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We had initially settled on a larger than life sized puppet, very similar to the one that was used in the original production and other versions across the country. It seems like large puppets are very popular now in theaters and in movies like The Lion King, War Horse, and The Muppet Movie. However, the challenge in creating and using a large puppet can be as large as the puppet itself! How many people would operate it? How would they be dressed—in black or in stylized costume? Who would give the character its voice—would he also operate the puppet, or just narrate? How should it be constructed?
Our puppet designer/builder in residence, Patrick Weigand, made some lovely sketches that did a good job of showing how he would construct the puppet as well as the costume's overall look. Our costume designer, Kathleen Egan, also made some great suggestions as to what Socrates would wear so that the actors and the dragon would be similar in style and fit into the overall feel of Rapunzel’s world.
We also took into account the casting of the actor playing the dragon. What were Ben Asaykwee’s strengths in playing the role and how would operating the puppet affect his performance? We eventually decided that we would like to come up with more of a mascot-like costume instead of a puppet since Ben is a very good mover and has a great voice. We then approached costume designer Brian Horton, who is known for producing high quality mascot costumes, to fulfill our dragon dreams. Make sure to visit the Lilly Theater before Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale closes August 4!
Rapunzel is coming to the museum! In this post, Lilly Theater Manager Krista Layfield describes the unique problem they solved to make sure Rapunzel's extraordinary hair was in top shape for the performance.
For our summer production of Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale we were presented with a very fun challenge regarding Rapunzel’s hair. In the story, her hair is very long—so long, in fact, that her wicked stepmother and the prince both climb it to visit her in a tower. In the theater we wouldn’t be able to cast an actress and have other people climb up her hair. I'm sure that would hurt a lot! So the production team discussed several options for creating a special wig for Rapunzel's hair—one suitable for climbing!
We discussed the length, color, style, material, and of course how the actors would actually use it to “climb” into the tower. Some of the ideas included a rope ladder with hair braided onto it or a real ladder with hair braided onto the sides. We even consider an aircraft cable with hair attached to it that would be rigged to the I-beam structures in the ceiling and climbed on.
For safety and practical reasons, however, we settled on having two separate wigs: One that the Rapunzel actress, Jenny Reber, could wear, and a second long braided wig that the actors playing the wicked step mother, Kelsee Hankins, and the prince, Ben Schuetz, use to “climb” into the tower. The wearable Rapunzel wig is about 6 feet long and will not be fully seen by the audience. The climbable wig is about 12–15 feet long, and will use a bit of theater magic in the staging and set design to disguise the actors physically climbing the hair. Rapunzel will throw the hair out the balcony window upstage of the tower and then the actors will climb an escape ladder onto it, while pretending to hold onto the “hair.”
Although there are several wonderful theatrical wig companies out there with lots of long wigs available, we decided that our Rapunzel’s wig should be handmade specifically for our show. Our fabulous costume designer and our wig designer will be working together to hand-dye and braid a total of four wigs together to get the look and the length that we need. This process will ensure that the wig looks as real as possible with our actress’ own hair and facial coloring. I don’t want to give too much away, but we're also planning on styling a total of eight other wigs for the rest of the characters in the show. For this production of Rapunzel–it's definitely all about the hair!
Now YOU can play a part in creating the museum's Lilly Theater productions! Donate to our latest Power2Give project and help provide costumes—including Rapunzel's wig!—for the summer production of "Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale!"
Nicole Martinez-LeGrand works in the Children’s Museum’s Community Initiatives department as the Community Builder for the Mid-North Quality of Life Plan.
You may know that the Children’s Museum is the world’s biggest children’s museum. But what you may not know is that the museum has the biggest heart for its local neighborhood. The museum spends a lot of time connecting with our neighbors—those who are right next door as well as the broader Indianapolis community. One important way that we’re working with our local community is through the development and implementation of the Mid-North Quality of Life Plan. This plan has many goals, including the improvement of the appearance of the neighborhood through nature and art. What better time than Earth Day to share about all of the projects going on right here in our own backyard?
The Mid-North Quality of Life Plan was created by residents and community members of the six neighborhoods that surround the museum. The museum helps those involved in the Quality of Life Plan pursue our shared vision of creating a neighborhood that is a good place to live, learn, play, work, and grow.
One way to make it a good place to live is improving the environment. One initiative we're working on is called Destination Fall Creek. It seeks to to restore the ecology of Fall Creek and it as an asset and destination. Another project, Reconnecting to Our Waterways, aims to help improve the existing waterways that flow through Indianapolis urban neighborhoods and, in turn, allow the waterways to strengthen the neighborhood. Imagine Fall Creek booming with housing and activity—like people riding their bikes and even boating!
The entire community has been stepping up to make a difference. Eli Lilly and Company dedicated a “Day of Service” on October 11, 2012. 2,500 Lilly volunteers worked along Fall Creek to remove trash, debris, and invasive plant species. They also built and installed bird feeders using the clippings to construct public art, and constructed seating for outdoor classrooms for Ivy Tech students. This year, Lilly volunteers will return for new projects such as planting native species along the creek to restore the ecological balance. Want to see the creek and all of this work up close? The Fall Creek Extension project, which is also underway, will extend the existing Fall Creek Trail from the Monon Trail all the way to Central Avenue: a bikers dream!
In short…one recipe for success is having a plan and having a community that is passionate about it. Watch this video to learn more about how the Mid-North Quality of Life Plan is helping to make an impact in the neighborhood…
Artrageous with Nate is an art education program for kids ages 7-14 hosted by Indianapolis art teacher, Nate Heck. Through Artrageous, Nate shares about great works of art, the artists who've created them, and the science behind artistic techniques. By making artists and their art more interesting and relatable, Nate hopes to inspire creativity and foster innovation in children.
Artrageous's newest episode focuses on the life and work of Dale Chihuly, the artist behind our Fireworks of Glass exhibit. Filming here at the museum, Nate and our Chief Conservator, Christy O'Grady, take you to the roof for an unusual view of the sculpture.
But Nate didn't stop there! He found Fireworks of Glass to be so extraordinary that it prompted him to rally 800 students to help recreate a Chihuly-inspired sculpture of their own. It took the students three weeks and over 1,700 two-liter bottles to produce the nearly 30-foot tall sculpture. After much painting, cutting, and building, the sculpture was unveiled in the Indianapolis Artsgarden last year.
Gather up your family to watch the full episode of Shattering the Mold: Chihuly and the Science of Glassblowing.
For more information on Artrageous with Nate, and to find out how you can help fund his next episode, visit Artrageous's website at www.artrageouswithnate.com.
This is the first post in a series on the traditions and experiences of families from around the world. We have partnerships with people in many different countries, including Catalonia, a region of Spain with a unique and distinct culture.
After recent press in the New York Times about the Catalan tradition of "castelling," we were inspired to learn more about what castelling is really like from someone who has grown up with the tradition. This post is written by Àlex Hinojo, Wikipedian in Residence at the National Art Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona. Àlex has worked with our own Wikipedian in Residence, Lori Phillips, to translate our Wikipedia articles into Spanish and Catalan.
''Castells,'' a group game where teams create and dismantle a human tower (or castle), is one of the most important traditions of Catalan culture. A castell is made up of men, women, and children (“castellers”) standing on shoulders often as high as six levels! The game reflects the idea that if we join forces we can achieve great goals.
When building a castell everybody has a different role to play, and the children are the ones who climb the highest! The castell is completed only when everyone has climbed into place and the enxaneta (a little girl) climbs to the top and raises one hand with four fingers, symbolizing the four stripes of the Catalan flag. The game is not over until the whole group of castellers has descended.
Castelling is not only about reaching a goal; it's also about being a member of a community and safely creating something together. The game is usually played on Sunday mornings next to a church or the town council, or in any major venue within the villages throughout Catalonia. While there is a castells league and several teams who compete against each other, sometimes the teams work together to create a huge castell with up to nine levels. These larger human towers show that working together is more important than the team itself.
The motto of castellers is “Força, equilibri, valor i seny,” which means “strength, balance, courage, and wisdom.” While the older children and adults support the younger children as they climb, they are also encouraging the shared values of sacrifice, effort, pursuing the common good, and respecting the decisions of the group. Through castelling, the teams are showing that the children can grow and climb the “castle” thanks to the strength and support of the adults.
The tradition of castelling is so important that in 2012 the castells were distinguished by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Catalan people are so happy to share castelling with others from around the world!
You can still nominate a youth in grades 6-11 for The Power of Children Awards through midnight, May 18, 2012.
Youth philanthropy is vital in our world today. We try to instill humility and compassion in our children to help make them wise and caring adults. We strive to teach understanding and independent thinking to prepare them for the real world. Youth philanthropy teaches all of these elements and allows them to grow up appreciating the differences they can make.
Nominator Sharon Stark shares her story about 2010 winner Ben Gormley.
As Director of HealthNet’s Homeless Initiative Program, a comprehensive community program serving the homeless of Indianapolis since 1988, I was honored to nominate Ben Gormley for the Power of Children Awards in 2010 for his project “Operation Backpack.”
When I nominated Ben, he had been collecting, cleaning and repairing used backpacks, filling them with hygiene items, socks, gloves and hats and delivering them to our Street Outreach Team since October of 2008, when he was just 12 years old. In order to accomplish this, Ben met with middle school principals for permission to set up collection sites, convinced students and teachers to donate used backpacks, and enlisted friends to help him with the project. He put notices in school newsletters and Church bulletins and established a collection center at the Kwik Kleen Coin-Op Laundry where he cleaned the backpacks.
Ben is now a sophomore in high school and still collecting and delivering backpacks to the Homeless Initiative Program – over 500 and counting. Ben’s belief in the importance of his project is demonstrated by his continued commitment to purpose and his ability to motivate others to help in the cause. Ben was inspired by a visit to Wheeler Men’s Mission to help those men who seemed so alone and in need of care. There are other children like Ben who see a need and find a way to fill it; to make a difference in the lives of others. That’s why I nominated Ben, and why I would encourage others to recognize those exceptional children in your community with a nomination to this year’s Power of Children Awards.
For more informaton on Ben Gormley's project, watch his video.
For more information on the awards, please go to our webpage: http://www.childrensmuseum.org/poca
The deadline for the 2012 Power of Children Awards has been extended to May 18, 2012. There's still time to nominate an extraordinary youth!
2005 Power of Children Awards winner Daniel Kent shares his story.
"Youth are tomorrow's leaders" - or so the adage goes. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis sees things differently - "youth are TODAY’S leaders." In 2005, the Power of Children Awards were created to identify youth making a difference in their communities.
Net Literacy (http://www.netliteracy.org) is a digital inclusion nonprofit founded by middle school students that originally began by teaching computer and Internet skills to senior citizens in 2003 as Senior Connects. Students comprise 50% of the board of directors, write all of the grants, and conduct all of the volunteering. Today, Net Literacy has an expanded mission and has engaged and empowered a team of 3500 social entrepreneurs that have increased computer access to over 170,000 individuals, donated more than 20,000 computers, and provide $1.4 million in annual services. Internet associations representing 270,000 Internet companies on six continents have endorsed our Digital Literacy best practices initiative (http://www.digitalliteracy.org).
As founder of Senior Connects , and a current member of the Net Literacy team, I was honored to be selected as one of the Power of Children Award Honorees during this program's inauguration. The Power of Children Award was very important to me because it represented the trust and confidence that community institutions like The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis have in young social entrepreneurs. This trust and confidence in me and the team of Net Literacy volunteers, when our nonprofit was very young, reinforced our collective belief that we could change the world. The Power of Children Awards is a program designed to show that youths are not just tomorrow’s leaders; we’re also today’s leaders.
It's seven years later and the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is still looking for youths that are today's leaders. Are you, or is someone you know in grades 6-11, making an extraordinary difference in the lives of others? Nominate them for the Power of Children awards. Visit http://www.childrensmuseum.org/poca for more details.
To learn more about Daniel’s work, watch his video. http://www.childrensmuseum.org/poca-2005
Photo: Daniel Kent, 2005 winner.
The Power of Children Awards nominator, Troy Cockrum, highlights his nomination of 2010 POCA winner Claire Helmen.
If you, or someone you know in grades 6-11, is making an extraordinary difference in the lives of other, nominate them for the Power of Children Awards at childrensmuseum.org/poca.
All teachers have special students. Each year, a group of wonderful children come through our classes. But, over the course of a career, we may only have a handful of truly exceptional students. From 2008-2010, I had the honor of teaching Claire Helmen. Claire was your average middle schooler, trying to fit in, not wanting to draw attention, but at the same time wanting so desperately to stand out. Claire had a secret. At age 12, she started an organization called Claire’s Comfort for Kids.
Claire had heard her mother telling stories about children that were caught in the middle of traumatic situations and decided to make and distribute blankets for sheriff’s departments across the state of Indiana. Emergency responders now carry these blankets with them to give to distressed children.
I visited the Power of Children exhibit in 2010, and was intrigued by the award display. I immediately thought of Claire. I was excited to hear that Claire was one of the award winners. Even better, the accolades associated with this award are something Claire would never seek out herself. Watching Claire beam as she received her reward, spoke at the award ceremony, and was interviewed by news outlets was a reward for me. Seeing her honored, seeing her grow as a person and also build her organization because of the confidence the Power of Children Awards instilled in her made me proud to know her and to have nominated her. If you have that special student in your life, don’t hesitate to nominate them. The joy it brings to you is as great as the joy it brings to them.
For more information about Claire’s project, go to her video.
Photo: Claire Helmen, 2010 POCA winner.
By John McCollum, Biotechnology Learning Center Supervisor
This is a great at-home science activity for your kids! Seeds often use the genetic material from two parent plants to grow into a plant with a new mix of traits different from the parent plants. Since farmers want their crops to consistently have the same types of traits (such as large size, good taste, fast growth, etc.) they try to grow certain crops like potatoes without using seeds. Instead, plants like potatoes are reproduced using a process called cloning.
When planting potatoes, you will cut a fully grown potato into pieces and use those little pieces to start your new plants. In cloning, there is only one parent plant and the genetic material stays the same, so the offspring produce the same traits as the parent.
Be sure to prepare your potatoes the day before you want to plant them, as you need to have the seedlings dry overnight. Any potatoes could be used, but special “seed potatoes” are preferable to grocery store-bought eating potatoes if you actually want to grow plants for food. Store-bought potatoes will be more likely to have problems with disease.
Mulch and/or potting soil
If you would rather start your clones indoors, it is acceptable to plant each potato cube into its own pot with potting soil. Once you see a sprout in your pot, you’ll want to transfer it to a garden area outdoors as soon as weather permits. A typical growing season starts in the early spring with some people choosing to plant as late as mid-June.
You can do even more programs like this in the Biotechnology Learning Center at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis!
Note: Adapted from content by Andrea Helaine
Read more: How to Clone Potatoes | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_7786227_clone-potatoes.html#ixzz1kalVdnQ3
2011 Children's Museum of Indianapolis Power of Children Awards recipient, Krystal Shirrell, highlights her project and passion for philanthropy. If you, or someone you know in grades 6-11, are making an extraordinary difference in the lives of other, nominate them for the Power of Children Awards at childrensmuseum.org/poca.
It’s easy to make a difference. Look around, you will see endless opportunities to help. Find something that interests you, develop a passion, and use that passion to do something outside yourself. Receiving personal awards, like a Power of Children Award, can provide one of the best platforms to further promote community service. The results of my activities have further instilled in me the importance of making a positive contribution to society.
Originally inspired by family events, I eventually assisted in making hats and blankets not just for cancer patients, but for veterans going through dialysis. While delivering blankets, I heard about the domiciliary for homeless veterans. After one visit, I knew I had to do more and my blanket project quickly evolved into VETSupport.
I implemented a service drive, collecting over 5,000 supplies, have been visiting residents, and hosting monthly Bingo parties. For Christmas 2011, I was fortunate to supplement collection efforts with the Power of Children Awards grant. I provided gifts to all the domiciliary residents including, a variety of clothing, blankets, personal care items, notebooks, and snacks.
Wanting to make a greater impact, for my high school senior project I organized Christmas tree decorating and collected items to make care packages. I invited Marine Corporal Josh Bleill, Purple Heart recipient and spokesperson for the Indianapolis Colts, to participate in a Public Service Announcement. Over 10,000 items were collected and together with the Military Support Group of Brownsburg we provided over 100 decorated Christmas trees, 525 care packages for our troops, and supplies for veterans.
What are you doing to make a difference?
For more information about Krystal or her projects go to her video.
Photo: Krystal displays some of the Bingo prizes for the domiciliary residents.
Ever wonder, “What can I do to make a positive difference today? How can I help others?” The Power of Children Awards honor student philanthropists who have done just this, and figured out ways to help their communities and the world. The awards are part of The museum’s Power of Children exhibit, which highlights the lives of three extraordinary youth: Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White. These three did not select the circumstances of their lives, yet they each made the choice to make a difference.
First created in 2005, the awards were established by the Deborah Joy Simon Charitable Trust with additional support from IUPUI, University of Indianapolis, Kroger, and WISHTV 8.
The impact has been far reaching with over 33 awards distributed in grades 6-11 since its inception. This year’s package includes:
How many of us actually create projects that are completely our own? Projects where we manage every aspect from brainstorming and creation to development and delivery? And the big question, how many of us are in grades 6-11 when we accomplish this?
So, what can you do to make a positive difference in the world today? More than you think actually, by nominating an extraordinary youth for this award and helping them make a difference.
Application deadline is May 7, 2012. If you would like more information, please go to our webpage: http://www.childrensmuseum.org/poca
Photo: Past winner Krystal Shirrell on her first visit to the domiciliary. After just one visit, she knew she wanted to do more!
By Ashley Zrosec, Family Programs Teacher
It’s National "March into Literacy" month! At The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, we're celebrating with a series of activities and events to get YOU excited about reading!
We're kicking it all off at our Scholastic Book Fair opening today! We have books for the whole family. The best part? Your purchase will earn points that allow us to purchase books for kids in our community. Last year we were able to provide more than 300 brand new books for kids to keep! This year, even your online purchases in the month of March will earn points, too!
In celebration of Literacy Month we've been compiling a list of our favorite books from when we were kids. Check out some of our favorite authors, titles, and book series:
Top 5 Authors
Top Book Series
Top 10 Favorite Books
Stay tuned, all month we'll be posting blogs about books that were influential in the lives of staff members here at the museum.
We’ll see you at the book fair where you can purchase new favorites of your own! And don’t forget...
"The more you read, the more you know, the more successful, you will grow!" - Dr. Seuss.
Matt Anderson, Children's Museum of Indianapolis actor, gives you a first hand account of how our extraordinary actors bring the museum experience to life for you and your family. This is the first in a series of posts from Matt. You might remember Matt from his exceptional Jelly Belly Art blog post last year!
In my bright blue outfit and neon green cape, guests instantly recognize me as a superhero.Of course, because Captain Extraordinary is unique to our museum, they don’t necessarily know which superhero I am. I often get: “Green Lantern!” or “Superman!” (or one time, inexplicably: “Wonder Woman!”). Either way, the kids are excited. We talk about dinosaurs and Transformers and how people can use porcupine quills to make art… but now it’s 10:30 am, and I must bid my friends farewell. I head to the dressing room and replace the outfit with an understated gray suit, a vest, and a tie. I whiten my temples and paint spirit gum on my lip to affix a mustache. Finally, I make my way to The Power of Children exhibition where, as Anne Frank’s father, I give a performance about the holocaust.
This is just my average day as an actor at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
For me, the fact that this is just an “average day” is precisely why I love the job so much. It’s a ridiculous understatement, but performing as Captain Extraordinary is rather different from performing as Otto Frank. And performing as Otto Frank is rather different from – well, whatever I’ll be performing next. Yet that’s exactly what makes the job so great: the incredible and almost staggering variety of programs we do here.
As much as I do love it, I had no idea growing up that this is what I’d be doing for a living. While I’d been interested in acting for much of my life—from making videos with friends in middle school to obtaining a theatre major in college—I never thought I’d be able to do anything with it for a career. Following graduation, I found work at the fantastical City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri and later at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’ve always enjoyed working with children and families so these jobs, though not traditionally in the theatre, felt well suited to me. It wasn’t until moving to Indianapolis in 2008 and seeing a listing for ACTOR on their children’s museum’s website that I realized that what I’d assumed were two entirely separate career tracks could actually merge.
My case is not an isolated one. There are nine full-time actors here at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and most have similar stories — a theatrical interest nurtured in high school, pursued into undergraduate studies, but with post-graduate jobs suddenly veering far from that path: brokerage assistant, coffee-shop barista, ballroom dance choreographer. Why weren’t we all actively pursuing careers in theatre, when it was clearly something we all loved?
Unfortunately, work in that discipline can have something of a stigma around it—being an actor means being either absurdly rich or famous in Hollywood, or a starving artist on the streets. It’s easy to see those extremes and not realize that there is a theatrical middle ground, such as in museums, especially if that type of specialized field is not yet in the public consciousness. Perhaps in the years to come, museum theatre will become a more mainstream profession. As it stands, my coming across this job may very well have been a fluke… and as such, I feel extremely lucky to have found it, and extremely lucky to once again be doing what I love.
To be continued...
As many of you know, we love to dress our dinos for special occasions. They've had witch hats for Halloween and Santa hats for the holidays. So of course when we learned Indianapolis would be hosting the Big Game in February, and thousands of football fans would be heading to the city, we started planning.
We decided to tie our dino's accessories into one of the Super Bowl Host Committee programs called Super Scarves. The goal of the Super Scarves initiative was to engage individuals who might not otherwise be able to participate in the Big Game. Volunteer knitters were asked to handcraft 8,000 scarves, enough for each of the volunteers to wear during the Big Game. They've far exceeded their goal. Volunteers from 43 states and three countries have knit more than 12,500 scarves. That's not including the five GIANT scarves they created for our alamosaurs breaking out of the museum and brachiosaurs peeking into the museum.
As you can imagine, creating our scarves wasn't an easy task. Two expert knitters, Karin Schmitt and Alison Jester from Broad Ripple Knits, were the masterminds behind our massive Super Scarves. They knitted five scarves in all—3 small and 2 large—so all five of our larger-than-life dinosaurs could look festive.
Instead of yarn, the women used rope...and lots of it! Each large scarf measures in at 20 inches wide and 30 feet long. Each small scarf is 2 feet wide and 20 feet long. In all, they used nearly 5,000 feet of rope! And of course regular knitting needles wouldn't do. The women used broomstick handles to knit the scarves. It took approximately 12 hours to complete the 5 scarves. Now that's a lot of knitting!
The mother dino, affectionately named Yvonne after her donor, is leading the charge already donning her special scarf. The museum wanted to honor museum Trustee Yvonne Shaheen, who was one of several knitters who helped create scarves for the Super Scarves program. Pretty soon the dinos will be getting other football-related accessories, too! We can't wait to show off the museum to all of the out of town visitors, and the dinos–scarves and all—will be right there at 30th and Illinois to greet them. If you're coming to Indianapolis to be part of the festivities and you're looking for local activities for kids, be sure to add The Children's Museum of Indianapolis to your list!