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She has traveled the world and witnessed firsthand the ancients' fascination with the night skies. In the structures they left--from the Newgrange monuments in Ireland to the Mexican pyramids, Gigi Miller saw the evidence of their attempts to understand phenomena such as an eclipse or the winter solstice.


She sees a connection in their quest for information to today's Observatory visitor.


"There aren't many things on this earth that we all experience," she says. "By allowing people to learn in a participatory way, Griffith Observatory connects us to those who have come before us, gazing for thousands of years at the same skies we do today. It's unifying."


Miller, a graduate student in education, joined FOTO recently after hearing a presentation about the renovation. She decided immediately she wanted to be part of the next phase in Griffith Observatory's history. After all, it had been a part of her own.


"My grandparents and parents exposed my sister and me to museums at an early age. I remember learning my museum manners: Do not touch anything and do not get too close to anything," Miller says.


"At Griffith Observatory, I didn't really need museum manners. It was really hands-on learning. I remember standing on a scale to see my weight as if I were on the moon and twisting levers and putting my eye up close to see an image from space."


She recalls also the contrast between the low-tech visuals presented in school rooms in the 1980s versus the impact of a trip to Griffith Observatory. Later, as a teenager, Miller found her visits to be just as engaging.


"When I was in high school my friends and I went to the Laserium and we watched the twirling colors as music from Pink Floyd's "The Wall' played," Miller says. "I remember piling back into my old station wagon, and as we wound down the hill, my friends were saying, 'Let's do that again!'"


As a future teacher, she is eager to experience the new Observatory with her students. Miller believes it will serve as an important counterpoint to the relatively passive learning process of sitting in front of a computer.


"So much of our children's learning today is fed to them through the Internet," she says. "While the Internet is wonderful, providing immediate access to trillions of bits of information, it's still limited. Griffith Observatory will provide an environment that presents students with even more innovative, experiential ways of learning about the universe. It's good to have a place to go where learning will be interactive."


FOTO members, whether inspired by their own history with Griffith Observatory or dedicated to bringing the mysteries of the universe to the public, have an important role to play, she says.


"We have the opportunity to serve as ambassadors to other people, share their enthusiasm for the night sky and help ignite interest in everything Griffith Observatory does. Whatever brought you here, we need to get the word out and remind others to come back."

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