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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!

Why is a Supermoon Super?

Why is a supermoon super?Tonight – at 9:38 PM EDT – if you walk outside and look into the sky, you’ll see a big, beautiful full moon. But it won’t be just any full moon; it will be a supermoon!

Why will tonight’s moon be super? We answer this question with help from Universe Today and Slate.

Every 27 days, the Moon completely orbits Earth. When the Moon positions itself opposite the Sun, the half that faces us lights up. We call this a full moon. 

Slate explains that “because the Moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse, not a circle, the distance between us and the Moon changes all the time.” 

When the Moon is closest to Earth in orbit, it reaches perigee. Conversely, when the Moon is farthest from Earth in orbit, it reaches apogee. 

For a supermoon to occur, the Moon must reach its perigee within 24 hours of becoming a full moon. If this happens, the already big and bright full moon appears a little bigger and a little brighter. 

Twenty-two hours and eight minutes before tonight’s moon becomes full, it will reach its perigee at about 222,691 miles from Earth. Because it will reach this distance within 24 hours of becoming full, the moon will be considered a supermoon. 

While this moon might be super, it’s not quite as super as the full moon that occurred on June 23, 2014. That night the Moon perigee happened just 27 minutes before the moon became full! 

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

Saturday Science: Water Magnifier

Saturday Science: Water Magnifier When something is so small you can barely see it, how do you find out what it is? Why, use a magnifying glass, of course! In this week’s Saturday Science experiment, found on education.com, discover the magic of magnifiers with just a drop of water. 

 

Materials

  • 2 by 3 inch piece of cardboard
  • One-inch square piece of thin, clear plastic
  • Pair of scissors
  • Tape
  • Water
  • Spoon 
  • Newspaper

 

Process

  1. Carefully cut a dime-sized hole in the middle of the cardboard.
  2. Set the clear piece of plastic over the hole and tape it down. Tape it around the edges, without covering the hole. 
  3. Fold each end of the cardboard down 1/4 inch.
  4. Dip the tip of the spoon in the water. Hold the spoon directly over the center of the hole, and let one drop of water fall onto the plastic.
  5. Set a piece of newspaper with print on the table.
  6. Carefully lift the magnifier and set it down on top of the paper.
  7. Look straight down through the top of the water drop.

 

Summary
When you looked through your magnifier did the printing on the paper appear to be magnified? 

YES! 

A magnifying glass works because its shape bends the light waves passing through it. As the light waves leave the other side of the lens, it bends them so that they start traveling outward. By the time the light waves hit your eye, they’re much more spread out, and the thing you’re looking at appears larger. 

The water droplet in this experiment is doing the same thing! As it sits on the clear plastic, it takes a shape similar to the lens in a magnifying glass, and it spreads out the light before it reaches your eye.

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! 

Materials

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

 

Process:

  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. 

 

Summary:
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 www.katieunscripted.com 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!

 

Materials:

  • 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

 

Process:

  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!

 

Summary:
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