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What's Waiting Inside the Creepy Carnival Haunted House?

Midway MayhenLooking for some spook-tacular fun for your little ones this Halloween? Look no further! Step right up to the Creepy Carnival, the Children’s Museum Guild’s 51st Annual Haunted House! Lucky for you, the Guild Witches have shared some insider info about the design of this year's Haunted House! So what will be waiting for you behind the gates? Read on... if you dare!

Scareousel

Barker's Ballyhoo: Come one, come all! Our very own Barker Bones invites you to step right up! The enticing façade of Creepy Carnival includes an array of banners, colors, and a background complete with the shadows of a moving Ferris wheel! 

Not-So-Fun House: Metal parts clanging, loud sounds that keep banging; this fun house is not to be missed!  Spiders and mirrors inside, watch your step as you walk under the slide!

Midway Mayhem: Games and contests that can’t be beat, prizes and carnies fill the street. 

Scare-ousel: Up and down you go, and round-and-round. Animals, goblins, even our friend Martimus can be found!

MissFortune: Do you dare test your fate and have your fortune read? Miss Fortune will leave you scratching your head! 

Spine-Chilling Sideshow: We have some of the most unusual sights! Far-fetched, or spooky, these characters are Halloween delights! 

Carnie Controls: Enter only if you dare, Carnie Carl can be quite a bear. Don’t touch the wires or buttons UNLESS you want to get a terrible jolt from his carni-mess!

Lemon Snake Ups

Polar Vortex: Spinning around and around in a wintry blizzard, a passenger on this ride could lose a gizzard!  The passenger next to you could be real or fake—be careful picking which spot you will take!

Eerie Eats: Freaky, fried food is what you will find here. While you are snacking, rodents will appear! Food becomes trash and then trash becomes food—the eats around here might just change your mood!

Big Top

Tent of Terror: The show in this you do not want to miss! There are performers and animals—some roar and some hiss! This is our carnival’s main attraction—come one come all—be part of the action!

Barker’s Back Lot: This is where the “broken stuff” goes…. Old ride parts, old banners, old carnie toes. Be careful while leaving—someone made a mistake. The biggest cage was left open and what lived there ESCAPED!!!

... plus even more surprises!

Get your tickets now and stop by Wednesdays–Sundays from Oct. 11–31 for scary good fun! From creepy carnies and scary spiders to freaky fortunes and midway mayhem, this Haunted House will have you squealing through the night with fright and delight. Prepare to be scared! 

 

Choose Your Haunted House Experience!

Choose your scare experience in The Children’s Museum Guild’s 51st Annual Haunted House, Creepy Carnival, opening October 11!

  • Learn more about the difference between Lights-On, Frightening, and XTREME SCREAM hours in this blog post.
  • Dates and times for all experiences can be found on the museum's website.
  • Buy your tickets.

HH Experiences

Why are Barns Painted Red?

Why are barns painted red?If you’ve never driven through the Midwest on a sunny fall day, you’re missing out! Fall brings crisp air, harvest-ready corn stalks, and fiery red, orange, yellow and brown leaves, making a perfect backdrop to our farmer’s red barns. Occasionally, you might see a barn in its natural wood color, but most of the barns we see are red. Why? We found out from the Farmer’s Almanac

This tradition dates back hundreds of years ago, long before a farmer could go to a local paint store and choose a favorite color of paint. At the time, farmers were looking to protect and seal the wood. 

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, they used “linseed oil, which is an orange-colored oil derived from the seeds of the flax plant.” 

However, it wasn’t quite enough. To properly protect the wood from fungi and mosses, farmers turned to ferrous oxide, or better known as … rust. Plentiful and effective, rust was mixed into the linseed oil turning its orange color to red. 

As time went on and paint became available, red continued to be a farmer’s barn color of choice. 

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

Saturday Science: Handmade Microscope

Saturday Science: Handmade Microscope In a past Saturday Science, we learned how to use a drop of water as a magnifying glass. Today we’re going to kick that up a few notches and use a drop of water and a laser pointer to make a working laser microscope. You’ll be able to see single-celled organisms moving around inside the laser beam!

Materials

  • Pond water 
  • A laser pointer (you can often find inexpensive ones for $3-$5 near the check-out at the store)
  • A paperclip or copper wire
  • A binder clip large enough to fit around the laser pointer
  • Scotch tape
  • A white surface

 

Process

  1. Straighten out the paperclip, then wrap most of it around the front part of the laser pointer, leaving about an inch sticking out in front of the hole where the beam comes out. If you’re using copper wire, give yourself 3-4 inches so you have plenty to wrap around the laser.
  2. Secure the paperclip/wire to the laser pointer with tape.
  3. Carefully bend that leftover inch of paperclip/wire into a small circle, a little bigger than the laser pointer’s lens hole. Make sure it is centered right in front of the hole so the laser beam passes through it. This will hold your water drop.
  4. Clip the binder clip around the laser pointer closer to the front. Keep the two “arms” on the clip where they need to be to open/close it because they are the stand you will use to make sure your microscope holds steady.
  5. Dip your loop of paperclip/wire into your pond water. Carefully remove it, making sure there is a crop of water suspended inside the loop. If you’re having trouble getting the water droplet to stay inside the loop, make sure the loop is complete all the way around and the paperclip/wire is touching itself, forming a full circle. If there is space between one end of the loop and the other the water will have a hard time forming a stable drop.
  6. Carefully set your laser pointer down, using the binder clip as a stand, and point it at your white surface. Turn off all the lights in the room.
  7. Press the button to shine the laser beam through the water drop. It will show up on your white surface much bigger than normal and you’ll be able to see things moving around inside it. Experiment with distance: move the laser pointer closer to or further from the white surface to see what it takes to get the best focus and the sharpest image.

 

Summary

What are those things moving around in your laser beam?

Well, some of it is just the movement of the water. But the small dots and blobs are microorganisms that live in the pond water, like paramecia and amoeba. These single-celled organisms swim around the water using tiny hair-like structures called cilia or flagella. There may even be some single-celled plant-like lifeforms called diatoms. Your laser microscope isn’t powerful enough to make out fine details in these microorganisms, but how cool is it that you can see them moving around in the beam of a laser?

This works because the water drop is similar in shape to the lens of a real microscope. A lens takes the light waves moving through it and bends them so they start traveling outward as they leave the water drop. The laser beam continues expanding until it hits the white surface. The microorganisms swimming around in the pond water get in the way of the light, which means they cast shadows inside the laser beam. Those shadows are what you see moving around in the light.

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

10 Halloween Costumes You Can Make at Home

BHBcostumeHalloween is a great time of year to put your DIY skills to the test! Get inspiration from the experts—The Children’s Museum Guild Witches—with these 10 tips for costumes you can make at home! Then don your spooky gear for the third annual Black Hat Bash on October 10, where you can show off your DIY skills in the crazy Creepy Carnival costume contest! 

1. Ugly, Black Spider: A simple black hoodie can easily turn into a spider with buttons and yellow felt for eyes and stuff black pantyhose for legs
 
2.  Smartie Pants: Glue smarties candy to sweat pants.
 
3. Bag of Trash:  Fill a trash bag with paper, poke legs and arms through the bag, draw a twist tie on poster board, cut it out and staple it around the top of the bag to look like it goes around the neck. Take care to make sure it cannot tighten around the neck for safety reasons. 
 
4. Crazy Scientist:  Buy a white lab coat (available at your local uniform store) and put spider, or any kind of embellishment, on the cut with glue.  Add a pocket protector with worms coming out and some crazy hair from your local party store.
 
5. Corn dog: Wrap burlap around your body, cut a hole for your face.  Take the inside tube of a wrapping paper role to use for the stick.  Staple it so that it sticks out over your head.
 
6. Tub of Popcorn: Take two tri-fold presentation boards and tape them with red duct tape to make a square.  You will also use this duct tape to make the stripes on the outside of the tub. Take two PVC pipes, cut to the lengths of the 2 sides, and tape them along the right and left hand sides of the boards.  Take and old t shirt and glue it to the inside top of the square--this will allow you to "wear the tub".  Create popped popcorn with pieces of cotton batting that have been spray painted yellow and hot glued to top of t shirt.
 
7. Grease Pink Ladies: Pink cardigan sweater or zip up sweat shirt, black pants/leggings, black t shirt.  You can pair this with a colorful wig and scarf.
 
8. Gnome: To make the hat, roll a piece of red velvet or felt into a triangular shaped hat.  Spray paint your hair white.  For the outfit, you will need brown pants, a vest and white shirt
 
9. Puppies in a Box: Turn a box upside down and cut out leg holes.  Return box upright and fill the box half way with waded up newspapers as filler.  Place various puppy stuffed animals are the top.  Can hang the box over the shoulder with suspenders
 
10. Bumble Bee: All black clothing.  Use yellow duct tape to make the stripes on the back.  Take a dark colored head band and black pipe cleaners to make antennas.
 
SAFETY FIRST!  Always be mindful of potential choking hazards and that costume elements don’t constrict the range of motion. Please make sure all costumes have a clear field of vision so your trick-or-treater stays safe and incorporate bright colors or glow in the dark paint to make them more visible after the sun goes down.
 

Inspired by the Museum: Dorothy's First Museum Visit

Blog mash upThis post was written by Children's Museum Blog Ambassador, Samantha Cotten. 
Follow Samantha's posts on the blog or follow her on Twitter @samanthacotten

Like many moms of toddlers, I spend the majority of my day locked in my own living room. The trick to surviving a full day alone with my extremely mobile daughter, I've learned, is to contain her, her toys and everything she could possibly need for the day in one baby-proofed room. In all seriousness, my husband and I should probably buy stock in the baby gate industry because our house could easily be mistaken for the Cotten Correctional Facility.

Dorothy and I were beginning to feel like prisoners of our home until we made our first official visit to The Children's Museum. Ladies and gentlemen, we have busted out of Baby Jail and there is no turning back!

We headed straight for the Playscape; an obvious choice based on the exhibit's focus of sensory play and exploration for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. My daughter tends to be overwhelmed by new situations, specifically loud environments and crowded rooms, so I was a little nervous about how our first visit would go down. Playscape's bright natural light and ample space to play was not only perfect, but welcoming for our little mommy-daughter playdate.

Dot 2

Safely inside Babyscape, we played for hours. Remember that time I said she had the attention span of a gnat? Not here! The baby gates were gone and we were both free to explore and learn (I say "we," because this momma had just as much fun as her baby in the Playscape!). We crawled up and down stairs, ramps and slides in The Treehouse. We pressed every button, flipped every switch and we splashed to our heart's content. No toy was off limits, and everything was within reach; I believe that's the official definition of Toddler Heaven.

Beyond the fun, I love that Playscape has everything we could need for the day.  For example, the gigantic family restrooms and hand dryers proved useful when Dorothy discovered The Creek... and mom discovered she forgot a change of clothes. Pro tip: Locate the baby ponchos before your kid finds the splash zone. ;)

 

The best part? We only discovered a portion of Playscape! The exhibit features new activities every day, like music and art classes, and will only grow with our family. Since our first visit to the museum, Dorothy has become more of an explorer within our own home. What was unnoticed or unexciting before, like light switches and ceiling fans, have suddenly become a daily discovery. Let me tell you, there's nothing cooler than turning on the lights in the morning when you're 10 months old!

We laughed, we played and we even had an elusive car nap. I'd say our first visit to The Children's Museum was a success!

Dot water  Dot sleeping

Samantha

Join us for The Black Hat Bash, Creepy Carnival

BHBlogoNote: This blog was originally posted in 2013 and is now updated for the 2014 Haunted House season!
 
The Black Hat Bash is back, bigger and “creepier” than ever! Come on down with family and friends to a Creepy Carnival event at The Children's Museum Guild's third annual Black Hat Bash
 
The Black Hat Bash is a special one-night event that celebrates the oldest continually operating haunted house in the nation!  It's not only the biggest and best family Halloween party in town—it's also the public’s first look at this year's Haunted House, Creepy Carnival. So if your family is counting down the days to the Haunted House, this is the party for you and you can experience Creepy Carnival a day early! It's an all-ages affair that promises to be frightfully fun!
 
This year’s bash is Friday night, October 10th from 6:30-9:30 p.m. and is complete with food stations from local restaurants, spellbinding spirits, and beautifully batty beverages. Peru Circus performers will make an appearance to show off their juggling skills and other carnival-themed acts. You'll experience Halloween hilarity throughout the museum, dancing to spooky tunes spinned by a devilish DJ, taking part in a crazy costume contest, and playing in DreamAuthentics "Dreadful" arcade with ghostly games and activities. And, don't forget that every attendee receives a ticket to the Haunted House, which can be used during the event or during any Haunted House hours, Oct. 11-31. 
 

WizardOfOz

Want to hear the best part? Proceeds from the Black Hat Bash are part of the larger Haunted House fundraising effort led by The Children’s Museum Guild each year. The Guild has raised more than $9.5 million since it began in 1964, supporting museum initiatives such as the Foster Family program, Access Pass, and Neighborhood programs.

This is one night at the museum that you don’t want to miss! Get your costumes ready and start counting down the days to this un-BOO-lievable kickoff to the 51st Haunted House. You'll want to purchase tickets in advance as Black Hat Bash is likely to sellout quickly. Advance tickets are $5 off, and you can reserve a VIP table for 8 of your family and friends. See all of the ticket options and reserve yours online or by calling 317-334-4000. Buy your tickets now! We'll see you there!
 

Why do referees wear black and white stripes?

Why do referees wear black and white stripes?Football season is officially here. Each weekend, our favorite teams hit the field to light up our Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. With that, iconic fall images of tailgating, big-screen TVs, cool weather, fan paraphernalia and favorite players come to mind. But let’s not forget those that help make game days happen: the referees. Their iconic black and white striped shirts are hard to miss … and that’s exactly the point.

Why do referees wear black and white stripes? We answer this question with help from The New York Times

Before 1920, referees wore white dress shirts and bow-tie. 

“The notion was that a formally dressed gentleman has an air of authority, and that’s what you want in an official,” Paul Lukas, editor of the Uni Watch blog, told The New York Times.

While the notion may have stayed the same, the white attire changed when referee Lloyd Olds was passed a ball during play. Bothered by what happened, Olds asked a friend that owned a sporting goods store to make him a shirt that would more clearly separate him from the players. 

A year later, in 1921, Olds debuted his black and white stripes much to the dismay of the fans. But like it or not, the shirt did its job – it distinguished Olds from the players on the field. 

“It’s an effective design,” said Lukas regarding the classic zebra stripe to The New York Times. “It functions just the way Lloyd Olds wanted it to.” Besides, now it’s tradition. “At this point, we have almost a century’s worth of strong visual associations with officials in black stripes, and it’s hard to see that changing.”

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

What Makes XTREME SCREAM Extreme?

This year’s Haunted House has not one, not two, but three scare levels to choose from! But what makes Xtreme Scream so extreme? The Children's Museum Guild's witches tell us what to expect...

Xtreme Scream Haunted House

Do you consider yourself a thrill seeker?  Are you the type of person that likes to take things to the extreme?  If you answered “yes” then this year’s Haunted House has an experience you won’t want to miss…XTREME SCREAM!  Xtreme Scream late night Fridays and Saturdays take guests on a harrowing thrill ride through the Carnival where they will encounter such hideous sights that once seen, cannot be unseen! The Xtreme Scream haunt provides visitors with an extreme psychological experience, taking terror to the next level.

Williams Comfort Air's XTREME SCREAM is geared to ages 15 and older and will have you running to your mommy for comfort! This Haunt incorporates all five senses resulting in sensory overload for patrons. Unlike the “startle scare” of frightening hours, Xtreme Scream is a choreographed “show” that manipulates visitors and takes them on a thrill ride of terror.  Visitors should be aware that extreme props, costumes and make-up will be used to bring the story to life. A “safe sign” will be given to visitors in the event they are unable to make it through the experience.
 
Mark your calendars for Fridays and Saturdays (Oct. 17, 18, 24, and 25) as we go to the XTREME to give you the scariest haunt experience in town. This late-night event is from 9 – 11 p.m... or when the last survivor makes it out alive! Tickets are $12 at the box office or online. Remember, this experience is recommended for teens and adults, and only the bravest of visitors!  Come if you dare….

Saturday Science: Sky in a Glass

Saturday Science: Sky In A GlassIt’s an age-old question: Why is the sky blue? 

With this week’s Saturday Science experiment, from Sciences 360, you can do more than answer this question when your kiddos ask; you can show them, too! 

Materials

  • Water
  • Milk
  • Clear glass cup
  • Flashlight

 

Process

  1. Pour some water into the glass cup.
  2. Shine the flashlight through the sides of the glass. The water should be clear. 
  3. Keep the flashlight light shining through the glass and add drops of milk to the water one at a time. 
  4. Keep adding drops of milk until your mixture becomes blue. 

 

Summary
Why did the milk turn your water blue? For the same reason the sky is blue! 

Milk contains tiny molecules of protein and fat which are nearly the same size as atmospheric dust. As you added drops of milk to the water, the beam of light emitted by your flashlight hit these tiny molecules, absorbed the energy, and then re-emitted it in different directions.

The same thing happens in our atmosphere when sunlight encounters tiny bits of dust. According to Sciences 360, “These particles absorb energy from the incident light, vibrate, and then re-emit the light, scattering it in all directions.” While all colors are scattered, blue and violet are scattered the most. This phenomenon is known as Rayleigh scattering. 

Rayleigh scattering makes our milk mixture and our skies blue because it is the blue light that reaches our eyes, which are more sensitive to blue than violet.

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

Marathon-Friendly Costumes for the Black Hat Dash

The Children’s Museum Guild has used their witchy powers to create a new event for your family and friends to enjoy as a part of this year’s Creepy Carnival Haunted House! For those families who are looking for opportunities to stay active, our new Black Hat Dash 2k/5k is just for you! On Oct. 11 at 9 a.m., you can not only run off all that candy that you’ve been snacking on―but also, dress up! What better way is there to run than in a fun costume? Running in a costume might be tricky, so we’ve brainstormed a few DIY Creepy Carnival costume ideas that you can actually run in comfortably. 

 

The "not-so-scary" clown for femalesThe “not-so-scary” clown for girls. This costume features a homemade tutu with primary colors to give it that circus feel. Tutus are popular, easy to make, and even easier to run in—so a clown costume incorporating a tutu is the way to go! You can find a complete DIY tutu tutorial here. For the top, wear a white shirt using either three petti flowers to represent buttons or colorful suspender bands. To keep your legs warm in the cold October weather, add knee-high rainbow socks. Finally, don’t forget to paint your nose red and add some colorful bows in your hair to complete the look. 

 

 

The Ring MasterThe Ring Master. This costume can be altered in many different ways. You can wear black or red pants and top it off with either a red or striped blazer over a white shirt. Make sure to wear an old and lightweight blazer so you don’t overheat while running! To add to the ring master look, make sure to incorporate a bow tie or small top hat that will stay on your head. Remember whips as props won’t be allowed at the race, but this costume is simple and can easily be put together the day before the dash. 

 

 

 

The StrongmanThe Strongman. Want to run a race while looking tough doing it? Then the strongman costume is for you! For this simple look, wear black pants, a black striped shirt and black suspender bands, if you please. You can also choose to wear red instead of black, or add leotards. The choice is yours! To add some toughness to the costume, paint yourself a curly mustache and wear a top hat. This costume is comfortable to run in and makes you look intimidating. You can also create your own bar weight by using black Styrofoam balls and a black rod. However, save this prop for our Haunted House since you won’t be able to run with it. 

 

The simple Popcorn or BalloonsThe simple Popcorn or Balloons. This costume may be simple, but it's definitely creative! You can dress up as your favorite carnival food by wearing red striped pants and a red striped shirt. If you don’t have red striped clothes, you can create your own by adding red duct tape to your white clothing. Then, super glue popcorn to a white winter hat and voila ―you’re a bag of popcorn! You can choose to be balloons instead by keeping the striped clothes but tying a few small balloons to a headband instead. 

 

 

 

To check out some of our other fa-BOO-lous costume ideas, visit our Pinterest page. Remember that masks and props that represent weapons will not be allowed at the race, but creativity is encouraged! Sign up for the Black Hat Dash run today! 

NOTE: If you plan on participating in the Black Hat Dash 5K/2K Run & Walk, remember that toy guns are not allowed, as well as dogs, bikes, and scooters. Strollers are permitted. 

Picture attribution:
Clown costume from http://www.babble.com/home/best-handmade-halloween-costumes-for-kids-part-i/ 
Ring master costume from http://whatiwore.tumblr.com/post/33833155211/homemade-halloween-the-ringmaster 
Strongman costume from http://www.canadianfamily.ca/halloween-guide-2012/ 
Balloon costume from http://www.studiodiy.com/2013/10/09/diy-clever-halloween-costume-toppers-part-1/ 

An Exhibit Developer's Take on #AskaCurator

Cathy MelissaOn September 17, 2014, The Children's Museum took part in #AskaCurator Day for the third year in a row. #AskaCurator is a global social media campaign that gives online users the chance to tweet with curators at museums around the world. This year, over 700 museums from 43 countries took part, and we were right there with them! We like to include a variety of staff in the #AskaCurator fun, including our Director of Collections, our Archivist, our Exhibit Developers, and our Paleontologists.

Many of the questions are so great, the answer can't possibly fit in a tweet! So we compiled the answers in blog posts to make sure that nothing is missed. This blog highlights the #AskaCurator responses from Children's Museum's exhibit developers, Cathy Hamaker and Melissa Pederson.

What is the most random question you have ever been asked about an artifact or exhibit? 

MELISSA: I was once asked if we were planning to put laser eyes in Leonardo, our mummified dinosaur fossil.  #Toomuchscoobydoo

What is your earliest museum memory?  

MELISSA: I first visited the museum as a 22 year old intern.  During my initial tour of TCM, I wanted to escape and go play in Passport to the World!  

How do you feel about the increased use of technology in museums? Would you like to see more, or less?

MELISSA: I welcome any kind of tool, digital or not, that tells the story of a cool artifact. Depending on the situation, sometimes tech is best, and sometimes a simple label is best. 

CATHY: Tech that enhances immersive exhibit experience is great, tech that distracts from it is not.  I like it best when tech meshes with hands-on tactile interactive experiences—tech that doesn't look like tech is great.

Any juicy inside info or perks about the glamorous life of a curator?

MELISSA: As part of the upcoming exhibit, I got to visit Hasbro’s toy design offices, and meet the Transformer’s toy designers!

An Archivist's Take on #AskaCurator

On September 17, 2014, The Children's Museum took part in #AskaCurator Day for the third year in a row. #AskaCurator is a global social media campaign that gives online users the chance to tweet with curators at museums around the world. This year, over 700 museums from 43 countries took part, and we were right there with them! We like to include a variety of staff in the #AskaCurator fun, including our Director of Collections, our Archivist, our Exhibit Developers, and our Paleontologists.

Many of the questions are so great, the answer can't possibly fit in a tweet! So we compiled the answers in blog posts to make sure that nothing is missed. This blog highlights the #AskaCurator responses from Children's Museum registrar and archivist, Jennifer Noffze. 

 

What is your favorite museum memory?

Seeing a hunk of rubber on the floor in the workshop of Thomas Edison’s summer home. He and Henry Ford had been experimenting and this was one of the results from their tests.

Which object at your museum do you most want to get out and play with?

I would want to try the Ring Roller Reducing machine!  This device from the 1930s promised to roll away the inches in just 10 treatments!

What makes your institution unique?  

The fact that we have a collection. Most children’s museums don’t have a collection.  And ours gets a lot of use!

How do you feel about the increased use of technology in museums? Would you like to see more, or less?

I’m all for it—quality digital technology has the ability to enhance the museum visit and allow for increased interaction with our visitors.  Also, we are able to share more of our collection that isn’t on display!

What is the most bizarre object in the collection? 

I personally like the Permanent Wave Machine.  It kind of looks like a torture device.

Cotton or latex gloves? #eternalquestion

You know, it depends on what I’m working with.  Archival materials—definitely latex.  Textiles—I prefer cotton. 

Any juicy inside info or perks about the glamorous life of a curator?

Sometimes Curators get to travel to Egypt, China and other places around the world!

A Paleontologist's Take on #AskaCurator

Dallas

On September 17, 2014, The Children's Museum took part in #AskaCurator Day for the third year in a row. #AskaCurator is a global social media campaign that gives online users the chance to tweet with curators at museums around the world. This year, over 700 museums from 43 countries took part, and we were right there with them! We like to include a variety of staff in the #AskaCurator fun, including our Director of Collections, our Archivist, our Exhibit Developers, and our Paleontologists.

Many of the questions are so great, the answer can't possibly fit in a tweet! So we compiled the answers in blog posts to make sure that nothing is missed. This blog highlights the #AskaCurator responses from Children's Museum paleontologist and natural science curator, Dallas Evans. 

What is the most random question you have ever been asked about an artifact or exhibit?

“Would a T. rex bury its poo like a cat does?”

That was a totally unexpected question from a 7 year old girl. It’s a good question too. She was able to make an observation, speculate on the behavior of a long extinct animal, and ask a very novel question. She’d have a great future as a scientist. But what about a T. rex litter box? We don’t have any evidence of this in the geologic record,… but it’s an interesting possibility.

What is your earliest museum memory?

My 4th grade class from Leo Elementary went to The Field Museum in Chicago. Do I remember the exhibits?  –  No. Do I recall the incredible geological, biological and ethnographic objects on display? – Nope! 

My first museum memory is depositing money into a machine that created dinosaur models out of hot wax.  I was particularly fond on the Apatosaurus and the T. rex

How do you feel about the increased use of technology in museums? Would you like to see more, or less?

Absolutely -  let’s have more technology in museums.

Let’s also have more cool exhibits,  increased use of artifacts,  lots of  hands-on programs, and of course lots of visitors too. More is good.

Any juicy inside info or perks about the glamorous life of a curator?

  • Sometimes we get free muffins.
  • I've rappelled into a pit cave to collect ice age bones. I landed right on several years worth of raccoon poo.
  • I've been grilled by a Canadian Customs official about a plastic dinosaur replica.

 

Our Director of Collection's Take on #AskaCurator

ChrisOn September 17, 2014, The Children's Museum took part in #AskaCurator Day for the third year in a row. #AskaCurator is a global social media campaign that gives online users the chance to tweet with curators at museums around the world. This year, over 700 museums from 43 countries took part, and we were right there with them! We like to include a variety of staff in the #AskaCurator fun, including our Director of Collections, our Archivist, our Exhibit Developers, and our Paleontologists.

Many of the questions are so great, the answer can't possibly fit in a tweet! So we compiled the answers in blog posts to make sure that nothing is missed. This blog highlights the #AskaCurator responses from Children's Museum's Director of Collections, Chris Carron.

What is the most random question you have ever been asked about an artifact or exhibit? 

Some people ask why we don’t exhibit everything we own. Others ask why we don’t have a garage sale for everything not currently on exhibit.

What is your earliest museum memory?  

Growing up in St. Louis, art museum visits were free so we went often. I got to buy a small book from a series on artists each time.

What is your favorite museum memory?

Seeing the drawers of glass animal eyes used by the taxidermist at St. Louis Science Center as a boy scout.

Which object at your museum do you most want to get out and play with?

The Superman vs. Metallo Rock ’Em Sock ‘Em set!

What makes your institution unique?  

Most children’s museums don’t use object collections, but we do! Children like to be wowed by the “real stuff of life” as much as adults.

How do you feel about the increased use of technology in museums? Would you like to see more, or less?

Museums are where you can encounter the “real thing” and not just photos or replicas. But technology can also make those encounters richer!

What is the most bizarre object in the collection? 

An adult-sized wooden coffin from Ghana, carved and painted to look like a running shoe.

Cotton or latex gloves? #eternalquestion

Even better – gloves or no gloves? Gloves prevent damage from oils on skin. But if you might drop something heavy then clean hands are best!

Any juicy inside info or perks about the glamorous life of a curator?

My life isn’t glamorous. But getting to care for a terra cotta warrior or Willy Wonka’s golden ticket is the greatest thing in the world!

Crack the Code and Discover Dino-mite Fun!

Unlock the Konami Code at childrensmuseum.orgThere are many of us here at the museum who grew up playing video games. I personally remember playing old school Nintendo with my brother in the basement at my grandma’s house. He always beat me because he’d do some crazy button sequence on the controller and magically 30 lives would appear on the screen. I never knew how he did it.

When The Children’s Museum launched its new website in April, the web team talked about how we have to have a Konami code on our site. I looked around, everyone was excited, and I had to be the one person in the room to ask…”what’s that?!”  

According to Wikipedia, the Konami Code was created by Kazuhisa Hashimoto, who was developing the 1985 arcade game Gradius. He found it too difficult to play so he created a cheat code to give players a full set of power. When the game launched he forgot to remove it, and players discovered the shared code thus launching the Konami code. Now there are more than 100 games that use it—from the original NES to PS3 and Xbox 360 platforms, you can do the “secret” sequence and earn extra points or unlock extra lives.

It’s all making sense now. Remind me to call my brother and challenge him to a rematch.

So what does this have to do with the world’s largest children’s museum website? Other popular websites like Buzzfeed, Vogue UK and Wired UK all have Konami codes, but only a handful of museums have ever done so…until now.

Go try it! Visit childrensmuseum.org then use the arrow keys to type in: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, enter…unlock the fun!

Our super-talented Interactive Technology Designer and Developer Jason Smith created the coolest surprise for you at the end of our Konami code. “When I was asked to create a Konami code Easter egg for our newly designed website, I knew that I wanted to create an experience that was reminiscent of the retro 8-bit platform games I grew up playing in the 80s. I remember relying on the Konami Code to defeat some challenging games and the code has stuck in my head ever since. Utilizing the latest features of HTML5, I’ve transported our beloved mascot, Rex, into the hero role of his own retro style game that can be played in modern web browsers”

We hope that web designers, gamers, kids, and families will all enjoy the game and pass the Konami code along to the next generation of video game players. In the meantime, enjoy this homage to our childhood gaming experience.

 

How To Talk Like a Pirate

BenPirateBen Schuetz has been an Actor/Interpreter at The Children’s Museum for over 3 years. Ben portrayed Max in the 2012 Lilly Theater summer production of How I Became a Pirate. In the Treasures of the Earth gallery, Ben can be found portraying Captain Kidd and helping visitors interpret clues they’ve found around the shipwreck. Last holiday season, Ben revived his role as Max the pirate in Lilly Theater in the world premiere of Jingle Aargh the Way!
 
I've had multiple opportunities to portray a pirate around the museum, including participating in Talk Like a Pirate Day! During this event I instruct visitors on the pirate vernacular as well as general piratical protocol. Having played a pirate several times now, I've discovered a few helpful tricks that help me get into character. What better time to share them with you than Talk Like a Pirate Day?

 

First, it's important to sound like a pirate. I actually performed a number called “Talk Like a Pirate” In How I Became a Pirate. Let’s face it—if you’re not on top of your pirate jargon, you’re not fooling anybody. Some basics to remember...say "Aye" to express agreement, "Ye" instead of "You," and "Arrr" for everything in between! I always make sure to grunt a lot, too.

Gross teeth are a must. Mehron is a brand that makes very convincing tooth paint, in all the colors of the oral hygienic neglect rainbow. This stuff is also great for events, as it looks real, even close up. Plus, it has a pleasant minty flavor—unlike actual tooth decay.
 
While most pirates probably didn’t bathe regularly, this is one aspect of pirate life I’ve chosen not to embrace. This is done in consideration of my fellow actors. Daniel Day Lewis would most likely scoff at this notion, but not all of us have the luxury to go completely "method" in our acting. 
 
I'm a big fan of mustache wax.  Again, I'm uncertain of the historical authenticity here, but, gosh—it makes me feel like a pirate!
 
Finally, listening to the band Flogging Molly, with its raucous, sea shanty storytelling, really helps me get into that pirate state of mind—however, I wouldn't recommend this band for young ones. But don't worry! This Saturday we'll have Hogeye Navvy here for some family-friendly high sea tunes!
 
While International Talk Like a Pirate Day is Friday, September 19, here at the museum we'll be celebrating this Saturday from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. So come on out and give me your best "Arrrr!" 

Saturday Science: Pretty Pennies

Saturday Science: Pretty PenniesFind a penny, pick it up, and all day long, you’ll have good luck. 

But why is it that most of the pennies you find are covered in brown dirt and grime? Is there a way to make your lucky penny shine brightly? You bet! In this week’s Saturday Science, found on The Teachers Corner, discover how to clean pennies with just a little ketchup and a little elbow grease. 

Materials

  • Several old pennies 
  • Ketchup (or anything with vinegar: hot sauce, mustard, salad dressing, or just plain old vinegar)

 

Process:

  1. Squirt some ketchup onto a plate. 
  2. Place 3 to 4 pennies into the ketchup. 
  3. Add a little more ketchup so that all the pennies are covered. 
  4. Let them sit for a minute or two. 
  5. Now, get your hands messy! Rub each penny with your fingers, and then rinse it off in a sink. 

 

Summary:
What happened? The ketchup made your pennies look like new! 

Before they became bright and shiny, your pennies were covered in copper oxide. Similar to rust, which is formed by the combination of iron and oxygen, copper oxide is a brown matter formed by copper and oxygen. 

The Teachers Corner explains that “when you put the penny into the ketchup, the vinegar in the ketchup combines with the copper oxide to form a chemical called copper acetate. Copper acetate dissolves in water, so you wind up with a nice, bright penny.”

Now give your bright and shiny penny to a friend, and then your luck will never end!

Inspired by the Museum: From Terra Cotta to Play-Doh

Warriors mashupThis post was written by Children's Museum Blog AmbassadorChrystal Turner
Follow Chrystal's posts on the blog or follow her on Twitter @seaofsavings

My daughter started her school year off telling her friends all the exciting things she did over the summer. She had fun times playing with friends, a trip to the beach, and she got big-time cool points when she said she saw the eighth wonder of the world! No, we didn’t spend thousands and go on some fancy trip.  

All I can say is, "Wow"!  If you have had a chance to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit at The Children’s Museum you know exactly what I mean. If not, this is one exhibit you do not want to miss. My family and I had a chance to tour the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit last month, and from the moment you walk through the large wooden doors you can just tell something exciting awaits! You then walk through another set of doors and are taken back many centuries  to learn the story of this amazing army that protects the tomb of Qin Shi Huang.  

Chariot

One of the most mind boggling facts about this is that it took over 7,000 laborers over forty years to build—and this army covers the size of four football fields! Crazy right? Yes, real artifacts from the eighth wonder of the world are in our backyard. We loved every moment.  For the kids, one of the most fun parts is making their own warrior with clay. The whole drive home all she could talk about was how cool it was to make those warriors. She wanted to make her own clay creations at home.

Ever since our trip, Play-Doh has become cool again at our house! She has taken it to a whole new level by making super-cute creations that she uses to play with her Barbies and Littlest Pet Shops. Check out all these great food creations she's made!

Play-Doh

This goes to show that learning one thing opens kids up to so much creativity. One thing leads to another and you never know where it will take you next! This amazing exhibit is here just a short time and it ends November 2, 2014, so now is the time to make a family fun day trip. Plan to be amazed!

Blog Ambassador Tag Chrystal

Get Ready for Chinese Shadow Puppet Theatre!

Shadow Puppet

One thing that makes a visit to The Children’s Museum so extraordinary is the chance to immerse your family in new ideas through hands-on adventures—all guided by our incredible actor-interpreters! This fall in Take Me There:® China, your family can experience China in a whole new way in Play a Part: Chinese Shadow Puppets.

In this engaging, hands-on program, children go behind the scenes of a Chinese shadow puppet theater show, helping the puppet master and his apprentice create and present a lively performance—complete with sound effects! Children will be part of the adventures of Monkey King as they learn about creating characters’ voices and movements, developing and playing sound effects with musical instruments, and manipulating puppets. After putting the finishing touches on the show, families will help perform the complete puppet show in People's Park for everyone to enjoy!

The Details

  • The “Play a Part: Chinese Shadow Puppets” program will be offered in fall 2014 beginning Sept. 9.
  • Tickets are free but space is limited. Tickets are available 5 minutes before the program begins.
  • The program last 35 minutes. For daily times, visit the museum’s website or check the sign at the front of the Take Me There gallery.

What Is Shadow Puppet Theatre?
Shadow puppetry is a popular type of storytelling that began in China 2,000 years ago and has spread to many other places around the world. Shadow puppets are flat figures cut from paper or another material. They usually have moving parts like heads, arms, and legs, which the puppeteer controls with sticks. Puppeteers work behind a translucent screen (a kind of fabric that lets light pass through). The screen is lit from behind, allowing the audience to see the puppets from the other side of the screen, but not the puppeteer.

Who Is Monkey King?

Get ready to meet a star of stage, screen, and scroll! Monkey King is one of China’s most beloved fable characters—smart, fast, strong, and a little rebellious, he is a favorite of children and adults alike. Monkey King knows many spells and his powers include the ability to travel hundreds of miles in one somersault, to
magically transform his hairs into animals or objects, and the ability to instantly change his size. Monkey King first appeared in the 1500s in the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West. His adventures have been adapted into Chinese opera and shadow puppet productions, stage plays and musicals, animated and feature films, comics, manga, anime, and even video and arcade games. Monkey King is busy!