank.”

We are delighted to have you on the team, Megan, and are glad that your involvement doesn’t require you to be around sharks.
Woman petting a shark
Aquarium of the Pacific's "Touching Tank"
You don't have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing it'll go!
― Yogi Berra, American baseball player
May Volunteer Event - Picnic in the Park
SSC Volunteers at Golden Gate Park
SSC Volunteers at Hellman Hollow, Golden Gate Park, May 22, 2021.
L to R: Martha Blanchfield, Victoria Marcus, Jim Hancock, Preston Thomas,
Zach Morozov, Sergey Morozov, Alec Morozov, Mike Beller, Lauren Beller.
Picnic in the Park
On May 22nd, six SSC volunteers and three of their family members met at Hellman Hollow, in Golden Gate Park, for a low-key picnic and a little Frisbee, proving that Frisbee skills are like riding a bike: once learned they are never forgotten!
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.
― Chinese Proverb
Sailing Science Corner
It's About Time
Most scientific principles, laws, and experiments, involve time, or the measurement of time. But precise, electronic time measurement is only a recent development. For millennia, time measurement utilized natural cycles like the seasons and the daily rising and setting of the sun. Around 1500 BC the Egyptians started breaking the period between sunrise and sunset into 12 hours using the sundial. This later gave way to measurement systems that were independent of the sun, using sandglasses, water clocks, burning candles, and other methods.

In 1583 Galileo observed that the period of oscillation of a pendulum depended only on its length, and not on the pendulum's weight, or the arc through which it swung. This yielded a way to get a reliable measure of time starting with only a measure of length, such as a stick of known length, or a length of chain. But pendulums don't always work well for measuring time on a moving vessel.
The Pendulum Equation
Pendulum Equation
However, sandglasses work in rough conditions, leading to an elegant hybrid approach described in 19th century editions of Nathaniel Bowditch's The New American Practical Navigator, for calibrating a half-minute glass used for measuring a ship's speed:

Like regard must be had that the half-minute glass be just 30 seconds; otherwise, no accurate account of the ship’s way can be kept. The glass is much influenced by the weather, running slower in damp weather than in dry. The half-minute glass may be examined by a watch, with a second hand, or by the following method: Fasten a plummet on a line and hang it on a nail, observing that the distance between the nail and the middle of the plummet be 39-1/8 inches; then swing the plummet, and notice how often it swings while the glass is running out, and that will be the number of seconds measured by the glass.
Drawings of a Sandglass and a Chip Log
A sandglass and chip log from the 1861 edition of The New American Practical Navigator. Sourced from the Internet Archives.
You might guess that a pendulum and sandglass exhibit will show up as a future activity in the SSC's Navigation and Astronomy gallery, and if you made that wager I wouldn't bet against you!
In the News
Exhibits Dry Run
On May 8, the SSC held an Exhibits Dry Run Event at Aracely Café, on Treasure Island. We used the event to learn where the friction points were for upcoming mobile events, and to make sure everything worked. We also had a nice lunch!
Aracely Café on Treasure Island, has been a loyal supporter of the SSC! They generously shared their courtyard for our Dry Run event. If you are on Treasure Island stop by for a great meal.
Images of six SSC exhibits
Lars Anderson and Jim Hancock demonstrate six of the seven exhibits we pulled out for the SSC's May 8 Dry Run Event. Clockwise from upper left: 1. Visual Navigation, 2. The Water Column Density Drop, 3. The Land Yacht Experiment Table, 4. The Anchoring Sandbox, 5. The Coffee Grinder, 6. The Archimedes Puzzler. Photos by Megan Stewart.
New SSC YouTube Channel
The SSC has a new YouTube channel where we will be regularly posting content. Help us kick it off by clicking the Subscribe Button below!
Matthew Turner Video Shoot
Matthew Turner and Freda B exiting Richardson Bay
The Matthew Turner and Freda B exiting Richardson Bay during the May 20 Tall Ship Photography Sail. Photo by Will Pryor.
On May 20, five SSC volunteers set sail on the Matthew Turner for a four-hour tall ship photography sail in company with the Freda B. The SSC crew came equipped with two drones, two Canon DSLRs, three GoPro sports cameras—including a GoPro Max 360—and of course, five cell phones. The team shot hours and gigabytes of video, with a pre-defined shot list to touch on each of the Sailing Science Center's Seven Galleries. The video will be organized and edited to provide the background for a student science competition. We will share glimpses with you as they become available.
SSC Volunteers on the Matthew Turner
SSC Volunteer Videographers on the Matthew Turner.
L to R: Steve Flisler, Will Pryor, Jim Hancock, Pip Ziman, Charlie Deist
Photo courtesy of the Matthew Turner crew.
Energy Observer
The Energy Observer at San Francisco Pier 15
The port bow of the Energy Observer.
On May 7th, the wind and hydrogen-powered Energy Observer, sailed into San Francisco Bay for a stopover on their world tour. This unusual vessel is on a mission to validate renewable energy for ocean transportation. She is pictured here at San Francisco's Pier 15. See their video here, or for more information go to

Photos by Marlen Hazel.
This Month's Newsletter Banner
Timing is everything! The SSC's new Coffee Grinder Exhibit includes an automatic timer that reads your sail-hoisting prowess to the nearest 100th of a second. Having the timer makes the exhibit fun and challenging. The banner for the SSC's Visual Navigation exhibit stands in the background.
Jim Hancock with Coffee Grinder Exhibit
Photo by Megan Stewart
SSC Logo - Light Background
Wanted for the Sailing Science Center

Do you have photos you want to share? The SSC is looking for great shots to use on our newsletter banner and elsewhere. Photographer attribution will be given.

Email your inquiries to
Small Stuff
Man scanning the horizon with binoculars
On the Horizon
Dates that were penciled in a month ago are now in ink, as we move with more confidence that the pandemic's worst days are behind us. Holding regular, in-person, mobile events, with partner organizations, is the plan for the months ahead, with a major multi-day event planned for this fall. As always, we will share our pictures and stories here to keep you up to date.
Move the Needle!
These are things YOU can do to move the SSC vision forward:

Make a difference. Move the needle!
Leadership Corner - Timing is Everything!
A neighbor recently gave me a tour of the boat he and his wife bought. They purchased it from a couple who spent their savings preparing it for an extended cruise, outfitting everything just the way they wanted. But the couple's dreams were shattered, and instead of taking their cruise they sold the boat.
That's all for this month.


Jim Hancock
President and Founder
The San Francisco Sailing Science Center is a Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation recognized under IRS Section 501(c)(3), Tax ID 82-3631165. Your donation to the Sailing Science Center is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.



*STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math

Victoria Marcus

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