SLC Young Ambassador Blog: Week 4

26 07 2013

Hello, my name is Alana Zamora from San Marcos, Texas. This year, I was selected as a 2013 Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassador; Up to twenty-four graduating high school seniors are selected each year and are given the amazing opportunity to intern in a museum/cultural institution in their local community for four weeks. Currently, I am interning here at the Austin Children’s Museum. This week is the last week of my internship, and in this blog post, I describe my experience here at the ACM, as well as, insights into the different summer camps that we offer here at the Museum.

This week’s full day camp at the Austin Children’s Museum for ages 7-10 was titled ‘Get a Clue’, and the half day camp for ages 4-6 was ‘Passport Adventures’. Each day, I photographed the camp’s field trips and activities, and filtered, edited and uploaded the photos that I took onto the Museum’s Flickr account.

On Monday, July 22nd, we walked a few blocks with the full day campers to The Driskill hotel. There, we were given a tour and were told of it’s history; We learned that for well over a century, historical benchmarks have been crafted at The Driskill, such as, when Former President Lyndon B. Johnson awaited news of his successful 1948 Senate run and his 1960 election to the office of Vice President, and 1964 election as President. We also learned of the ghosts that have reportedly been seen at the hotel! Colonel Driskill himself is said to wander through the original side of the hotel and the spirit of Samantha Houston, a senator’s young daughter who was chasing a ball when she fell to her death on the grand staircase, has been seen bouncing a ball along the corridors in the hotel.Image

On Tuesday, July 23rd, the full day campers took a tour of the Texas State Cemetary. The Cemetary is the burial place for soldiers and founders of the Republic and State of Texas, elected state officials, jurists and other prominent men and women. Culturally, the Cemetary is unique because it represents every aspect of Texas history from European Colonization to modern day Texas politics. The Texas State Cemetary is the burial site of Stephen F. Austin, Ed Burleson, Bob Bullock and many more historical and cultural icons.Image

On Wednesday, July 24th, I photographed the half day camp, ‘Passport Adventures’. The continents of topic that day were Asia and Australia. The children participated in various activities, learning about kangaroos, origami, bamboo, and the Sydney Opera House. One specific activity of the day that I thought was pretty neat was where the children could create their own Moai statues out of clay, and decorate it with beads and feathers.Image

On Thursday, July 25th, I had my community outreach portion of my internship; Each Young Ambassador must hold a children’s story-time at a local library in their area. I traveled to the Little Walnut Creek Branch Library here in Austin to read Abuela’s Weave by Omar S. Castaneda. Abuela’s Weave is the story of Esperanza, a young Guatemalan girl, and her grandmother who grow closer as they weave some special creations and then make a trip to the market in hopes of selling them. This story shows the importance of family pride and personal endurance, and introduces children to the culture of Guatemala through the eyes of little Esperanza.Image

In the latter half of the day, I traveled back to the Austin Children’s Museum to be the photographer for the Museum Career Ladder & Volunteer Appreciation party. MCL participants and volunteers brought their friends and families to show them what they do at the museum and to have some fun! MCL is a volunteer and employment readiness program that offers opportunities to Austin area teens (12-17 year olds) to engage in fun and meaningful work at the Austin Children’s Museum. This year, there were over 1,100 active volunteers at the Museum. The youngest volunteer is four and the oldest is sixty-six.Image

On Friday, July 26th, the full day campers took a trip to the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin. There, they toured the ceramics and painting studios, and learned about kilns and easels. They also visited visited the art galleries in the building.Image

Sadly, this is my last week at the Austin Children’s Museum. This four-week internship has truly been a great experience! Never having a job before, I was skeptical that I would not successfully fulfill what was expected of me…but at the conclusion of this month, I feel that I have done everything I’ve been asked to to my fullest potential. Throughout my internship, I have learned various skills, such as, time management, patience and team work. In a museum, there’s so much team work that goes into running a successful learning institution and I really do appreciate what every employee/volunteer at any museum does. Along with the Museum, I do believe that the most important skill we can give children is the ability to learn, and that the diversity and interactions among people from different backrounds enrich and strengthen our community. I am eternally grateful to have been selected as a Smithsonian Latino Center 2013 Young Ambassador, to have met many amazing individuals along the way, and to have been blessed with this amazing opportunity to work with the Austin Children’s Museum.Image

If you haven’t had the chance, check out my blog posts from the previous weeks of my internship!

1. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-1/

2. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-2/

3. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-3/





SLC Young Ambassador Blog: Week 3

22 07 2013

Hello, my name is Alana Zamora from San Marcos, Texas. This year, I was selected as a 2013 Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassador; Up to twenty-four graduating high school seniors are selected each year and are given the amazing opportunity to intern in a museum/cultural institution in their local community for four weeks. Currently, I am interning here at the Austin Children’s Museum. I will be posting weekly blog posts to describe my experience here at ACM, as well as, insights into the different summer camps that we offer at the Museum.

This week, I worked directly with children, ages 7-10, that were enrolled in the ‘smART’ full day summer camp program here at the Museum. For every full day camp, we go on daily field trips, experience innovative hands-on activities, and play in the Museum. This week, I photographed the camp’s field trips and activities, and in the latter half of each day, I worked upstairs in the office, filtering, editing and uploading photos that I had taken from the camps onto the Museum’s Flickr account.

On Monday, July 15th, we walked with the children to the Staar Building so they could view the mobile that is displayed upstairs. After that, we went back to the Children’s Museum and had the children create their own mobile out of a hanger, string and random recyclable items.Image

On Tuesday, July 16th, we took a field trip to MAKEatx, a membership-based workshop where individuals can pursue their diverse interests and activities independently and creatively. The workshop currently houses a powerful laser cutter capable of cutting, etching, and engraving a wide variety of materials, brand new computers with the latest design software, and ample work space. The campers had the opportunity to create their own design for a key-chain or magnet, and were able to watch the laser cutter create it right before their very own eyes!Image

On Wednesday, July 17th, we had an amazing tour at Blue Genie Art Industries. BGAI is a nationally recognized creative firm specializing in large scale commercial fabrication of three dimensional objects, monuments, exhibits, themed environments, and artist services. Some of their recent clients include Dell, PEZ Candy, Schlotsky’s, Whole Foods Market, Make a Wish Foundation and the Austin Children’s Museum!Image

On Wednesday, I also had the opportunity to photograph the Technology Camp for incoming 4th, 5th and 6th graders at the Museum’s off-site locations at Silicon Labs. The children were able to design games and create their own animations using Scratch, a computer programming language made for kids. The campers also created game controllers, and program sensors and motors to construct a Rube Goldberg Device.Image

On Thursday, July 18th, our daily field trip was to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum. The garden is a natural oasis in South Austin dedicated to the work of 20th Century American sculptor Charles Umlauf. Umlauf’s sculptures range from detailed realism to lyrical abstractions. His materials are equally diverse, from the exotic woods and terra cotta or cast stone of his earlier pieces, to the rich bronzes and alabasters or luminous marbles of his prime. With equal facility, Umlauf sculpted family groups (particularly mothers and children), delightful animals, and religious and mythological figures.Image

On Friday, July 19th, we visited the AMOA-Arthouse. The museum provides rich environments for a wide range of audiences to investigate and experience excellence in contemporary art. The museum accomplishes this through innovative exhibitions, education, interpretative programs and direct access to the creative process. The current exhibit that we had a tour of was ‘Advanced Young Artists’. The displayed artworks were developed by artist-mentors and teens in partnership, resulting in either one unified piece of two individual works related through process and/or concept. One project from the exhibit was titled “The Identity Project”; This project consisted of wearable masks that the artist and their mentor created. Viewers were encouraged to choose a mask, step into the photo booth, and express themselves through physical gestures/poses. In interacting with the masks and producing an image, the viewer becomes a participant and a piece of live sculpture.Image

This week, I was very privileged to experience my first art camp! Although I was not a camper, I had fun being a Camp teacher and photographer. I love that the children are being exposed to all types of art mediums and that they are able to express themselves through various art forms. This week has been a very neat experience and it is something that I will never forget.

If you haven’t had the chance, check out my blog posts from the previous weeks of my internship!

  1. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-1/
  2. http://blog.austinkids.org/2013/07/22/slc-young-ambassador-blog-week-2/




SLC Young Ambassador Blog: Week 1

22 07 2013

     Hello, my name is Alana Zamora from San Marcos, Texas. This year, I was selected as a 2013 Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassador; Up to twenty-four graduating high school seniors are selected each year and are given the amazing opportunity to intern in a museum/cultural institution in their local community for four weeks. Currently, I am interning here at the Austin Children’s Museum. I will be posting weekly blog posts to describe my experience here at ACM, as well as, insights into the different summer camps that we offer at the Museum.Image

     This week, I worked directly with children, ages 7-10, that were enrolled in the ‘Inside Out’ full day summer camp program here at the Museum. For every full day camp, we go on daily field trips, experience innovative hands-on activities, and play in the Museum. This week, I assisted in leading science and art activities, played with the children in the museum and supervised them on the daily community field trips.

On Monday, July 1st, we took the children on a walk down to Lady Bird Lake, where we met with two students from the Department of Geological Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin. There, the two students directed the children, as well as myself and the other interns, on how to properly take water samples and how to measure the pH levels. We discussed with the children on what to do if the levels become harmful to the environment and how it can affect the community. When we returned to the Museum that afternoon, we led the children in an activity of designing boats, out of plastic containers and straws, that were durable enough to hold a few dollars worth in pennies.Image     On Tuesday, July 2nd, we took the children to the UT Department of Engineering. There, we met with two students, one studying to be a Chemical Engineer and the other to be a Mechanical Engineer. They instructed the children on how to create their own little ‘rocket’s made out of a straw and tape. After the field trip, we returned to the Museum and started our hands-on activities. I interacted with the children, asking them what they knew abut meteors and craters. Then, I led an activity where the children dropped different sized balls into a bucket of cocoa, and they had to measure the size of the ‘crater’ and describe what it looked like. In the next activity, we gave the children their own Styrofoam ball and they had the opportunity to color and create their own planet.

Image

On Wednesday, July 3rd, we took a field trip to the Goodwill Computer Museum. There, we all had a tour of the museum and learned the history of electronics. Since 1994, Goodwill started a collection of hardware, software, and documentation of recycled electronics. We also learned that Goodwill gives back to the community when you donate items to them; Some of the money that is made by Goodwill goes to helping their employees, as well as other community members, achieve their GED. When we returned to the Museum, we had two activities for the children to participate in: One was, taking apart computers and keyboards, and then putting them back together. The second one was, building their own circuits with circuit blocks and ‘alligator’ clips.

Image

     On Friday, July 5th, we took a field trip to Dell Children’s Hospital, where we were given a tour of the pediatrician’s office and of an operating room. We all learned how to take blood pressure, measure height and weight, perform an ultrasound scan, and how to prevent spreading germs. When we returned to the Children’s Museum, the other volunteers, interns and I led activities in dissecting owl pellets and how to create a lung model, using a water bottle and balloons.Image

Overall, this week has been amazing! The children are so bright and intelligent; I am confident that these individuals will become the strong leaders of our future. I am very excited for the weeks to come! I enjoy the diversity of the interns and campers; Everyone is so unique and there is definitely never a dull moment at camp. Between all of the tours and activities, I hope the children have learned as much as I have. I have never really been interested in science before, but after this week, I find it very engaging! I honestly wish I had attended a summer camp like this when I was younger.Image





Think, Do, Make!

7 03 2013

This spring we opened a new exhibit called, Think, Do, Make. One of the activities you can do in the exhibit is make a paper “roto-copter” and launch it in our Flow Lab. You can also make roto-copters and test them out at home.

Download Copters and print out the roto-copters. Cut along the solid lines and fold along the dashed lines to make your roto-copter.

Add a paper clip to the bottom of your roto-copter to give it some weight. Drop your roto-copter from a high place or toss it in the air. What do you notice?

How can you change your roto-copter to make it spin differently? Try adding paper clips, using different weights of paper, or trimming the “blades” of your roto-copter to different lengths. Happy flying!





Exploring Local History

23 08 2012

This summer we’ve been writing about how the Museum is creating an archive that will live on a computer. We’re doing this by digitizing things!

Digitizing is when you take something non-digital (like a paper letter or a print photograph) and turn it into something digital that lives on a computer. People use things like scanners to create a digital copy of something. We have a scanner here at the museum that we’re using to digitize things like old photographs.

Why do people digitize things? When something like a photograph is digital, you can do lots of cool thing with it. We found a neat website recently that is using old, digitized photographs in fun ways.

Historypin lets you explore cities by looking at old photographs. The cool part is that all of these photographs are put on a map, so you can see how familiar places used to look a long time ago. You can find pictures of Austin dating back to the 1800s on Historypin!

Another site that lets you explore maps and old photographs is Sepia Town.

Try exploring places you’ve visited and see how much things have changed over time.





Harness the Heat: Make Your Own Solar Oven!

16 08 2012

How do solar ovens work? Well, as you can tell from your day-to-day observations, the sun not only provides light, but also works as a heat source.  That’s why it’s warmer during the day, when the sun is out, than it is at night, when the moon is up.  With a solar oven, you use reflectors (aluminum foil) to reflect the sun’s light into a closed container and the heat is trapped inside.  With this heat, you can cook some really great snacks!

If you do make a solar oven, remember that the oven can get very hot (just like ovens in kitchens), so you should be very careful when using the oven. Heat-resistant cloths or hand covers are great ways to protect yourself from the heat.

To make your own solar oven, you will need the following materials:

- a pizza box

- aluminum foil

- plastic wrap

- tape

- pen or pencil

- scissors

- ruler

First take your pizza box and draw a square around the lid of the pizza box about two inches from the edges.  Cut along only three edges: the front and sides of the pizza box.  Do not cut the fourth side that runs along the back of the pizza box.

 

Fold along the uncut line so that you form a flap.  After folding the flap back, wrap it in a piece of aluminum foil and tape it down.  Make sure that the shiny side is facing out and that there are no wrinkles in the foil.

 

Next, open up the pizza box and cover the insides with foil.  Make sure to cover the bottom and the sides of the pizza box.  Have the shiny side of the foil face up and overlap the pieces to cover any gaps. Tape into place.

 

While the pizza box is open, we’re going to cover the hole made by the foil-covered flap with plastic wrap.  Before cutting a piece of plastic wrap, you can tape down one side and then unroll the plastic wrap across the hole.  Make sure the plastic wrap is the right size and that it is taped down tightly so that no air can get out.

After these steps, you’ve completed your solar oven!

 

Click for more to see how to make some yummy food with your new solar oven!

Read the rest of this entry »





Woodcrafting 101 Workshop!

9 08 2012

Last weekend at our Museum we had our Woodcrafting 101 Workshop where kids of all ages made their very own woven latices! The process consisted of four easy steps and young boys and girls were able to learn about tools and their functions while they built and decorated their own latice.

An example of a woven latice that Matt made!

Here are the four steps the kids went through in order to make this neat craft!

1. First, the children started out with two 16 inch pieces of wood and measured and marked 1 inch holes for the drilling process later on. Then the children cut the two pieces of wood in half with a dovetail saw and ended up with four 8 inch pieces of wood!

Learning how to mark and measure.

Learning how to use the dovetail saw to cut the pieces of wood in half!

2. Second, the children brought their four pieces of cut wood to be drilled. We showed them how to use a drill and used a larger sized bit for the holes on the ends and a smaller sized bit for all of the other holes. We made sure to wear goggles at all times to protect our eyes!

After cutting the wood, the next step was to drill the holes!

Showing the kids how to use a drill safely.

Making sure to always wear goggles and hold the drill downward at a straight angle.

3. Next the kids took their newly drilled pieces of wood over to the nuts and bolts station where they assembled the frame to their latice! We showed them how to put the frame together using nuts and bolts and how to tighten it with a wrench.

The third step is to assemble the frame!

The kids learned how to use nuts and bolts to put the pieces of wood together.

Learning how to use a wrench to tighten the nuts and bolts.

4. The last and final step was to weave different colored yarn and string through the holes that they drilled earlier with a plastic needle.

The last step is to decorate the latice by weaving different colored string through the holes!

The children got to pick what colors and kinds of string they wanted to use for their latice!

The kids learned how to use a plastic needle to weave the string through the holes of the frame.

Who knew that working with tools could be so fun?! The children were able to learn how to use simple materials and tools to make an awesome craft that they got to take home! Kids and parents had a great time learning how to build a woven latice!

Everyone had a great time at our woodcraft workshop!





Adventures in Archiving at ACM

6 08 2012

We’re doing some spring (or summer!) cleaning here at the Museum.  But we aren’t just throwing things away. Instead, we’re archiving them!

What is an archive? An archive is a place where people store old things to keep them in good condition. Archives can be filled with things like books, letters, poems, postcards, photographs … all sorts of things, really. The United States has its very own National Archives, where all sorts of papers important to American history are stored.

Just think of how much paper is in here!
Image by David Samuel, Wikimedia Commons

The museum archive isn’t going to be in a big building though. Instead, it’s going to be on the computer. The museum is scanning paper documents and creating a digital archive of everything from old photographs to brainstorming sketches.

This summer and fall, we’ll be posting about our adventures in archiving. And we’ll give you some ideas for ways you can archive things at home!

Activity: Start your own archive!
Before you start an archive, you have to find things to put in it. Try going on an archival scavenger hunt in your house!   You can see if your relatives and older friends have already started saving things like photographs. Ask how they saved those things and why.

Here are some old things to look for.

  • Black and white photographs
  • Records or CDs
  • Old postcards and letters
  • Newspaper clippings

What cool old things have you found around your house? Happy hunting!





Be a Secret Scientist: Make Edible, Invisible Ink!

3 08 2012

Have you ever wanted to send a secret message to someone? Have you heard about invisible ink?  Invisible ink is ink that cannot be seen until revealed with a secret trick.  If you want to make your own, edible, and invisible ink, follow the directions below!

To make your invisible ink message, you will need the following:

- a few small containers

- at least one of the following:
lemon, orange or grapefruit juice
milk
sugar solution*
baking soda solution*
*(You can make the sugar and baking soda solution by mixing sugar or baking soda with a little bit of water until the water is saturated with the sugar or baking soda.)

- cotton swabs

- a piece of paper

- a heat source, such as a hair dryer, an electric iron, or an oven (set to a low heat, around 250 degrees, and check your message every few minutes!)

- a plastic tray

First, place your piece of white paper on the plastic tray.  Then, dip a cotton swab into one of your invisible inks, write your secret message on your piece of paper, and wait for the message to dry.  I used lemon juice, a sugar solution, and a baking soda solution for my invisible inks.

My wet inks!

Once the message has dried, put it under your heat source (a hair dryer or iron) and watch your message reveal itself!

After being heated, my messages were revealed!

What is the science behind your invisible ink message?

Well, what do all of the inks have in common? Lemon juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, milk, sugar, and baking soda are all edible (they are all things that you can eat).  Now,  think about when you bake cookies for too long.  They turn brown or black.  Thus, when we  “bake” our edible inks, they become brown or black also!

My lemon juice became a light yellow and my baking soda solution turned a light brown.  My sugar solution didn’t show up very well, and I think it’s because I didn’t mix enough sugar into the water.  If you use the baking soda or sugar solution, make sure you use enough baking soda or sugar!

Which “ink” did you use? Did you try multiple inks? Which did you prefer?





Create Your Own Owl: It’s a Hoot!

30 07 2012

In the entire world, over 200 species of owls exist! Many unique traits make these beautiful birds so special:

1) They are nocturnal (they become active at night)

2) They can turn their heads around as much as 270 degrees!

3) Owls can blend into their surroundings with the help of the camouflaging colors of their feathers

Use these easy steps to make your own colorful owl!

What You Need:

1) Cardboard Toilet Paper Roll

2) Tissue Paper (6 colors)

3) Scissors

4) Glue Stick

5) Markers

How To Make The Owl: 

1) Cut a thick strip of any colored tissue paper and glue it around the very top of the toilet paper roll.

2) Cut out thick strips from 3 colors of the tissue paper.

3) Then, fold each strip in half (hamburger style) like the images below.

4) Next, cut the bottom of these strips into an oval shape.

5) Unravel the strips, and you’ve made the feathers for the owl! (Repeat steps 3-5 for 3 colors)

6) Then, starting with the color you wrapped around the top of the roll, glue the first feather strip around the bottom of the toilet paper roll.

7) Alternating colors, repeat step #6. Repeat until you reach the tissue paper wrapped around the top of the toilet paper roll. (Make sure the color of the highest feather strip matches the  color of the tissue paper wrapped around the top of the roll)

8) Next, pinch the top of the toilet paper roll in the center and push the two sides together to form the ears.

9) Cut out oval-shaped pieces of tissue paper for the eyes.

10) Then, cut out smaller oval-shaped pieces of tissue paper and glue them inside the larger ovals.

11) Draw the inside of the eyes any way you want to using markers  and then glue the eyes on the owl’s face.

10) Then, cut a small triangle out of tissue paper, and glue it in between your owl’s eyes for the beak.

Now you have finished making your very own owl!





Create your own Motion Ocean!

25 07 2012

In the next couple of weeks our Museum we will be having our Under the Sea and Extreme Planet camps where we will be exploring crazy weather phenomenas and learning about the ocean as well as the many plants and animals that call the ocean home! Here’s a simple experiment to help you start thinking about the many wonders of the ocean

You will need:

  • A  clear container with a lid (can be plastic or glass)
  • Blue food coloring
  • Some glitter (optional)
  • Baby oil or cooking oil
  • Small plastic floating toys

To make your own motion ocean just follow these simple steps!

    1. First, fill half of your container with water
    2. Then add a few drops of food coloring into the water and add some glitter too if you want!
    3. Pour in the baby oil/cooking oil until the container is about 3/4 full
    4. Add your favorite floating plastic toys on top of the oil
    5. Put the lid on the container
    6. Shake up your very own motion ocean!

Since water is denser or heavier than the oil it stays at the bottom while the oil stays at the top of the container. Since the two liquids never mix the water pushes the oil around at the surface making it look similar to waves in the ocean. Try creating your own motion ocean and let us know how yours turned out!





Dancing Raisins!

20 07 2012

Now that it’s summer time, the extreme heat makes everyone want to go swimming! If you have gone swimming with a life vest before you know that life jackets keep you from sinking down into the water, but do you ever wonder how? This simple experiment can help explain.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a clear cup or glass
  • some raisins
  • club soda (make sure it isn’t flat!)

Instructions:

  1. First, open the club soda and pour it into the glass
  2. Then drop a few raisins into the cup of soda
  3. Wait about 20-30 seconds to see the raisin’s reaction!

What did you see?

The raisins should have dropped to the bottom at first, started floating to the top, and then fell back down to the bottom again. This should happen continuously for a few minutes! Take a look at how our experiment went:

Dancing Raisins! Buoyancy Experiment from Austin Children’s Museum on Vimeo.

The reason why the raisins dance in the club soda and then floats to the top is because the bubbles in the soda stick to the rough edges of the raisin making it more buoyant, meaning that it floats easily. The bubbles in the soda are carbon dioxide gas and help bring the raisins to the top, when the bubbles reach the top, they pop and release the carbon dioxide gas into the air. This makes the raisins fall back down again since it is denser than the liquid soda.  The bubbles make the raisins float to the top similar to how a life jacket keeps you above water!

The carbon dioxide gas bubbles popping at the surface

Bubbles attaching to the rough surface of the raisins

The bubbles lifting the raisins back up to the surface

Now that you’ve tried this simple experiment, try putting other small foods into the club soda to see how they react! Although not everything you try will float, it is always good to experiment! You could try peanuts, chocolate chips, apple seeds, or pieces of uncooked pasta to see how long it takes for the bubbles to bring it up to the top and how fast they move up and down in the soda. Let us know what results you got!





Extreme Planet: Compasses, Scavenger Hunts, and Shelter-Building!

17 07 2012

Last week at the Museum, our full day camp for 7- to 10-year-olds explored the ideas of “Extreme Planet!”

For the first day of camp, we talked about the different things that would classify as “Extreme Planet.”  Not only did we talk about the Earth, but we also talked about the Earth’s extremes: hurricanes, tornadoes, and extreme situations!

After talking about all of the extreme possibilities on Earth, we went on a scavenger hunt to find all of the essential, basic elements that we could use to build a shelter to protect us from inclement (or really bad) weather.

During our scavenger hunt, we followed clues that told us which directions to go in to find our next shelter-building material.  For this part of the hunt, we used a compass! Does everyone know how compasses work?

One of our campers holds the compass during our scavenger hunt!

A compass is essentially a magnet, which reacts to the magnetic field of Earth.  This means that across all of Earth there are magnetic waves that the magnet of a compass reacts to.  The magnet, also called the needle, of the compass has one end marked to show which direction is North.  The reason that the needle always points North is because the North Pole has the opposite charge of the needle in the compass.  You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: Opposites attract!!

Thus, the North Pole has a magnetic force that is opposite to the charge of the magnet in a compass, which draws the North tip of the needle towards the direction of the North Pole.

After finding all of our materials with the help of the compass, we came back to the Museum and built our best forts!

If you want to try to build a shelter to protect against harsh wind, rain, heat, or other extreme situations, just have a scavenger hunt of your own and collect all of these things:

- 1 card stock or thick piece of paper
- 1 plastic bag
- some tape
- 1 pair of scissors
- some string
- 5-10 skewers/sticks
- anything else you think would make a good shelter

Using any or all of these materials, try to build your own miniature shelter that can protect against extreme weather!  Share your photos if you’d like!

Here is what some of our campers came up with during camp!

Team Green went for a basic tent structure with their sticks and then later covered their shelter with the plastic bag to protect from the elements!

Team Blue built a shelter by curling their paper into a cone and covering it with the plastic bag to protect against rain and wind!

Team Red built a cube shape with their sticks and piece of paper before covering it all with their plastic bag to provide shelter from all of Earth’s extremes!





The Science of Juggling and Hula-hooping!

5 07 2012

Last week at the Museum, young boys and girls participated in our Secret Scientists camp.  On Tuesday, we had a field trip to Sky Candy, an aerial acrobatics company based here in Austin. At Sky Candy, two aerial artists, Danny and Winnie, told us about the science behind different parts of their work.

First, they talked about stretching and our bodies’ muscles.  Do you know the names of any muscles?  We talked about many different muscles and how stretching all of our muscles is important before any kind of exercise.

Here we stretched our triceps (the undersides of our arms).

Then, we talked about the science behind juggling. When you juggle, you are working with gravity.  When you throw the balls up into the air, you go against gravity.  Once the balls hit their peak, they no longer have any force against gravity and begin to fall with the force of gravity.

Trying to learn how to juggle!

After juggling with similar-sized balls, Danny, one of the aerial artists, asked if we thought that a larger ball would fall faster than a smaller one.  What do you think?

Danny with two different-sized juggling balls.

Because gravity works the same on every object, all objects fall at the same speed.  It’s only when an object has wind resistance that its speed may change.  This means that an open, flat piece of paper (which has a large surface that slows down its speed) falls slower than a bowling ball or a marble which fall at the same speed (because their shapes do not resist the force of their fall).

After juggling, Winnie talked to us about the hidden science behind hula-hoops.  When you hula-hoop, your body oscillates (moves from side to side).  This movement creates a force, which is called centripetal force, that acts upon the hoop.  Centripetal force is the force which carries an object (the hoop) on a curved path because of the force’s direction towards the center of the curved path. Thus, your hula-hoop rotates around you on a curved path because your body creates a force with its movement.

Here everyone took turns hula-hooping.

Who knew so much science was a part of aerial acrobats? Just by stretching and tossing a few balls in the air or playing with your hula-hoop at home, you can encounter scientific ideas about the muscles of your body, can see how gravity affects objects, and can create centripetal force.  Thanks to Winnie and Danny for teaching us all of this!!





Celebrate July 4th with Patriotic Paper Lanterns!

3 07 2012

July 4th is just a few days away! So why not celebrate by making an Independence Day decoration of your own? Patriotic paper lanterns are a fun and easy way to show your 4th of July spirit!

You will need:

  • a ruler
  • red, white, and blue construction paper or card stock
  • scissors
  • a stapler
  • a pencil
  • some string
  • markers (optional)
  • glue (optional)
  • decorations of your choice: these can be stickers, ribbons, fun shaped hole punchers, glitter, or anything patriotic!

Once you have all of your materials and decorations you are ready!

  1. First, fold a sheet of paper hot dog style or long ways
  2. Then take your ruler and draw lines 1 inch apart from the fold. Make sure not to draw the lines all the way across the paper! You want to leave some space for the next steps.
  3. Next, you are going to cut along the lines you just drew. Be careful not to cut the paper all the way!
  4. After you are done cutting, unfold the paper, bend the paper towards the top and bottom and staple the them together.
     

  5. Now you are finally ready to decorate! Put on your favorite stickers, glue on different shapes and ribbons, or even draw your own decorations to make your lantern as colorful and patriotic as possible.
  6. After you finish decorating the last step is to make the handles. Cut 1 inch strips of colored paper and tape/glue them to the inside of the top of the lanterns.

Here’s what our finished product looks like:


Show off your awesome 4th of July decorations by hanging them up inside or outside.
We decided to hang ours up here in the office!








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