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The Power of Children Awards—An Intern's Perspective

Andrew Power of ChildrenCurrent Intern Andrew Kimmel is working on a number of our special 10 year anniversary projects for the Power of Children Awards. He shares his story about being introduced to this endeavor and the impact it's already created in his life.

If you, or someone you know in grades 6-11, is making an extraordinary difference in the lives of other, nominate them for the Power of Children Awards at http://www.childrensmuseum.org/poca-apply.

On my desk is a stack of applications and questionnaires from previous awardees of the Power of Children Awards. (That’s right, interns get desks!) I’ve been rereading them to prepare for POCA’s 10th anniversary. Part of my internship is to follow-up with our previous winners and create a “Where are they now?” book in time for this year’s ceremony in November. I’ve also been analyzing the impact all of our winners have collectively had.

And it's been a wild ride already! Millions of dollars have been raised, hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted, and many others have been inspired to volunteer. I’m not even done counting yet. Whenever I get in touch with another POCA winner, I tell them they can add another tally mark to their impact column. Reading their stories has inspired me to seek out volunteer opportunities myself.

I didn’t think that coming into work every day and feeling inspired to change the world would be my favorite part of my internship. It is. I’m hoping to bring that same feeling of inspiration to others with our book celebrating each of our previous winners and teaching the next generation of philanthropists ways to make their own impact on the world.

I spend a lot of time in between reading and writing walking up to our Power of Children gallery that highlights the stories of Ryan White, Ruby Bridges, and Anne Frank. I’ve been to the gallery almost 100 times, but each time I'm reminded again and again through these stories of perseverance and altruism that even the tiniest voice can reach millions.

 

Learn more about the award's 10th anniversary and past winners.

 

A Great American Museum Advocate—Spencer's Story

SpencerThis January, eight year old Children's Museum member Spencer Hahn was named a 2014 Great American Museum Advocate by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Spencer was one of two youth selected from nominations submitted by museums across the country. This week he's joined by more than 300 museum professionals for Museums Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., where he'll help to make the case for federal support of museums, showing the profound ways museums are serving Americans. This blog is a reprint of Spencer's original nomination—a story that is truly extraordinary. As AAM president Ford W. Bell stated, "In Spencer's case, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis literally changed his life, and the lives of his family. What better public service can there be?"

 

 

They thought he would never talk. They thought he would never walk. Today, eight year old Spencer Hahn is proving them all wrong as he runs into a museum to throw his arms around his favorite dinosaur and give him with a great, big hug. You see, this rambunctious little boy loves theater, a big, cuddly, green dinosaur mascot named Rex, and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. His mother credits these three things with changing her little boy's life forever. 
 
It all started when Spencer suffered a stroke in-utero. Complications led to life-long challenges. “Spencer experienced a neonatal stroke, which induced symptoms of cerebral palsy, grand mal seizures, and neurobehavioral difficulties felt to be Autism Spectrum Disorder,” said Dr. Luis Escobar, medical director of Medical Genetics and Neurodevelopment at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent. “Children with these diagnoses experience many physical mobility limitations that required significant rehabilitation services, and often need behavioral therapy to address social skills.”
 
"When I first got the diagnosis and saw the MRI, I'm not going to lie, I literally sat in a corner for 24 hours and cried my eyes out,” said Erica Hahn. “Then I got up and made a plan. The plan was never about how to get him to talk or how to get him to walk. I knew I didn't have control of such things. I knew that he needed to feel happy and safe. I threw out the baby books and made the choice to let Spencer decide when/if he was going to walk or talk. I focused on how he could be happy and that meant visiting the museum. We went weekly. Turns out I was right—provide children with an environment where they feel happy and safe, and add to that stimulation- and milestone-building museum adventures, and you find success. It was never an option not to be happy, it was always an option to walk or talk. I am grateful that he chose to do both."

Spencer Dan CoatesAbout the time he was one year old, Spencer’s mother decided to actively do something to help her son by bringing him to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis for stimulation.That's when something extraordinary began to happen. Spencer responded. He took his first steps in the Playscape exhibit—in fact, his mom claims most of Spencer’s “firsts” happened at the museum, including his first successful attempts at climbing and his first words, which were spoken near the carousel. Those are just the tangible outcomes. Spencer’s mother believes her son also developed his confidence through personal interactions with staff members at the museum. “The Museum and its staff have given him a much more important milestone....they teach him to be confident, they teach him to love himself even when things are hard. And, they teach him how to be a good friend—all because of the way they are with him. Confidence is a huge milestone and one I see emerging more and more every time we visit,” said Erica Hahn. 
 
The interactions with the acting staff have had a profound effect on Spencer. Every time he visits the Lilly Theater within the museum, he stays after to talk to the actors about their performances, get autographs, and have his picture taken with them.
 
“Spencer is definitely our biggest fan,” said Krista Layfield, manager of Lilly Theater. “Whenever he and his family come to our performances they are always early so they can get their favorite seats in the front row. During the show we will often see Spencer performing right along with the actors by dancing in the aisle and singing along with the music. The actors and I feel fortunate and blessed to know Spencer and his family and we love to see the positive impact all of or our hard work is making in his life.”
 
“Many children thrive with a consistent routine that allows repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities,” said Cathy Southerland, Director of Early Childhood Education. “Providing clear beginnings and endings is often beneficial. The Children’s Museum provides the reassurance to children that they will be able to enjoy many of the same sights and sounds at the beginning of each visit—Bumblebee and the Water Clock, for example—and at the end of each visit, like the End of the Day Parade.”

Donnelly Spencer Hahn Museum Advocate“For patients with autism and physical limitations, it's imperative that they receive early intervention and stimulation. Activities such as participation in social groups and educational experiences with organizations like The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis have helped Spencer to develop social skills, improve attention and gain awareness of his environment,” said Dr. Escobar. Dr. Escobar also said that as patients with autism and physical limitations receive early intervention and stimulation, like Spencer has, their health typically improves over time. In light of Spencer’s response to medical treatment and behavioral therapy, Dr. Escobar believes that Spencer’s needs will decrease as he gets older.

Believe it or not, Spencer's very favorite part of his day is when it is about to end. That is when the museum hosts its End of the Day Parade to usher families out as the museum is about to close for the day. That is when the little boy who was never supposed to walk or talk, marches down the ramp, through the museum, alongside his hero - Rex (Rex is the big, green, dinosaur Children’s Museum mascot who leads the parade). Spencer’s mom says her son literally wants to be Rex when he grows up. She chuckles as she shares there have been multiple times they have visited the museum when it opens just to see Rex, left to run errands and then returned to join Rex in the parade.  
 
“Quite simply Spencer would not be who he is, without Rex and the rest of the museum staff and that is not an exaggeration.  We are lucky to live in Indianapolis and be part of such an amazing place.  I like to think of Spencer's life like a book that he will someday write.  Each chapter will be a person or place that has meant something to him.  I hope my chapter reads, ‘She always did the best she could.’  I can only imagine that the chapter on the museum might be as simple as a smiley face - happiness is simple.  Rex is his happiness!”
 
When Spencer completed his 100th End of the Day Parade, Children’s Museum staff members made a special banner with pictures of Spencer and Rex and asked him to lead the parade. He was so excited he cried and told his mom, "Mom these are happy tears because my museum loves me!"  
 
“It's true,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “Our whole staff loves him. This little boy is an adorable reminder that the things children and families learn in a museum and the people they meet have the power to transform lives. Spencer truly does serve as an inspiration to us as he is a testament to strength, courage and determination and we are proud to call him our friend.”

Why Do Animal Hands Look Different Than Ours?

From our 10 fingers to our palms, our two hands are important features of the human body. In fact, our opposable thumbs are what classify us as primates. But we aren’t the only creatures on earth that rely so heavily on these extremities. We find out why the hands of five animals from the Animal Secrets exhibit look different than ours with help from The Natural History Museum, PBS, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Pacific Northwest Laboratory and National Geographic.  

 

Bats

Like humans, bats have four fingers and a thumb on each of their two hands. The difference is their fingers are very long and thin. On many bats, they can be as long as the body. But the thumb is what makes bats’ hands so unique and necessary. While it’s small compared to the other four fingers, it has a claw, which is necessary for grip in caves, on branches, etc., when the bat is in its roost.

 

Beavers

Because beavers live on land and in water, their hands must not only be suited for both climates, but they must also be useful for building their dams. Their dexterous front feet and toes are similar to human hands in that they are able to pick up small objects and use them for building, while their hind feet are webbed so that they can swim efficiently through water.

 

Black Bears

Four feet that you don’t want to come into contact with belong to the black bear. All four feet have five toes, each with a large, sharp claw. These claws, along with their sense of smell and powerful forearms, make these animals skilled hunters and gathers. According to the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, black bears can “dig out plant tubers or small rodents, tear apart rotten logs to find grubs, climb trees and break off branches to gather nuts, ‘pick’ raspberries and blueberries, and travel long distances in search of new food resources.”

 

Porcupines

While you and I have 20 digits on our hands and feet, the porcupine only has 18. Their front feet have just four toes, and the back feet have five. That doesn’t make their hands and feet any less useful than ours, however. Each one of their 18 toes comes equipped with a strong curved claw. These claws allow the porcupine to climb trees or strip away bark for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

 

Racoons

Raccoons’ dexterous front paws and toes are an important feature for the animal’s survival and getting into things they shouldn’t be getting into. Not only can their toes grasp food, but they can also get a hold of door knobs and latches. But what makes a raccoon’s paws even more unique is their sense of touch, which increases underwater.  

 

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

Saturday Science: Frozen Bubble

frozen bubble saturday science

After this winter, it's safe to say we all know what frozen looks like. But what about a frozen bubble? Find out in this week's Saturday Science experiment!

Materials

  • Liquid Soap
  • Water
  • Large bucket or dish
  • Straw
  • Plate
  • Freezer

Process

  1. Prepare your "bubble juice." Mix up water and baby shampoo, or any liquid soap, in a large bucket or dish.
    TIP: To make soapy water that will produce nice, solid bubbles, combine: 125 ml liquid dish soap, 125 ml corn syrup, 750 ml hot water. Mix and let cool.
  2. Dip your straw in the "bubble juice." Get your straw, or your choice of "bubble wand," and dip it in the "bubble juice." There should be a film of the solution at the end of the straw. Carefully move the straw near your plate.
  3. Blow your bubble. Blow a bubble of any size, just make sure it can fit on the plate. Don't blow it directly onto the plate; blow it right over the plate.
  4. Put your bubble on a plate. Carefully place your bubble on a plate. Your bubbles may pop several times before you can finally put one onto a plate.
  5. Freeze your bubble. Put the dish very gently inside a freezer. Wait for about 30 minutes to an hour, checking on your bubble every 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Take out the bubble. When your bubble is frozen, take out the plate very gingerly, making sure it does not crack. It will last for about 10 minutes, more or less.

Results

Some bubbles will freeze instantly, while others will freeze slowly. If you are careful, you can sometimes hold a bubble in your hands without bursting it. Why are the physical properties of frozen bubbles so different? A bubble is formed by a layer of water molecules trapped between two fine layers of soap molecules. When it is very cold, and the bubble wand is waved very slowly, the water layer freezes before the bubble can burst.
 
If you make a bubble by blowing into the wand, the bubble takes more time to set. The air in the bubble has been warmed by your lungs, and when this warm air comes into contact with cold air it contracts, and the surface of the bubble sets slowly. In both cases, the layers of soap freeze, making the walls of the bubble more solid. After a few seconds or a few minutes, the air captured inside the bubble disperses to the exterior, like a balloon deflating, and the wall of ice collapses under its own weight. Look at the frozen soap wall of a bubble — it looks like a broken eggshell.
 
Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.

Journey of the Jade Horse

Jade HorseBy Tris Perkins, World Cultures Curator

This jade horse and its larger mate took quite the journey to get to The Children's Museum all the way from China—even traveling through extreme weather by train! Typically we would arrange for a climate-controlled environment for shipping an artifact, but the fact that they're made of stone insured that they would weather the trip okay.

Because of the blizzards recently impacting the country, when they arrived at the museum they were frozen! Our conservator kept a close eye on them, though. We opened the crate and allowed it to acclimate to the indoor temperatures for a few days before moving it. This insured that no cracking or other damage would occur. Soon they'll be ready to be installed in our upcoming exhibit Take Me There: China, so they won't have to worry about braving the weather for a long time.

The Creation of The Power of Children Awards

POCA 2013As our blog mentioned last week, The Power of Children Awards is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! As part of this celebration we are looking back at how and why the awards were originally created.

As a result of the development of the Children's Museum’s permanent exhibit The Power of Children: Making a Difference, The Power of Children Awards were created in 2005 to honor and empower Indiana youth in grades 6-11 who were making significant contributions and providing countless hours, through their project based service, to better their communities.

The powerful permanent exhibit focuses on Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White, who touched the world with their courage and perseverance. These three did not select the circumstances of their lives, yet they each made the choice to make a difference.

The Children’s Museum uses The Power of Children Awards to honor and empower youths who have made a significant impact on the lives of others, demonstrated selflessness, and exhibited a commitment to service and the betterment of society. In 2012, the Awards began to accept nominations from across the country, meeting the vision of the Museum to be recognized as the global leader among all museums and cultural institutions serving children and families.

The Power of Children Awards were established by the Deborah Joy Simon Charitable Trust with additional support from IUPUI, University of Indianapolis, Kroger, and WISHTV 8. This year we are happy to announce that Butler University will also be supporting the award winners.

To date, 44 winners from 31 cities have raised millions of dollars and impacted thousands of live around the world. Will you be the next to be recognized? Apply today! If you, or someone you know is in grade 6-11 and making an extraordinary difference in your community, apply or nominate someone today.

Application deadline: Midnight, March 23, 2014

Winners receive:

  • A $2,000.00 grant to continue his or her work.
  • A Four-year Post-secondary Educational Scholarship to a participating institution of higher learning.
  • Recognition in The Power of Children Take Action area, including a video interview about the service project
  • Honor and recognition during a special awards event on Nov. 7, 2014 at The Children’s Museum.

 

Submit your online applications: www.childrensmuseum.org/poca.

Why Do Bats Sleep Upside Down?

While you and I are sleeping, bats soar through the sky in search of a tasty meal. And while you and I are awake, bats are sleeping … upside down! We explain why these nocturnal creatures spend their nights hanging from their talons with help from Animal Planet.

 

There are three reasons the roost makes for a bat’s ideal sleeping position.

 

Bats find these sleeping spots in caves, bridges or hollowed-out trees so that they are hidden from the daytime’s active predators. Not only are they tucked away from most other animals, but they are also in the perfect position for takeoff if danger strikes or dinner arrives.

 

Animal Planet explains that unlike birds, who lift into flight, bats fall into flight. “Their wings don’t produce enough lift to take off from a dead stop, and their hind legs are so small and underdeveloped that they can’t run to build up the necessary takeoff speed.”

 

The third reason you’ll never find a bat sleeping right side up is that it’s just not comfortable. Believe it or not, when a bat is hanging upside down, it is in a relaxed position and is not exerting energy. You and I must clench the tendons and muscles in our fingers to tighten our grip, but a bat is the opposite. The tendons in a bat's talons are connected only to its upper body, so when a bat decides it’s bedtime, it flies into position and pulls its claws open with its body’s muscles. To grab hold of the surface, the bat must let its body relax. The weight of its upper body holds the bat in its roost position. And now, the bat can sleep. … Zzzz … Zzzz … Zzzz…

 

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

Saturday Science: Kissing Balloons

Saturday Science: Kissing BalloonsIn this Saturday Science from Fizzics Education, we'll help you show your little valentines the science behind a balloon smooch!

Materials

  • 2 Balloons
  • 2 Even length strings
  • 1 Rod or stick
  • 2 Even stacks of books

Process

  1. Stack 2 pillars of books, and place the rod across the two stacks.
  2. Blow the balloons up, tie the balloon ends and attach 1 string to each balloon.
  3. Tie the strings to the rod, so that the balloons hang freely from the rod.
  4. Make sure the balloons are the same height.
  5. Blow between the balloons, can you blow them apart? Try using a hairdryer! Why cant you do it?

Results

The mathematician Bernoulli found that moving air has less pressure than air that is still. In your experiment a low pressure area was created between the balloons when you tried to blow them apart. The faster the air moved between the balloons, the lower the air pressure in that space.
 
The high pressure surrounding the balloons pushed the balloons together. The curved surface of the balloon also makes the air travel faster, causing even lower pressure as the air rushes around the edge of the balloon. Curved surfaces are used to create low pressure areas on plane wings and even F1 race cars! Another simple demonstration of this can be done with a funnel and ping pong balls.
 
Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.

 

10 Years of Youth-Organized Impact—Happy Anniversary The Power Children Awards!

Power of Children winners wallDid you know that The Power of Children Awards is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2014?

Wow, we have had some extraordinary things happen since it started in 2005! To date, 44 winners from around the country have impacted thousands of lives. They have created inspiring outcomes that started from seeing a need, family experiences, newspaper headlines, hobbies, and more—and turned them into thriving businesses, school clubs, community and after school programs, events, and facilities to help others. They have found ways to take their interests from the first step as an idea and turn it into a larger plan of action. They overcame struggles and hurdles to find ways to significantly benefit others.

And you know what? We are looking for MORE youth who are currently addressing needs in their communities. Help us share your stories!

If you, or someone you know is in grade 6-11 and making an extraordinary difference in your community, apply or nominate someone today.

Winners receive:

  • A $2,000.00 grant to continue his or her work.
  • A Four-year Post-secondary Educational Scholarship to a participating institution of higher learning.
  • Recognition in The Power of Children Take Action area, including a video interview about the service project
  • Honor and recognition during a special awards event on Nov. 7, 2014 at The Children’s Museum.

Submit your online applications: www.childrensmuseum.org/poca.

Application deadline: Midnight, March 23, 2014

To celebrate the achievements of our The Power of Children Award winners we have started developing some unique and memorable experiences for this year. Over the next few weeks we will share some of these exciting details with you. Until then, help celebrate our past winners by watching their videos.

 

 

Why Do Skunks Stink?

Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. Can you smell that? It’s a skunk. PuuuuuWee! If you’ve ever gotten a whiff of a skunk’s pungent odor, we don’t need to tell you how repelling it can be. But why do skunks stink so badly, you ask? We explain with help from National Geographic and Wonderopolis.

 

That stinky skunk smell that makes you pinch your nose and hold your breath isn’t actually the skunk. It’s the skunk’s defense mechanism–its spray.

 

When a skunk feels threatened by a predator–wolf, fox, badger … or even human–it turns around and releases an oily spray from the glands located underneath its tail.

 

According to Wonderopolis, the spray is made up of sulfur compounds called thiols. While these compounds don’t cause any real damage, they can cause headaches and burning or stinging in the eyes. Most importantly, the spray’s horrible stench will send a skunk’s predator, even a large bear, running in the opposite direction.

 

But because a skunk’s spray glands can only hold enough spray for five or six strikes, the black-and-white striped animal will often try hissing or stomping its feet to scare away an attacker first. If you ever are unfortunate enough to have a skunk hiss or stomp at you, step back and look out! National Geographic states that a skunk’s mist can travel as far as 10 feet.

 

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

 

Saturday Science: Build a Dam

Saturday Science Build a DamCan you make a dam just like mother nature's best builders—beavers? In today's Saturday Science courtesy of PBS Kids, your family can channel their inner busy-beaver and see just how difficult building a dam can be!

Materials

  • Long, shallow, clear Tupperware container
  • Sand
  • Small rocks (like aquarium gravel)
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Bucket full of water

Process

  1. Fill the Tupperware container with sand.
  2. Dig the path of a river in the sand.
  3. Choose a spot somewhere along the river to build your dam.
  4. Use popsicle sticks and small rocks to construct a dam that will let only a little bit of water come through, but not too much. 
  5. Test your dam by pouring water from a bucket down the river path.

Results

A dam is a structure that stops a river from flowing. Keep in mind that the deeper the water, the greater the water pressure. The bottom of your dam will need to support more pressure than the top of your dam. If you built your dam in a triangular shape, then the bottom will be wider and will be able to support more pressure. How did your dam work? Did you have to make adjustments to your design after testing it?

 

If you want to learn more about beavers and other animals, join us in the Animal Secrets exhibit, open now through May 4!

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

 

More Visits, More Discoveries for Myles and Ella | The Playscape 5

Myles CreekFollow along as three families (just like you!) discover Playscape together. The Playscape 5—Torrence, Myles and Ella, and Gage and Paul—will share their experiences as they learn and grow in the gallery...and at home! See Playscape through the eyes of Myles (age 4 1/2)  and Ella (age 2) in this post from mom, Ronnetta. And continue to follow their journey online, on the blog, or by searching the #Playscape5 hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, and Vine!
 
The difference between Myles first visiting Playscape when he was 4-1/2, and then on his 5th birthday, was pleasantly surprising! 
And the difference between Ella visiting at 1-1/2 (and now 2), is remarkable. 
 
By now, I thought that some degree of boredom might have kicked in for our youngsters, but I shelved my silly adult perceptions long ago. As parents know, kids don't mind reruns of their favorite cartoons on the television, and there is a naturally occurring ease and comfort when tykes are able to experience the same joys over and over. The renovated Playscape, a half-year old itself, continues to be a little bundle of joy.
 
Myles—the senior member of the #Playscape5—had been in the Whirly Twirly Tower before, but the pull of the pneumatic goodness that makes up part of the Reaction Contraption was too powerful a lure. When we visited on his birthday January 26, however, he discovered a way to make the Tower work for him. He waited his turn and took the multicolored pink, yellow and orange cloth pieces and pressed them against the rectangular blower vent, all at once, sending them circularly in the air. He enjoyed seeing them in flight (he’s really into a cause-and-effect phase at home), then he spun around chasing them. We love it when the kiddos replicate what they enjoy in the Museum at home. But we’re even happier that the Playscape activity stations are way more durable than our now-dented door frames!
 
 
Another new area for our children this month was The Climber
We have danger-averse little ones, so they're content to be entertained by watching other children sprawl through the lily pads and up to the boat. Slowly but surely, they're working their way up to the top, knowing their No. 1 fear of being “stuck” will be unrealized, as daddy is ready and willing to contort his way to the top to free them. They also enjoy being higher than their parents. After all, who wants to always be looking up at their folks? 
 

Myles Ella Climber

Our impressionable one, Ella follows the lead of her older brother, so where he goes, she follows. But there’s so much activity and commotion that your kids can focus on doing their own thing instead of competing. Ella sprinted off to the Music Studio again and was thrilled by the xylophones, while Myles donned some protective splash-gear, grabbed his favorite fishing net and played in the always-changing current in the Creek. They joined forces again over at the Sandbox, allowing themselves to have instantaneous fun on the revolving wheel. It’s a feature that constantly resets itself! 

 

What We Learned

  1. The Mothers' Rooms are a wonderful, clean, larger-than-you-expect oasis for those needing nursing or diaper-changing privacy. 
  2. The kids are attuned to high-tech solutions that never get old, such as the motion-activated hand sanitizer stations that spit out poofy bursts of white cleanser as well as the automatic hand dryers that emit controlled warm air near the Creek. It can get cold quickly when shirt sleeves are dampened by water!

 

Highlighting an Inspiring Olympic Moment: Ryan White and Greg Louganis

Greg Louganis medalBy Andrea Hughes, American Collection Curator
 
As far as Olympic gold medalists go, Greg Louganis is one of the most unforgettable. He competed in three Olympics, and many consider him the greatest diver in history. Greg and Ryan White became friends when Greg came to Indianapolis for a diving competition. After that, as a sign of their friendship, Greg gave Ryan some of his diving medals.  
 
When Greg competed in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, he won the springboard and platform events for the second time (he also won both in 1984.) But this almost didn’t happen. In the preliminaries for the 3m springboard event, Greg hit his head on the board and was injured with a concussion and had to receive stitches. At the time, people didn’t know that Greg and Ryan had something in common—both were HIV-positive.
 
Greg said later that he wondered what Ryan would do in that situation. He decided that Ryan wouldn’t give up, and that helped Greg find the strength to continue. He went on to complete the best dive of the competition, and to win the gold medal the next day.
 
After Ryan died, Greg gave Jeanne White-Ginder, Ryan's mother, the gold medal that he won for that springboard event. Jeanne has now generously loaned the medal to The Children’s Museum. It will be on display in Ryan’s room in The Power of Children gallery in time for the beginning of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
 
Greg Louganis signed poster
 

A Paul and Gage Wrap-Up | The Playscape 5

Reaction ContraptionAs we prepared last summer for the reopening of Playscape, we knew one thing for sure—we couldn't wait to see families learning and growing together in the beautiful, new gallery. But what fun is it to keep those Playscape stories to ourselves? Enter The Playscape 5—three families, discovering Playscape together.

They've blogged about their Playscape experiences each month since September, giving us a glimpse into how their families learn and grow together—both in the gallery, and at home. And they've been Tweeting, Instagramming, and Vine-ing along the way!

Today we're highlighting all of the ways that Paul and Gage shared their perspective on Playscape. From brotherly love and sibling helpers, to tips for bringing Playscape home—we've had so much fun following along!

Meet Paul and Gage

Age: Paul just turned 2, and older brother Gage turned 4 in November.
Favorite Toy:  Gage's favorite toy is his Star Wars Light Saber. Paul's into whatever big bro, Gage, is playing with—it instantly becomes Paul’s favorite toy. 
Description: Paul is tiny but mighty. Gage is known as Gage the Rage!

Paul and Gage's Playscape Journey

See all of Paul and Gage's posts in their blog category.

Best of Paul and Gage

PaulWindow PaulBunnies
Big Helpers Playscape blocks Big Helpers Climb Playscape Big Helpers Drums Playscape

 

Animal Secrets—Revealed

Animal Secrets DeerIndiana's wild habitats hide many secrets! From the Hoosier National Forest to your own backyard, animals are everywhere—if you know where to look. Here are the answers to some interesting questions about animals you'll find in Animal Secrets, open Feb. 8–May 4 at The Children's Museum.

How high can the deer jump?

With their long, powerful legs, deer can run up to 40 miles per hour and jump over a six-foot tall person! 

More deer facts: Deer establish a territory and never leave it. They are herbivores, which means they only eat plants. They have a four-chambered stomach.

How does the bear find food?

Bears, like humans, use trails and roads to get to their food and water sources. They can catch big fish with their sharp teeth and powerful jaws.

More bear facts: A male bear is called a boar, a female bear is called a sow, and a baby bear is called a cub. North America is home to the grizzly (brown) bear, polar bear, and black bear.
 

What makes the eagle bald?

The bald eagle is not actually bald—it has white feathers on its head, neck, and tail that make it look as if it's bald when viewed from a distance!

 

More eagle facts: The bald eagle can swim! They use an overhand movement of their wings, which resembles a butterfly stroke. When in normal flight, a bald eagle can fly 20 to 40 miles per hour.

How does the beaver swim?

A flat tail is a beaver's trademark. They use it to propel themselves through the water. They slap their tail against the water to warn others of danger. Beavers are designed to swim and work underwater. Their nose and ear valves close when submerged. 

More beaver facts: Baby beavers are called kits. Beavers are among the largest rodents. They're herbivores and prefer to eat leaves, bark, twigs, roots, and aquatic plants.

Where does the raccoon live?

Raccoons never nest more than 1,200 feet from a permanent water source. Common raccoons live in hollow trees or rocky dens. In colder areas they live in burrows. Raccoons usually come out only at night to look for food. 

More raccoon facts: Raccoons are often described as the "masked bandit" because of their unique facial markings and colorings. They have a keen sense of hearing, sight, and touch. But their sense of taste and smell are less developed.

 

Why does cold air smell different?

It’s winter. You can feel it. You can see it. You can smell it? You can, and we’re not talking about winter’s chimney smoke, pine needles or chestnuts. We’re talking about the cool, crisp smell of winter’s air. We explain this chilly scent with help from Discovery News.

 

Our explanation is two fold: physical and psychological.

 

The physical reason a cold day smells different than a hot one is that there are simply fewer smells to smell, and our noses aren’t as sensitive to smells in the winter. Pamela Dalton, an olfactory scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, explains to Discovery News that this can attributed to odor molecules moving more slowly when temperatures drop.

 

Let’s use your dinner leftovers as an example. Next time you pull a meal out of the refrigerator or freezer, take a whiff. How strong is the scent? Now heat up your food and smell again. Is the scent stronger than before? This change in smell is because as you heated up your leftovers, those odor molecules began to speed up.   

 

But these moving molecules aren’t the only things determining what we can and can’t smell. The other factor is our nose, of course. Dalton explains to Discovery News that as a protective response against cold, dry air, the olfactory receptors that lie inside all of our noses bury down in the winter.

 

So the lack of smells plus the lesser ability to smell makes winter have a different odor than summer.

 

The psychological reason a cold day smells different than a hot one is that we have come expect it to smell a certain way.

 

"What you think a smell will be impacts whether you like it and what you perceive it to be," Alan Hirsch, a neurologist and psychiatrist in Chicago, told Discovery News. "So, if you go outside in the winter and you are used to smelling snow or chestnuts in the fire or whatever you happen to smell outside, that's what you will interpret smells to be."

 

Now stand outside and take a deep breath in through your nose … it smells like winter, doesn’t it?

 

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

Saturday Science: Static Snake

Saturday Science: Static SnakeYou don't need to describe the concept of static to your little one—you can show them! In this week's Saturday Science courtesy of Kids Activities Blog, create a static snake and try to defy gravity.

Activities which demonstrate static electricity are always a huge hit with kids for the seemingly magic, gravity defying effects that are produced. Your family can have a blast “charming” this tissue paper snake up, up, up and off the table!
 

Materials

  • Tissue paper
  • Plastic ruler
  • Scissors
  • Something made of wool such as a pullover or carpet (to produce the electricity)
  • Snake template (download here)
  • A tin plate or tin lid (Not pictured. See note at the end of this post)

Process

  1. Download the snake template above. Print out the template.
  2. Place the tissue paper over the template and draw the design onto the tissue paper.
  3. Cut out the snake following the lines you have traced onto the tissue paper. If you like, draw on a face and some wiggly lines with a felt tip pen.
  4. Rub the plastic ruler vigorously over the wool carpet or pullover, then hover the ruler over the snake’s head.
  5. The snake will begin to rise off the table!

    Tip: It can take quite a lot of rubbing of our plastic ruler to generate enough electrical charge to lift the snake off the table. Placing the tissue paper snake on a tin plate or lid could increase the attraction of the tissue paper. Why not test both ways and discover for yourself if there's a difference?

Results

When the plastic ruler is rubbed against the wool, an electrical charge is created. The tissue paper is attracted to the charge and because the tissue paper is so light, the charge is enough to lift the snake off the table.
 
Extend the learning:
  • Try using a different type of paper. Will the thicker paper still lift up?
  • Decorate the snake with sequins or glitter. Will the extra weight affect how the experiment works?
  • Draw your own snake template. Does making the snake wider affect the results? What happens if you make the snake longer or shorter?

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

A Torrence Wrap-Up | The Playscape 5

TorrenceAs we prepared last summer for the reopening of Playscape, we knew one thing for sure—we couldn't wait to see families learning and growing together in the beautiful, new gallery. But what fun is it to keep those Playscape stories to ourselves? Enter The Playscape 5—three families, discovering Playscape together.

They've blogged about their Playscape experiences each month since September, giving us a glimpse into how their families learn and grow together—both in the gallery, and at home. And they've been Tweeting, Instagramming, and Vine-ing along the way!

Today we're highlighting all of the ways that Torrence shared his perspective on Playscape. From his unique point of view as the infant in the bunch—we've had so much fun following along!

Meet Torrence

Age: Born in June 2013, Torrence is 7 months old.
Favorite Food: Milk
Favorite Toy: His hands.
Description: Easy going, outspken, fun

Torrence's Playscape Journey

Torrence was only three months old when mom and dad shared his first blog post with us, and we've watched him grow before our very eyes! He's gone from looking and observing all of the activities around him, to beginning to explore on his own, to now showing his physical excitement (can you say "excited arms"?!) when he's in Playscape—and especially Babyscape!

See all of Torrence's posts in his blog category.

Best of Torrence

Torrence Torrence Babyscape

A Myles and Ella Wrap-Up | The Playscape 5

Myles and EllaAs we prepared last summer for the reopening of Playscape, we knew one thing for sure—we couldn't wait to see families learning and growing together in the beautiful, new gallery. But what fun is it to keep those Playscape stories to ourselves? Enter The Playscape 5—three families, discovering Playscape together.

They've blogged about their Playscape experiences each month since September, giving us a glimpse into how their families learn and grow together—both in the gallery, and at home. And they've been Tweeting, Instagramming, and Vine-ing along the way!

Today we're highlighting all of the ways that Myles and Ella shared their perspective on Playscape. From tips and tricks to family memories and squeals of sheer excitement—we've had so much fun following along!

Meet Myles and Ella

Age: Ella celebrated her 2nd birthday during her Playscape 5 journey, and big brother Myles is about to turn 5!
Favorite Toy: Ella likes rubber balls from The Children's Museum and Myles is into anything Disney Planes-related.
Description: Ella is sweet, sassy, and social. Myles is charming, creative, and considerate.

Myles and Ella's Playscape Journey

When Playscape first opened, Myles and Ella couldn't get enough of the Reaction Contraption! They even began experimenting with gravity, using balls on stairs, back at home. But on future visits, they tried out other favorites like The Creek and the climber. In November they began sharing the fun with family and friends, first with Grandma and then with cousins who acted as Big Helpers. By now, it's no longer just about discovering Playscape, but about experiencing it with others—they're the experts now!

 

See all of Myles and Ella's posts in their blog category.

Best of Myles and Ella

 

 

Ella and Myles Grandma

Why does Earth have a moon?

Each day, as the sun sets, the moon rises. And as the sun rises to peer over city skylines, country fields, mountain peaks and ocean views, the moon sets. In this predictable pattern, the moon always returns. It is our planet’s loyal and constant companion. But do you know why Earth has a moon? Nature.com helps us explain.

 

This icon of the night’s sky plays an important role in our everyday life. Not only does the moon  control daily tides, but because it is large enough to stabilize our planet's rotation, it also is responsible for Earth’s climate.

 

Understanding how something so critical to the human race came to be is an important mystery planetary scientists are trying to solve.  

 

Currently, the leading theory for why the moon exists is that a Mars-sized planet collided with Earth in its infancy. This giant crash caused Earth to begin rotating at an extremely fast rate and eject debris into orbit. The orbiting material eventually melded together to form our moon.

 

This theory places enough material into orbit that we know it would be possible to form a moon, and it also explains why Earth contains at least 20 percent more iron than the moon. But unfortunately, while the math is correct in explaining our 24-hour day, planetary scientists still disagree over the size of the impactor and the effect it had on the Earth’s rotation.  

 

So while planetary scientist can’t yet agree on one theory, we’re sure we can all agree that when the moon sets, the sun will always rise, and when the sun sets, the moon will always rise.

 

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