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Ways to Give on Giving Tuesday

Giving TuesdayBy Lindsay Pavell
This holiday season brings us Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and now—Giving Tuesday, a day for giving back. In partnership with the Giving Tuesday national movement, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is encouraging our museum friends and community members to consider becoming donors at the world’s biggest and best children’s museum—the reasons to give are endless! Here's how you can support the Children’s Museum Fund on December 3—Giving Tuesday—and celebrate the power of giving back:
  • During the Day—visitors who have given any amount have received an "I donated" sticker (and a high five!) 
  • After Hours—we're gearing up for our Jolly Days Happy Hour from 5:30–7 p.m.!
    Donate (at minimum) $10.00 and you'll receive one complimentary beverage provided by Sun King Brewery, dinner courtesy of Fazoli's, and a chance to explore Jolly Days—and the Yule Slide—without the kids! This event is for ages 21 and older and business casual attire is suggested.
  • Anytime—Give online!  Visit to learn how you can give December 3, or anytime.
Additionally, all Giving Tuesday contributions will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Yvonne Shaheen through the Shaheen Family Challenge. Mrs. Shaheen, a longtime friend of the museum, has made a generous gift to support neighborhood programs through this challenge grant.
As Development Operations Manager, it's part of my job to develop campaigns to build awareness about the Children’s Museum Fund, and our efforts around Giving Tuesday accomplish just that. It's our mission at the museum to create extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences, and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families. Without the generous support from our donors, we would not be able to reach beyond and continue to provide extraordinary family learning experiences that amaze, delight, and entertain. Through the power of giving, we have the ability to make the museum accessible for all families, regardless of income.
Learn how your contributions impact the museum in this special Giving Tuesday video:
You can follow the national movement at the #GivingTuesday hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Vine. 

Staff Picks from the Store: Indianapolis-opoly

Chris Carron Staff Pick IndianapolisopolyWhat's your favorite item from The Children's Museum Store? We asked our staff this very question, and they have some insightful answers! Our Director of Collections, Chris Carron, shares his recommendation and why it's his favorite. 
Indianapolis*opoly: This is a fun way to learn about our city! It’s important for children to understand where they come from and to have a strong sense of place. This game identifies the things that make the Circle City unique in a fun and interactive way.
I’m not a Hoosier, okay? There, I said it. 
When I moved to Indy a little over a year ago, I couldn’t tell a Greencastle from a Greenwood from a Greenfield. Since then, I’ve been enthusiastically learning about the attractions, streets, churches and neighborhoods that give my new home its character.
I grew up in a different Midwestern city—one with a mighty river, a brewery that’s second to none, and a shiny Arch. Know the one? I thought so. Those landmarks easily identify the place, and also tell you something about me, don’t they? As a child I loved to drive through that city’s old neighborhoods, ride the train at the zoo, and go to a game at the baseball stadium. My family also shared stories that connected us to that place – “did you know that’s where you were born?”, and “dad was a caddy at that golf course when he was your age” and “I can remember watching them build that.” I don’t live there anymore, but I still draw a strong sense of self from the city of my childhood.
How much do your children know about the place where they live? Can they find Monument Circle on a map? Do they know where the Colts play, or what is on top of the State Capitol? Have you told them your family stories that connect them to this great city? 
Indianapolis*opoly is a fun way to start the conversation. It’s based on a familiar game that should be a rite of passage for every child anyway, and playing it with them will open the door to place-based learning. Each space on the board can spark another personal memory: “Do you remember the last time we visited there?” and “did you know that your aunt used to work there?” This game can help your children understand who they are and know where they come from. 
Now, can anybody tell me the best food to get next summer at the Indiana State Fair?

Here Comes the Dino-Mummy!

Leonardo mummified dinosaur Children's MuseumDid you hear our big announcement about Leonardo, the mummified dinosaur? Mookie Harris is here to tell us more about what makes Leonardo SO special. Mookie is the Coordinator of the Dinosphere and Treasures of the Earth galleries; he's loved dinosaurs since he was three years old. 
In March, Dinosphere will welcome its newest resident, a fossilized, mummified hadrosaur (Brachylophosaurus, to be specific) named Leonardo. You’ll be able to see his skin, his tendons, his muscles—even what he ate! How did a dinosaur become a dino-mummy? Glad you asked!
  1. First, there had to be living dinosaurs. And just like with wild animals today, most dinosaurs’ remains did not fossilize when they died—they simply decayed and were lost forever. Paleontologists estimate that only a tiny percentage of the dinosaurs that ever lived has been or will be found as fossils.
  2. When dinosaurs died, their carcasses were usually exposed to weather, scavengers, insects, bacteria and the like, but sometimes they would be naturally buried in sediment by things like sandstorms, mudslides, high tides or sinkholes and that sediment would harden into rock over time.
  3. If conditions were just right, mineral-heavy water would seep into the rock, and into the hollow spaces in the bones, and the bone materials would be replaced with rock-like minerals.
  4. And, if the chemicals and the moisture level and the pressure and other factors were perfect, over time, the bone would be replaced by a rock-like copy or natural cast called (drum roll, please) a fossil!
  5. NOW, go back to Step 2. Imagine that a dinosaur died on the banks of a shallow river in what is now Montana and that when its body was eventually buried, minerals in the river infiltrated the dinosaur's soft tissues, desiccating and preserving them, resulting in natural mummification. We now have a mummified, fossilized dinosaur! The rarest of the rare!
  6. Cut to modern day. Our fossil is now buried under layer upon layer of deposited sediment that hardened into rock over the ages. But erosion happened as well, and if we’re lucky, our fossil might end up exposed, thanks to wind and water.
  7. And if we’re super lucky, somebody might spot a bit of the exposed fossil jutting out of stratified rock.
  8. And if we’re ridiculously lucky, paleontologists will be able to dig it out without damaging it and get it back to a lab and prepare it for display in a museum.
  9. And if we’re astronomically, stupendously lucky, that museum would be The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
  10. Well, we are astronomically, stupendously lucky. Leonardo is here! And he'll be on display for you and your family to see beginning March 8, 2014!


Leonardo mummified dinosaur Children's Museum

Leonardo sketch

Five Takeaways From The Bullying Prevention Summit

Jeanne White-Ginder Bullying Prevention SummitThe State of Indiana is taking steps to address the seriousness of bullying in schools, and today The Children's Museum hosted the Bullying Prevention Summit in support of this effort to prevent bullying. Students had the opportunity to hear a special presentation from Ryan White's mother,Jeanne White-Ginder, and learned ways to handle conflict resolution.  Learn how you can make a difference with these takeaways from today's event, courtesy of Tim Nation, Cofounder and Director of Peace Learning Center. Based in Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Peace Learning Center partners with schools, community and faith organizations to implement social emotional learning, bully prevention, and character education programs. The center aims to educate, inspire and empower people to live peacefully.
While there are many things you learn about bullying, we should start with words and definitions.  If youth, teachers, parents and administrators share common skills and approaches, our schools, homes and communities will begin to change.
Here are five takeaways:
  1. Bullying: Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Often, it is repeated over time and can take many forms.
  2. Target not Victim: Someone can be a target of bullying but we should not call them victims. Bullying behavior is wrong. Calling someone a victim makes them feel helpless.  Targets can learn ways not to be targeted.
  3. Upstander not Bystander: Bullying must stop—an Upstander is anyone who believes that everyone deserves to be in a healthy relationship free from abuse of any kind and is willing to take action when that is not happening around them.
  4. Social Norming is a process where the entire school community participates in a survey to find out where, when and why bullying happens, as well as personal knowledge and beliefs about how to stop it. Results are presented to the entire community by students. Many times large majorities of students possess the character and skills to be upstanders and results confirm they are in the majority.
  5. Ultimately, it is criminal: Bullying is peer abuse defined as one who brings mistreatment, insult or deception in excessive amounts to another individual of the same peer group.This is done physically, mentally, emotionally or sexually.
There is a myth that most kids who exhibit bullying behavior are socially awkward kids who are bigger than their peers—they only represent 25% and are called “ineffective aggressors.” 75% of students who bully are known as “effective aggressors” because they are accepted by their peers, involved in school activities, and not as likely to be named as someone who bullies.
To learn more, great resources include and

The Bullying Prevention Summit at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is presented by Aéropostale.

Saving Art and the Planet: Power of Children Award Winners | Part 1

Charles Ali Power of Children AwardsThe countdown is on! Soon youths from across the country will be flying and driving to Indianapolis to meet at The Children's Museum to attend a very special event—the 9th Annual The Power of Children Awards ceremony. The Power of Children Awards: Making a Difference is an annual event intended to honor and further empower youth in grades 6–11 who have made a significant impact on the lives of others, demonstrated selflessness, and exhibited a commitment to service and the betterment of society.

As we lead up to the event, we'll be sharing all six winners' stories. Today we are featuring Alexandra Skinner and Charles Orgbon III.

Alexandra Skinner is a 10th grader from Vincennes, Indiana. Alexandra found a creative way to solve two needs at once—the elimination of art classes in her school district, and unproductive, wasted time during after-school child care.  She founded ASAP (After School Art Program). Now in several elementary schools, volunteers lead after-school art programming using supplies from significant community and business partner donations. Alexandra is particularly proud of the way her program has helped children with autism, Down syndrome and behavioral and emotional problems. Learn more about Alexandra's program at

Charles Orgbon III is an 11th grader from Dacula, Georgia. Charles is working hard to clean-up the planet, and he's recruited 2,000 young people to join him. Charles started a nonprofit called Greening Forward.  It began as a school club in 2008, but now Greening Forward is an organization with a $100,000 operating budget that hosts an international environmental youth summit annually as well as provides grants for youth-driven environmental projects. Learn more about Charles' organization at

Interested in meeting the winners and want to join us for the ceremony?

Interested in learning more about the awards and how to apply?



Empowering Big Helpers in Playscape | The Playscape 5

Big Helpers in Playscape stickersOver the next six months you'll be able to follow along on the blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Vine as three families (just like you!) discover Playscape together. Known as the Playscape 5—Torrence, Myles and Ella, and Gage and Paul will share their experiences as they learn and grow in the gallery...and at home!
See Playscape through the eyes of Gage (age 3)  and Paul (age 18 mos.) in this post from mom, Emily. And continue to follow their journey online, on the blog, or by searching the #Playscape5 hashtag!
No doubt about it—the leaves have finally turned a beautiful shade of orange, and the fall season is finally upon us! For my family, that means that we’re in the midst of an action packed two week break from school for my 3rd and 1st grade daughters! We’re trying to fill each day with a small adventure, ranging from going to the park while the weather is fantastic, filling our book bags at our local library, and spending time at one of our favorite places in all of Indianapolis, The Children’s Museum!
Some might think taking four children of different age groups to the museum might be a logistical nightmare. It’s quite the opposite, especially if you come prepared and with a game plan. 
Big Helpers Art PlayscapeAnd while Playscape was created and designed for children 5 years old and under, that doesn’t mean that older siblings and friends aren’t allowed in. In Playscape, older kids are official “big helpers"— there to help the little kids get the most out of their visit and experience. The next time you come to the exhibit, just ask the greeter at Playscape's entry for a "Helper" sticker, and you're good to go!
A few things that work for us, while visiting Playscape as a large family:
  1. We go to Playscape first—before any other exhibit. Playscape totally tires the boys out right away at our first stop, making them more inclined to be okay strolling around the other exhibits the girls want to see. Also, empowering the big girls as “big helpers” sets the tone for the rest of the trip through the museum. No matter what the exhibit is, big helpers are always welcome in my book. 
  2. We use the buddy system. Ideally, we move through Playscape as a family. But as you know, little kids are fast on their feet, one minute you see them the next they’re gone! I team each of my big kids up with a little kid, so everyone has a little accountability. If someone runs off their buddy is sure to follow!
  3. When in doubt, let the big kids bail them out! Paul loves The Pond, which essentially is a lily pad-inspired, enclosed climbing area, which at the very tippy top has a boat you can pop your head into. On this particular visit, he got all the way to the top—but had a hard time finding his way down. My big helper (age 8) was totally to the rescue in seconds flat. 
It’s true, ideally I would hit up Playscape with just my little guys, but in a big family that’s not always practical. It’s so awesome that The Children Museum has set in place a “big helper” role for ages 6 and up, so we can all have a fun and safe time visiting the museum as a family. 
Have you taken your “big helpers” with you to Playscape? What are some tips you could share with other Children Museum visitors? 
Big Helpers Playscape blocks Big Helpers Climb Playscape Big Helpers Drums Playscape


“It’s time for… Sammy Terry!”

Sammy TerryBy: Cathy Hamaker, Exhibit Developer

If you grew up in the Indianapolis area in the 1970’s, like I did, then Sammy Terry needs no introduction.  This ghoulish character was the regular host of WTTV’s Friday night monster movies for decades; he would rise from his dungeon coffin each week, introduce the films, and engage in entertaining banter that often referenced local news, politics, and sports.  While Sammy’s regular appearances on Channel 4 ended in the late 1980’s, he is still a beloved icon for generations of Hoosier horror fans!

Sammy was originally played by Robert Carter, a veteran of WTTV’s various talk shows.  He developed the Sammy character himself in 1962, when the station purchased a package of classic monster films to show on Friday nights and needed someone to do the live “intros” and “outros.” Sammy Terry (a pun on “cemetery”—get it?) was a caped ghoul who slept in a coffin and lived in a dungeon, chatting with his friends George (a rubber spider,) Skully (a disembodied skull,) and other characters who appeared over the decades.  While Robert Carter passed away in the summer of 2013, his son Mark has carried on the legacy of Sammy—he’s been playing the character in public appearances and TV specials since 2010.

So you can imagine that we here at The Children’s Museum were pretty thrilled at the opportunity to work with Mark Carter for our new Halloween experience, “Hollywood Haunts,” open at the museum from Oct. 5–Nov. 24.  Mark has generously loaned us a number of original Sammy Terry props and set pieces, including Sammy’s coffin (!) and George the Spider (!!!)  If you’re a longtime fan, this is something you won’t want to miss—and if you’re new to town, it’s a great way to get to know a legend of Hoosier television history.  But Sammy’s not the only thing to see in Hollywood Haunts—this little exhibit is jam-packed with real movie props and costumes from films like The Addams Family, The Mummy, and Corpse Bride.  Stop by and see it—and have, as Sammy would say, “Pleasant Nightmares!”

The Making of Playscape | This Week's WOW episode 71

As we're sure you know by now, the new Playscape exhibit is now open at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis! You've all been along for the ride as we created this extraordinary new exhibit, and you've even given feedback and suggestions that helped shape what it is today.

We have one more fun surprise for you—6 months of Playscape construction in less than 3 minutes! So if you your kiddo wants to know just how that climber made it all the way up to the third floor, check out This Week's WOW!

And as Josh and Mookie hint in the video, we are on to the next project! Learn more about what's in store.

Paul and Gage Take It All In | The Playscape 5

PaulGageReactionOver the next six months you'll be able to follow along on the blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Vine as three families (just like you!) discover Playscape together. Known as the Playscape 5—Torrence, Myles and Ella, and Gage and Paul will share their experiences as they learn and grow in the gallery...and at home!
See Playscape through the eyes of Gage (age 3)  and Paul (age 18 mos.) in this post from mom, Emily. And continue to follow their journey online, on the blog, or by searching the #Playscape5 hashtag!
Eight years ago when I had my first child, one of the first “fun parenting purchases” we made when she was six months old was a year membership to the Children’s Museum. Living in the city of Indianapolis, the Children’s Museum (specifically Playscape) provided a fun and entertaining place to spend time learning and socializing with new friends. 
And over the past eight years, Playscape has played (pun intended) a huge part in my little kids lives. Some of our best early childhood memories have been made in Playscape.
So when we learned there was going to be a new (bigger! better!) Playscape in town, we became beyond giddy—and started talking about what it means to be patient. Because even the shortest amount of time spent waiting when you miss something so dearly basically translates into eternity when you're three years old.
But the wait is over, and the new and improved Playscape is open! I repeat, THE NEW PLAYSCAPE IS OPEN!
In its first few weeks in operation, we've gone three times. We try to visit the museum once a week, and always hit up Playscape first. 
There are 1000 +1 things for my boys to get into and discover, but here are just a few things that made a lasting impression on my guys (ages 3 and 18 months) this month: 
  1. You can almost always touch the art! Paul has been especially drawn to the Hunt Slonem wall of oil on canvas paintings on what we call “the bunny wall”. Having the art at a toddler’s level (and not having to stop Paul from going near it) is such a treat and visual experience!
  2. The wall of windows is mesmerizing! Sure, there’s so much to see and do in the new Playscape. But one of Paul’s favorite things—even if it’s just for a minute—is to look out the east-facing floor to ceiling windows! He’s completely enthralled by the cars driving by down on Meridian Street below.
  3. The Reaction Contraption is awesome! Paul could spend all day feeding the balls into the machine that catapults the balls upward, and Gage loves to manipulate the pathways to make the “puzzle” work. 


How about you? Have you had a chance to discover the brand new Playscape at the Children’s Museum? 

PaulWindow PaulBunnies



The Story Behind Playscape's Rabbits

Slonem RabbitsIf you've had the chance to visit the new Playscape, you may have noticed all of the beautiful nature-inspired artwork. With so many animals "hiding" around Playscape, your little one is bound to find their favorite! Janna Bennett, American Collections Curator, shares the story behind these paintings, and how they can make your family's Playscape experience even more extraordinary.
Playscape offers many opportunities to climb and build; it also offers some incredible art to discover.  With a generous gift from the Joseph F. and G. Marlyne Sexton Family, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis acquired 110 paintings by contemporary artist Hunt Slonem. Over thirty of these paintings are featured throughout the Playscape gallery. 

Luna Moths _ Slonem

Slonem’s animal paintings delight and inspire viewers through his highly textured use of oil paints and bold use of color. His life long interest in painting animals has included everything from rabbits to elephants. The newly donated collection includes paintings of cockatoos, toucans, rabbits, tigers, and luna moths.
Hunt Slonem draws on personal experiences from the world around him to inspire his paintings. Since his youth, insects including moths have fascinated him. To create his 2008 Lunas on display in the art studio, Slonem studied real luna moths. He has always been drawn to their natural beauty and elegant forms.
His art allows you to talk with your child about his or her thoughts on a work of art. In each painting you’ll find excellent opportunities to examine the texture of the paintings. There are also touch panels that recreate a section of the artwork, allowing you to feel the roughness of the paint. On the Rabbit Wall, you’ll find individual portraits of rabbits that are a perfect opportunity to observe differences between rabbit expressions and composition. Keep an eye on those rabbits – the next time you visit there may be different ones on display!
Slonem’s paintings are one of many ways to experience the natural world in The Art Studio. Children and families can observe collections objects for inspiration. Ranging from natural science specimens like pine cones and minerals to textiles and hats, these artifacts are all made from natural materials that reflect the natural objects available to create original collages at the activity table. Elsewhere in the studio, images of paintings, sculptures, collages, textiles, carvings, and photographs from many different time periods and cultures encourage close observation of detail in the artwork.
Don't miss more rabbits in this Vine video, and a sneak peek at some of the paintings you'll see in the gallery in the photos below. Next time you're in Playscape, see if your little one can spot all of the animals in Hunt Slonem's paintings!
Untitled_Slonem Flock _ Slonem
birds_Slonem Tocos_ Slonem



Instagramming the Collection

GrammingWe're big fans of Instagramfollow us @childrensmuseum!—so when we had the chance to host a small group of avid Instagrammers, we were excited to see  what our collections would look like through the eyes (or, phones) of the @IGersIndy community. This guest blog post is written by Andrew Griswold (@the_gris), a co-founder of #IGersIndy who has coordinated Instameets throughout Indianapolis (and now the Children's Museum!) 
Hi everyone! My name is Andrew, and I'm a local photographer and avid Instagrammer here in Indianapolis. Instagram is a photo-sharing app that allows you to snap a photo, apply a cool filter, and then post it to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. You can then go back and see your photos in a gallery on your Instagram page. 
It was 5 years ago that I walked the exhibits of The Children's Museum as an Exhibit Graphic Design Intern thinking about how cool it would be to come back with my future kids to see and explore it again. Then I realized, what am I thinking?! The museum isn't just for kidsadults have just as much fun exploring the ins and outs of the exhibits!
This summer I'd begun organizing popular "Instameets" with avid Instagrammers at places like Monument Circle and Fountain Squareand the Children's Museum seemed like the perfect opportunity for the next Instagram "take-over." After connecting with Jenny and Lori from the museum's social media team, we had our chance.
Ten of us came out to the museum to  venture into parts of the museum that not everyone gets to see, including the vast American Collection with every toy you can imagine, the beautiful World Cultures collection, and the jaw-dropping Natural Science collection (complete with spare dinosaurs!) Being given absolute freedom to snap away was just amazing! You can follow the adventure at the #TCMinstameet hashtag on Instagram, where you can explore all of the photos taken by the wonderful crew that day. Below are some of my absolute favorite shots from the photo walkhope you enjoy! 
If you want to see more beautiful shots of the Circle City make sure to follow along @igersindy and tag your photos #igersindy for a chance to be highlighted on the page. If you want to stop by and say hey you can find me @the_gris.
The rest of the amazing crew can be found at the username's listed below, so make sure to follow along and say hi!




Silver Surfer
window@redblueox triceratops@bobewing_
darth@smjoyceindy han solo@the_gris

The Story Behind the LEGO Phone

funky find revealHere's the story behind the LEGO Phone, one of the many funky finds from the Children's Museum collection!
By Jennifer Noffze, Museum Registrar/Archivist
This fun LEGO telephone is part of a large donation that we received in 2009.  Starting with Indianapolis Public School children in the 1920's,  the museum’s collection has been built through artifact donations.  Over the years, the collection has grown to encompass more than 120,000 objects, thanks in large part to our generous donors.
In 2009, Curator Andrea Hughes and I traveled to Chicago to meet with a donor.  This gentleman had an apartment filled with a wide assortment of toys, dolls, games, and fun pop culture items!  He had a particular fondness for Pink Panther items as his godfather was Isadore “Friz” Freleng, a well-known animator and cartoonist whose studio produced the opening animation for the 1963 film The Pink Panther.  Mr. Freleng also worked with artist Hawley Pratt to introduce or re-design a number of famous Warner Brothers characters, including Yosemite Sam in 1945.
Andrea chose 146 objects from this treasure trove to add to our permanent collection.  Highlights include:
  • 33 stuffed toys—including Warner Brothers favorites like Yosemite Sam, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck 
  • 30 Pink Panther items—board games, puzzles, costumes, books and stuffed figures
  • 11 boardgames—everything from The Flintstones to Pac-Man and Sweet Valley High
  • 10 books and 21 Little Golden books
  • 9 sets of Barbie trading cards
  • 8 puzzles—including my personal favorite, a “Where’s The Beef?” jigsaw puzzle
  • 7 telephones—in addition to the LEGO phone, we have a Coke bottle and can, robot, chocolate milk carton, Knight Rider and a high-heel shoe
  • 6 lunchboxes—Knight Rider, Annie and Punky Brewster to name a few
  • 5 Halloween costumes—the Pink Panther costume was included in our 100 Toys exhibit!
  • 4 sets of play food packages—perfect for that play kitchen!
  • 2 sets of Star Wars Micromachines
We've already used many items from this collection in various exhibits and we're sure to use them in a variety of ways in years to come.  A big thank you to all of our artifact donors for making our collection wonderful!

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: August 9, 2013

All the science, astronomy and family news that was trending this week.


Keep your family talking this weekend! Here are some interesting stories you may have missed that will make excellent conversations for dinner, the car or otherwise:

Coming to a sky near you

Mark your calendars. The so-called "fireball champion" of meteor showers will take place this month and, according to NASA, peak on August 12 & 13. On those nights, it is recommended to get away from city lights, and look up to see more than 100 meteors per hour flash through the night’s sky. Learn more about this year’s Perseid meteor shower.


Dr. Seuss’ home  

“Think and wonder. Wonder and think.” Did you ever think and wonder what Dr. Seuss’ real home was like? If you’re imagining colors and no straight edges, you’ll be wrong. A rare photo, released by the Huffington Post, of the children’s book author’s 1957 home shows a quite normal Mediterranean-style stucco home. See for yourself.


A small blue dot  

When you’re located 898 million miles away, Earth looks like nothing more than a small blue dot. Last month, from the rings of Saturn, NASA's Cassini took a photo that captures this humbling view of our planet. Take a look.


The Earth Harp

It’s so large it can stretch across an entire concert hall. It’s made out of more than a dozen strings, and it can be adapted to its environment. It’s the world’s largest musical instrument. It’s the Earth Hap. Find out how William Close came up with the idea and invented this extravagant instrument.


Nature’s stained glass       

Similar to an Indiana geode, the inside of a meteorite is a pleasant surprise. According to Fast Company, hidden beneath its greyish-black, charred outside of the space debris is “iridescent mosaics in neons and golds.” See the beauty inside a meteorite.


Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.


The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: August 2, 2013

All the science, astronomy, toy and family news that was trending this week.

We’ve been talking about sunbathing sea lion pups, stinky flowers and more all week! Want to join in on the conversation with your family? Check out these interesting news stories from around the web:


Sea lion pups soak in summer with SPF
On the beaches of San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands, sea lion pups are carried out of the water by their parents for an afternoon of sunbathing. Just like your kiddos, these young mammals need protection from the summer’s scorching sun. What’s nature’s equivalent of SPF 50? Sand. See photos of the small sea lions rolling in the beach sand.

277,275 dominoes topple

This July, 277,275 dominoes were set up to form astonishingly detailed images of space, celebrations, entertainment, sports and nature. With the simple touch of one domino, 277, 275 of the dominoes toppled for 10 minutes of marvelous toy fun. Watch.

Stinky flower blooms      

On July 21, visitors at the U.S. Botanic Garden got to see (and smell) history when a Titan arum, or “Corpse Flower” bloomed for the first time since 2007. Why the name “Corpse Flower”? Because for the estimated 24 to 48 hours that the flower will remain open, it smells a little like rotting flesh (yuck!). See photos of the flower in bloom.

Dogs aren’t as color blind as we thought

It’s long been thought that a dog sees its world through shades of black and white, but a new study is now debunking that thought. While their ability to see color is still limited compared to a human with full-color vision, the study reveals that dogs do, in fact, rely on color to notice differences between objects. Learn more about the Russian researchers’ study.  


The “comet of the century” is headed our way

Mark your calendars. This November a comet—Comet ISON—that left our solar system 110,000 years ago makes its return. And if it survives its journey toward the sun, we will be able to see the spectacle from Earth. Learn more about Comet ISON’s journey.  

Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.

The Making of the Online History

Online History Screen GrabThis guest blog post was written by Skip Berry, researcher and author of the newly unveiled Children’s Museum Online History. Skip has also written or co-written the histories of the Indianapolis Art Center, Herron School of Art and Design, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Indianapolis Public Library. He often remarks that he’s writing the cultural history of Indianapolis one institution at a time!
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has a long and illustrious history—and now you can read all about it on your computer or smart phone, wherever you may be. The Children’s Museum is one of the few museums in the country to have its entire history online, complete with photographs, illustrations, and video clips. Because of my experience writing the histories of other Indianapolis institutions, when I was approached to help The Children’s Museum update its history I jumped at the chance!
You see, when I was asked to take on the project, the conversation was much about the value of doing another book versus creating an online history. Having already done several books, I immediately weighed in on the side of doing an online version. As much as I love books—not only how they read, but what they look like and their heft in my hand—any institutional history writer will tell you that published histories are out of date before they even leave the bindery.

Children's Membership

But an online history—now that was something tantalizing. Unlike the conventional book, an online history can be continuously updated. Once the hard work of researching and writing about the past is done, a staff person can make periodic additions to ensure the history is up to date instead of obsolete.
So the unanimous decision was to put the museum’s history online. When I began to look for examples from other institutions, I was amazed to discover very few. Most museums with any kind of online histories kept them brief—some were bulleted timelines, others one- or two-page summaries. Very few even tried to provide visitors with any sense of how the institution had developed—and some of the ones that did, didn’t do it very well, using either dense blocks of text or making navigation too difficult. 
Sensing an opportunity, those of us working on the early stages of the project realized that without a model to use for guidance, we could create the model. That realization affected how we designed the project—making it a series of linked articles rather than a running narrative as a book would have.
The result is a stand-alone Web site that looks, feels and acts like what it was meant to be—its own entity with its own identity: the history of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. You can’t dog-ear the pages, write in the margins or underline favorite passages (though I hope you have some favorite passages). But you can learn a lot about the museum’s origins and the key people who’ve left their marks on it, about past exhibits and artifacts in its collection, and about the various buildings it occupied before the current one.
Most importantly, what you have is an example of what an online can be: a valuable tool and an easily accessible source of information to settle those dinner table disagreements about where the carousel came from or how many objects were originally in the Caplan Collection.
There wasn’t anything else out there like what we had in mind so we did what the museum has done throughout its history: We created it ourselves. We hope you like it, use it and let us know what you think.

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: July 26, 2013

All the science, astronomy, toy and family news that was trending this week

Keep your family table talk rolling this weekend. From a robot doing pushups to an amazing LEGO artist, these are the interesting news stories that had us talking this week:

Thirty years of robot development

It can walk. It can run. It can do pushups. It can climb. What is it? It’s a 6-foot, 330-pound humanoid robot. It’s Atlas. Developed by Boston Dynamics, the recently unveiled robot with 28 operating joints is designed to help us with disaster response, and is a reminder of how far robot development has come. Take a look at CNET’s evolution of humanoid robots over the past 30 years.

Rainbow clouds     

In Noida, India, just after a summer rain, Harish Venkatesh noticed a wisp of color hovering over a cloud and took a photo. With that, a rare look at an iridescent cloud, or a “rainbow cloud,” was preserved. Learn what causes this breathtaking occurrence.

A functional LEGO microscope      

Carl Merriman has been building things out of LEGO® bricks for more than 27 years. His latest project? A sleek microscope … that works! While you can’t use it to study all microscopic matter, it can “bring the writing on a LEGO® stud in and out of focus.” Check it out.

Washing hair in space

When you’re living in zero-gravity, the simple tasks performed on Earth every day aren’t quite the same. For example, how do astronauts wash their hair in space? Watch International Space Station astronaut Karen Nyberg demonstrate.

Martial arts instructor by day, LEGO artist by night   

When he’s not teaching martial arts, Matt Armstrong is building stuff with LEGO® bricks. From vintage cameras to top hats, Armstrong’s creations vary in a wide range of styles. See some of his latest creations he showed off at Star Wars Days at the nearby Legoland®.

Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.


The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: July 19, 2013

All the science, astronomy, history and family news that was trending this week.

From a three-year-old painter to Earth’s amazing transformations, these are the interesting news stories that had us talking this week:

Painting at three years old  

Three-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw is autistic and is unable to speak, but she is able to express herself in another way: She paints. Her parents discovered this ability after putting her in art therapy. “We thought it was amazing, but we're her parents, so we think everything she does is amazing,” Iris Grace's father, Peter-Jon Halmshaw, told Leicestershire. Now that at least eight of the Monet-resembling paintings have sold, it is clear her parents aren’t the only ones who think she is amazing. See more of Iris Grace’s paintings.

Puppy helps kids overcome differences     

Meet Lentil Bean. He is a French Bulldog that was born with a cleft palate and lip. In order to eat on his own, Lentil underwent surgery to fix the palate, but not his lip. Because of his own facial difference, Lentil is now the ambassa-dog for children with craniofacial anomalies. Learn more about how he is helping these kids.

Waterslides and science      

On a hot summer day, not many things are more fun and exciting than a trip down a waterslide. But it’s not ALL fun and games. According to National Geographic, physicists  put a lot of “science” into providing a safe trip down. Take a look at the physics behind your summer ride down a waterslide.


Parenting from space  

It’s an age-old question for parents: Take a dream job, or stay at home to be with the kids? While there is no right answer, it is a question astronaut Karen L. Nyberg, who has a 3-year-old son, will be exploring for six months while orbiting Earth on the International Space Station. Although she is not the first astronaut to try parenting from space, Nyberg has agreed to work with a Scandinavian television documentary on motherhood, and has been open to discussing her current situation. Learn more.



How has Earth changed in the last 28 years? That’s a question we can now watch the answer to. In May, TIME and Google released three decades of satellite imagery that have allowed users to discover some of our planet’s amazing transformations. Now you, too, can search for any location in the world and see how it has changed since 1984. Don’t forget to search for Indianapolis!

Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: July 12, 2013

All the science, history, astronomy, toy, and family news that was trending this week.


Were you too busy catching up after a long holiday weekend to pay close attention to family news stories? We’ve got you covered. From a bumpy-headed reptile to re-thinking fire in space, these are the interesting news stories that had us talking this week:

Bumpy-headed Reptile

“Imagine a cow-sized, plant-eating reptile with a knobby skull and bony armor down its back,” Linda Tsuji, leader of a new study on the Bunostegos akokanesis, said in a statement to National Geographic. That is what the new fossils suggest the B. akokanesis looked like. So maybe the Pangea-roaming reptile didn’t win a prehistoric beauty contest, but it still looks cool to us. See for yourself.

Meet Thelma and Louise

The San Antonio Zoo received a very unique critter last month. It is less than two inches wide, it has a shell that is nearly the size of a penny, it is emerald green, and it has two heads. You read that right. The zoo’s latest animal on display is a two-headed turtle. Meet Thelma and Louise.

South America’s Earliest Empire    

Between 700 and 1000 A.D., the Wari people built an empire that flourished along the coastal area of modern-day Peru. Thousands of years later, researchers have discovered the first unlooted Wari imperial tomb, which includes the remains of three Wari queens. See National Geographic’s photos from Peru’s tomb.

Safety Hole

The last time you and your children played with LEGO® bricks, did you notice a hole on the top of each minifigure’s head? Did you wonder what the purpose of the hole was? If you guessed it was to stick a brick to the top of the minifigure’s head, you were wrong. The hole is a safety feature. It was designed to let air pass through a child’s windpipe if the small toy found its way into the child’s throat. Learn more.

Re-thinking Fire in Space     

We know what the flame of a candle looks like on Earth, but do you know what it looks like in space? Aboard the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts conducted an  experiment to better understand how flammable liquid fuels are in space. See the strange way heptane ignited during the experiment.

Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.



The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: July 5, 2013

All the science, history, astronomy, technology, and family news that was trending this week.

Keep the interesting conversations rolling this weekend. From 3-D printing to a solar-powered plane, these are the news stories that had us talking this week:

3-D Printing to the Rescue

Buttercup, the duck, was born with a backwards left foot. Because the foot would be prone to infection, Mike Garey, owner of the Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary in Arlington, Tenn., decided to amputate and find a new foot for the duck. Using 3-D software, Garey designed a replacement and sent it to NovaCopy, a 3-D printing company. With a new high-tech foot, Buttercup is now able to waddle with the other ducks. Learn more about the technology that saved a duck’s life here.


The Day the Sun Turned Green

Last month, on the side of the sun not visible from Earth, a storm of charged particles, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), exploded off the surface of the sun. See the Green Lantern photo captured by one of NASA's STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) spacecrafts.

Nature’s Newest Species
Found in Brazil, the Typhochlaena costae is nature's newest species of tarantula. The purple-tinted spider will either make your jaw drop or your skin crawl, but for the sake of curiosity, it is worth a look. Meet the Typhochlaena costae.


Ice and Fire
With more than 200 snow-covered volcanoes on Earth, researchers are asking the question, “What happens when molten lava is poured over ice?” To find an answer, scientists at the Syracuse University Lava Project conducted experiments that included melting 300 kg of lava and pouring it over ice. See what they discovered.

Solar Energy Flies a Plane
According to Time, 117 years after the first solar cell was discovered and 111 years after the first powered flight, the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in California is now combining the technologies. The Solar Impulse HB-S1A will be the first solar-powered plane to fly across the United States in stages. While the research center has not yet designed a plane to carry passengers, The Solar Impulse might prove to be a step in that direction. Learn more about the solar-powered plane and its flight here.


Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.


The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: June 28, 2013

Friday Family News Wrap-Up

All the science, history, astronomy, technology, and family news that was trending this week


Even in the summer, work weeks get busy and interesting news stories get missed. But don’t worry. We’ve rounded up the stories that had us talking this week and are excited to share them with you and your family!

A Walk of a Lifetime
This week, high-wire daredevil Nik Wallenda made history when he became the first human to ever cross the Grand Canyon on a wire. Take a deep breath and watch Nik walk 1,500 feet above the Colorado River without a safety tether or a net.

Cookin’ Up Martian Meals  

To prepare for future Martian expeditions, NASA is simulating life on the Red Planet. And what would life be like without food? It wouldn’t exist. That’s why NASA is studying how to prepare meals that will last up to five years, and how those meals can combat the astronauts’ “menu fatigue.” You can learn more about NASA’s research here.


A First Sound  

After becoming the first child in the country to receive an auditory brainstem implant, “Daddy loves you” was the first sound 3-year-old Grayson Clamp heard in his life. Watch Grayson’s reaction and learn his story.  


Costly Paper

They’re not currency, and they are not made of gold. But they are some of the most expensive pieces of paper in the world. They are postage stamps. While stamp collecting has been a hobby since the first stamp was printed, these rare stamps are not what you’d find in an average collection. Learn more.  


Glowing Clouds Light Up the Northern Night’s Sky

Every year, when the summer sun sets in the North Pole, Noctilucent clouds roll into the night’s sky. This year, however, the glowing clouds have appeared earlier than ever before. Take a look at these beautiful clouds.   


Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.