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!!








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