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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            


Process: .    

  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.

A New Chapter for The Power of Children Awards

If you were worried you weren’t going to have enough time to submit your application for the Power of Children Awards—have no fear! We've extended the deadline to midnight March 30! So get off the couch and get your materials in order. If you haven't had a chance to apply or nominate someone yet, please head to our website to fill out the online form.

2014 Applications are now being accepted through March 30!
(Submissions close at 11:59 PM EST on March 30, 2014.)  POCA awards

Building upon the POCA legacy

As part of our 10 year anniversary we're working on utilizing what we affectionately call our “brain trust,” or the amazing and talented minds of our collective past winners. Last year our Museum team met with a portion of the winners from current and past years to sit down and discuss the possibilities of sharing their expertise and knowledge in a mentor role with other youths who were trying to create projects and make changes in their communities.

We decided to create a symposium that will be open to all of this year’s applicants and a select number of students from the community. This one-day symposium, to be held November 8, 2014, will allow for networking, team building, sharing of success stories, and strategies for overcoming struggles. Attendees will gain valuable knowledge, make new friends, and take home valuable resources to help them create the change they hope to see.

We would love to see you there! We hope that you'll share the information gained at the symposium with others around you and continue to increase the size and expanse of the impact you or other future leaders of the world will make.

Interested in learning more about this symposium? Want to attend? Watch for more information in the upcoming months. Until then don’t forget to apply for this year’s awards by midnight Sunday, March 30, 2014! 





Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile—From the Book to the Stage

TroyBy Krista Layfield, Lilly Theater Manager

The set for Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile—designed by Stage Manager Abbey Copeland—is based on the illustrations in the books The House on 88th Street and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, written and illustrated by Bernard Waber.

A crucial part of the Lyle play is when Lyle climbs a fire escape to save Mr. Grumps’ cat, Loretta from a fire. The production team decided that even though this might be difficult to create on the Lilly stage, it was such an important part of the story that we couldn't do the play without it. We discussed several ways to construct the fire escape structure. We have a lot of experience working with wood, so we thought we might try to build it out of lumber. However, building it out of wood would make the structure very large and heavy.

Another interesting part of the set design was that we wanted the walls of the buildings to open like books. This meant that they needed to be strong enough to hold the weight of Lyle and the fire escape, yet also be light enough so it would not pull the rest of the building down. That’s when we decided that the best material for the construction of the fire escape would be steel. 

Constructing things out of steel involves welding, which is not something that we've done before on the Lilly Stage. So we were very excited to try and learn something new! I called the technical director, Troy Trinkle, at the Civic Theatre scene shop, who's built several sets out of steel before. He was kind enough to offer his expertise in working with steel an also offered to teach me how to weld the pieces of the fire escape frames together!

Troy taught me how to prepare the steel by cleaning it, how to cut it, drill it, weld it, and then bolt the completed frames together. There are a few pictures below of what welding looks like: a welded piece of steel, the completed frames of the fire escape, and the entire fire escape attached to front of the Grumps building. Even though it was very hard work—I was very excited to learn something new. It took a lot of extra steps, and time, but the completed set is absolutely beautiful and looks like it came right out of the Lyle books!

See Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile in Lilly Theater through April 19! See the schedule for details


LadderFire Escape



Saturday Science: Shamrock Science

The luck of the Irish is upon us! Monday is Saint Patrick’s Day, but we’re celebrating with some shamrock science today. This week’s Saturday Science, courtesy of Momma's Fun World, will have you in a green fizzy frenzy!



  • 3 cups of baking soda

  • 1/2 cup hair conditioner (white will work best for coloring the mixture green)

  • 1 package of green Kool-Aid

  • Silicone shamrock mold pan (available at Amazon and other grocery stores/retailers)

  • Pipettes (or another type of dropper)

  • Mixing bowl

  • Baking tray or pan



  1. Mix the baking soda and hair conditioner together in a bowl.

  2. Add green Kool-Aid and stir until mixture is green.

  3. Pour mixture into silicone shamrock mold pan.

  4. Put mold pan in freezer and let freeze (overnight is best).  

  5. Once molds are frozen, remove each mold from pan and place on a baking tray or pan.

  6. Use pipettes to squeeze vinegar onto each shamrock mold.

  7. Watch the fizzing begin!



When you add drops of vinegar to your shamrock mold, what happens? It begins to fizz, which appears to be one chemical reaction. However, there are actually two reactions happening in quick succession.


First, the acetic acid (what makes vinegar taste sour) from the drops of vinegar reacts with sodium bicarbonate (a compound that's in baking soda) from your shamrock to form carbonic acid.


Because the carbonic acid is unstable, it then immediately falls apart into carbon dioxide and water. The bubbles you see from the reaction come from the carbon dioxide escaping the water. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air, so it flows almost like water when it overflows a container.


After the fizzing is finished, a dilute solution of sodium acetate in water and your melted-looking shamrock are left behind.


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

The Power of Children Awards—So Many Reasons to Apply!

As many of you already know, The Power of Children Awards is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! This means many of you may already be familiar with the awards and the types of projects it encourages, but do you know about all of the amazing rewards winners receive?  This award offers more than a physical keepsake. It includes scholarship and grant money, an extraordinary awards ceremony, and a personalized video about the winner that will play in our museum gallery. 

Intrigued? Apply today!

Still need more reasons to apply? Watch the following video and read more about the details of the awards below.

The Power of Children Awards event will be held on November 7, 2014 here at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. It is an outstanding annual evening to celebrate the year’s 4-6 winners as well as the other nominees.

It's an “ Academy Awards”!

  • We host a reception in the museum’s permanent gallery: The Power of Children: Making a Difference, which features the stories of three extraordinary youths: Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White who were faced with dire circumstances yet chose to make the very best of them to affect change in the lives of others. The exhibit will display a leaf with the winners' names and cities for the next year.

  • We move from the reception to an elegant sit down meal with winners, nominees, nominators, families and friends. Last year, almost 200 people attended.

  • We then honor the winners and their nominators with pre-recorded videos. Videographers will be assigned to each winner for a sit down interview that will be recorded prior to the event. These videos will highlight the winner and the story behind the project. These videos will then play in our exhibit and on our website for others to enjoy.

  • You receive their $2,000 grants, from the Kroger Foundation, to increase the breadth and depth of your project.

  • You learn about the three different post-secondary scholarships available to you.

  • We become really inspired by the outstanding projects of these 6-11 grade students and hope that we individually can somehow make the world a better place.

  • You party with past honorees in attendance and take group and individual photographs. The newly inducted class is embraced by the past winners into the Power of Children Award's exclusive circle to meet and network with other youths who are changing the world, just like you.

Why not be a part of this excitement by becoming a nominee or a nominator? You have until midnight, Sunday, March 23, 2014, to do so. Submit your online applications at

Dr. Bakker Explains—what Makes Leonardo the Mummified Dinosaur Special?

Bakker Trexler Leonardo

Dr. Robert Bakker is one of the most noteworthy dinosaur paleontologists in the United States—and even inspired the paleontologist depicted in the movie The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Bakker has reshaped modern theories about dinosaurs, in particular by adding support to the theory that dinosaurs were endothermic (warm-blooded), smart, fast, and adaptable. Dr. Bakker has worked with the museum as an expert curator and paleontologist and has helped acquire rare dinosaur fossils on The Children’s Museum dinosaur advisory board.  


Leonardo is exquisite.
When I saw Leonardo for the first time, the fossil skin was bathed in light washing over the beast from the side. The body seemed to glow. The rib cage was so beautifully preserved you might imagine the animal breathing, the chest rising and falling...
And you see inside!  There were windows into the great machinery of digestion, views never before available for any creature of the fabulous duckbill clan.
Leonardo seemed to be alive once more—almost. You could almost see the jaws grinding and chopping conifer branches. You could almost hear the gentle rhythm of fodder being swallowed, being carried through the stomach and then into the marvelously complex intestinal tract.
Feeding and digesting are the twin mysteries of dinosaur success. And duckbills are at the heart of Cretaceous ecology. They dominated the plant-eater guild. Their family tree was so bushy that new species sprouted in every direction. To understand the Cretaceous world, we must decipher the keys to herbivore design. Leonardo has handed us those keys.
Leonardo invites us to a safari into his inner secrets. Scholars and amateur dino fans alike can test century-old theories. Were duckbills merely dinosaurian moose, munching on soft water plants? So read the textbooks from 1860 up through the '1960's. No! The guts say that theory is bunk. Duckbill jaws were armed with the finest cranial Cuisinart ever evolved within the entire Dinosauria. Look closely at Leonardo's muzzle and jaws. There is a never-ending supply of tooth crowns, closely packed to make a rotary food processor.
We knew those basic dental facts since the first duckbill was dug in New Jersey in the 1850s. And yet the moose-diet theory would not die. Leonardo at last provides experimental proof. You can examine what plants were chewed and how thoroughly they were masticated.
Water plants?  Nope. Tough, hard-leaved conifers. Nutritious. Full of protein and energy. Leonardo testifies to the true preferred diet—terrestrial vegetation, the shrubs and trees that covered the landscape.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the perfect place for Leonardo. Indy has duckbill smarts. The museum crew has excavated one of the greatest duckbill bone-beds in the world. The Paleo Lab presents the visitor to touch duckbill legs, run their fingers over duckbill teeth. 
And now.....Leonardo adds that unique window back into the Cretaceous, the window into his deepest secrets.

Why Doesn't the Dino Mummy Look Like a Mummy?

dino mummy why

By Lori Phillips, Digital Content Coordinator
When you're six years old and your mom works at The Children's Museum, it's not out of the ordinary to learn over the dinner table that a dinosaur is coming to "your" museum. My son, Teddy, usually plays it pretty cool when I share (what I believe to be) awesome news about the museum, but he couldn't contain his amazement when I mentioned a "mummy dinosaur"—now that's cool.
It was November, and the museum had just announced that Leonardo the mummified dinosaur would be unveiled in Dinosphere in March. As I excitedly showed Teddy the photos of Leonardo, his first question was, "But mom, where's the toilet paper?" When I gave him a puzzled look he said, "Like, when something is a mummy it's wrapped in toilet paper, right?" Of course! It was really the perfect question. And thankfully I knew the perfect person to answer it—paleontologist and natural science curator, Dallas Evans. 
Here's Dallas' response:
Please tell Teddy that we're working on that. When Leonardo was excavated, it was wrapped in aluminum foil to keep it safe. (Which probably made it look like a gigantic baked potato.) The aluminum foil is just a separator—it keeps the plaster from sticking to the fossil. But the foil isn't good for long term storage because it will oxidize & discolor. So we removed the foil and replaced it with acid free tissue paper while it was in storage. Essentially, until it's ready to be put on display, it will look like a mummy wrapped in toilet paper.
But that was in November, and now Leonardo is on display. (No more acid free tissue paper!) So...if Leonardo is a mummy, where are his wrappings?
Mummies are any dead bodies with preserved skin, muscle, and other soft tissue. Leonardo isn't a human mummy, like you usually would envision. Leonardo isn't a wrapped dinosaur, either. Leonardo is a natural mummy. Nature mummified Leonardo, so he doesn't have wrappings. It's estimated that 90 percent of Leonardo's body is still covered in fossilized soft tissue. 
When dinosaurs died, their carcasses were usually exposed to weather, scavengers, insects, and bacteria, but sometimes they would be naturally buried in sediment by things like sandstorms, mudslides, high tides or sinkholes and that sediment would harden into rock over time. If conditions were just right, mineral-heavy water would seep into the rock, and into the hollow spaces in the bones, and the bone materials would be replaced with rock-like minerals. And, if the chemicals and the moisture level and the pressure and other factors were perfect, over time, the bone would be replaced by a rock-like copy or natural cast called (drum roll, please)...a fossil!
Leonardo died on the banks of a shallow river in what is now Montana. His body was eventually buried and minerals in the river infiltrated the dinosaur's soft tissues, desiccating and preserving them, resulting in natural mummification. This created a mummified, fossilized dinosaur—the rarest of the rare!
Learn more about Leonardo's story in the blog post, "Here Comes the Dino Mummy!" by Dinosphere Coordinator Mookie Harris.
And be sure to meet Leonardo in his new home in Dinosphere!

Saturday Science: Dino Parfait

In many parts of the country, buried deep beneath the Earth’s surface, there are dinosaur fossils just waiting to be discovered! Do you know how deep paleontologists must dig to make a dino-mite discovery? In this week’s Saturday Science, we’ll show you how to create a delicious dino parfait to learn how dinosaurs became fossils and how paleontologists determine their age. The deeper you dig, the older the fossils. So let’s create a dino parfait and start diggin’!  



  • Small clear plastics cups

  • Spoons

  • Gummy candy dinosaurs (or other animal)  

  • Vanilla wafer cookie  

  • Fruit slices  

  • Raisins and/or M&Ms

  • Shredded coconut

  • Cookie decorating sprinkles

  • Whipped cream  

  • Grape jelly

  • Green, yellow and red food coloring

  • Paper and colored pencils



  1. Split the whipped cream between two clear plastic cups. Use the food coloring to dye one cup of whipped cream yellow so that it represents sandy soil and the other red so that it represents clay.

  2. Use the food coloring to dye your shredded coconut green.

  3. Select a “fossil” from your gummy candy dinosaurs (or other animals). You may want to use scissors to cut apart the gummy candy or break up the cookies to show that most fossils do not survive intact.

  4. Build your dino parfait by adding a spoonful or two of the following ingredients into your plastic cup:

    1. Vanilla wafer cookie  – also known as hardened sediment

    2. A gummy candy dinosaurs (or other animal)  – also known as your buried fossil

    3. Fruit slices – also known as sediment layers

    4. Raisins and/or M&Ms – also known as rocks

    5. Grape jelly – also known as underground water

    6. Red whipped cream – also known as clay

    7. Yellow whipped cream – also known as sandy soil  

    8. Cookie decorating sprinkles – also known as surface dirt

    9. Green shredded coconut – also known as grass



Use your paper and colored pencils to draw a picture of your cup and its layers. Each tasty treat represents a layer of what’s beneath our toes when we walk outdoors.


Can you tell which layer is the oldest? The deeper layers are the older layers of Earth’s surface, while the top layers are the more recent ones.


Can you see which layer your fossil is buried in? When dinosaurs became extinct some 65.5 million years ago, many of their bodies were fossilized between layers of mud and sand that eventually became sedimentary rock. Over time, more layers of rock, clay, water and soil formed on top of the fossilized dinosaurs.


Is your fossil old or young? As you can see, paleontologists must dig very, very deep to find dinosaur fossils. When they do  dig deep enough to make a dino-mite discovery, it’s the sediment and rocks surrounding the bones that help these scientists determine the age of the dinosaur fossils.

Now all hungry paleontologists should enjoy their very own dino parfait!   

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

2014 Power of Children Awards - Application Process

Power of ChildrenIf 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

Interested in applying for the Power of Children Awards, but a little unsure about the rules for participation or the essay criteria? Today’s blog will try to answer some common questions.

Why do we require a "youth" and "adult" portion for the applications?

A completed application requires both a youth/nominee, with parental or guardian permission to apply, and an adult/nominator form to be submitted. We ask that the four criteria (Need, Achievement, Impact, and Further Empowerment) be reflected upon by both parties in order for the full application to be reviewed. The reason we do this is because we want to hear about the project from both perspectives. As a youth you may have certain things that you are proud to share about your project, but an adult may have additional elements that they want to highlight and discuss. We do not however want the exact same text copied and pasted in both applications. This will disqualify an applicant.

What does "no group projects" mean?

We are looking for youth who have created a project on their own, not as a group. This means that if you and your classmates or friends started a project or organization together, the work unfortunately does not qualify for this award. With group projects it is hard to tell who actually did what portion of the work and since the award goes to an individual winner it doesn’t seem fair to the rest of the group if only one person gets acknowledged for their contribution. On the other hand, if you started a project and then recruited your friends to help you, but you kept control/leadership of the project, it is eligible for the award.

What should I write about in my four criteria (Need, Achievement, Impact, and Further Empowerment)?

Each portion of the criteria should be discussed in 150 words or less. As the youth/nominee, you will write about your project from your personal perspective. For the adult/nominator, you will write about the stories the youth has shared with you and the impact you see on both the youth and the community through the project.

  • Need: This portion will address why the project was created and what the youth did to start it. Where did the idea for the project originate? How did you learn about the need you are addressing? Was it a hobby, a news article, a friend or family member, a trip, or other that helped spark the idea in your head?
  • Achievement: This portion will address what the youth has accomplished while working on this project and what sort of obstacles may have been encountered. Tell us about your process. Did you have to do research or get permission to start your project? Did you meet with the community? Did you need assistance from others? Did you recruit volunteers, how? Did you struggle to find support, money or come across other barriers?
  • Impact: This portion will address the specific details of the ways in which the project made an impact. How many people have you helped? What sort of monetary contributions have you acquired? How many volunteers do you use? How many days/hours have you put in on this project?
  • Further Empowerment: This portion will address how funds would be used to continue the project. How will you use the Power of Children Awards grant to help your project? Do you see the project expanding, changing, evolving, how? What would you like to see happen to your project after the awards?


Remember the deadline for applications is March 23, 2014 at 11:59 p.m.!