Monday, January 26, 2015

Titanoboa: Monster Snake Opens Feb.14 at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Live snakes, like this ball python which is closely related to a boa constrictor, will be part of the Titanoboa: Monster Snake exhibit.
Credit: Mike Servedio/ANS
PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 14, 2014) - Slithering in at 48 feet long and weighing an estimated one-and-a-half tons, the world's largest snake-a realistic replica of it, that is-will be on exhibit at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University starting Saturday, Feb. 14.

From deep underground in a Colombian coal mine, in a layer dating to 65 million years ago, scientists have uncovered remains of the largest snake that ever roamed the planet, Titanoboa cerrejonensis. Measuring 48 feet long and weighing 2,500 pounds, this massive predator grew as long as a school bus and weighed as much as a small car. Twice as long as the longest snake alive today, Titanoboa could crush and devour a crocodile.

Fossil plants and animals found at the site reveal that Titanoboa roamed the earliest known rain forest, teeming with life and dating to the Paleocene, the lost world that followed the demise of the dinosaurs.

"Titanoboa is a bigger, badder boa, and it will simply knock your socks off," says Academy Director of Exhibits Jennifer Sontchi. "The exhibit opens on Valentine's Day, so be sure to bring your main squeeze!"

Titanoboa: Monster Snake, on view through Sunday, April 19, delves into the stories of the discovery, reconstruction and implications of this enormous reptile. Visitors will:

*         Stand eye-to-eye with a full-scale model of this massive predator.

*         Examine model vertebrae to compare Titanoboa with a modern anaconda.

*         Crawl the length of Titanoboa in the Titanoboa Challenge. There also is a shorter crawl-through tunnel for young children.

*         See live snakes from the Academy's collection.

*         Learn about venom, fangs and scales from the educators at the Carts of Curiosity.

*         Enjoy a Smithsonian documentary about Titanoboa in the mini-theater (every hour on the hour)

*         See snake specimens from the Academy's Herpetology Collection.

*         Learn about the important role snakes play in our lives.

There is a $3 fee to enter Titanoboa: Monster Snake in addition to regular museum admission.

The opening weekend, Feb. 14 and 15, coincides with the Academy's annual Paleopalooza<> festival, which features a variety of fun family activities, fossil displays, films, talks, and the chance to meet Academy paleontologists. The 1 p.m. live animal show that weekend is "Snakes Alive!," which showcases some of the museum's live snakes, plus close-ups on a giant screen. For details about Paleopalooza, visit

On Thursday, Feb. 26, "Anaconda" will be the feature presentation at the Academy's popular Mega-Bad Movie Night.<> For information and tickets, visit

Titanoboa: Monster Snake is a collaboration of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Florida Museum of Natural History, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the Smithsonian Channel.


Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is a leading natural history museum dedicated to advancing research, education, and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental science.

HOURS: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. ADMISSION: $15.95 adults; $13.95 children 3-12, seniors, college students, and military personnel; free for members and children under 3. PHONE: 215-299-1000


5 Reasons Kids Should Play Organized Sports

Entrepreneurs & Former Pro Athlete Explain
Life-long Lessons Learned in Youth Competition

In the past 30 years, obesity has more than doubled in young children and quadrupled in adolescents, potentially leading to a host of chronic diseases later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

Conversely, the CDC reports that regular physical activity provides a long list of physical benefits for children, but that’s not all. Daily exercise also promotes mental and emotional well-being that includes self-esteem.

“By now, I don’t think anyone is surprised that regular exercise is good for children and inactivity is places them at risk for illnesses later in life, but when you take a moment to consider the data in-depth for children who exercise and play organized sports, the details of a child’s future come to life,” says Danyel Surrency Jones, president of Power To Give and co-founder of Powerhandz Inc., (, a company specializing in athletic training products to improve performance in baseball, basketball and football.

Danyel and her business partner and husband, Darnell Jones, a former professional basketball player who also co-founded Powerhandz, want kids in their community and beyond to benefit from the values learned from youth sports. That’s why they created the Power To Give program, which promotes positive development.

“We believe in the power of sports to change a kid’s life for the better,” says Darnell, who lists five significant benefits of youth sports.
•  Cultivates a positive attitude: Sports are demanding. Come game time, a young athlete wouldn’t last long with a negative mindset. “Practice is no cakewalk either,” Darnell says. “As adults, we understand the need to hype ourselves before hitting the gym. The rewarding feeling we get walking out from the gym is similar to what young people feel after a game or tough practice.”

•  Offers a sense of accomplishment, confidence and self-esteem: As the CDC noted, simply being physically active builds self-esteem. We are physical beings who are not meant to sit in front of a videogame for several consecutive hours. “Again, if you’re a physically active adult, you feel that sense of accomplishment in outdoing your last performance at the gym,” Danyel says. “Kids feel a similar way learning new skills and succeeding in a game, except more so.” 

•  Builds better peer relationships: Kids want to fit in, but it’s not always easy. Organized sports hurdles the high wall of social awkwardness so many children feel. Team sports such as baseball, basketball and football demand participants to work together for a common goal, which is a valuable lesson some adults still haven’t learned while interacting at work.

•  More restraint in avoiding risky behavior: Ideally, parents can get their children engaged – in anything that’s productive, really. Bored or disengaged children have a way of getting into trouble. A student is less likely to misbehave in class or break the law if it means getting kicked off the team of a sport they love.

•  Greater family attachment and frequent interactions with parents: Famous athletes say it all the time, “Thanks Mom. Thanks for driving me to and from practice, and thanks for showing up at the games.” And that doesn’t even count helping a child with actual practice – playing catch, squaring off one-on-one, etc.

About Danyel Surrency Jones and Darnell Jones
Danyel Surrency Jones is COO and Co-Founder of Powerhandz Inc., (, which specializes in performance-enhancing training products for athletes. Danyel is a business leader who led sales and marketing departments for over 17 years, sat on non-for-profit boards and invested in early stage companies. Darnell Jones is an entrepreneur and investor, athlete and sales professional. Before cofounding Powerhandz, he was a team captain and academic all-conference basketball player at Mesa State College before he went on to play for the Utah Eagles of the former Continental Basketball Association. Danyel and Darnell created the Power To GiveBuilding Character Through Athletics, which help fund athletic programs in financially challenged communities.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


[mediaalert]ROGERS & COWAN

Los Angeles – January 14, 2015 – Soledad O'Brien takes one of America's most challenging conversations on the road as her ongoing Black in America series brings the explosive issue of police brutality to college campuses.
Black in America 2015 gathers academics and experts, students, and community members of all races and politics to discuss their personal stories of how policing impacts their lives. The award-winning journalist and philanthropist presents a detailed examination of the facts behind community policing, racial profiling, controversial crime reduction tactics, and arrest quotas. And, we see the shocking videos that show how a war between civil rights and crime reduction ‎is unfurling on America's streets.
The multi-city tour gives audiences - from Miami to Houston to Massachusetts - an inside look at the latest installment of O'Brien's Black in America documentary series: Black & Blue. The gripping hour aired on CNN just as protests erupted on American streets. The story begins with shocking exclusive footage of Eric Garner choked to death in NY, then uses graphic videos and incisive interviews to show how the lives of young men are fractured by aggressive policing. One is a Latino man who is beaten by police when he stops to watch them make a random arrest - even as cameras roll. The other, a young man feeling the emotional pain of being stopped and frisked by officers 100 times for no apparent reason. The documentary film also shares the perspective of black NYPD officers who believe the "stop and frisk" tactic fights crime and keeps their communities safe. 
Does crime fall when people live in fear of the police? Is it worth the price? Join the conversation on the Black in America 2015 Tour.
To view the official “Black in America: Black & Blue” trailer, click here.  
Soledad will open up the floor to the college community, socio-political and luminary panelists including St. Louis, Missouri’s 21st Ward Alderman Antonio French, Economist, Author and Political Commentator Dr. Julianne Maleaux, political and civic leader, as well as former Chief Executive Officer of the NAACP, Benjamin Jealous, politically and socially conscious rapper, author and producer Chuck of Public Enemy, socio-political comedian W. Kamau Bell, and more. To close the evening, guests will be granted a meet and greet opportunity.
"Black in America is about Americans talking about the uncomfortable issue of race, about opening the floor to new perspectives, problems and the powerful experiences of regular people. This is a forum for the conversation America is ready to have -- why do so many black Americans fear the very people that are supposed to protect them?" -- Soledad O'Brien
The tour will commence at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA on February 3rd, crossing the eastern and central United States to conclude at Florida International University in Miami on February 25th. The official tour routing is available on
To view the official Black in America 2015 Tour trailer, please click here. For more information, please visit
Join the conversation in the following dates and cities:
DATE                                                     UNIVERSITY                                                       VENUE
Tuesday, February 3rd                    Bucknell University                                         The Weiss Center
Wednesday, February 4th                    University of Massachusetts Boston       Campus Center Ballroom
Tuesday, February 10th                           Purdue University                                           Elliot Hall of Music
Wednesday, February 11th                Pennsylvania State University                    Eisenhower Auditorium
Thursday, February 12th                         Bloomsburg University                                  Carver Hall
Tuesday, February 17th                  University of Georgia                                     Tate Student Center Grand Hall
Tuesday, February 24th                  University of Houston                                    Student Union
Wednesday, February 25th           Florida International University                 WUC Ballrooms

**O’Brien will be available for select interviews in advance of her appearance in each market. If interested, see below contact info.**
About Soledad O’Brien
Soledad O’Brien is an award winning journalist, documentarian, news anchor, producer and television personality.  At the forefront of the biggest breaking news stories of the past two decades, O’Brien is one of the most sought-after journalists of current day. In June 2013, O’Brien launched Starfish Media Group, a multi-platform media production and distribution company, dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories that take a challenging look at the often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity, through personal stories. She is the originator of the highly successful documentary series “Black in America” and “Latino in America” which will continue being produced under Starfish Media Group.  Through SMG, O’Brien also contributes additional programming to CNN, HBO Real Sports and Al Jazeera America.
About Starfish Media Group
Starfish Media Group is an integrated media production company and distributor, dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories. SMG takes a challenging look at often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, opportunity, poverty through personal stories.  Founded by award-winning journalist and multifaceted broadcaster Soledad O'Brien, Starfish Media Group uniquely resonates with today's diverse global audience through impactful topics that define our time.