Peep Battle!

29 04 2011

Before Microwaving

We had quite a few marshmallow chicks hanging around and getting stale, so we named them, armed them with toothpicks, and let them battle in the microwave!

Check out the video below to see what happened.

We wanted to know more about what was going on and found a great explanation from the Exploratorium. Marshmallows are basically made of sugar and water (plus gelatin) that are wrapped around a bunch of air bubbles. When a marshmallow is heated in the microwave, two things happen. First, the heat of the microwaves softens the sugar. At the same time, the heat makes the molecules in the air bubbles move around faster, making them push into the walls (of softened sugar). This pushing makes the gas bubbles expand, and that makes the whole marshmallow expand!

You can try this at home with any type of marshmallow (not just ones shaped like animals). Be sure to place your marshmallows on a plate or paper towel, or you’ll end up with a molten mess in your microwave! Our marshmallows were fully expanded in 45 seconds, but depending on your microwave, it should take between 30 seconds and 1 minute.

Note: This experiment should be done with adult supervision.

A New Way to Dye Eggs

24 04 2011

There are many different ways to dye eggs. One new way to dye your eggs this Easter holiday or for the spring is with crayons!

All you will need are white eggs, tongs, crayons and an empty egg carton. First, you must hard-boil the white eggs. After the eggs are finished boiling, remove them from the pot with the tongs. Dry them off and let them rest in the empty egg carton.

While they are still a little warm, color the eggs with the tips of crayon. To make it easier, remove the paper from the the crayons and color the eggs with the sides of the crayon.

In order to create a speckled effect like the purple egg in the picture, grate the crayon and sprinkle them crayon shavings on top.

These waxy eggs are very slippery, so be careful not to drop them as you are turning them around!

Once you have finished coloring them, let the eggs dry for about an hour.

What is your favorite way to decorate eggs? Be sure to let us know!

Spring Is Here: Your Own Discovery Pack

13 04 2011

There are many things for you to do outside in this nice spring weather. Whether you are on a scavenger hunt or a picnic, there are always things to observe and learn. To help you discover new aspects of nature, Family Fun has compiled a list of items for you to bring with you while taking a stroll outside.

A few items you may want to bring along with you to help you discover more in nature  include:

  • A water-filled spray bottle to spritz on spider webs and color changing rocks. You will be able to discover the different ways these objects look in nature.
  • Strong magnets to run across soil in order to see if iron bits are in it. If there is iron. it will surely stick to the magnets.
  • A magnifying glass to discover new things that are in plain sight!
  • Your very own soil slides can be made by taking note cards and cutting 1/2 an inch square in the center. Then, you place tape where the square is. Take your note card with you and place the sticky side on the soil to create your soil slide.
  • A color-coated egg carton to collect some treasures from nature. Take an egg carton and paint the egg compartments different colors. On your nature walk, you can collect different things in nature like leaves and rocks that match the colors of your different compartments.

Here's an example of the color-coated egg carton from Family Fun.

You can throw all of these fun things into your picnic basket or put it in a pouch to take along with you on your scavenger hunt!

Spring is Here: A Picnic and Snacks

6 04 2011

A few weeks ago, we showed you a scavenger hunt to do in this perfect spring weather. Another fun thing to do in the spring is to go on a picnic. You can have a picnic in the park or even in your back yard. All you need is a blanket, a basket and some food!

A great way to incorporate spring into your picnic is by making spring snacks.

Here are a few ideas:

PB&J blossom sandwiches for your lunch.

Vegetables in the shape of flowers for a snack.

For desert, your very own candy carrot patch.

What are you going to take on your picnic? Be sure to let us know!

Spring is Here: Nature Scavenger Hunt

21 03 2011

It’s hard not to love spring in Austin. The warming weather brings flowers, birds, butterflies, and bats back to the city. Here at the Museum, spring means Spring Break Camp which just wrapped up last week. The 4 to 6 year old kids in Half Day Camp spent the week learning about animals in Crazy for Critters camp. They got to visit with some reptiles, make marsupial pouches, learn about amphibians, and much more. We were inspired by the beautiful weather and all the animal action and put together a Nature Scavenger Hunt.

Download the pdf here: Nature Scavenger Hunt

Print out as many copies as you need (one per person or small group) and set out on a nature exploration. Place a check mark next to the items you spot or bring along small stickers to mark off each thing you see. Can you find a grackle, a squirrel, and a compound leaf?

Did you spot any other interesting animals, plants, or natural items on your scavenger hunt? Let us know what you found by leaving us a message in the comment section.

Wildflowers in bloom

5 04 2010

Over the weekend I noticed all of the wildflowers along the highway. They were all different colors and sizes, but they were all beautiful.

When I saw them I wondered why they were there.  I found out that in 1934, the highway department stopped mowing the grass around the highways so the native wildflowers could grow. Now each year they plant over 30,000 seeds of all different kinds of wildflowers.

If you go on a road trip this spring or a long drive, make sure you look out for these flowers.

Spring fun!

26 03 2010

Today I asked our Tour Intern Annie what her favorite thing to do in spring is. Here’s what she had to say!

What do you like to do this time of year?


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