Duffy’s Dispatches: Joe Lasko on Story Planet’s AGO Event

Joe is Story Planet’s intrepid Program Director, and on Saturday, March 21, he led our An Alien Has Landed event at the AGO. During the single hour of the day that I am awake at the same time as humans, I had the chance to sit down with him to ask how it went.

Duffy: Unfortunately, I was at the ITA on Saturday welcoming a group of lost Zyxxons and couldn’t make it to the AGO. Can you let me know what you got up to?

Joe: When aren’t we welcoming a group of lost Zyxxons? We really could have used your help at the AGO, but of course we totally understand. Here’s what happened…  Early in the morning, we got a call from the AGO, reporting that there was some strange activity being reported around their young learner commons. Some strange rock-like materials had been found, and it appeared that someone or something had been in the space, looking for something. We searched and searched, but other than a few strange messages printed out and written in a language we were unable to decipher, we were unable to find anything. Now, as you are well aware, sometimes adult eyes are the problem, so we asked a group of young Earthlings for their help, as their eyes often see things ours don’t. They searched the scene and were able to find a number of strange artifacts. After some series investigation, the young Earthlings figured out that an alien spaceship must have crashed somewhere nearby and that these were parts from the ship.

Duffy: It sounds like you and your team of intergalactic mystery-solvers had a blast. Here’s the question of the hour: what was the alien looking for?

Joe: Funny you asked!  We were lucky enough to have a few young Earthlings in the group who could read the strange language. They translated the messages and revealed that the alien was here looking for new energy sources for its home planet called Zero. From there, our team of young Earthlings wrote a story to help explain to others what happened, and then created a number of art projects to spread the word and help the alien find what it was looking for. They made buttons, booklets, posters and alien ships in a jar.

Duffy: We call this program ‘galaxy-famous’. As someone who has successfully traversed the Milky Way (despite being lactose intolerant), I agree with that statement. Could you explain what makes programs like An Alien Has Landed so unique?

Joe: As I said before, young Earthlings are able to see things adults can’t. They just need to be given the opportunity. Being able to take part in an experiential project where they are immersed in the mystery allows them to connect in deeper and more meaningful ways, making connections and applying prior knowledge to the investigation. It’s also a lot of fun. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend their Saturday afternoon looking into alien activity?

Duffy: One of the most inspiring aspects of Earth is that volunteerism is thriving. How are events like these exciting opportunities for not only kids and youth, but volunteers as well?

Joe: These events couldn’t happen without our volunteers. They are so vital to the success of the project, ensuring every young Earthling on our team gets the attention and assistance they need. Events like these are a lot of fun. Not just in terms of setting the scene for the adventure, but in being able to see how excited young people get when they’re invited into this strange and exciting world of mystery. It’s an experience that really does last an intergalactic lifetime.

Thanks for hosting such a fantastic event, Joe!