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Laura Bush lauds COSI Toledo

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From left, Mary Chute of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Dr. Michael Walsh of COSI Toledo, and Birmingham Elementary teacher Pauline LoCascio accept the National Award for Museum Service from First Lady Laura Bush during a White House ceremony.

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WASHINGTON - First Lady Laura Bush yesterday presented COSI Toledo with the nation's top museum award at a White House ceremony, saying it has "demonstrated extraordinary service" to the city and serves as a model to the rest of the country.

COSI "is an integral part of the Toledo community," Mrs. Bush said at a ceremony in the East Room. "This hands-on science museum offers innovative programs for families and has helped teachers transform the way they present science to their students."

The awards are sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The financially struggling COSI Toledo, which has announced its intention to seek a levy later this year to help fund its annual budget of $3.2 million and staff of 25 full-timers and 40 part-timers, will receive a $10,000 prize.

Mrs. Bush singled out Pauline LoCascio, a teacher at Birmingham Elementary School in East Toledo for 35 years who has worked with COSI since it opened to captivate children with science.

"Pauline has taught at the museum, organized COSI festivals at her school, and assisted with science and math nights for families at the museum. Over the years, Pauline has won numerous awards, but she says her greatest honor is to have the privilege to touch the lives of so many children," Mrs. Bush said.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services said its personnel were impressed that Ms. LoCascio "turns every opportunity into a learning adventure. When it is raining or snowing, she grabs an umbrella for a lesson on weather.

"And when COSI Toledo invited her students to help raise a large banner displaying the museum's new logo, Ms. LoCascio turned it into an engaging engineering exercise about ropes and pulleys."

When she takes worms into her second-grade classroom, her goal is to get her students to say "wow" instead of "yuk."

Lori Hauser, director of operations for COSI Toledo for five years, was also praised for helping to open the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron and helping to create a national summer day camp program there called Camp Invention.

Other winners this year are the Pratt Museum in Homer, Alaska, the Johnson County Library in Overland Park, Kan., the St. Paul Public Library in Minnesota, the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, and the Mathews Memorial Library in Mathews, Va.

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