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!

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!)


  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!

Let Us Know What You Think: Blog Survey

28 06 2012

We want to know what you think about this blog! Please take a couple of minutes to fill out this short survey. The first 25 respondents who leave their contact info will receive a “Keep On Coming Card”,  good for 12 admissions to the Austin Children’s Museum.

We already know a lot of cool stuff about our readers – just by looking at the site stats on from WordPress, we know that we’ve had visitors to our blog from over 100 countries, just in this week!

Completing the survey about the blog will help us understand who is reading the blog and why you visit. We want to be able to write about the topics you are most interested it, so let us know what type of posts you’d like to see in the future.

Thanks for reading!

Summer Reading: New Storytime Books

7 06 2012

We recently got some new Storytime books. Do you have any new favorite books? Let us know what books you’d like to see us read in the comment section. Here’s just a few of our new books and why we like them:

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

This sweet, bed time, rhyming book features all our favorite vehicles who work so hard all day at the construction site. After doing all the heavy lifting, Bulldozer, Cement Mixer, and all the other trucks and tractors are ready for their well deserved rest.

Watch Me Throw the Ball!

by Mo Willems

Elephant and Piggie are back for more fun. Gerald’s ball rolls up to Piggie, just asking to be thrown. But when Piggie’s throw is far from perfect, how will the dynamic duo recover? Silly fun abounds in this book by the author of the Pigeon series, Knuffle Bunny, and other favorites.

Little Owl Lost

By Chris Haughton

Our favorite thing about this book is the beautiful illustrations – the jewel tone, cut-paper collage imagery tell a classic tale with new vibrancy. Owl falls from the nest and gets separated from Mom. An overly helpful squirrel eagerly helps with Little Owl’s search.

Robots, Computers, and Programming, Oh My!

1 06 2012

Some days it feels like the Austin Children’s Museum is experiencing a Robot Invasion! We have dozens of Lego NXT Mindstorms Robots that come with us to schools and community centers for our Technology Outreach Classes. This Spring, we wrapped up another successful semester of classes. Students learned how to build and program robots, how to make computer animations and simple video games, and a whole lot more.

A student shows her robot to her mom and little brothers.

This year, we introduced a new curriculum where students used their robots to solve an ecological mystery. As engineers and programmers, we imagined being asked to help out a team of researchers who worked with endangered sea turtles. Our robots helped with a beach clean up challenge and collected clues that led us to discover who was responsible for the disappearing sea turtle eggs.

A robot disguised as a sea turtle.

We also got better at making video games and computer animations using Scratch. Students made some really great projects including mazes, animated jokes, game controllers, and much more.

Writing computer programs is fun!

We spend a lot of time trying to write very specific programs for our computers and robots. It’s like writing very specific directions. One of the activities we use to demonstrate this is our Behind The Back Building Challenge – and you can try it at home! All you need is a few LEGOs (or a similar building toy), and a friend.

Make two identical sets of blocks with 6-10 pieces each.

Give one set to your friend, and keep the other set for yourself. Now sit back to back with each other. Choose one person to go first – this person will build an object using all of the blocks from one set. Then, without looking, the builder will explain how to build the figure to the friend.

It’s hard! You have to be super precise and specific about your directions. When we tried it out, I built a bird (in the upper right hand corner of the photo) and explained it to my friend Emily. She made a similar bird, but didn’t get it quite right – see if you can build and explain well enough to get identical figures!

Our original bird, in the background, and what our friend built, in the front.


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