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Saturday Science: Water-Walking Wire Critters

Saturday Science: Water-Walking Wire CrittersHave you ever been at the lake, pond or even an outdoor pool and watched a bug land on the surface of the water and scurry around without sinking? Did you wonder how that little insect was capable of walking on water? To answer that puzzling question, we found this week’s Saturday Science experiment at Science Friday. Let’s make some water-walking, wire critters! 


  • Large bowl 
  • Water
  • Roll of thin (about 30-gauge), plastic-coated wire 
  • Sharp scissors or wire cutters
  • Paper clips 



  1. Cut a 12-inch piece of plastic-coated wire. 
  2. Bend the wire into a flat shape. This is your critter! 
  3. Fill the large bowl with water. Let rest until the surface is still. 
  4. Gently place your critter horizontally on top of the water. (If it doesn’t stay on the surface the first time, try again.) 
  5. Take your critter out of the water and dry if off. 
  6. Gently place your critter vertically in the water. 
  7. Take your critter out of the water and dry it off. 
  8. Gently bend your critter so that it can hold a paper clip above the water. 
  9. Gently place it back in the water. 
  10. Add a paper clip. 
  11. Repeat until your critter sinks beneath the surface. 


When you placed your critter horizontally on top of the water, did it float or sink? 

Thanks to surface tension, your water-walking wire critter floated! According to Science Friday, “surface tension is caused by the attraction, or cohesion, of individual molecules to one another in a liquid.” When you gently placed your critter on top of the water, its weight was evenly distributed over an area of water and didn’t break the cohesion between the molecules. That caused your critter to “float” or “walk” on the surface of the water, even when adding additional weight with paper clips. But when you placed your critter vertically in the water, did it float or sink? It sank! This is because a vertical critter takes up a much smaller surface area, so the weight cannot be evenly distributed. When you placed your critter vertically in the water, the cohesion between the molecules broke, and your critter sank straight to the bottom of the bowl. 


Meet Katie White, Children's Museum Blog Ambassador

Tractor Katie White kidsMeet Katie White, one of our brand new Children's Museum Blog Ambassadors! Follow Katie's posts on the blog or follow her on Twitter @katieunscripted.

A bit about me: My name is Katie White and I have lived in Indianapolis for almost 15 years now. I'm married with four children—two girls (12 and 8) and two boys (3 and 16 mos.). I work two to three days a week while my girls are in school and I love music, professional football, college basketball, the Indiana State Fair, and dance parties with my kids. I also write at about the things I'm most passionate about in my personal life— being a wife, mom and friend, and being active in my community.

We’ve been members of the Children's Museum for over 10 years now. Being able to bring my kids to the museum sparks so many conversations and leads to fun ideas at home. When we visited the China exhibit for the first time, the kids were so intrigued by the Chinese way of life— how they live, shop, eat, and write. They still talk about those things now—and even more so, incorporate them into their play. As a parent, I never would have thought, "Let's learn about China for fun!" and further, if I did say that, my kids would never have gone for it. (I can hear it now, "Learn for fun? Outside of school?!") Exposing them to different ideas, to broaden who they are as individuals and who they'll become later, is priceless to me. 

So I’m excited to share the next six months of my family’s adventures at (and away from!) the Children’s Museum. I've been a mom for 12 years and I don’t know about you, but I am plum out of new ideas. The internet makes me feel like a bad mom half the time because the crafts and games that are always on my screen are so intensive, and with the age range of my kids, it's almost impossible to do the majority of things I see. The museum, on the other hand, gives all of my kids a place to explore, where they each find something new every time we go, where I don't have to say “no.” We all come home with new ideas. I can’t wait to share with you what grows from those ideas. 

Katie Blog Tag

Family Health Tip: A Rainbow of Veggies

Family Health TipThis blog post first appeared on Kids HealthLine, courtesy of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent.

Introducing your child to vegetables at an early age can lead to a lifetime of healthy eating. Whether your child is a fearless eater or super picky, use some of these tips to make veggies the star of every meal.

  • Keep it simple and small. Smaller portions allow a child to try something without worry. Try giving your child two or three cherry tomatoes or a small serving of edamame to munch on. Getting lots of “yucks” or “no ways?” Continue serving a small portion of new veggies at lunch and dinner until your child finds a favorite. Then you can add this favored veggie to your routine grocery list.
  • Pick your own adventure. Let your child pick out a vegetable he’s never tasted before. Head home and look up the best way to prepare it. Pick a recipe from the Internet or Pinterest that caters to your family’s tastes. Whether it’s roasted, grilled, mashed or baked, all that matters at the end of the night is that your child’s veggie horizons expand.
  • Serve up something unexpected. How about vegetables instead of pasta? From roasted spaghetti squash topped with marinara to thin zucchini ribbons steamed and tossed in olive oil or butter, you can replace carbs with colorful, nutrient-filled veggies, instead of hiding them in casseroles or baked goods.
  • Soothe any oncoming snack attacks. Be prepared for the cries of “Mom, I’m hungry” with favorites such as celery with peanut butter or carrot sticks with yogurt-based Ranch dip. Roll up thinly sliced veggies with non-fat cream cheese for quick pinwheels.
  • Soup’s on! Chill out with gazpacho, a salsa-flavored cold soup. Serve with corn or tortilla chips to scoop up all the tomato goodness. Boost bean-based soups with regular hot dogs or veggie dogs for a quick no-fuss supper.

Find healthy side dishes and more with St. Vincent's Recipe blogs.

This article was reviewed by Katie Knudsen, R.D., pediatric registered dietitian, Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent.

An Astronaut Describes the Smell of Space

The Smell of SpaceWhen we think of space, we think of beautiful pictures of bursting stars, colorful planets and never-ending darkness. We think of the loud noise rockets make when they BLAST off into the sky. We can imagine what it would feel like to float and tumble through zero gravity. If we think long enough, we can nearly taste the dryness of an astronaut’s dehydrated food. But does anyone know what space smells like? To find out, we went to our Extraordinary-Scientist-in-Residence, former NASA astronaut Dr. David Wolf.

The "smell of space" is how Astronauts refer to a hard to describe odor we perceive after spacewalks. The technical term for a spacewalk is "extravehicular activity," or "EVA." To me it is something between a sensation and an odor a little like near a swimming pool. It is not unpleasant at all, and not very strong, but there is no odor quite like it on Earth that I know of.

While working "outside" in our spacesuits, with our closed life support systems, we do not detect this smell. But when we open the airlock to return back inside the spacecraft the other Astronauts inside immediately notice it as do the space-walkers after removing their helmets. I have found this same smell on the International Space Station, the Russian MIR Station, and the Space Shuttle. It only lasts about an hour because the air purification systems of our spacecraft are so effective at scrubbing molecules from the air. So effective that spacecraft are mostly devoid of odors. When we land back on Earth, I am always amazed at how powerful the "Earth" odors are, like grass near the runway.

In this picture I am coming in (ingressing) the International Space Station airlock in 2009, during the STS-127 ISS assembly mission. I'm surrounded by tools and equipment that were used for space station assembly.
We really don't know the source of "the smell of space."  It could be on on our spacesuits and tools or even be trace molecules from the vacuum of space that come in with us through the airlock, as our noses are amazingly sensitive. It does seem to me that spacesuits that have been used multiple times retain a faint remnant of this mysterious odor. I have also noticed it after docking two spacecraft together such as the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. When we open the hatches between the vehicles a little "space" gets in and we detect "the smell of space."  I have to wonder if the Apollo astronauts also found this on the Moon! It's one of the unsolved little mysteries of spaceflight.

Another hypothesis recently reported in Mental Floss is that the smell comes from “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are compounds produced when stars and planets form.” If you’d like to get a whiff of these compounds, fire up your grill. According to Mental Floss, PAHs are also produced when we barbecue.

Meet Samantha Cotten, Children's Museum Blog Ambassador

Meet Samantha Cotten, one of our brand new Children's Museum Blog Ambassadors! Follow Samantha's posts on the blog or follow her on Twitter @samanthacotten.

Oh hey, fellow TCM lovers!

I'm Samantha Cotten, and I am thrilled to have been selected as a Children's Museum Blog Ambassador. I write a little lifestyle blog called Cotten Tales where I cover everything from mommyhood and marriage, to worldly travels and my favorite things. I rant, I rave and I share all of my crazy moments as a new stay-at-home mom. Trust me, it’s never boring!

Speaking of my family, I married my high school sweetheart while attending the University of Indianapolis (Go Hounds!). Together we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Dorothy, last fall. At 10 months old, she's extremely intelligent and highly mobile - a perfect time to introduce her to one of my favorite childhood places!

Entertaining an "almost" toddler is no easy task. My daughter is fascinated by everything, but her attention span sometimes rivals that of a gnat. This means I am always on the hunt for new baby-friendly activities for us to discover, like edible finger paints, splash pools, and sensory bins. Seeing the awe and wonder in my daughter's eyes when she learns something new is one of my favorite parts of being a mommy! 

While we haven't officially made our first visit to the Children's Museum (stay tuned!), I am already drawing inspiration from the many exhibits and planning ways to bring the learning home with us. Maybe we'll build our own Playscape in the living room? Or channel our inner Chihuly? Who knows what we'll dream up!
It’s never too early to start a love of learning! There truly is something for everyone at the museum – whether you’re 10 months old or a 20-something momma. Soon enough, we’ll have another lifelong fan of the Children’s Museum in the Cotten house. I’m excited to experience the museum in a new light, with my family, and share our adventures with all of you. I hope you’ll join us! 

Samantha Cotten Blog Ambassador


Why Do Celebrities Walk the Red Carpet?

Tonight, television’s biggest stars will arrive at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles dressed in designer gowns and suits. As they carefully climb out of their fancy cars and limousines, they’ll be greeted by a plush red carpet that will guide them inside the theater.

Why do celebrities walk a red carpet before each award show? We answer this question with help from Smithsonian Magazine.  

The earliest mention of a “crimson path” comes from the Greek playwright Aeschylus in his 458 B.C. play, “Agamemnon.” According to Smithsonian Magazine, “the title character in ‘Agamemnon’ is greeted by his vengeful wife Clytemnestra, who invites him to walk a crimson path to his house.” We do not see this path used again until 1821, when a red carpet greeted President James Madison as he got off of a riverboat in Georgetown, South Carolina.  

While ancient Greek plays and presidents were the first to use red carpets, we have big cities and their railroads to thank for coining of the phrase, “red-carpet treatment.” In 1902, red carpets were rolled out just before the 20th Century Limited trains arrived in New York and Chicago. As passengers exited, their feet met rich red carpets embossed with the company’s insignia, rather than cold pavement. 

The red-carpet treatment didn’t make its way to Hollywood until 1961 when the Academy of Motion Pictures rolled out a long red carpet to greet and guide that year’s movie stars to the Academy Awards. Today, the red carpet is an integral part of not only the Academy Awards, but also all of Hollywood’s biggest awards shows, including tonight’s Emmy Awards.

Looking for more Never Stop Asking "Why?" questions? Catch up on all of the past "Whys" on the blog!

Saturday Science: Handmade Horn

Saturday Science: Handmade HornDuring this Month of Sound we’ve made a couple of instruments that have helped us experiment with sound. This week we’ll make one final instrument to round out your homemade orchestra. You have a flute and a kazoo and now it’s time to add in the brass section with a homemade horn!



  • A disposable rubber glove 
  • A plastic drinking straw 
  • A plastic water bottle 
  • A pair of scissors 
  • A rubber band 
  • Masking tape or painter's tape



  1. Snip a tiny hole in one of the fingers on the glove. Cut a few inches off of the straw and insert your new piece of straw in the hole. Tape it in tightly!
  2. Cut off the bottom of the plastic bottle. Have an adult help you make it even so it doesn’t snag or cut your skin.
  3. Put the glove over the top of the plastic bottle and wrap the rubber band around it to hold it as tightly as possible. You don’t want any air to be able to leak out!
  4. Hold your new horn so that the straw is in your mouth and the water bottle faces straight up and then blow through the straw. You’ll hear a loud foghorn sound!


How loud can you play your horn?

With the glove tightly attached to the nozzle of the bottle and bent upward toward your mouth, not all the air you blow into it gets out at the same time. Since the glove is made of a stretchy, or elastic, material, it stretches out, lets some air through, and then contracts, or gets smaller again, and then stretches out to let more air through. This cycle repeats as long as you are blowing into it, but it happens very quickly, which makes part of the glove vibrate, which creates sound waves that travel into the water bottle. The sound vibrates the bottle and the air inside it, which creates resonance, more than one sound wave vibrating at the same frequency and making each other louder, which is why the horn is so loud.

Unlike your other instruments, your horn can’t change pitch to create different notes. But if you want a horn with a lower note, just cut the top and bottom off a second plastic bottle so you have a hollow tube and tape it onto the bottom of your first tube. Since it’s larger, it will vibrate more slowly and resonate with a deeper sound. If you cut the first bottle extra short it will vibrate faster, creating a higher sound. How many different kinds of horns can you make?

Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest

Meet our Extraordinary Chinese Teachers in Residence

Teachers in ResidenceA version of this article first appeared in Indy's Child in August 2014.

A Chinese proverb says, "Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself."

Take Me There: China gives children a wonderful opportunity to literally and figuratively enter the exhibit (via a jet airliner) and take control of their own learning – but two extraordinary Chinese teachers help guide the way.

Art and tradition are central to Chinese culture. To give families and children a more authentic experience, the Confucius Institute of Indianapolis provided funding for two young teachers from China, who specialize in music, calligraphy, and Chinese as a second language, to come to The Children's Museum for one year to share their talents with visitors.

Meet Chen Lin and Ma Lan

Chen Lin is the museum's Calligrapher-in-Residence. Using everything from the tiniest of calligraphy brushes and ink to a giant brush and water to demonstrate "street" painting, Chen Lin draws delicate, complicated and beautiful Chinese characters. Find her in the Take Me There: China exhibit and she can show you and your children how to do it too.

  • Born in China's Guizhou Province
  • Speaks several languages and earned a Master's degree in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language
  • Chinese artistic skills include music, dance, paper-cutting, calligraphy, Chinese cooking and painting
  • Fun Fact: She LOVES the Indianapolis Colts. She watches the Colts through the internet while in China

Chen Lin on working at The Children's Museum:
"When you work in the museum, they pay you to learn! You learn a lot even when you’re just going through the museum to work. You will learn something by accident!"

Ma Lan Chen Lin

Ma Lan is the museum's Musician-in-Residence. Like Chen Lin, Ma Lan's area of academic study is teaching Chinese as a second language, but her passion is traditional Chinese music. In the exhibit space, you will find her playing or demonstrating how to play the hulusi, a gourd flute, or the guzheng, a long stringed instrument. She will invite you to play them too!

  • Born in Huaibei, Anhui
  • Certified to teach Chinese as a second language
  • Chinese artistic skills include calligraphy, paper-cutting, Chinese music, Chinese cooking and Chinese knots
  • Fun Fact: She loves Breaking Bad and Spiderman movies

Ma Lan on working at The Children's Museum: 
"My favorite part in the museum is Dinosphere. These are real dinosaur bones! Kids here can really learn a lot. Not fake things, and not through glass. They can really touch it and see it and feel it."

When you visit Take Me There: China, be sure to look for our knowledgeable teachers. They love to talk and share stories about their culturally-rich home. You'll learn from them and they will learn from you. 

Meet Chrystal Turner, Children's Museum Blog Ambassador

Chrystal Turner familyMeet Chrystal Turner, one of our brand new Children's Museum Blog Ambassadors! Follow Chrystal's posts on the blog or follow her on Twitter @seaofsavings

Hello, friends! My name is Chrystal Turner and I work to save my readers lots of money at Sea of Savings. I am a wife and homeschooling mom to an 8-year-old princess who keeps me on the go constantly. I love spending time with family, gardening, and shopping. As a life-long resident of Indiana I am super excited to be a part of the first Children’s Museum blogger team! I have grown up with The Children’s Museum and love that now as a mom I can take my family there and experience many new memories that we'll remember many years from now.  

If anyone would have asked me a few years ago if Homeschooling was for our family, my answer would have been, "no." I felt that I just didn’t have the patience, and wondered how moms do it. We never know where life takes us! And now we're in our second full year. Our decision to homeschool our daughter takes a lot of patience and sacrifice, but so far it’s been a blessing for us and we’re taking it day by day.

One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is that it allows us to make everyday adventures a learning experience that's hands-on. We're able to explore more deeply into certain subjects if we choose. We love taking a field trip day to The Children’s Museum—our visit always opens up so many opportunities to learn and talk about subjects we may never get to experience or might not otherwise study. Last week we got a chance to explore the new Take Me There: China exhibit, and it was amazing!  While we were there we discussed all kind of things, like the fact that a baby panda is the size of a stick of butter when it’s born. Who knew?!  This sparked so many questions that we came home and researched all about pandas! This is one of the many things that makes The Children’s Museum more valuable than just a day of fun. The museum provides open-ended learning experiences that we can take home and talk about.   

I welcome you all join me these next few months as we explore all the museum has to offer and what we learn along the way!  I know it will be great.

Blog Ambassador Tag Chrystal

Saturday Science: Secret Sounds

Saturday Science: Secret SoundsWe already know that sound is made of sound waves, vibrations traveling through the air to your ears. But can these sound waves travel through something other than air to your ears? How about a solid object? Let’s find out!



  • A wire coat hanger
  • Some string, yarn, or twine
  • Scissors
  • Something to use as a drumstick (a fork, a spoon, a pencil, an actual drumstick, etc.)



  1. Cut two pieces of your string, yarn, or twine about 1-1½ feet long.
  2. Tie your pieces of string to the corners of the wire hanger.
  3. Wrap the other ends of the string around the very ends of your index fingers a few times. Make sure it’s not so tight that it hurts or cuts of the bloodflow to your fingertips!
  4. Have an adult tap the long bottom part of the hanger with your makeshift drumstick while you hold it up. What does it sound like?
  5. Now stick your index fingers in your ears and have the adult tap the hanger again.



What did it sound like with your fingers in your ears?


The sound that you heard was something only you could hear! Anyone standing close to you would have heard the same sound you heard the first time the hanger got tapped. That sound was the hanger sending sound waves through the air to everyone’s ears. When you wrap your fingers with the string and stick them in your ears, though, the sound waves vibrate the string, which sends those vibrations into your fingers and then directly into your ears!  Sound actually travels through solid objects more easily than through air because the molecules, the tiny particles that make up everything, are closer together in a solid object.


Sound can travel through liquid, too. Try this out next time you take a bath: tap a fork on the side of the tub under the water. What does it sound like? Now stick your head under the water and tap the fork again? Is it different when you’re under the water, too?


As long as there are molecules to vibrate, sound can travel. This is why sound can’t travel through space: empty space has no matter in it, so no molecules to vibrate!


Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.


Introducing the Children's Museum Blog Ambassadors

By Lori Phillips, Digital Content Coordinator and Museum Blog Manager

Today we're very excited to introduce our first team of Blog Ambassadors! The Blog Ambassador program is a brand new way for local bloggers to share their interests and perspectives on the museum's blog. We're so lucky to be part of such a thriving blogging community in Indiana, made up of moms, dads, and kids at heart who've been our enthusiastic cheerleaders for years. Now, we'll be featuring their voices on our own blog. And we can't wait to get started!

Chrystal Turner (@seaofsavings), Samantha Cotten (@samanthacotten), and Katie White (@katieunscripted) were selected out of two dozen applicants—and trust us, with so many amazing bloggers around, this was a very hard decision! Chrystal, Samantha, and Katie, together with their families (including a total of six little ones, ranging from 9 months to 12 years old), will explore the museum, be inspired, and see what museum-y fun they get into at home. Whether it's DIY crafts, yummy recipes, homeschool lessons—or anything in between—our Blog Ambassadors will show you how they were inspired by the museum, and how you can be too!

Over the next two weeks, you'll get to hear from each of our Blog Ambassadors as they introduce themselves here on the blog. Then, through January 2015, follow along as Chrystal, Samantha, and Katie contribute to our new blog series, “Inspired by the Museum.” You can also see their up-to-the-minute discoveries on the #BlogTCM hashtag on Twitter and Instagram!

Welcome to The Children's Museum's blog, Chrystal, Samantha, and Katie!

Saturday Science: The Sound Sandwich

Saturday Science: The Sound Sandwich Let’s make a sandwich! We’re not talking about a sandwich you can eat for lunch, but rather a sandwich that makes beautiful sound! In this Saturday Science experiment from Exploratorium, discover how small adjustments to vibrations can raise or lower the pitch of sound.  



  • 2 jumbo craft sticks
  • 1 straw
  • 1 wide rubber band
  • 2 smaller, thin rubber bands
  • Scissors



  1. Wrap your wide rubber band lengthwise around one of your jumbo craft sticks.
  2. Use the scissors to cut two 1-inch pieces of straw.
  3. Put one of the small straw pieces underneath the wide rubber band, about a third of the way down from the end of the stick.
  4. Take the other craft stick and place it on top of the first one.
  5. On the same side where you placed the straw piece, wrap one of your thin rubber bands around the end of the sticks, about a half an inch from the edge. The rubber band should pinch the two craft sticks together.
  6. Put the other small piece of straw in between the two craft sticks, about a third of the way down from the end of the stick. Don’t put the straw underneath the wide rubber band this time.
  7. Now, wrap your other thin rubber band around this end of the craft sticks, about a half an inch from the end. There should be a small space between the two craft sticks created by the two pieces of straw.
  8. Put your lips against one of the long edges of the craft sticks, between the small straws, and blow through the sticks! Did you make a sound?
  9. Move the straws closer together. Does the sound change?



When you blow into the Sound Sandwich, you make the large rubber bands vibrate, and that vibration produces the sound. Think back to the straw flute we made last week: different vibrations create different sounds. Long, massive objects vibrate slowly and produce a low-pitched sound, while shorter, less massive objects vibrate quickly and produce a high-pitched sound. When you moved the straws closer together, you shortened the part of the rubber bands that can vibrate, so the pitch is higher than the pitch of the original sound. If you watch closely when someone else is playing the sound sandwich, you can watch the rubber band vibrate!


Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.



The Story Behind the Cassowary

CassowaryDid you guess today's Funky Find? Here's the story behind the cassowary mount, as told by our Archivist and Registrar, Jennifer Noffze, who is always on the hunt for funky finds in the Children's Museum collection!

Cassowaries are flightless birds native to Australia where they are confined to the rainforests and associated areas in northern Queensland.  Subspecies of the cassowary also occur in New Guinea and some of the surrounding islands. Only ostriches and emus are taller and heavier than cassowaries. While cassowaries are flightless, they can run at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour!  Females are larger than males and they have more brightly colored feathers. 

Not much is known about the true purpose of the large spongy crest on the tops of a cassowary’s head,  but it is believed that the crest may be used to assert dominance, settle disputes or assist with navigating through thick underbrush. With much of the rainforests being cleared for farming, roads, and residential and industrial development, the habitat of the cassowary is in decline. They are also particularly vulnerable to dogs and cars. This mount was given to the museum in 1950.

Looking for more? Go behind the scenes in The Children's Museum's collection when you check out the full blog category.

The Story Behind the E.T. Communicator

CommunicatorDid you guess today's Funky Find? Here's the story behind the E.T. communicator, as told by our Archivist and Registrar, Jennifer Noffze, who is always on the hunt for funky finds in the Children's Museum collection!

"E.T." was a popular 1982 movie directed by Steven Spielberg about a "gentle, long-fingered alien" who is accidentally stranded on earth with one goal—to return home.  He is befriended by 10-year old Elliott and Elliott’s brother and sister.  In the movie, Elliott helps E.T. build a device so that E.T. can “phone home.”  Spielberg enlisted the help of Henry Feinberg to make the device out of everyday materials and make sure that it looked believable. Feinberg made this reproduction in 1983.

One easily recognizable component of the Communicator for those who grew up in the 1980s is the Speak & Spell. Created in 1978 by Texas Instruments, this electronic device was an educational game designed to help children learn how to spell and pronounce words correctly. The Speak & Spell was followed by the Speak & Read and Speak & Math games. The Speak & Spell was featured in Toy Story and Toy Story 2 (where the character is a game device named “Mr. Spell).

Looking for more? Go behind the scenes in The Children's Museum's collection when you check out the full blog category.

The Story Behind the Ammonite

AmmoniteDid you guess today's Funky Find? Here's the story behind the ammonite, as told by our Archivist and Registrar, Jennifer Noffze, who is always on the hunt for funky finds in the Children's Museum collection!

Although they do not exist today, ammonites are important to paleontologists because they are excellent index fossils, which are fossils that are used to define and identify geologic periods. Each species of ammonite lived for a short time, but they had such a broad geographical distribution that they can be found in stratigraphic rock layers often separated by great distances. These animals were predominate in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods and they became extinct at the end of the Mesozoic Period.

Ammonites are part of the mollusk Cephalopod class and are related to modern day octopus, squid and cuttlefish. These animals had a coiled shell and very complex suture patterns. Ammonites had tentacles and a beak like squid. Similar to the chambered nautilus, the shell was divided into chambers connected by a siphon tube.  This mechanism allowed the animal to control its buoyancy in its water environment. This specimen was acquired in 2000 and it was found in Rosebud County, Montana.  It has been polished with very apparent sutures.

Looking for more? Go behind the scenes in The Children's Museum's collection when you check out the full blog category.

The Story Behind the Babe Ruth Signed Baseball

Babe Ruth Did you guess today's Funky Find? Here's the story behind the Babe Ruth signed baseball, as told by our Archivist and Registrar, Jennifer Noffze, who is always on the hunt for funky finds in the Children's Museum collection!

George Herman Ruth (1895-1948) was one of baseball's all-time greats. Nicknamed "Babe" in 1914, his left-arm pitching and powerful hitting were invaluable assets to the Boston Red Sox (1914-1919), the New York Yankees (1920-1934)  and the Boston Braves (1935). This baseball was signed by Babe Ruth in the 1930s.

Baseball is the American national pastime and a very popular sport throughout the world. Baseball is among the oldest and most popular team sports in the United States. Although the origins and evolution of the various bat-and-ball games are murky, the game we know as baseball is primarily an American invention. Going back to at least the 1870s, American newspapers were calling the sport "The National Pastime" or "The National Game". No small part of its appeal is that it is mostly played during the warm, relatively leisurely months of the year, thus it is also called "The Summer Game" and its players often referred to as "The Boys of Summer.”

Looking for more? Go behind the scenes in The Children's Museum's collection when you check out the full blog category.

Saturday Science: Straw Flute

Saturday Science: Straw FluteThis week’s Saturday Science experiment, courtesy of Deceptively Educational, is music to our ears! Discover how sound waves make music by creating a straw flute. What song will you play?



  • nine straws

  • ruler

  • scissors

  • clear tape



  1. Set aside the first straw – no cutting required.

  2. Line the second straw up against the ruler. Measure and cut two centimeters off the bottom of the straw.

  3. Line the third straw up against the ruler. Measure and cut four centimeters off the bottom of the straw.

  4. Repeat this process for straws four through nine, cutting two additional centimeters off the bottom of each straw (6, 8, 10, etc.).

  5. Lay a long piece of clear tape sticky side up on your table or work station.

  6. Stick the longest straw to the tape.

  7. Stick the second longest straw to the tape right next to the first. The tops of the straws should be even with each other.

  8. Repeat this process, longest straw to shortest, until all of the straws are stuck to the tape.

  9. Wrap the remaining tape around the straws so that the straws are secure.

  10. Play your straw flute by blowing air over each straw!



What sounds did your straw flute make? Which straws made a high-pitched sound? Which straws made a low-pitched sound?


Sound is a wave, a vibration traveling through the air to your ears. The way a sound wave sounds to your ear is known as its pitch. The wave that creates it is measured in frequency, or the number of sound waves that hit your ear in a certain amount of time. A high-pitched sound is made by a high-frequency wave and a low-pitched sound is made by a low-frequency wave.


If you vibrate solid objects they make the air around them vibrate, creating sound waves. This happens when you blow through the straws in your straw flute. The different lengths of each straw vibrate with different frequencies, creating different pitches of sound. These pitches create different notes that allow you to play a song.


If you want to really see this in action, pluck some strings on a guitar. You can watch them vibrate and see how the high, thin strings vibrate faster than the low, thick ones.


Did you know that different animals can make and hear different sounds than humans? Dogs and many other animals can hear pitches that are too high for our ears. Whales, when they sing their whale songs, sometimes create pitches that are way too low for human ears, but whales can hear them just fine for hundreds of miles across the ocean!


Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.

The Story Behind Dippy Dawg and Goofy

GoofyDid you guess today's Funky Find? Here's how Dippy Dawg became Goofy, as told by our Archivist and Registrar, Jennifer Noffze, who is always on the hunt for funky finds in the Children's Museum collection!


Goofy was originally known as “Dippy Dawg” when he first appeared in 1932, but by the mid-1930s, when this toy was made, he was being called Goofy. Goofy is known for his trademark clumsiness but also for his child-like and loveable demeanor.

This toy was a gift to Jane Withers, a well-known child star of the 1930s, from Walt Disney himself!  According to Jane, she had gone on a picnic with Walt and heard about an amusement park he planned to build, and “at the end of the day he gave me this wonderful Goofy and said it was the first model of a line of comic character dolls he had designed.”

Jane Withers starred in 36 films between 1934 and 1943 and she appeared with Shirley Temple in the 1934 film Bright Eyes. Withers is best remembered, however, for her 1960s and 1970s Comet cleanser commercials as “Josephine the Plumber.” Withers was excited to learn that her Goofy had found a new home in a children’s museum.

Looking for more? Go behind the scenes in The Children's Museum's collection when you check out the full blog category.

The Intern Experience: StarPoint Campers and Museum Apprentices

Natalia groupToday's blog post is brought to you by Natalia Welch, a senior at Butler University focusing on Marketing. Natalia is a Family Programs intern working with youth in the StarPoint summer camp and teen volunteers in the Museum Apprentice Program


In the left corner on the first floor of the Museum lies Family Programs. It’s a beautiful space that comes to life throughout the school year with the Museum Preschool and during the summer with StarPoint, The Children’s Museum's summer camp. During my time as a Family Programs Intern, I've had the pleasure to work with StarPoint and the Museum Apprentice Program. 

The StarPoint campers arrive daily at 1 o’clock—with oodles of energy. I jump around helping out with each of the cabins named after iconic pieces in the museum. These iconic pieces include the Trains (after Ruben Wells), the Polar Bears (after Martimus), and the Racecars (after the Indy Car). Each cabin has been busy learning and exploring everything from dinosaurs to China this summer. I help bring each week’s theme home to family and friends through weekly newsletters that illustrate StarPoint’s week through pictures and brief write-ups.  It is greatly rewarding to be able to promote communication—and of course a weekly joke—between families with each newsletter.   

Another facet of The Museum I've been able to work with is the Museum Apprentice Program (MAP). The Museum Apprentice Program is the museum’s teen program whose members volunteer their time to create public events. The event this summer was entitled “The Warrior Challenge.” I've had the opportunity to design a map, sticker, and other visual displays for the challenge. On Saturday, July 19 the MAPs put all their hard work together for the event. It was truly uplifting to watch each family come together to defeat an obstacle course and succeed in a dress-up challenge (all Terra Cotta Warrior themed, of course). But watching the MAPs see their project come to life was even more exciting, as families laughed and limbo-ed their way to the end. The themes of the Museum Apprentice Program include fun, hard work, and bonding, and it shone through during the Warrior Challenge. 

Being able to interact with elementary and teen aged individuals has truly made this summer extraordinary. Watching their smiling faces as they learn Chinese characters or figure out the scoring system to their challenge has given me a positive attitude and perspective that I can proudly carry with me after my internship ends.   

Natlia starpoint

Natalia bubbles


The Intern Experience: Terra Cotta Warriors After Dark

Sarah Fox InternCurrent Events Intern Sarah Fox, a senior at Butler University, is working in the Events and Development Departments on various events and projects. In this blog, Sarah describes her experience with working on the three-part Terra Cotta Warriors After Dark event series.  

One of our newest exhibits, The Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor’s Painted Army, has been getting attention from around the world. Closer to home, the exhibit is grabbing even more attention thanks to a new event series designed to showcase these special artifacts—Terra Cotta Warriors: After Dark

Being a part of this new event series has been a wonderful experience! I have gotten to see all of the backstage components that go into these events.  They involve a great deal of planning, including finding sponsors, creating signage, and organizing the layout. I have gotten to see these different stages and have participated in the meetings that take place in order to get us there. Once everything is complete, you see all the details come together and you realize that these events are really something special. 

With the last two events sold out, it’s no coincidence that people cannot get enough of the Terra Cotta Warriors or The Children's Museum. I have found that adults of all ages attend these events because it is an ‘adults-only’ activity. From young professionals just coming from work to older couples visiting together, the Museum has a diverse group that comes for the After Dark series. I even got to see generations of families attending the event together. It’s a great event, not only for networking, but also for bonding with friends and family. 

I think this event series is something that is very important to The Children’s Museum because they are reaching out to a new demographic pool. One vision of the Museum is to "take the Museum to new audiences." Through reaching these individuals, the Museum is showcasing itself as not only a place for children and families—but also for adults. I never knew how diverse in audiences the Museum really was until I started interning here. From fun, interactive exhibits for children to spaces for private meetings for adults, there is room for everyone and everything at the Museum. I believe the Children’s Museum will continue to succeed with events likes these, so that the Museum can continue to be a place for everyone to love for many more years to come!