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Take Me There: China Top 10—Calligraphy Shop

Years of research, including many staff trips, went into making the Take Me There:® China exhibit. In this blog series, you'll see how we were inspired by the people, places, and traditions of modern China as we recreated these top ten exhibit highlights. You'll also get a snapshot of what your family will experience in these extraordinary spaces—brought to you straight from our exhibit developers!

Within the Marketplace in Take Me There: China, your family can enter a recreated calligraphy shop and explore the art and traditions of Chinese calligraphy. Calligraphy is a traditional art form that is revered in China. Chinese people speak in many different dialects, but write in just one language.

Jackie Calligraphy

Teacher in Residence Calligraphy

Try your hand at calligraphy using authentic tools. Using a real brush and practice paper, paint different strokes freehand or follow a template. It takes skill, practice, and patience to learn how to draw the Chinese characters. To help you get started, a video of a local calligrapher will provide instructions for holding and manipulating the brush. 

Try stamping different Chinese symbols with real carved chops. Chops are like rubber stamps—Chinese calligraphers and artists use them to sign their work by pressing them into ink, then stamping the paper. In the Calligraphy Shop your family can experiment with sample chops using red ink.

Other things to see and do: 

  • Be inspired by examples of beautiful calligraphy on display on the shop walls, along with traditional supplies, such as ink stones and sticks, brushes, and rice paper. 
  • Over in the People’s Park/Tea Shop area, your family can take part in a Dishu program, using large, foam-tipped brushes to trace characters in water on the slate pavement.
  • Meet our Teachers in Residence! Teachers from the Confucius Institute will offer regularly scheduled, facilitated programs in the shop, answer questions, and provide additional information about calligraphy.

 

Catch up on all of the Take Me There: China Top 10, or read up on staff adventures in China in our Creative Director's blog series: "Ned's Excellent China Adventure," Part 1 and Part 2.

 

Dishu brushes

Saturday Science: Invisible Mystery Writing

Mystery Writing

Take Me There: China Top 10—Food Market

Years of research, including many staff trips, went into making the Take Me There:® China exhibit. In this blog series, you'll see how we were inspired by the people, places, and traditions of modern China as we recreated these top ten exhibit highlights. You'll also get a snapshot of what your family will experience in these extraordinary spaces—brought to you straight from our exhibit developers!

Within the Marketplace section of Take Me There: China, your family can explore a Chinese Food Market. Some produce in the Chinese market might look familiar, while others might look different.

Food Market
A food market in Chengdu, China.

Food Market
The food market in Take Me There: China.

Explore what kind of fruits, vegetables, and other foods look the same or different to those we have in Indiana. The farming industry in China produces a tremendous variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. Some popular Chinese items, like bok choy, are becoming familiar to American diets; others, like bitter melon, are less common here. On the shelves along the wall, you may spot canned and packaged goods and snack products that might look familiar or different than what you see in American stores.

Role play buying, selling, or stocking faux foods in a recreated food market. The cash register has keys numbered in both English and Chinese, and features Chinese money within the drawer.​ The fruit and vegetable displays will encourage families to sort and compare. Traditionally, Chinese families like to shop for fresh vegetables and fruits daily. Many Chinese enjoy quick snack foods, either from the market or from street vendors. 

 

Catch up on all of the Take Me There: China Top 10, or read up on staff adventures in China in our Creative Director's blog series: "Ned's Excellent China Adventure," Part 1 and Part 2.

Why Do I Have Curly Hair?

Never Stop Asking Why: Why do I have curly hair?Genetics, shampoo, weather … who is to thank for all of your curls? While many factors play into your good and bad hair days, you can thank physics (and your parents) for your natural curly locks. We explain why physics plays a part in how your hair falls with help from TIME.

 

In an effort to determine how and why steel pipes get wrapped around things, a group of MIT researchers also found an explanation of what causes hair to curl.

 

It’s no secret that the longer your hair grows, the more weight each strand places on the bottom of the hair shaft. This weight often causes the hair to topple over itself – or become curly.

 

According to TIME, straight hair lays flat and moves in just two dimensions, front to back and side to side. The researches call this a 2-D hook. If you have curly hair and it is short, each strand forms what the researchers call a 3-D local helix. It grows up and down, swoops in at angles, and doubles back on itself. If you have curly hair and you let it grow toward or past your shoulders, it is called a 3-D global helix because the hairs behavior becomes even more complex.

 

But a 3-D helix isn’t your hair’s only curly variable. Thickness, stiffness and weight of each strand, as well as the number of hairs per square inch, also play a role in determining the look and texture of your hair.

 

When the researches reduced all of these variables to algorithms, they found that their models could predict the behavior of any strand. Your locks curl based on the shape, thickness, stiffness, weight and the strands’ proximity to each other, and by tweaking any of these variables, your hair may fall in a completely different way.  

 

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

 

Take Me There: China Top 10—Medicine Shop

Years of research, including many staff trips, went into making the Take Me There:® China exhibit. In this blog series, you'll see how we were inspired by the people, places, and traditions of modern China as we recreated these top ten exhibit highlights. You'll also get a snapshot of what your family will experience in these extraordinary spaces—brought to you straight from our exhibit developers!

What do Chinese families do when someone is sick?  Or what do they do for preventative care?  In the Marketplace section of Take Me There: China, your family can learn how modern-day Chinese use traditional Asian medicine and treatments, such as acupuncture and herbal remedies, combined with western-style medicine, including familiar over-the-counter items such as aspirin.

Medicine Shop
A specific medicine shop in Chicago's Chinatown inspired the museum's recreation.

Medicine Shop TMT: China
The Medicine Shop in Take Me There: China.

See the amazing array of safe plant materials used in Asian medicine. At a computer touch table, your family can diagnose and prescribe a treatment for common ailments by guessing key ingredients. Try taking turns role-playing patient or herbalist.   

Discover traditional Chinese acupuncture, the system of balancing one’s chi (life energy) using a map of unseen connections, called meridians, throughout the body. Experiment with touching different points on the hand map to see what part of the body those points affect.

Catch up on all of the Take Me There: China Top 10, or read up on staff adventures in China in our Creative Director's blog series: "Ned's Excellent China Adventure," Part 1 and Part 2.

Take Me There: China Top 10—The Restaurant

Years of research, including many staff trips, went into making the Take Me There:® China exhibit. In this blog series, you'll see how we were inspired by the people, places, and traditions of modern China as we recreated these top ten exhibit highlights. You'll also get a snapshot of what your family will experience in these extraordinary spaces—brought to you straight from our exhibit developers!

Inside the Restaurant in Take Me There: China, your family can role play as chef, server, or customer in this recreation of a restaurant in Chengdu, China. Restaurant food is served on a communal turntable in the center of each table, allowing guests to select small amounts of food from many dishes. Learn about the importance of cooking, presenting, and eating food in Chinese culture.

Chengdu Restaurant
A restaurant in Chengdu, China.

Restaurant Take Me There
The Restaurant in Take Me There: China.

Explore Chinese cuisine, including cooking, plating, serving, and eating (faux) food. The sights and sounds of a working kitchen will greet you as you try steaming or stir frying at cooktops. Pots can be stirred, steamers stacked, and tea brewed while servers send in orders. Chefs can select from faux food ingredients such as noodles, fish, and vegetables. Servers or chefs can plate the food to match photos of traditional Chinese dishes.

Role play taking orders, serving customers, and “ringing up” at a cash register. Menus are printed with Mandarin characters and English translations, including basic information about Chinese cuisines along with photos of plated menu items. Your family can practice using chopsticks as you pick up the “food” from the central turntable. 

Catch up on all of the Take Me There: China Top 10, or read up on staff adventures in China in our Creative Director's blog series: "Ned's Excellent China Adventure," Part 1 and Part 2.

Take Me There: China Top 10—Opera House

Years of research, including many staff trips, went into making the Take Me There:® China exhibit. In this blog series, you'll see how we were inspired by the people, places, and traditions of modern China as we recreated these top ten exhibit highlights. You'll also get a snapshot of what your family will experience in these extraordinary spaces—brought to you straight from our exhibit developers!

In the Arts section of Take Me There: China, you can go "backstage" at the Opera and explore the secrets behind Chinese opera costumes, makeup, and Biàn Liǎn mask-changing. Chinese opera is a popular form of drama and musical theater; it is also a traditional performance art that features music, stories, make-up, and costumes that look and sound uniquely Chinese. 

Opera Performance China

Opera China Exhibit

 

Find yourself “backstage” at the Guangzhou Opera.  This immersive area includes a stage featuring real opera costumes that highlight the ornate and brightly colored characters that are the focus of Chinese opera stories. Opera costumes sized for both children and adults provide opportunity for dress-up and pretend play as you imagine taking the stage at Guangzhou!

Uncover the mysteries of mask-changing. Mask-changing, known as Biàn Liǎn, is a Chinese cultural treasure, its secrets tightly guarded by its performers! Watch a video showing the incredible speed and skill of Biàn Liǎn performers, then try mask-changing for yourself with a hydraulic-powered photo opportunity.

Other things to see and do:

  • An interactive display of costumed dolls introduces several of the most famous characters from Chinese operas. Turning the wheel and rotate four characters into view as you learn about their roles in popular Chinese dramas.
  • Apply virtual opera makeup to your own photo, transforming yourself into one of five famous opera characters, then email the photo to friends and family.

 

Catch up on all of the Take Me There: China Top 10, or read up on staff adventures in China in our Creative Director's blog series: "Ned's Excellent China Adventure," Part 1 and Part 2.

Why Do We Sneeze?

Why do we sneeze? Ah-ah-ah-choo!

 

Spring is in the air … and if you’re an allergy sufferer, than the fresh pollen probably has you sneezing and itching. Have you ever wondered why this season has you continuously reaching for the tissue box? We answer the question “Why do we sneeze?” with help from The Washington Post.

 

Oxygen isn’t the only thing you’re breathing in through your nose each day. You’re also getting whiffs of microscopic dust, mold and germs. To protect the body from these tiny particles, your nose is lined with small hairs, mucus-producing glands and hairlike microscopic structures called cilia.

 

When a foreign particle irritates the inner part of your nose, a signal is sent to your brain, and your brain tells your body to pull back your head, take a deep breath, contract the muscles in your chest, throat and abdomen and … and … ah … CHOO! Air and water droplets come blowing out of your nose at about 100 miles per hour! According to The Washington Post, “that is faster than a cheetah chasing down a gazelle on the African savanna.”

 

Gesundheit! And don’t forget to use your tissue!

 

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

 

Take Me There: China Top 10—Panda Research Center

Years of research, including many staff trips, went into making the Take Me There:® China exhibit. In this blog series, you'll see how we were inspired by the people, places, and traditions of modern China as we recreated these top ten exhibit highlights. You'll also get a snapshot of what your family will experience in these extraordinary spaces—brought to you straight from our exhibit developers!

In the Environment section of Take Me There: China, your family will learn about the important, ongoing work at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Station as you explore a recreation of the Panda Nursery and observe pandas in their enclosures. The Chinese are studying pandas and working hard to increase the number of animals in captivity. They're quite proud of their “national treasures.”

Chengdu Panda eating 

Panda in Exhibit

Role play the job of a panda keeper in the Panda Nursery. Carry a stuffed panda over to one of the two check-up stations to weigh or measure it, listen to the heartbeat or take a temperature. At nearby incubators, keepers can place pandas inside and learn how newborns must always be kept warm. Keepers can also take the panda to a feeding station, where baby bottles with "formula" and leaf-eater "biscuits" will be available to feed the cubs, as well as pretend play apples and bananas. Examine real x-ray images of pandas’ special adaptations (a wrist bone that is used as a thumb) and compare it with x-rays of human hands.

See how pandas are trained at Chengdu. Keepers enrich the pandas’ daily schedule with toys and feeding challenges to keep the bears active and alert. Observe two young pretend bears (six to 18 months) who are posed with typical training materials like a slide and feeding balls. The other enclosure features an adult bear eating bamboo. Learn facts about pandas, hear panda sounds, and find out about the various duties of panda keepers through an interactive computer program.

Other things to see and do:

  • Photos will feature new pandas born at Chengdu, as well as other pandas born at zoos around the world, such as Lun Lun and her twin cubs at Zoo Atlanta, a partner of the Chengdu Center.
  • Video clips will highlight panda check-ups, moms and cubs cuddling, panda cubs in incubators, and panda's enjoying outdoor enrichment activities.
  • An artifact case displays a range of Chinese objects featuring pandas, showing how incredibly popular Pandas are in China.

 

Catch up on all of the Take Me There: China Top 10, or read up on staff adventures in China in our Creative Director's blog series: "Ned's Excellent China Adventure," Part 1 and Part 2.

Panda Research Center

Panda Incubator

Saturday Science: Coiled Clay Creation

For nearly 40 years, more than 700,000 laborers constructed 8,000 life-size clay soldiers for China’s first emperor. Starting today, you and your family can come face to face with the Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army

But don’t let the Terra Cotta Warrior fun end when you leave the museum! In this week’s Saturday Science from eHow, bring the creativity of The Emperor's Painted Army to your home by sculpting your own clay creation.

Saturday Science: Coiled Clay Creation

Materials

  • Flour
  • Water
  • Salt 
  • Mixing bowl 
  • Wax paper
  • Baking and/or craft supplies (optional) 
  • Acrylic paint (optional) 
  • Polyurethane (optional) 
  • Baking sheet 
  • Aluminum foil      

Process 

  1. In a mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to completely stir together 2 parts flour and 1 part water and salt. 
  2. Roll wax paper out on your surface and place dough on wax paper. 
  3. Use your hands and imagination to create a clay sculpture. 
  4. What’s in your pantry and/or craft room? Inspire your kiddos’ creativity by letting them use baking items and craft supplies you have on hand to make their sculptures one of a kind. Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes or food coloring to transform the pale yellow dough into fun colors. Add sprinkles and/or glitter to make your sculpture sparkle or mica powder to make the dough shine. When you’ve finished molding your dough, you can also use any type of acrylic paint to add an extra element of design, just like The Emperor’s Painted Army. 
  5. Place your clay creation on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Cook for 3 hours in a preheated oven set to 200 degrees. 
  6. If you painted your creation, coat it in polyurethane to protect the color and prevent mold.
  7. Keep a close eye on your creation so it doesn’t burn. 
  8. Carefully remove your clay creation from the oven, and let it cool completely. 
  9. Set your clay creation in a special place so you can enjoy it every day! 

            
Summary
What does your clay creation look like? 

Experts estimate that there are more than 8,000 soldiers that make up the Terra Cotta Warriors, as well as 130 chariots and 670 horses. What is even more amazing than the sheer size of the army is that every soldier is unique. No two soldiers are alike, and each has unique and realistic features. 

Like the soldiers, your clay creation is also unique. Keep it in a safe place so you can treasure it and always remember your experience at Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army. 

 

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

 

Creating Take Me There: China

Finishing TouchesA version of this article first appeared in the Indianapolis Star on April 13, 2014. 

Ní hăo! It’s time to learn to say “hello” in Mandarin—China is coming to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in the new exhibit Take Me There:® China, starting May 10! 

Opening in tandem with China’s Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor’s Painted Army, Take Me There: China will be the second in the museum’s series exploring modern life in a single world culture. The series began with Take Me There: Egypt, which ran from 2009 to 2013; the Take Me There gallery is scheduled to change cultures approximately every four years.

An Authentic Experience
Over the past several years, the museum has sent teams of people to China to study customs, culture, and modern society and also to collect artifacts and shoot photos and video. The result is an immersive exhibit that offers an experience of modern China with its time-honored traditions and modern innovations. 

To explore changes affecting Chinese society, the museum worked with a single family. An 11-year old boy named Jackie serves as a guide on a journey from his great grandmother’s traditional rural home to his grandparents’ newer suburban home to his parents’ modern urban apartment. “It’s a chance to see how family life and living circumstances have changed as Chinese society has changed over the course of four generations,” said Charity Counts, the museum’s associate vice
president of exhibits.

To examine environmental issues facing China, the museum turned to pandas, the country’s most enduring and endearing symbol. Visitors will find a re-creation of the famous Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, home to China’s panda conservation efforts. Children and families can also explore a tea house, marketplace, calligraphy shop, food market, and much more. For more details, see behind the scenes photos on the Pinterest board.

A Community Effort
Many advisors and partners, both in the U.S. and internationally, consulted on this exhibit including the Indianapolis Hangzhou Sister Cities Committee, The Confucius Institute, the Indiana Association of Chinese Americans, Lilly Chinese Culture Network, The America China Society of Indiana, and The Indianapolis Chinese Community Center, Inc.

In addition to these organizations, more than 10,000 Chinese and Chinese Americans call Indianapolis home, and some will be serving as gallery volunteers, performers, and language and calligraphy teachers during Take Me There: China’s run.

Join us for our Opening Day Celebration on May 10, and be sure to buy your tickets for Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army (May 10–Nov. 2).

 

Take Me There: China is made possible by lead gifts from Lilly Endowment, Inc., Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, The Lilly Family, Mrs. Yvonne Shaheen, Sarah and John Lechleiter, the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services, Jane and Steve Marmon, Susan and Jim Naus, and Polly Hix.

Saturday Science: Happy, Healthy Hearts

Saturday Science: Happy, Healthy Hearts

 

Lub-dup, lub-dup, lub-dup … can you hear that? It’s the sound of your heart beating. 

In this week’s Saturday Science from Science Sparks, explore the rhythm of a family member’s or friend’s heartbeat by building a stethoscope and listening closely. 

Materials

  • Kitchen roll tube
  • Gaffer tape
  • Small funnel        

Process

  1. Hold a kitchen roll tube to a family member’s or friend’s chest while you place an ear to the other end. Can you hear his or her heart beating? 
  2. Next, tape a funnel into an end of the roll. 
  3. Then, listen to your family member’s or friend’s chest again. Does his or her heart sound clearer? 
  4. What do you think your heart will sound like after you do jumping jacks? 

            
Summary
Did your heart beat faster after you did jumping jacks? It should have! 

When we do jumping jacks or another type of exercise, our muscles require more oxygen and energy than usual. Our hearts deliver these things by pumping blood more quickly and thus increasing our heart rate. Like a doctor’s, your stethoscope amplified the sound of your family member’s or friend’s heart beating so that you could hear it more clearly. 

 

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

10 Amazing Facts about the Terra Cotta Warriors

Our new exhibit, Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army, is open until November 2, 2014—a once in a lifetime chance for your family to learn about the REAL Terra Cotta Warriors in a hands-on experience created especially for children and families. Since the discovery of the terra cotta warriors, teams of scientists have worked together to study, excavate, conserve and preserve these unique figures. Get caught up! Here are 10 amazing facts to know before you go...

Be sure to buy your tickets to see the terra cotta warriors! Details at childrensmuseum.org/warriors.

10 amazing facts about the Terra Cotta Warriors

  1. China’s first emperor spent much of his life searching for immortality and built himself a tomb complex that encompassed 20 square miles. 
  2. Construction of the tomb began when the future Emperor of Qin (China) took power at the age of 13. 
  3. As part of the complex, more than 700,000 laborers constructed a life-size terra cotta army and tomb complex.
  4. The army took an estimated 40 years to finish.
  5. The clay soldiers remained untouched for more than 2000 years, until 1974, when they were unearthed by Chinese farmers.
  6. Experts estimate there are more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, and 670 horses. 
  7. Recent digs have also uncovered terra cotta acrobats, musicians, and waterfowl.
  8. Every soldier is unique, no two are alike and each has unique and realistic features.
  9. Scientists are using various techniques to preserve the paint found on the warriors.
  10. The greatest mystery is yet to be revealed: the Emperor’s tomb, which has yet to be opened.

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!  

 

Materials:

  • 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            

 

Process:  

 

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?             

 

Summary:

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 LemonadeDay.org.

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. 

Materials

  • 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.

Process

  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! 

Swallows

Swallow

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. 

Hummingbirds

Hummingbird

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!

Orioles

Oriole

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. 

Woodpeckers

Woodpecker

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.

 

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