But first, some background. After five years and the first field trips, it was time for a change. “We’ve been staging the War of the Worlds broadcast with a live cast and antique radios since 2003,” says David Sarnoff Library executive director Alex Magoun. “A lot has happened at the Library since then. Now that we’ve begun hosting field trips to our new exhibits and renewed our commitment to science and technology education, the need for funding for an education director is more pressing. There are also so many new and younger members of the community who are unfamiliar with the broadcast, and we wanted to connect with them through the Library’s educational mission.”
Gwen McNamara, communications manager at Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, and board member and Plainsboro Library director Jinny Baeckler suggested expanding the theme beyond the radio broadcast and offering more events. Library volunteer Sharon Chapman of West Windsor urged setting up a contest for a logo, and Magoun came up with “Martians for Education.” “It lacks the alliteration of “Aliens for Education,” he said, “but it also lacks the political overtones, and Martians are really what we’re focusing on. As Sharon said when she pushed this contest, there are some very talented people here, and we’re grateful for their best efforts in meeting our requirements.”
The judges committee of Magoun, Baeckler, Chapman, and Dick Snedeker and Jerry Fields of the West Windsor Arts Council reviewed eighteen entries from ten artists aged 11 to 75 years old. Monica Vagnozzi of Ewing, and a 2007 graduate of The College of New Jersey’s Art Department, submitted the winning design in a unanimous decision based on its brightness, original imagery, and positive view of educated, radio-friendly Martians against a global backdrop. Magoun announced the decision at the Library’s annual meeting Monday while recognizing the other two finalists from Princeton Junction: Janet Felton, second, and Charlotte Dey, third. They took home prizes including a dinner for two at Sotto Ristorante in Princeton, a gift basket from Grover’s Mill Coffee Roastery and Café in West Windsor, and an Avon Products gift certificate donated by Dorothy Sadley and Joann Marchiano.
For other activities, the Library plans to brand a variety of events culminating in its annual radio broadcast re-enactment on Saturday, October 25. The David Sarnoff Radio Club has agreed to apply for a special-event transmitter license for station W0W, and amateur radio operators or "hams" that make contact with W0W will receive a QSL card with the Martians for Education logo. The Library is working with the Plainsboro and West Windsor Historical Societies and other organizations to develop other activities with which to engage people of all ages.
“This is coming together at such an opportune time,” said Magoun. “NASA has just confirmed the existence of ice on Mars, we’re already booking field trips for the 2008-9 school year, and this campaign fits like a glove with the Princeton region’s designation as a tourist destination. We look forward to making this a festival of science, art, food, and history that you can’t get anywhere else on this or any other planet.”