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Why Can't I See the Paint on the Terra Cotta Warriors?

Paint Why Buried for centuries and unearthed in 1974, clay fragments led archaeologists to a stunning discovery – approximately 8,000 life-size soldiers, each one unique! This army of thousands, completed in 210 B.C., was created in amazing detail and then buried as part of the world’s largest underground burial site. The terra cotta warriors protect an emperor’s tomb in the afterlife, but have yet to reveal their greatest mystery. 

Before you visit the REAL warriors at The Children's Museum this May, we're answering key questions about this amazing archaeological discovery—like, why can't I see the paint on the terra cotta warriors today?




Find out:

Watch the full video to learn more about the Terra Cotta Warriors. 

Buy your tickets to the exhibit China's Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army, opening May 10. 

Saturday Science: Candy Chromatography

Saturday Science Candy ChromatographyBy now, your pastel-colored basket filled with jelly beans, Bunny Mix M&M’s, Cadbury Creme Eggs and maybe even a Peep or two is becoming a thing of the past. But before you enjoy what’s left of your holiday candy, let’s use a few pieces to conduct a sweet experiment! In this week’s Saturday Science from LiveScience, find out which dyes the candy makers used to make your favorite candies so colorful!  



  • 15 pieces of hard-shell, colorful candies (such as M&M’s): 5 each of 3 different colors you wish to test

  • Coffee filters

  • Scissors

  • Pencil

  • Ruler

  • Pie plate or jar lid

  • Transparent plastic cup or clear drinking glass

  • Disposable pipette or clean eyedropper

  • 4 wooden or plastic coffee stirrers

  • Measuring cup and measuring spoons

  • Container large enough to hold 4 cups of water

  • Wide-mouth glass jar

  • 2 mini binder clips

  • Red, green and blue food coloring

  • Salt

  • Water            




Prepare your test strips:

  1. Cut coffee filters into 30 test strips that are 1 inch by 3 inches.
  2. Use a pencil to lightly label each strip: 3 strips for each color of candy and 3 strips for each color of food coloring.
  3. Draw a light pencil line across the width of each strip about half an inch from the bottom. This will be the starting line for your test drop of candy dye.


Extract dye from candies:

  1. Put some water in a cup. Use the eyedropper to move a single drop of water to the pie plate. Carefully set a single candy in the drop of water. Let rest for at least three minutes while the dye dissolves out of the candy into the water.
  2. Remove and discard the candy.
  3. Touch the tip of a coffee stirrer to the colored drop and transfer a droplet of colored water to the middle of the starting line on the appropriate test strip. Allow the droplet to dry completely.
  4. Repeat step “c.” three more times. You are layering a total of four drops of dye on your starting line.
  5. Prepare four more test strips with identical candies (for example, a total of 5 test strips prepared from 5 brown M&M’s).
  6. Prepare 5 test strips for each type of candy you are testing.
  7. In a similar manner, prepare 5 strips for each of the colors of food coloring. These will be your “known” dye colors. Later you will be comparing the strips prepared from the candy dyes to the dyes in these “known” colors.


Prepare the solvent:

  1. Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of salt in 4 cups of water.
  2. Stir until the salt is completely dissolved.


Do the chromatography:

  1. Pour a small amount of the salt solution into the bottom of a transparent cup or drinking glass.
  2. Clip two chromatography strips to a coffee stirrer and balance the stirrer across the top of the cup or drinking glass. The strips should hang down into the glass.
  3. If needed, add more salt solution so the bottom edge of the test strip just touches the surface of the solvent (the salt water). Your starting line with the drop of color should be just above the surface of the salt water.
  4. Allow the solvent to creep up the strip by capillary action, carrying dye with it until it is half an inch from the top of the strip.
  5. Allow the test strips to dry. Use a pencil to mark how far the dye traveled up the strip.
  6. Compare the dyes extracted from the candy to the “known” food color dyes. What colors do you see on the chromatogram?             



When you compared the dyes extracted from the candy to the food coloring dyes, could you tell which food dyes were used to color the candy?


If you answered yes, great job! You properly separated the different colors that make up the candies’ dyes. This process of separating different components of a mixture is called chromatography. According to LiveScience, when you added the test strip to the solvent, the mixture separated and the components flowed up the paper at different rates. The pattern that the separated substances made is your "chromatogram,” which you can now use to determine which dyes were used to make your candy colorful!


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

Pete and Ollie's Top 10 Tips for Lemonade Day

Ollie Wisdom LemonadeMuseum member Pete and his daughter Ollie are Lemonade Day pros! Pete also happens to be finance expert Peter Dunn, so you won't want to miss Pete and Ollie's (hilariously brilliant) tips for a successful lemonade stand.

I've been counting down the days. It's almost upon us. Lemonade will be sold, fun will be had, and lessons will be learned. It's Lemonade Day 2014! This will be the third year that my now five year old daughter Ollie and I will become citrus beverage entrepreneurs. 

When she was three, there was more fun than business. Last year, we cranked up the math and focused on customer service. This year, who knows what lessons will be learned. If you've ever dealt with a five year old, you'd know that I quit calling the shots about one year ago. Last year's profits went to a doll, this year's profits were promised to a cat purchase. Although she does acknowledge my cat allergy as a possible stumbling block. But the ever-resourceful Ollie assures me that she wants to get a cat when I'm dead. 

Business and entrepreneurship are all about problem solving. If we can have lots of fun together while learning some valuable lessons in the process, then I'm game. Here are some of our pro tips on how to have a great lemonade stand. 

  1. Ollie: "You need music at your stand. People need to dance."
  2. Dad: "Pick a location that gets some heavy traffic. No traffic equals no customers."
  3. Ollie: "Get balloons. But if Dad lets go of the balloons getting out of the car, you will need more balloons."
  4. Dad: "Don't accidentally let go of the balloons when you get out of the car."
  5. Ollie: "Have cookies to sell. Lemonade makes people hungry."
  6. Dad: "Have plenty of change. One and a ton of quarters will do the trick."
  7. Ollie: "People like ice."
  8. Dad: "Create a sign that tells customers where the charity portion of your profits will go."
  9. Ollie: "Say 'Have a nice day' really loud when people leave. That way, they'll have a nice day."
  10. Dad: "Make it fun. Business is fun, not tedious."


Lemonade Day is May 17, 2014! Learn more and sign up at

Why Are There So Many Terra Cotta Warriors?

Why So Many WarriorsBuried for centuries and unearthed in 1974, clay fragments led archaeologists to a stunning discovery – approximately 8,000 life-size soldiers, each one unique! This army of thousands, completed in 210 B.C., was created in amazing detail and then buried as part of the world’s largest underground burial site. The terra cotta warriors protect an emperor’s tomb in the afterlife, but have yet to reveal their greatest mystery. 

Before you visit the REAL warriors at The Children's Museum this May, we're answering key questions about this amazing archaeological discovery—like, WHY were there so many, and what made them special?




Find out:

Watch the full video to learn more about the Terra Cotta Warriors. 

Buy your tickets to the exhibit China's Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army, opening May 10. 


Saturday Science: Build a Bird's Nest

Build a Bird's Nest Saturday ScienceThis week's Saturday Science is based on an activity by the Bake at 350 blog, with some added family learning inspiration from our science educator, Becky Wolfe. For more on bird nests, read Becky's latest blog about nests found in our collection.

To get into the springtime spirit, try building your own (yummy!) nest. 


  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups dry chow mein noodles
  • small candies, jelly beans, or m&m's.


  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Over low heat, melt the marshmallows and butter in a large saucepan.
  3. Once melted, stir in the vanilla, then the chow mein noodles.
  4. Coat your hands liberally with shortening, (butter doesn't work as well) and have some nearby for re-coating.
  5. Grab a clump of noodles smaller than a tennis ball and larger than a golf ball. Form into a ball while pressed your thumbs into the middle, forming a nest.
  6. Allow the nests to cool, then fill with with the candy of your choice.

Extend the Family Learning

Observing a bird nest can be a fascinating way to learn more about birds, even more fun if you are able to watch the birds hatch! Around your yard, look carefully where branches meet or under large overhangs. You might even consider a bluebird box or wren house for your hard to encourage birds to make a home. 

While observing your bird nest, it’s best to leave the nest where it was built and observe from a distance. As good stewards of our environment, it’s important to make sure that migratory birds have places to build a nest. Last year, a mallard duck made a nest in our family’s yard. My daughter and I watched carefully, making sure we didn’t startle the duck or get too close. We were so excited when the eggs hatched, and it was such a great moment for me to teach my little one about nature!

How might you build a nest if you were a bird? Where would you want to build it? High in the tree or under branches? Would it be big, or a small, cozy kind of nest?  What materials would you use from your yard? 

Keep your eyes open this summer, maybe you will have a front row seat to a birds nest! 

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

What Makes a Nest a Nest?

Becky nest blogSpring is so close we can taste it! To help us get in the spirit, science educator Becky Wolfe stopped by our natural science collection to see what spring-y inspiration she could share with us.

One of the items often depicted in Spring decorations are bird nests. It makes sense to use them as a spring decoration, as it’s a common time for birds to lay their eggs. But are all bird nests the same? They all do the same purpose, a place for a bird to hatch an egg, but do all birds build a nest the same way? To investigate this question, I visited the museum’s Natural Science collection to take a peek at a few examples. As birds are found in every climate and continent, nests can take on many forms. 

The reason birds build nests is to provide a place to hatch an egg and raise young birds. Scientists believe birds instinctively know how to build a nest and also are imprinted as young birds by their mothers. Most birds build their nest around their bodies, shaping it as they go, which also means the nest is the correct size for them. Many bird nests look alike, so it’s hard to tell what species might have built a nests. Catching a bird inside the nest is a sure way to know what type of next you're observing.

Birds will use materials in their habitat to build a nest, like bits of dirt or twigs. Some birds that live in urban settings, such as backyards, have even used bits of string or yarn in their nests. A lot of the nests you might find in your yard will look like a cup, but nests come in many shapes and sizes! 



In our collection, I discovered a few interesting nests that were different shapes. One nest was built by a barn swallow. As a bird that often roosts in structures such as barns or even under a porch roof, its nest is built up next to a wall or rafter.  It’s a nest that is made from a lot more mud and dirt than twigs! Swallows will also line the inside of the nest with feathers. 



The size of the nest depends on the bird as most birds build the nest around themselves.  Check out this tiny hummingbird nest from our collection, built on a twig.  As one of the world’s smallest birds, the eggs of hummingbirds are also very small. They don’t need much square footage. You can just imagine how big the nest of an eagle might be!



My favorite nest in our collection was of the Baltimore Oriole. This songbird has the ability to turn grass, small pieces of bark or even wool into fibers for their nest.  By clinging to a branch and molding the nest around her, the oriole is able to build a cavity-like nest, rather than just a bowl.  Orioles are also known to reuse nest materials. 



Birds are pretty resourceful, and some species have learned how to make nests using cavities or holes already present in nature. Take woodpeckers for example. As a bird that spends its days “drilling” holes into a tree for food, it makes sense that it would use a hole or cavity in a tree its nest. The woodpecker nest in our collection has been cutaway to show where the bird would hatch its eggs.  Not all birds place their nests in trees either.  Ducks for example, will build a nest in a protected area, usually near water to hatch their eggs.


Lemonade Day Tools of the Trade

Why Were the Terra Cotta Warriors Buried?

TCW buried WHYBuried for centuries and unearthed in 1974, clay fragments led archaeologists to a stunning discovery – approximately 8,000 life-size soldiers, each one unique! This army of thousands, completed in 210 B.C., was created in amazing detail and then buried as part of the world’s largest underground burial site.

Before you visit the REAL warriors at The Children's Museum this May, we're answering key questions about this amazing archaeological discovery—like, WHY were the terra cotta warriors buried in the first place?




Find out:

Watch the full video to learn more about the Terra Cotta Warriors. 

Buy your tickets to the exhibit China's Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army, opening May 10. 

Saturday Science: Ice Excavation

Saturday Science Ice Excavation Did you notice road crews salting your streets this winter? They’re doing this to melt the ice-covered roads, making it easier and safer for drivers. Budding archaeologists wanting to excavate an object frozen inside of an ice cube should use salt just like these road crews. During this week’s Saturday Science, courtesy of Lemon Lime Adventures, find out if you can uncover the hidden treasure!



  • A small object to be your piece of hidden treasure

  • Ice cube tray or other freezer-safe container (should be large enough for your treasure)

  • Water

  • Salt

  • Toothpicks and/or chopsticks


  1. Place your object in one of the hollows of an ice cube tray.

  2. Fill the ice cube tray with water and freeze overnight.

  3. Take your ice cube out of the tray.

  4. Use salt, water, toothpicks and/or chopsticks to excavate your hidden treasure!


Did the salt and water make excavating your hidden treasure easier?


Your answer should be yes! When salt dissolves into water, it lowers the freezing point of ice. If you watch closely, you should see the ice around a grain of salt melt first before spreading out and melting the rest, revealing your treasure!


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


Creating Our Own Terra Cotta Warrior Costumes—For You!

TCW costumesToday's guest blog post is by Gretel Meyer Odell. Gretel is the owner and chief designer of Fancy Pants Kids, a Toronto-based company devoted to nurturing imaginations by creating exceptional costume/dress-up designs. She's been hard at work making the costumes that families will be able to try on in Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army! Gretel lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, two sons, many pets, and an impressive dress-up collection.

What a delightful surprise it was to be contacted by staff at The Children’s Museum to ask if I could make Terra Cotta Warrior costumes for their upcoming hands-on exhibit. They had stumbled upon an entry on my Fancy Pants Kids blog showing some of my institutional designs. Over the years, my very favorite work has been creating custom designs for museums and galleries. Knowing that the items I create will be worn and enjoyed by thousands of children and their families each and every week creates a very special kind of satisfaction and motivation to make each item truly magical (not to mention indestructible). Some of my similar projects have been brown bats, medieval arming caps, and dinosaur costumes for the Royal Ontario Museum and David Bowie-inspired costumes for the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Working with my favorite material for this kind of project (sturdy upholstery vinyl) we adapted my original Terra Cotta Warrior design and started cutting all the pieces we would need to make 4 child and 2 adult-sized costumes. This was my very first time making adult-sized replicas and it was fun (but wow—adults sure require a lot of extra materials!) 

Gretel _TCW CostumesAnother interesting challenge was to figure out how to make the back of the armor weigh the same as the front. The 200-250 snaps on the front of the armor add a good bit of weight to the costume, causing it to pull to the front when you wear it. I solved this by weighing the number of snaps that would be placed and cutting vinyl inserts of the same weight to slip into the back panel. You'll notice when you handle and wear these pieces that they're quite heavy. I’m sure they're a small fraction of what the real armor weighed, but the weight does add to the experience of imagining what it may have been like to wear a uniform like this to work!

Once the pieces were cut, my assistant Jody and I used chalk to draw the individual tiles that comprise the armor, then we used light colored thread to top-stitch those lines. When the armor was fully assembled, it was time to start punching the holes for the snap heads that would create the look of the rivets that appear all over the real armor. The holes are made individually with a hammer and a small punch tool. This was hard work and took a few hours (and ear plugs). I tried to re-create the variations in how these studs were placed on the statue samples I had seen. If you look at one of the warriors you'll see that the studs are not perfectly symmetrical, nor is there a fully consistent pattern.

Once the holes were made, the armor went to Susana—a local sewer who works with Toronto fashion designers—who patiently installed the 1,200+ snaps in the armor. Then it was back to my home studio for inspection, thread snipping, and the first of tens of thousands of family photos that will be taken with the armor!

China's Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army, opens on May 10 alongside Take Me There: China. Learn more!

Hammer Rivets
TCW Costume TCW Costume complete


Two Times the China

China battle Melissa CathyDecisions, decisions. This summer, should you experience ancient China...or modern? How about both!

On May 10, The Children's Museum is opening not one, but two China exhibits—China's Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army, and Take Me There: China. But what makes them different? Our exhibit developers—Melissa Pederson and Cathy Hamaker—thought that their recent email exchange would help answer a lot of your questions. (And also help you decide to go see...everything!)

From: Cathy H.
To: Melissa P.
Subject: How goes it?

Hi Melissa! Haven’t talked to you in a while, what are you working on these days?

From: Melissa P.
To: Cathy H.
Subject: RE: How goes it?

Hey Cathy! I’ve been pretty busy with an awesome new exhibit about ancient China. What are you up to? 

From: Cathy H.
Wait—I’M doing an exhibit on China too! Wow, what a coincidence. Wait, so what’s so special about “ancient” China, huh?  

From: Melissa P.
Two China exhibits! How extraordinary is that?!
I think ancient China is special (that is, China about 2,200 years ago), because that’s when China was born. In 221 B.C.E., a king made China after he battled, conquered, and combined 7 smaller kingdoms. Then the king named himself Qin Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor of China. 
What’s going on in your China exhibit?  

From: Cathy H.
Well, my exhibit is all about MODERN China. Our visitors will be able to visit a marketplace, a tea house, a medicine shop—and see inside the homes of a Chinese family spanning four generations! They can even learn to speak some words in Chinese.

From: Melissa P.
That sounds pretty cool...but did I mention my exhibit has warriors?
Six-foot-tall warriors made of terra cotta clay. China’s First Emperor built an army of 8,000 of these guys, put real weapons in their clay hands, and placed them near his tomb to protect him in the afterlife. We're going to display eight of the real warriors in the exhibit!

From: Cathy H.
Wow, that sounds amazing—almost as amazing as the Chengdu Panda Reserve! In my exhibit, kids will be able to pretend-play helping the scientists at Chengdu feed and care for baby pandas. Warriors are nice and all, but baby pandas are adorable, don’cha think?

From: Melissa P.
Baby pandas are waaay cute. I would definitely like to pretend to feed tiny fuzzy baby panda…
But speaking of pretend play, in my exhibit, kids get to dress up in armor and pretend they are ancient Chinese warriors! They also get to sculpt and mold warriors out of clay. How would you like to mold a mini warrior and add it to a massive mini warrior army here at the museum?

From: Cathy H.
I—I’d kinda really love to do that, actually! Man, your exhibit sounds great. When does it open??

From: Melissa P.
May 10th!  Your exhibit sounds super fun too—when does yours open?

From: Cathy H.
What?? You’re kidding, mine opens May 10th too! It’s almost like the museum planned it that way. Our visitors can learn about ancient China AND modern China together—it’ll be like time-travelling 2,000 years in just a few steps!

From: Melissa P.
Woah, it’s like we’re a time machine. But it won’t last forever—ancient China will only be here until November 2nd. After that, the warriors travel back to China. I really hope our visitors stop by this summer to experience modern and ancient China together!   

From: Cathy H.
Take Me There:® China will be here for 3 to 4 years, so our visitors can see it again and again. I can’t wait for families to come see both these exhibits—this is going to be great!

Experience both exhibits beginning May 10!
Public tickets for China's Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army, are available for purchase beginning April 13.
Member tickets are available for purchase. Buy member tickets now.

When Kids Throw a Dinosaur a Birthday Party...This Happens

Dino Birthday exteriorWhen we needed help planning Dinosphere's 10th birthday party, we went straight to the experts—kids! For two weeks in March and April we brought 17 of your amazing dinosaur birthday party ideas to life. See all of the ideas below, or watch the videos to see the ideas in action, including: fireworks (and Nova's reaction), Bucky LIVES!, singing Happy Birthday, dino dress up, a roaring contest, a Rex April Fools' joke, and a dino-themed parade. Plus—don't miss the full photo album on Facebook!

And it wasn't just kids that helped us party like a dino. On March 12, museums and organizations from all over the world helped us kick off Dinosphere's birthday celebration with the #PartyLikeADino Twitter party. Over 30 organizations and friends tweeted gifts and greetings to Dinosphere in six countries and four languages! See it all in this Storify.

Thank you to everyone who helped us party like a dino this Spring Break. You made it a dino-sized birthday we won't forget!


Dino Birthday Fireworks

Nova Fireworks

Bucky Lives Party Like A DIno Sara and Bucky
Dino Birthday house Elaine Dinosphere
Dino birthday racecar Rex race car
Dino Cake Dino Cake
Dino Happy Birthday Chords Dino Bday
Dino Masks Dino Masks
Dino Dress Up Dress Like A Dino
Dino Dance Party Dance Party
Dino Sculpture Dino Cooley Head
Dino Roaring Contest Dino Roaring Contest
Dino Hats Dino Hats
Dino Egg Cupcakes Dino Cupcakes
Dino Gift Bags Dino Bags
Dino Pizza Dino Pizza
Dino Video Games Rex's Arcade
Dino Parade Felix Parade


Why Was the Army of Terra Cotta Warriors Created?

Why army createdBuried for centuries and unearthed in 1974, clay fragments led archaeologists to a stunning discovery – approximately 8,000 life-size soldiers, each one unique! This army of thousands, completed in 210 B.C., was created in amazing detail and then buried as part of the world’s largest underground burial site. The terra cotta warriors protect an emperor’s tomb in the afterlife, but have yet to reveal their greatest mystery. 

Before you visit the REAL warriors at The Children's Museum this May, we're answering key questions about this amazing archaeological discovery—like, WHY was the army created?




Find out:

Watch the full video to learn more about the Terra Cotta Warriors. 

Buy your tickets to the exhibit China's Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army, opening May 10. 
Public tickets are available on April 13. Member tickets available now.


Saturday Science: Colorful Rainstorm

Saturday Science Colorful Rainstorm They say April showers bring May flowers – let’s see what a colorful rainstorm could bring! In this week’s Saturday Science, courtesy of Juggling with Kids, bring a spring shower indoors.



  • Drinking glass or vase

  • Food coloring

  • Water

  • Shaving cream


  1. Fill drinking glass or vase with water.

  2. Create clouds by covering the top of the water with shaving cream.

  3. Squirt food coloring on the shaving cream, concentrating each color in just a couple areas.

  4. Look at the water in your vase. It’s starting to rain!


Why does it rain? When the water droplets and water crystals that make up clouds become heavy enough, gravity pulls them down from the sky.


This is similar to what happened in your colorful rainstorm. The shaving cream floats on top of the water because it’s made up of so much air that it is less dense. It also happens to be hydrophobic, which means that it repels water. Because food coloring is more dense than the shaving cream, the drops of food coloring easily fall through into the water, like rain drops falling from clouds.


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


Top 10 Dinosaur Events of the Post-Dinosphere Years

Top 10 Dinosaur Events Post-DinosphereHas this happened to you? You think you know a lot about dinosaurs, and then you're surprised to learn that your favorite didn't even exist! Paleontologists are making new discoveries all the time, keeping us dinosaur fans on our toes. Curious if there's big news that you missed? To celebrate Dinosphere's 10th birthday, we've compiled the top 10 dinosaur events AFTER to Dinosphere's grand opening.

Don't miss the first post in this series, the Top 10 Dinosaur Events of the Pre-Dinosphere Years.

By Paleontologist and Natural Science Curator Dallas Evans.

1. 2005 — Scientist isolates soft tissue from a 68 million year old dinosaur.
Dr. Mary Schweitzer became one of the first scientists to use the tools of modern cell biology to investigate dinosaurs. Upon examining the thighbone of a T. rex she discovered remnants of soft tissues hidden away within the interior of the bone.

2. 2005 — Evidence is unearthed that early mammals ate dinosaurs.
Excavations in China provide the first direct evidence that early mammals preyed upon dinosaurs. Inside the skeleton of the early mammal Repenomamus, researchers find the preserved remains of a young Psittacosaurus!

3. 2006 — Dracorex is introduced to the world.
Unearthed in the badlands of South Dakota, this new species of dinosaur is given the name Dracorex hogwartsia, or “Dragon king of Hogwarts” thus delighting generations of both dinosaur and Harry Potter fans.

4. 2007 — Gigantoraptor is discovered.
Chinese paleontologist Dr. Xing Xu announces the discovery of Gigantoraptor erlianensis, a 3000 pound, toothless raptor that stalked the Late Cretaceous of Inner Mongolia.

5. 2009 — First fossil pigments give clues to dinosaur colors.
Researchers find fossilized melanosomes, the remains of pigments, in the feathers and protofeathers of dinosaurs and birds from China. For the first time we're given the possibility of finding out what color some dinosaurs may have been!

6. 2009 — Children get on board the Dinosaur Train.
The Jim Henson Company introduces an animated series for preschool children featuring a young T. rex named Buddy. Perhaps the best thing about this series is the appearance of well know paleontologist Dr. Scott Sampson, who encourages children to learn natural history, to be thrilled by scientific exploration and to investigate paleontology.

7. 2012 — The first feathered dinosaur specimen is found in North America.
The relationship between dinosaurs and birds was proposed in the late 1800s by anatomist Thomas Huxley. In the 1990s, well preserved fossil specimens of feathered dinosaurs were being excavated in China. However in 2012 Canadian researchers discovered the first evidence of a feathered dinosaur from North America—an ostrich-like dinosaur called Ornithomimus. These dinosaurs would have been just too large to fly, so the feathers may have served another purpose, like attracting a mate or protecting eggs during hatching.

8. 2013 — Edmontosaurus gets a new "do."
One of the most familiar of duck-billed dinosaurs may have looked much differently than we've always assumed. Researchers noticed fossil traces of a crest on top of the skull of an Edmontosaurus. Not the boney structure of the skull, but evidence of preserved soft tissue. This was a dinosaur with a cock’s comb—that's right, like a rooster!

9. 2013 — T. rex is a known predator.
Was T. rex a scavenger or predator? That question has been asked for many years until it was definitively answered. Researchers discovered the vertebra of an injured duckbill dinosaur. The backbone had a broken T. rex tooth embedded in it. Not only was the dinosaur bitten by a T. rex, but there were signs that the wound was healing. So the duck-billed dinosaur survived the attack!

10. 2014 — Excavations at Ruth Mason Quarry.
Of course we have to brag a little bit,…   this year marks a dozen years of excavating at the Ruth Mason Quarry near Faith, South Dakota. In that time we've excavated thousands of Edmontosaurus bones and introduce hundreds of families to the thrill of paleontology.

Top 10 Dinosaur Events of the Pre-Dinosphere Years

Has this happened to you? You think you know a lot about dinosaurs, and then you're surprised to learn that your favorite didn't even exist! Paleontologists are making new discoveries all the time, keeping us dinosaur fans on our toes. Curious if there's big news that you missed? To celebrate Dinosphere's 10th birthday, we've compiled the top 10 dinosaur events prior to Dinosphere's grand opening.

Don't miss the second post in this series, the Top 10 Dinosaur Events of the Post-Dinosphere Years. 

By Dinosphere Coordinator Mookie Harris and Natural Science Curator Dallas Evans.

  1. 1822 — Gideon Mantell discovers the first dinosaur fossil.
    Mantell discovered fossil teeth of an animal that would later be named Iguanodon. He didn't know it at the time, but he had just found the first dinosaur. Nineteen years later, Sir Richard Owen creates the word “dinosaur” to define the group of extinct animals that includes Iguanodon, Hylaeosaurus and Megalosaurus.  That list of three species will grow to over 700 discovered species by the year 2014.

  2. 1858 — The first dinosaur skeleton is found in the United States.
    Hadrosaurus was excavated and described by Joseph Leidy in Haddonfield, New Jersey, just 15 minutes east of Philadelphia. It's called Hadrosaurs foulki. It was discovered and excavated by William Parker Foulke. Dr. Joseph Leidy, a professor of anatomy at Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences described and displayed the specimen.
  3. 1902 — Barnum Brown finds the first T.rex.
    The first partial skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex was found in Eastern Wyoming by Barnum Brown. It wasn't for another 60 to 70 years, though, before T. rex becomes the most well-known dinosaur. At this time, when someone says “dinosaur,” most people think of Brontosaurus.
  4. 1903For the second time, Brontosaurus ceases to exist. 
    Brontosaurus"—such a cool name. It doesn’t get more dramatic and descriptive than “thunder lizard. Elmer Riggs, a fantastic vertebrate paleontologist from The Field Museum, discovered that Apatosaurus is simply a young form of the adult Brontosaurus. But Apatosaurus was named first, so that name had priority. This will confuse people for years to come.  
  5. 1933 — Roy Chapman Andrews discovers the first dinosaur eggs. 
    American adventurer Roy Chapman Andrews (the real-life inspiration for Indiana Jones) leads the expedition that discovers the first known dinosaur eggs while exploring in Mongolia. Prior to this, it was not known whether dinosaurs laid eggs or gave birth to live young.
  6. 1960 — The Flintstones debuts.
    The Flintstones debuts on ABC television, featuring cave people, ice age mammals and dinosaurs all living together. This will confuse people for decades to come.
  7. 1980 — The asteroid extinction theory is proposed.
    The Alvarez Hypothesis is proposed, stating that an asteroid struck the Earth 66 million years ago, leading to the demise of the dinosaurs. The same year, Atari releases the arcade video game Asteroids, leading to the rise of video gaming and the eventual demise of human productivity.
  8. 1986 — Warm-blooded dinosaur theory is widely accepted.
    Robert T. Bakker’s The Dinosaur Heresies is published, exposing the general public to John Ostrom’s theories on dinosaurs being warm-blooded. This revolutionizes the way they are viewed in pop culture.
  9. 1990 — Michael Crichton publishes Jurassic Park.
    Michael Crichton publishes the book Jurassic Park, reminding adults around the world that dinosaurs are still cool, even if you’re not five years old. Steven Spielberg turns it into an awesome movie in 1993 and the mainstream public goes nuts for Velociraptor, so much so that in 1995 the NBA’s Toronto Raptors become the first pro sports team named for a dinosaur. (Although the team’s owner is considering a name change. But that’s appropriate for a fossil isn’t it? Just ask the Brontosaurus.)
  10. 2000 — Leonardo the mummified dinosaur is discovered.
    Leonardo the mummified dinosaur is discovered near Malta, Montana. This fully articulated and mummified skeleton of a young Brachylophosaurus includes fossilized skin, tendons, musculature and stomach contents.

Saturday Science: Cretaceous Treat

Saturday Science Cretaceous Treat

There is nothing to be afraid of when you are biting and chewing on a T. rex tooth – as long as it's not the other way around! This week, discover the impressive size of a T. rex tooth by creating your own edible, delicious dino tooth!  


  • Bananas 
  • Craft sticks 
  • White chocolate
  • Dark chocolate 
  • Wax paper            


  1. Peel the bananas and cut each one in half across the diameter.    
  2. Insert a craft stick in the cut end of each banana half.
  3. Place on wax paper and freeze overnight.
  4. Melt white and dark chocolate. (Follow the melting instructions on the packaging of the chocolate. Have an adult help you!)  
  5. Carefully dip the pointed end of the banana in the white chocolate first, covering the length of the piece.
  6. Allow the chocolate to cool. (While you wait, we recommend counting the Cretaceous Period by fives. For example: 5 Cretaceous, 10 Cretaceous, 15 Cretaceous – all the way to 65 Cretaceous million years!) 
  7. When the white chocolate is cool, dip the pointed end of the banana into the dark chocolate almost all the way back to the cut end to make it look like the strong enamel part of a T. rex tooth. 
  8. Use a fork to sculpt serrations on the backside of the tooth.
  9. Let the chocolate cool again. 
  10. Enjoy your Cretaceous treat! 

You just created a treat in the size and shape of a T. rex tooth! Do you think T. rex used its 25-centimeter banana-shaped teeth to crush bones or tear flesh? While scientists continue to study and debate what T. rex ate and how he used his teeth, let’s snack on our edible T. rex teeth! 



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


The Extraordinary Adventures of the Museum's Dinosaur Toys

The museum's toy dinosaurs spend their days happily adventuring with little visitors at the pretend play tables. But when the museum closes, the toy dinos go on their OWN adventures—and they thought Dinosphere's 10th Birthday was the perfect time to give us a sneak peek. Here's a compilation of all that they've shared with us, because we know you're curious!


Dino Adventures Chihuly

Stop 1: Fireworks of Glass

Once the museum closes its doors at 5 p.m., the dinosaur toys have the entire museum to explore on their own! The Chihuly sculpture is a great place to contemplate the plan for the evening.

Dino Adventures Playscape Creek

Stop 2: The Creek

Unsurprisingly, the first place the dinosaur toys go is Playscape! (Wouldn't you?)

It seems that they feel at home in the creek.

Dino Adventures Playscape Climber

Stop 3: The Climber

When all of the visiting families leave Playscape, the dinosaur toys have their turn in the climber. Think they make it to the sailboats? (Probably not, if they spend half of the time gnawing on the netting, like T. rex.)

Dino Adventures Playscape Music Room

Stop 4: The Music Studio

Playscape can seem pretty quiet without visitors making music in the Music Studio! So the dinosaurs remedy that, before heading out to explore the rest of the museum.

Dino Adventures TCW

Stop 5: Terra Cotta Warriors

The dinosaur toys have recently spent more quality time with the terra cotta warriors in Treasures of the Earth. It figures that they'd want to learn all there is to know before the REAL warriors arrive in May!

Dino Adventures Dig Pit

Stop 6: The Dig Pit

They then have a go at the reproduction of the Xi'an, China pit. There's always another terra cotta warrior to dig!

Dino Adventures Great Wall

Stop 7: The Great Wall

The dinosaur toys just can't get enough of China. They like to pretend that they're walking the Great Wall, using the mural in front of the under-construction Take Me There: China gallery for inspiration. They make climbing the Great Wall look easy! (Or intimidating...)

Dino Toys Carousel

Stop 8: The Carousel

A night exploring The Children's Museum just isn't complete without a ride on the Carousel! They chose a jumper horse for their Carousel ride. Can we get a Yeeee-haw?!


Playscape, Friends, and #Carouselfies | The Playscape 5

Torrence CarouselfieFollow 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 Torrence (age 8 months) in this post from mom, Samantha. And continue to follow his journey online, on the blog, or by searching the #Playscape5 hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, and Vine!

We finally explored the entire museum! This is an amazing accomplishment—and a lot of walking. After 3 hours of playing, wow, were we impressed...and completely exhausted. On this trip, Torrence and I were accompanied by our friends, almost 2 year old Ben and his mom, Stephanie. We started our adventure in Playscape. Watching Ben splash and run from room to room made me so excited (and tired just from watching) for our next year with Torrence in Playscape

Torrence actually joined in with Ben banging as loudly as possible on the drums in the Playscape Music Studio. This is a new skill he’s really been working on at home called "let’s pick this thing up and smash it into that thing and hope it makes a ton of noise." Mom and Dad are understandably less thrilled with this new talent. This trip, Torrence also became fascinated by the Playscape sand table. I was hesitant to allow him near it as everything he touches goes straight to his mouth—he loved the feel of the sand between his fingers and managed to eat very little of it. 

Torrence March

After a short hour in Playscape, we were off to our first ride around the carousel. Members ride for free…bonus! Torrence and Ben loved the carousel almost as much as I did. We had to persuade Ben to play in ScienceWorks instead of several more trips around the carousel. Torrence and I took a quick break for a snack while they played in ScienceWorks. It's nice that there are so many benches available for our little snack breaks.

Our final destination of this trip was a quick visit to the Food Court. Once again, I was so impressed with the amount of food options for all age groups and how quickly we were able to check out. We found a table amongst the large crowd and loved that there were so many high chairs available for our kids. Needless to say, our drive home was completely silent. What a great end to a perfect day!

Saturday Science: Mini Dino Dig

Dino Dig Game Saturday Science

Grab your chisel and brushes. Bring your curiosity and your brain. It’s time to go on a dino dig – a mini dino dig, that is! For this week’s Saturday Science, we’re bringing the excitement of a real dinosaur dig site to your home. Dig for dinos, map their bones and discover what real paleontologists find when they're searching for fossils!  


  • Rice
  • Fake dinosaur bones or objects to bury
  • Plastic containers or boxes (one for each little paleontologist) 
  • Tweezers
  • Spoons
  • Grid paper
  • Pencils
  • Masking tape


  1. Set up the dig site! 
    1. Arrange your plastic containers side by side so that they represent the grid of a dinosaur dig site. 
    2. Label each container. 
    3. Place one or two fake dinosaur bones inside each plastic container. 
    4. Fill each container with rice. 
    5. On an empty wall or the floor, use masking tape to recreate your dig site. Make sure to label each section so that your dig site matches the plastic containers. Each section should be the size of the grid paper. 
  2. Start digging! 
    1. Give each little paleontologist his or her own container and explain that each container is a section of the grid on the wall or floor. 
    2. Have your paleontologists dig for the dinosaur bones with their tools. They should use the spoon first, adding each spoonful of rice to a separate container that’s out of the way. Once they hit bone, have them switch to the tweezers and finish uncovering the dinosaur bone.  
  3. Map the bones! 
    1. Paleontologists never remove a bone from a dig site before it’s been mapped. Now it’s your kiddos’ turn! Once they uncover a bone, have them draw a picture of it on a piece of grid paper. 
    2. When they’re finished drawing, place the grid paper in the corresponding section of the dig site on the wall or floor.  
  4. What was found? 
    1. When every little paleontologist is finished with their digs, have each kid describe what was discovered in the dig pit.
    2. Based on where the bones were found and their size, which bones might be from the same dinosaur? 

You just simulated a real dinosaur dig! 

Just like your dig site, paleontologists always divide their site into a grid so that the scientists and researchers can focus on one area. It’s a tedious process to dig out dinosaur bones. Your spoon represented a clam shucker, which is used first to remove the matrix around the bones. As soon as a bone is found, diggers switch to X-Acto knives and brushes, or in our case, tweezers. This is to protect bones and make sure nothing gets damaged.

Did you find a complete dinosaur? If not, don’t worry! Not only do paleontologists rarely find a complete dinosaur in a dinosaur dig, but they also find bones from one dig that are from different dinosaurs. Whether you found a complete dinosaur or bones from all types of dinosaurs, you still found dinosaur bones! How cool is that?!  

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