Stomp…stomp…CRUNCH!: Make your own Dinos!

21 09 2011

Have you heard a distant rumble? Could it be the footsteps of ancient giants approaching? Get ready because on September 24th, our newest exhibit, Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice opens at the Museum! We are taking a million steps back into the historic world where dinosaurs roamed free.

Here are drawings of a couple of very well known dinosaurs:



These dinosaurs roamed the Earth during the Jurassic Period. There has been fossil evidence discovered in the United States to prove that both the Stegosaurus and the Brontosaurus wandered our lands. If you want to learn more about these two dinosaurs go to  Science Kids – they give you a ton of cool facts about the Stegosaurus and Dinosaur Facts will tell you all about the Brontosaurus.

When you come to ACM to see our fall exhibit, there will be three different sections of dinosaur country to explore. We will have the Land of Fire (a warm dinosaur habitat), Land of Ice (a cold dinosaur habitat) and a Field Research station where you will investigate clues about dinosaurs and get to dig for bones. Each area will have games and activities that will be so much fun and you may learn a thing or two about the dinosaurs that you never knew existed.

A few species of dinos were found underneath the land here in Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife will tell you about the dinosaurs that lived on our turf.

We found a dinosaur craft from Kids Craft Weekly that was super fun to make, click on the jump to see how to make a dinosaur!

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CowParade Austin 2011

26 08 2011

Have you “herd” the news? Artsy cows are strolling around Austin like they’re right at home. Click here for a map of all the cows roaming the streets of Austin.

Betty the Magnetic Cow in Austin, TX

CowParade’s first event created by Jerry Elbaum was in 1998 in Zurich, Switzerland. He then launched the concept across the ocean to Chicago in 1999 and the event has gone global ever since. After more than 10 years, 75 cities in 30 countries have featured a whopping number of decorated cows as an artistic expression. More than 5000 signature cows have been created by a number of artists, architects, and even celebrity designers.

You may wonder, why cows? Well, the CowParade website tells us that,

“the cow is a universally beloved animal. The cow represents different things to different people around the world-she’s sacred, she’s historical, she connects us to our past-but the common feeling is one of affection. There is something magical about the cow that transcends throughout the world. She simply makes everyone smile.”

There are charitable benefits that come along with this fantastic event. At the end of each CowParade, about 50 of the cows are sold at a live auction where proceeds will go straight to the nonprofit organization with which the CowParade has partnered. The Austin CowParade has paired with the Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas to benefit the center as well as the Superhero Kid’s Fund. Throughout the years, CowParade has raised more than $30 million for its nonprofit partner.

The Austin Children’s Museum is lucky enough to have its very own painted cow standing right out front! “Batsy at Twilight” created by Linda Figg and sponsored by Scholotzky’s gazes with pride at the young visitors we have everyday.

Here is a slide show of the process of Batsy stepping off the truck and onto on our sidewalk:

Come to the Museum so you can take a picture with Batsy! Send us your favorite and tell us what you like about art… and cows!


Historic Eruption: Mount Vesuvius

24 08 2011

At noon on August 24, 79 A.D., the peak of Mount Vesuvius erupted.

This photo of Mount Vesuvius was taken in January of 1912. Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland and is expected to erupt again in the near future.

The eruption of 79 A.D. is the most well-known ancient eruption in the world and it buried two cities. The Roman town Pompeii was buried under 14-17 feet of ash and pumice (highly pressurized rock formed when lava and water mix) and Herculaneum laid underneath 60 feet of mud and volcanic material.

In 1748, a farmer found pieces of Pompeii under his vineyard and since then, historians and geologists have been excavating the land to find lost treasures and artifacts. When volcanic ash and lava flowed the streets of these two Roman cities, it seems as if life was frozen where it stood. The way of every day life is understood from the artifacts and skeletons left behind.

Do you know how a volcano erupts?

Volcanoes are land forms that open downward to a pool of molten rock (magma) and they erupt when the pressure builds up.

National Geographic has a really neat video that explains Volcanoes 101.

Would you like to make a color-changing volcano? Roots and Wings Co. has instructions for a really neat one.

Make one and tell us how it exploded!

Heat is not the straw that breaks a camel’s back

22 08 2011

Caravanning around Central Texas is seemingly getting hotter and hotter. The highest temperatures in Austin have been above 100 degrees during the day and moderately humid. Check out the Kids Weather Channel page for more information on the weather in Austin. Ever wish you could keep cool like a camel does?

This is a Bactrian camel.

Camels are natives to places with extreme weather such as hot summers or cold winters. A camel keeps itself cool during periods of heat by it’s use of the very recognizable hump or humps on its back. Many people think that camels store water in their hump but actually they have a fatty tissue that can be converted into energy and water when there is need. Camels can survive many warm days and nights without food or water. A camel also keeps itself warm in the winter with its very thick, shaggy coat that protects it from cold temperatures. When summer comes around again a camel sheds its thick fur by molting, so that it will be able to stay cool.

There are two species of camels the Dromedary and the Bactrian and you can tell the difference by the shape of their back. Dromedary camels have one hump and are native to the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. Bactrian camels have two humps and are native to Asia and are critically endangered.

The Jungle Store has collected information on camels such as:

  • They are very smart animals with great eyesight and near perfect hearing
  • They are so strong that they are able to carry loads of 900 pounds, but usually carry no more than 450 pounds
  • Baby camels have no hump at birth. They will not develop one until they begin eating solid food
  • A camel is often called the “ship of the desert” because when being ridden they gallop and the person may feel seasick

National Geographic Kids tells us that a very thirsty camel can drink up to 30 gallons of water in only 13 minutes. Did you know that a baby camel is born with a white coat which will eventually turn brown as it grows up? Just like this baby and its mother:

We hope you’ve learned as much about camels as we here at ACM have. Can you answer this question?

Tell us what else you know!

Rockin’ and Rollin’ on a Big Roller Coaster

16 08 2011

The month of August is here and the end of summer vacation is near. Have you enjoyed our Ready, Set, Roll exhibit? There are so many components that allow you to challenge the science of physics with some hands-on experimentation.

A few of the games you can play are the Loop d’ Loop where you send a golf ball on an upside down ride, a Ski Jump where you launch a golf ball attempting a land on another ramp, and there’s also the Big Spiral that will make the ball very, very dizzy. There are a ton of other games to play with that give you the chance to have fun while learning physics.

We also have a Roller Coaster that allows a ball to roll from the top of the track through hills and valleys and to the end. Do you know about the physics of roller coasters?

The higher you start the ball on the Roller Coaster track, the better chance it has making it over the first hill. The higher the ball’s starting point, the greater the energy it has at the bottom. On top of each hill, the amount of energy the ball has is called potential energy. Physics4Kids will teach you about potential energy.

The Humor Writer tells us that “physics is the scientific study of many things, such as motion, force, energy, light and sound. It includes gravity, friction and speed – all things that contribute to the way roller coasters operate”. Humor Writer also teaches us about the history of roller coasters.

This is a picture of the oldest working roller coaster Leap-the-Dips in Altoona, Pennsylvania, it’s 109 years old. Built in 1902 by the E. Joy Morris Company and in 1996 was named a National Historic Landmark. It is also the last known example of a Side Friction Figure Eight roller coaster. That means that it is made up of low flat turns and long straightaways with small dips in the the track. There aren’t many of these roller coasters left but learning about the way they have changed throughout the years is interesting.

Speaking of interesting… did you know that August 16th is Roller Coaster Day? Maybe celebrate by going to a theme park or make your very own roller coaster. Zoom gives instructions on how to make one. Send us a picture or let us know what you like about roller coasters!

Summer Reading Club

8 08 2011

Finding ways to spend your vacation is half the fun of summer. But after many, many days without school sometimes you may find yourself bored. Well, writer Jenny Rosenstrach was taught by her mother that “Only boring people get bored”.

Have you ever thought about the challenge of a summer reading list? Jenny has playfully created a point system to encourage her children to entertain themselves with fabulous books whether it be a picture book, a chapter book or even a comic book. After reading a few books and obtaining a specific number of points, her child will be able to collect prizes. Here is Jenny’s detailed account of her Summer Book Club.

Scholastic gives kids the task of logging the minutes that they read not just how many books that are completed. Scholastic invites kids to Read for the World Record and attempt to have the name of their school placed in the 2012 Scholastic Book of World Records.

If you’d like a list from Scholastic of books for ages 3-5 click here!

Ages 6-7? Click here!

Ages 8-10? Click here!

Ages 10-12? Click here!

Take a look at how we use children’s stories here at the Museum.

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Calling All Super Sleuths: Get a Clue Camp

2 08 2011

The more you have it, the less you see. What is it?

Read this post to find out!

This week, the Museum is holding a Get A Clue camp. During the week kids get the chance to be a real gumshoe by learning about the mystery behind science and science behind the mystery. They have opportunities to explore optical illusions, learn problem solving skills by cracking codes, and even get to solve a real mystery!

Get A Clue campers navigate a "Laser" Alarm System to reach a vital clue!

Have you ever heard of a man named Sherlock Holmes? He is a fictional character famous for his sleuthing and detective skills. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the author of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Holmes and his partner Dr. John Watson. They solved many mysteries together even when given only a small amount of clues. If you’d like to learn more about Sherlock Holmes, click here!

Keep reading this post to discover a list of detective supplies and to find the answer to the riddle!

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You scream, I scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM

25 07 2011

Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States declared July National Ice Cream Month!! Take a peek at the proclamation that makes this month so creamy and delicious.

Do you want to enjoy ice cream as much as this little guy? There are many delicious ice cream places in Austin that you can try. This week, campers in the Museum’s Home Grown Cooking camp will take a field trip Amy’s Ice Cream and see where the famous Austin establishment makes their ice cream. Stop by Amy’s sometime and try one of their seasonal flavors such as Girl Scout Thin Mint or Fresh Peach (with peaches from Fredricksburg).

If you’d like to be a Creator of Flavor, you can make Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag from this recipe:

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk or half & half
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons rock salt
  • 1 pint-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc)
  • 1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
  • Ice cubes

Tip: A 1/2 cup milk will make about 1 scoop of ice cream, so double the recipe if you want more. But don’t increase the proportions more that that — a large amount might be too big for kids to pick-up because the ice itself is heavy.

Here is a list of fun-to-read books about ice cream you can all read together!

Did you know?

  • It takes an average of 50 licks to polish off a single-scoop ice cream cone. Challenge your family to a Lick-A-Thon, and see who finishes first.
  • The biggest ice cream sundae in history was made in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 1988 and weighed over 24 tons.
  • Of all the days of the week, ice cream is mostly bought on Sunday.
  • The United States produces the most ice cream in the world.

We hope you have enjoyed National Ice Cream month and find a smile in a good ice cream cone.

The Legend of Amelia Earhart

24 07 2011

“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

–Amelia Earhart

May 21, 1932, Amelia steps off her Lockheed 5B Vega in North Ireland

On July 24th we celebrate the historic adventure of a daring soul on Amelia Earhart Day. Amelia had courage and willingness to prove she could do something that no woman had ever attempted before. Throughout her career, Amelia broke several records such as:

  • the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo
  • the only person to fly it twice
  • the longest non-stop distance flown by a woman
  • a record for crossing the Atlantic in the shortest time

All four of these records were broken in one flight! This woman was fearless. Her life of breaking records and flying around the world was not always the plan. Born in Atchison, Kansas on July 24, 1897 to Edwin and Amy Earhart, Amelia (Millie) soon became an older sister to Muriel. After schooling, Amelia began working as a nurse’s aide during World War I at Spadina Military Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

After moving to California to be with her parents, Amelia picked up flying as a hobby. In 1922, after receiving help from her mother and sister, and working a few odd jobs, Amelia was able to afford her very own airplane.

Amelia Earhart's first plane

To read Amelia’s full biography check out Pitara’s Magazine for Kids.

Amelia Earhart is a role model to women because she had a goal she felt destined to achieve and made every effort to do so. She is a historic legend because on July 2, 1937 Amelia completed nearly two-thirds of a flight that was meant to go around the world with her navigator Frederick Noonan but then went missing. The  result of their final flight is still a mystery to the world. There are several beliefs about what could have happened to Amelia Earhart, but this may be one mystery that never gets solved.

Play and learn about Amelia with this trivia game!

ACM believes Amelia Earhart is a powerful heroine that we can all look to as a guide for perseverance and determination, no matter if you’re a boy or a girl. She paved a path for bravery and dedication that anyone can follow. ACM also celebrates a girl’s interest in science and making history. August 15-19 we are holding the Girls Explore Science camp here at the Museum and there are several spots open. This camp gives girls a chance to experiment and learn about science in a hands-on way. If you’re interested in registering, contact the Museum at 512-472-2499 x201 or sign up here!

“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”–Amelia Earhart

Inspiration to All

27 06 2011

Our mission here at the Austin Children’s Museum is to create “innovative learning experiences for children and families that equip and inspire the next generation of creative problem solvers”.

Wolfgang is a 9-year-old child who attends Barton Hills Elementary School. His 3rd grade class was assigned to build a landmark that they have been to in Austin. Wolfgang chose the Austin Children’s Museum. When asked why he chose the museum Wolfgang expressed that he “really likes to come here” and “has been for many years”. Here are pictures of the model and of the inspired kid who built it:

To build the model, Wolfgang used materials such as sheet rock, cardboard, foam, markers, glue, and paint. He also wrote an essay explaining why he chose to build the Museum and what he is inspired by. If you’d like to read what Wolfgang wrote about us, click here:

Wolfgang’s ACM Model

We were very pleased when this child came to us with pride and told us about his project.  Wolfgang has even been kind enough to let us keep it. If you are interested in seeing the Austin Children’s Museum Model, stop by and ask to see it. Please let us know if you have used the Museum in any papers or school projects. We’d love to find out!

ACM Wishlist

22 06 2011

The Museum is a place that always encourages you to use your hands and brain to create new things. We have a place called Tinkerer’s Workshop where you can work on fun projects. The workshop gives kids the chance to tinker with donated items such as toilet paper rolls, paper, and cardboard.

This summer we have been bursting at the seams with kids getting involved in our camps and coming to the Museum to hang out in our exhibits. The camps also make use of the many donated items such as Styrofoam egg cartons, Popsicle sticks, and plastic containers. Here is the supplies table at the Engineer It! camp:

We are beginning to run out of materials because there have been so many of you building creations in Tinkerer’s Workshop and being a part of our summer camps. The Museum is happy that all of you kids and your parents have joined us and we would love to keep giving you fun things to do. Next time you come to ACM try to bring a few items off our wishlist!

If you’d like to see the list,

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If you give a kid a spatula…

16 06 2011

… they will want a large bowl, some cookie dough and chocolate chips.

Cooking With Math is a half-day camp being held this week at the museum and the kids get the chance to work with food and numbers. Every day the kids get to make two recipes while developing their math skills.

Today they read the book

One of My Favorite Books

and learned all about making Mouse Cookies.

If you’d like to learn how to make these delicious cookies check out our recipe

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can also see the kids enjoying their Trail Mix Energy Snack where they mixed 5 animal crackers, 6 pretzels, 7 mini marshmallows, 8 goldfish, 9 raisins, and 10 pieces of popcorn into a zip-lock baggie.

At the Museum we like to experiment with food. Vicki Cobb has written a fantastic book called Science Experiments You Can Eat. The book includes recipes along side explanations about the science behind the ingredients and their reactions to each other. One recipe teaches us how to make biscuits out of sour milk and another about how syrups are solutions that don’t crystallize.

Let us know if you make delicious Mouse Cookies or some Trail Mix Energy Snack. If you’d like to spend some time with math and cooking please sign up for our next Cooking With Math camp here!

Need an Idea for a Father’s Day Card?

10 06 2011

The first Father’s Day was on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. That was 101 years ago! This year the holiday is also on June 19 and is celebrated all over the world. You can learn the history of Father’s Day and a few creative ideas on what you can do for your father from Kaboose.

Making a Father’s Day card can show your father that you are artistic and that you care about him. We made a few example cards to show you how creative you can be. Take a look!

If you’d like to make a Father’s Day fish card, click here.

If you’d like to make a Father’s Day language card, click here for a list of different languages.

If you’d like to make a Father’s Day shirt and tie card, click here.

We celebrate fatherhood on Saturday mornings when the Museum opens it’s doors for Cub Club from 9-10 am. This program is for kids under 3 and encourages their fathers to join by allowing them to come in for free. Father’s Day could be celebrated any Saturday you wish here with us and your kids.

Young Engineers Going Green

9 06 2011

This week the Museum has been hosting an all-day camp called Engineer It! A large group of kids are enjoying how fun and interesting engineering really is. Every morning the young engineers are invited to places such as the University of Texas Chemical Engineering Lab and the Nanoscience Center.

Back at the Museum the kids will be building, inventing and putting their minds to great use. They’ve constructed wind powered cars and contraptions to keep an egg from breaking as it is dropped to the floor.

The kids were split into small groups and during the first two afternoons of the camp they designed “Eco-Friendly Cities” out of egg cartons, cardboard, toilet paper rolls, and popsicle sticks. Each group needed to create a central theme that would reduce costs on electricity, water, or energy for their city. Each building was supposed to have some type of energy saving concept.

Here is a video of the kids working on their “Eco-Friendly Cities” and a couple of their finished products.

Engineer It! 2011 from Austin Children’s Museum on Vimeo.

A few kids had solar panels, some built farms and one little boy had an idea to create motion censored lights for his building to cut down on the amount of electricity that is used.

Next week the Museum is holding a camp called Get a Clue where the kids will get to be junior detectives and learn about mysteries behind science and science behind mysteries. Sign up Here!

Hello Summer!

8 06 2011

School is out and summer is here. Spending time outside with your family is lots of fun. We love visiting the state parks right here in Central Texas – it’s a great way to be adventurous and get outdoors. There are so many places to be explored and activities to enjoy. Your family can hike, camp, picnic, fish, swim, observe the wildlife, and much more.

Texas Parks and Wildlife shows us the state parks in Central Texas

Are you O.K.? (an outdoor kid) Texas Parks and Wildlife offers kids a chance to earn a certificate for completing 3 different kinds of outdoor adventures. The first will let you discover things outside that you never knew before. The second will teach you skills and knowledge and the third lets you give back to the outdoor world. You can be an outdoor kid too!

Texas Parks and Wildlife offers a Safe, Smart, Survival Guide so you can have a lot of fun while being safe. Make sure to bring a survival kit which includes:

  • a whistle
  • a hat
  • sunscreen
  • water
  • a snack
  • compass
  • a bright orange bandanna
Afterward stop by the Museum to cool off in our air conditioning and check out some of our exhibits. Time to get out and explore the world around you!


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