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Meet Jack Frost!

JackSanta's not the only one you have a chance to meet during your visit to Jolly Days at The Children's Museum! Mr. Claus has brought many of his friends from the North Pole to spread some holiday cheer. They may sing you a cheery carol or tell you a story, but they’ll definitely get you into the holiday spirit! The one and only Jack Frost is very excited to sing some of his “cool” holiday jams with you!

Jack Frost is a North Pole native who learned to play guitar from his father, Old Man Winter. Ever since, Jack has been spreading holiday cheer and creating wintry magic by singing holiday songs. Now Jack is at The Children’s Museum looking for musicians to start a new band, The Ice Floes, because he wants to spread even more holiday magic!

Jack Frost loves the wintertime and he wants to know what you love to do in the snow. Do you like to build snowmen and sled down snowy hills? Or would you rather make snow angels and have snowball fights? Give Jack some tips about what to do in the snow this winter!

There's one thing Jack Frost loves even more than winter weather, and that's music! Recommend your favorite holiday songs for Jack to sing and play on his guitar while you sing, hum, or clap along. He may even choose you as his newest band member to help spread holiday cheer to all the guests at The Children’s Museum!

Jack wants to help you win a membership to The Children's Museum!
When you see Jack in Jolly Days, you may receive a card with a special request: Enjoy the winter weather with your family! Show Jack you did it by posting your photo with the #JollyDays hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Enter your photo by January 4, 2015 and you could win a family membership to The Children's Museum! 

Meet Zazzelz the Elf!

ZazzelzSanta's not the only one you have a chance to meet during your visit to Jolly Days at The Children's Museum! Mr. Claus has brought many of his friends from the North Pole to spread some holiday cheer. They may sing you a cheery carol or tell you a story, but they’ll definitely get you into the holiday spirit! Zazzelz the Elf is back and ready to share some of his best holiday jokes—get ready for some laughs!

Zazzelz the Elf—full name Zazzelz Z. Zazzlington—is ready to make you giggle with glee! Meet larger-than-life comic Elf Zazzelz, the North Pole’s official stand-up comic. He’s taking a break from his comedy tour throughout the North Pole to have some fun at Jolly Days!

To stay on top, Zazzelz has to hone his jokes and hopefully learn a few new ones from families at The Children’s Museum. When you spot Zazzelz in Jolly Days, be sure to give him feedback on his holiday jokes. You can tell him which joke is more funny, or come share your own jokes with Zazzelz so he can make Santa laugh his hardest yet at this year’s North Pole holiday show! 

Participate in Zazzelz Z. Zazzlington’s world famous Joke Delivery Seminar, and see how props affect the delivery of a joke. Learn how to punch the punch-line, and come up with your own stinger—is yours Zing! Pow! or Wowwie-Zowwie!?

Zazzelz wants to help you win a membership to The Children's Museum!
When you see Zazzelz in Jolly Days, you may receive a card with a special request: Tell your own jokes and take pictures of your audience laughing. Show Zazzelz you did it by posting your photo with the #JollyDays hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Enter your photo by January 4, 2015 and you could win a family membership to The Children's Museum! 

Meet Andy the Zookeeper!

AndySanta's not the only one you have a chance to meet during your visit to Jolly Days at The Children's Museum! Mr. Claus has brought many of his friends from the North Pole to spread some holiday cheer. They may sing you a cheery carol or tell you a story, but they’ll definitely get you into the holiday spirit! Andy the Zookeeper brought all of his animal buddies, and things could get “wild!”

Meet Andy D. Mallaferty, the North Pole zookeeper. Andy has brought fourteen of his animal friends all the way from the North Pole to explore Jolly Days. Andy came to visit The Children's Museum this year hoping to talk to visitors about their holiday traditions. He wants to get ideas for making this year’s North Pole holiday celebration even better than the last! Tell Andy about your favorite things to do in the winter and during the holidays, while visiting with all of his North Pole animal friends!

Andy's here to show you that reindeer are NOT the only animal at the North Pole! You may meet a walrus, a weasel, a polar bear, and many more! To get you up to speed, here's the complete list of all the animals Andy might introduce you to in Jolly Days!

Which is your favorite North Pole animal? Have you seen any of these animals at the zoo or in the wild?

Andy wants to help you win a membership to The Children's Museum!
When you see Andy in Jolly Days, you may receive a card with a special request: Take photos of pets or animal friends you'd like Andy and his pals to meet. Show Andy you did it by posting your photo with the #JollyDays hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Enter your photo by January 4, 2015 and you could win a family membership to The Children's Museum! 

Meet Mrs. Claus!

Mrs. CSanta's not the only one you have a chance to meet during your visit to Jolly Days at The Children's Museum! Mr. Claus has brought many of his friends from the North Pole to spread some holiday cheer. They may sing you a cheery carol or tell you a story, but they’ll definitely get you into the holiday spirit! The wife of the big man himself, Mrs. Claus, is ready to share her favorite holiday memories and recipes!

Mrs. Claus is no stranger to Jolly Days, and is excited to make this year’s holiday season the most joyous yet. Take a photo, look through her holiday book, and share holiday memories with Mrs. Claus as she sets out to bring her special brand of holiday cheer to the Children’s Museum! 

What are you doing this year to celebrate the holidays? Visit with Mrs. Claus while you wait to see Santa and tell her about your holiday plans, hopes, memories, and traditions! If you don't have time to visit Santa, she'll pass along your wishes for you. And not only can you take a photo with Santa, you can snap festive photos with Mrs. Claus to add to your holiday photo collection as well! 

Mrs. Claus wants to help you win a membership to The Children's Museum!
When you see Mrs. Claus in Jolly Days, you may receive a card with special requests, like: Send a holiday card or letter, make a holiday snack to spread cheer, or decorate your home together! Show Mrs. Claus you did it by posting your photo with the #JollyDays hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Enter your photo by January 4, 2015 and you could win a family membership to The Children's Museum! 

Meet Patty Cakes!

PattySanta's not the only one you have a chance to meet during your visit to Jolly Days at The Children's Museum! Mr. Claus has brought many of his friends from the North Pole to spread some holiday cheer. They may sing you a cheery carol or tell you a story, but they’ll definitely get you into the holiday spirit! Patty Cakes is one of Santa’s “sweetest” holiday friends and wants to hear about your favorite holiday treats! 

Patricia “Patty” Cakes is beginning her first year as the North Pole’s Official Chef. She is by no means new to the cooking and baking scene, though. She has a degree from Le Cordon Bleu, served as Julia Child’s apprentice, and has a well-received cooking show to her name. Her latest accomplishment? Patty is the winner of Iron Chef: North Pole, landing her the prestigious title of "Official Chef" to the North Pole. She really wants to impress Santa and the elves, so she's visiting The Children’s Museum to chat with families about what they like to eat and cook during the holidays. She's hoping to get some new recipe ideas to bring back to the North Pole. 

Your family can also help Patty design festive holiday cookies and share your favorite holiday decorating tips! Tell Patty about your favorite holiday baking memories and help her decide which recipes Santa would like best! You can practice some of your baking skills in the Jolly Days kitchen, or at home! You never know, Patty may need help at the North Pole one day…

Patty wants to help you win a membership to The Children's Museum!
When you see Patty in Jolly Days, you may receive a card with a special request: Take a photo of a holiday treat you create with your family, or share one of your recipes. Show Patty you did it by posting your photo with the #JollyDays hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. Enter your photo by January 4, 2015 and you could win a family membership to The Children's Museum! 

Jolly Days Are Here Again!

LightsIt’s that time of year again at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis… the time when everyone says, “What, Jolly Days ALREADY??” Yep! Some of us (myself included) start thinking about each year’s Jolly Days exhibit starting way back in April or May—but things really kick into high gear on November 1. That’s when we roll up our sleeves and get to work.     

As you probably already know, our Jolly Days exhibit goes into the same gallery where the Children’s Museum Guild Haunted House is during the month of October.  It takes our hardworking Facilities staff plus our amazing Guild Witches 2 months to build and decorate the Haunted House—and it all has to come out of there in a week!  Starting November 1, it’s a scramble to get the Haunted House pulled down and packed away, and the gallery cleaned and re-painted so that Jolly Days can start going in.  So while that’s going on in the gallery space, our exhibits and production team are working hard to get all the decorations in our welcome center and Sunburst Atrium into place. 

The giant tree in the Welcome Center requires a crane to put it in place and decorate it, so we usually do that on the first closed Monday after Halloween so we don’t have to worry about visitors’ safety. Then it’s about 4 straight days of work to get all the other decorations out of our storage facility, into the building, and arranged on the deck around the tree. We also have a giant resident in our welcome center—the Transformer, Bumblebee!—and he has to be moved several times to allow us to get equipment around the welcome center and hang all the snowflakes from our ceiling. Then he needs his own decorations as well. Once we’re done with the Welcome Center, the crew moves to start unpacking the rest of Jolly Days!

Bumblebee snowflakes

The Yule Slide—everyone’s favorite holiday tradition here at the museum—takes a crew of four people a day and a half to install and decorate, and our giant snow globe takes some serious work too. The tree in the Atrium has to be assembled and decorated before our collections department staff can put Jingles and his stuffed animal friends into place; they are real artifacts from our Steiff animal collection, and have to be handled with care! The gallery façade (the house, the lights, and the title graphic) takes another day to put up.  Meanwhile, inside the gallery, our paint crew finishes re-painting and touching up so that the exhibit can be unpacked, installed, cleaned, and tested—7 full semi trailers worth of stuff! 

When the walls are in place, the curator brings in the toys and games from our collection that make Jolly Days special—from old board games to stuffed bunnies, even Santa’s antique desk! The graphics staff adds trees to the walls and replaces any of our signs that are damaged or dirty, and our cleaning crew washes and sanitizes all the toys from the play areas. Once the lights are focused and the floors swept, the exhibit is finally ready for you to visit! 

So from start to finish, getting Jolly Days ready to open takes us about 2700 work hours total!  I’m tired just thinking about it. Or it might have something to do with the fact that I’ve still got work to do….

Jolly Days is open now through Jan. 4, 2015!

 

In This Week's WOW episode 79, Josh goes to great heights to show us how much goes into decorating for the holidays:
 

Capturing History Through Underwater Archaeology

Columbus cannonBy Dave Rust, Children's Museum Photographer and Video Producer
 

As the Museum's photographer and videographer, I need to capture imagery of everything, which means that I get the opportunity to see up-close a lot of the amazing things folks do around here. I never know what I might do next, or when I'll be handed traveling orders!  Would you believe that this summer I got the chance to visit the Caribbean Sea and the nation of the Dominican Republic—for work?

My trip’s objective: to capture video of Prof. Charles Beeker, our Extraordinary Underwater Archaeologist-in-Residence, as he leads Indiana University researchers on a search for clues to the Spanish galleon, Begoña, a ship that was lost to rocky shores and high winds in 1725.

The History of the Begoña

Prof. Beeker tells us that the Begoña and its captain were faced with a no-win situation 300 years ago. The Begoña’s Spanish passengers were especially enterprising…maybe too much so! They had mined silver in nearby Central America and wanted to bring it back to Spain without paying the King’s tax. So they hid sliver coins, jewelry, and table settings in trunks with false bottoms, and some of the bounty was even sewn inside their clothing. Their ship was so heavy, it sat too deeply in the water! Harbormasters wouldn’t let the Begoña into Santo Domingo waters to pick up supplies before the ship's big hop to Spain. They were afraid it’d get stuck in the shallows and plug the harbor’s entrance.

Out in deep water with no supplies and facing bad weather for days, the captain had to attempt a hard landing several miles east of the capital in order to protect the crew and passengers. Everyone got off alive, but the winds bashed the ship against the rocks until it broke into pieces. Almost all of that illegal baggage was lost under just 10 feet of water! But one trunk was pulled from the waves and everyone began the long walk back to Santo Domingo. When guards encountered the drenched passengers, they wondered why the group was even bothering to carry a bulky trunk all the way back to the capital. Guards took a look inside and the secret was out. The passengers and the ship’s captain faced serious legal penalties…despite the heroic efforts by the captain to save everyone’s lives.

What We're Discovering Today

I used an underwater camera to document SCUBA divers as they used pumps called dredges to remove layers of sand from the bottom of La Caleta inlet. As they dredged, objects long buried were revealed by the day’s bright sunlight. Since they’ve begun these exhibitions, divers have found many pounds of silver, table settings, swords, cannon balls, and musket balls.

During my trip, they uncovered one of the ship’s cannon (called “guns” when on deck). Another team thought they found a smaller deck gun (called a verso), though it was heavily encrusted with coral rock. Researchers will have to remove the coatings to see if it is indeed a ship’s weapon…or just a modern water pipe. Other divers were excited by objects that appear to have come from the local natives, the Taino. Pottery, especially bowls for carrying water and food, seem to be common finds in this bay. Prof. Beeker says this isn’t a surprise, since this beach was a part of a large native village for hundreds of years and has long since been abandoned.

After being pounded by the surf for hundreds of years, clay objects are usually found broken. The team also found a knob-like handle that probably came from a bowl. Experts on the team say this is often the case…with turtle heads being a common theme, but this one looks more like a person’s face to me. In any case, it's likely much older than artifacts from the Begoña.

Indiana University wants to learn everything it can about the Begoña.  When the research team is done, Prof. Beeker hopes to put many of the items on display underwater in the same inlet of La Caleta, creating an underwater museum for other SCUBA divers and snorkelers to explore. Some of the other artifacts—including a conglomerate of 18th century silver coins—are now on display at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Now Hoosiers can see for themselves these clues about how people lived in the Caribbean so long ago.

The silver coins aren't the only new artifacts  on display in the working Archaeology Lab in the Treasures of the Earth gallery. There are also new Columbus-era cannons on view, centuries older than the Begoña. While most families' fall break plans may not include a trip to SCUBA in the Caribbean, you can still experience these extraordinary artifacts right here in Indianapolis!

Conserving Captain Kidd's Cannon

CannonBy Ashley Ramsey Hannum, Archaeology Lab Assistant

Have you been wondering if we would ever finish treatment on Captain Kidd’s cannon? You certainly wouldn’t be alone. Cannon #4 from Kidd’s Quedagh Merchant, which sank off the coast of the Domincan Republic in 1699, has been undergoing conservation treatment in the National Geographic Treasures of the Earth exhibit since 2011. The lengthy treatment, called electrolytic reduction, helps remove all of the salts that the cannon absorbed from 300 years in ocean water. The process also helps remove the thick layer of minerals and concretion that built up over that time. 

After years of conservation, the cannon is finally ready for the last stages of treatment. The first—and most challenging—step is boiling the cannon in highly purified water. The boiling water creates tiny bubbles inside the pores of the iron, helping to remove the final amounts of salt and minerals. 

You may be thinking, how does one boil a 1,500 pound, over 6 foot long piece of iron? Since we certainly don’t have a stove that big, we had to get creative. The Museum’s awesome facilities team had the idea to divert steam from one of the building’s giant boilers, typically used to heat the museum, through the water in the cannon’s tank. Theoretically, the heat from the steam should bring the water to a boil. 

We placed the cannon in an 8 foot long, galvanized steel water trough, designed for holding water for livestock. Steve, our HVAC extraordinaire, created some custom copper pipes, which brought steam from the boiler through the water. The steam took quite a long time to heat the water. Imagine how long it takes to boil about a gallon of water to make spaghetti. Well, we needed to boil 220 gallons of water to cover the cannon. It took almost 7 hours to bring it to a boil! 

After a couple weeks of intermittent boiling, all of the last salts were successfully extracted. The cannon is now soaking in an alcohol bath to dehydrate it without exposure to air. Once all of the water has been removed, it will be ready for its final coating and sealants. The cannon can then be safely stored in air without risk of rapid deterioration. 

New shipwrecked artifacts are now installed in the exhibit, and the process begins all over again!
 

Treasures of the Earth gallery manager, Josh Estes, visits Captain Kidd's cannon.
Cannon then

Conservator Christy O'Grady shares the cannon with visitors in the Wet Lab.
Cannon

Christy and Ashley carry out final steps in the cannon's conservation treatment.

Cannon Cannon

Meet the Maiasaura—"Good Mother Lizard"

Maiasaura skull at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

You’ve seen the dinos in Dinosphere– but have you ever taken the time to really get to know them? Well now’s your chance! In the Meet the Dinos blog series, you learn the behind the scenes story on all of your favorite dinosaurs, from their lives in the cretaceous period to their discoveries!

Who is the Maiasaura?

The Maiasaura is a composite skeleton, which means that it was made up of the bones of several Maiasaura. It is 70 percent real fossilized bone. The remaining bones are casts from other Maiasaura that have been discovered.
 
The Linsters—Cliff, Sandy, and their seven children, Brenda, Cliph, Bob, Wes, Matt, Luke and Megan—are a family of amateur paleontologists who hunt dinosaurs on their summer vacations. They found the fossilized bones that make up the Maiasaura in 1997 in Teton County, Montana. Dinosphere's gorgosaur and one Bambiraptor were found with the MaiasauraIt took five years to excavate the fossilized bones of the Maiasaura.

The Story Behind the Maiasaura

When paleontologist John Horner walked into a small rock shop in Bynum, Montana in 1978, he had no idea what he was about to find. The owners of the rock shop, the Brandvolds, showed him a coffee can full of little fossilized bones. Horner saw at once that they were fossilized baby dinosaur bones and asked where they were found. The Brandvolds showed him the site, which was later named "Egg Mountain" for the hundreds of eggs and nests excavated over many seasons. The Brandvolds, it turns out, had discovered a new species of dinosaur that John Horner named Maiasaura, meaning "good mother lizard." Horner chose that name because he believed the maiasaurs cared for their young.
 
What made him come up with this hypothesis? There were several clues. He studied baby Maiasaura skeletons and determined they couldn't walk just after hatching because they had soft fossilized bones. Bits of fossilized eggshell were also found, indicating hatchlings stayed in the nest long enough to trample their shells. Horner guessed that the baby Maiasaura probably stayed for about a month in the nest and depended on the adult Maiasaura to bring them food.
 
Maiasaura were herbivores, which means they ate plants instead of meat. They lived in the Late Cretaceous Period, approximately 80 million years ago, in North America. Maiasaura had a toothless beak for snipping plants and hundreds of teeth designed for chewing and grinding. Although its teeth were frequently worn down by all the chewing, replacing them was not a problem. Each tooth had four or five teeth growing and ready to replace it. Maiasaura needed its teeth so it could keep eating. It had to eat constantly to get enough food to maintain its weight. It probably had to eat many pounds of leaves, berries, seeds and woody plants each day to survive.
 
Maiasaura migrated, which means they moved to different places during different seasons, in search of food. They traveled in large herds of perhaps 10,000. Traveling in such a large herd helped protect them from predators, such as meat-eating gorgosaursMaiasaura were big. Adults were up to 30 feet long (as long as three basketball goals laid end-to-end), 12 to 15 feet tall, and weighed around 3 to 4 tons (6,000 to 8,000 lbs.). They walked on all fours, but they could also stand on two legs for feeding. Maiasaura had long, stiff tails that helped them keep their balance. Like hypacrosaurs, Maiasaura are called duckbill dinosaurs because their mouths are shaped like a duck's bill. Hadrosaur is another name for a duckbill dinosaur.

Want to learn more? Be sure to meet all of the dinos in Dinosphere!

Meet Dracorex Hogwartsia

Dracorex Hogwartsia at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

You’ve seen the dinos in Dinosphere– but have you ever taken the time to really get to know them? Well now’s your chance! In the Meet the Dinos blog series, you learn the behind the scenes story on all of your favorite dinosaurs, from their lives in the cretaceous period to their discoveries!

Who is Dracorex?

Dracorex hogwartsia is a dinosaur that is new to science, and it bears a close resemblance to a fairy-tale dragon, with its bony head covered in spikes and knobs.
 
Dracorex belongs to the group of ornithischian dinosaurs called Pachycephalosaurs, or bone-headed dinosaurs. These dinosaurs were a group of plant-eating dinosaurs that are largely characterized by their distinct dome-headed skull. The group actually consists of both flat-headed forms and highly domed forms. They lived in both Asia and North America during the late Cretaceous Period, 95 to 65 million years ago.
 
DracorexDracorex is a unique addition to the paleontological record. Until now, no flat-headed Pachycephalosaur fossils have been discovered in North America. Further, no flat-headed dinosaurs with this unique configuration of knobs and spikes have ever been found. This new specimen suggests a significant new branch in the evolutionary development of the Pachycephalosaur family—much more complicated than paleontologists suspected.

 
“The discovery of this new flat-headed Pachycephalosaur was a total paleontological surprise,” said internationally-recognized paleontologist Dr. Robert Bakker. He added, “Dracorex is a scientifically significant milestone in the world of paleontology; it proves that family trees were still branching off and evolving, even near the end of the age of dinosaurs.  It demonstrated a world of color and movement in nature more recently than we ever thought possible.”
 
In a recent publication, scientists were able to closely describe this new species. “It is truly a magnificent specimen. You hardly ever find skulls of these dinosaurs in such a complete state,” said Dr. Robert Sullivan, the vertebrate paleontologist and senior curator at the State Museum of Pennsylvania. “This spectacular skull shows an amazing combination of primitive and advanced features. Its discovery has dramatically altered our view on the relationships of these strange pachycephalosaurid dinosaurs to other dinosaurs,” Sullivan added.
 
How do you name and completely new species of dinosaur?
 
A team of museum scientists officially named the new dinosaur species Dracorex hogwartsia, the “Dragon King of Hogwarts. The name celebrates Hogwarts School for Witchcraft & Wizardry, the academy for wizards in the Harry Potter novels.
 
“All of us dinosaur-hunters agree—it’s splendidly appropriate!” said Dr. Bakker, curator at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and a long-time friend of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “Dinosaurs are wonderful for getting kids to explore with their minds and exercise their scientific imagination. And that’s where Ms. Rowling excels too. Her books invite the reader to probe mysteries, solve riddles and learn the craft of fighting ignorance and evil,” Bakker added.
 
When hearing of this honor, J.K. Rowling stated:  "The naming of Dracorex hogwartsia is easily the most unexpected honor to have come my way since the publication of the Harry Potter books!  I am absolutely thrilled to think that Hogwarts has made a small claw mark upon the fascinating world of dinosaurs. I happen to know more on the subject of paleontology than many might credit, because my eldest daughter was Utahraptor-obsessed, and I am now living with a passionate Tyrannosaurus rex-lover, aged three. My credibility has soared within my science-loving family, and I am very much looking forward to reading Dr. Bakker and his colleague’s paper describing “my” dinosaur, which I can’t help visualizing as a slightly less pyromaniac Hungarian Horntail.”
 
The discovery and preparation of a one-of-a-kind fossil

The dinosaur was discovered by Brian Buckmeier and brothers Steve and Pat Saulsbury, all from Sioux City, Iowa. They found the remains of Dracorex during a fossil collecting trip in the Hell Creek Formation of central South Dakota. It was Steve Saulsbury who first suggested that they donate their new find. Steve fondly recalled taking his daughter Alexandra to the museum when he and his family lived in Indianapolis during his residency at Indiana University Hospital in the early 1990s. Steve talked to the others, and they soon agreed the museum would be the perfect home for this specimen. The trio donated their discovery to the museum in late 2004.
When Dracorex came to the museum it was still in the plaster field jacket.

Vertebrate paleontologist Victor Porter, along with preparator Shane Ziemmer, spent many hours getting this skull ready for exhibit. As the skull was cleaned and pieces glued together, thousands of children passed by the laboratory windows watching.

Want to learn more? Be sure to meet all of the dinos in Dinosphere!

Meet the Bambiraptor

Bambiraptor at the Children's Museum of IndianapolisYou’ve seen the dinos in Dinosphere– but have you ever taken the time to really get to know them? Well now’s your chance! In the Meet the Dinos blog series, you learn the behind the scenes story on all of your favorite dinosaurs, from their lives in the cretaceous period to their discoveries!

Who is the Bambiraptor?

Bambiraptor is the most bird-like of all the raptor dinosaurs found. Scientists don't know if Bambiraptor actually could fly, but its fossilized bones do show a close relationship to birds. Only one Bambirpator skeleton has ever been found. The two Dinosphere Bambiraptors are casts made from the original Bambiraptor.

The Linsters, a family of amateur paleontologists, found the original Bambiraptor in 1997 in Teton County Montana. The Bambiraptor was discovered with Dinosphere's Gorgosaurus and Maiasaura.

The Life of a Bambiraptor

Bambiraptor means baby raptor. Bambiraptor got its name because of its small size. Bambiraptor lived about 74 to 80 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous Period, at the same time as Gorgosaurus and Maiasaura but several million years before T. rex was alive.
 
Bambiraptor was very small compared to a T. rex, gorgosaur, or Maiasaura. It was about 3 feet long and 1 foot tall and weighed around 7 pounds. Its skull was about the size of a light bulb. Bambiraptor was a carnivore, which means it ate meat instead of plants. Do you think it was a predator or a scavenger?

Want to learn more? Be sure to meet all of the dinos in Dinosphere!

Meet Stan the T. rex

T. Rex at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

You’ve seen the dinos in Dinosphere– but have you ever taken the time to really get to know them? Well now’s your chance! In the Meet the Dinos blog series, you learn the behind the scenes story on all of your favorite dinosaurs, from their lives in the cretaceous period to their discoveries!

Who is Stan?

Stan is a Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) which means "tyrant lizard king." Unlike Bucky the Teenage T. rex, Stan is an adult T. rexDinosphere's Stan is a cast of the original Stan in the collection of the Black Hills Institute.

Stan has probably the best preserved and most complete dinosaur skull ever discovered. Nearly every fossilized bone of Stan's skull was discovered during excavation. The fossilized bones in Stan's skull were found separated from each other. This is important because it allowed the bones to be preserved for millions of years in excellent condition with little distortion or crushing. It also gave scientists the opportunity to study each fossilized bone and determine how the bones connected and moved in relation to each other.
 
Forty-seven separate fossilized bones and 35 loose fossilized teeth were assembled in the reconstruction of Stan's skull. The only missing bones were two small skull pieces from Stan's lower jaw. Stan had several broken and healed ribs, a broken neck and a hole in the back of its skull. The study of Stan's skull led scientists to believe T. rex had the largest brain, the best eyesight, the best sense of smell, the strongest teeth and the most powerful jaw of all the dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous Period at the end of the Age of Dinosaurs.

In 1987, amateur paleontologist Stan Sacrison was exploring in the Hell Creek Formation near the town of Buffalo, South Dakota, when he discovered a large fossilized bone sticking out of a sandy cliff face 100 feet above the prairie. He had discovered the T. rex later to be named after him, Stan.

The Life of a T. rex
 
Stan lived in the Late Cretaceous Period, around 65 million years ago. Tyrannosaurs like Stan could be found in parts of western North America.

T. rex was a carnivore, which means it ate meat instead of plants. Its teeth and strength came in handy when it ate. It had more than 50 teeth, the largest of which were up to 7 inches long and sharp like saw-edged steak knives. Its upper teeth were curved and very sharp like butcher's knives. T. rex didn't eat tiny, polite bites. Its teeth and strong jaw muscles enabled it to tear off and eat large chunks of meat from its prey.
 
From studying the way T. rex teeth were worn down, scientists believe that it likely ate tough, fresh meat instead of rotting meat from animals already dead. This means that T. rex was a predator rather than a scavenger. As a tyrannosaur's teeth got old, the long roots of the teeth dissolved so they could fall out and be replaced by new teeth.

Want to learn more? Be sure to meet all of the dinos in Dinosphere!

The Intern Experience: Playscape Research and Evaluation

Kala internCurrent Intern Kala Strickland is working in the Research and Evaluation Department on the summative evaluation of the Playscape gallery. She is a recent graduate of IUPUI and mom of 3 living in Indianapolis. In this blog post, Kala shares her experience interviewing visitors about their time in Playscape. 


This summer, I've had the pleasure of talking with families about their experiences in Playscape. Playscape provides unique opportunities for families to learn and play in a stimulating nature-themed environment with a wide range of sensory experiences, encouraging families to explore together. Seeing the happiness of children who've just climbed to the top of the climber is contagious! I've been fortunate to observe children learning new words and mastering new skills as they conduct the important business of playing and learning with their parents.  

Following up with families who reflect on their Playscape visit provide the museum with important information to keep improving experiences for visitors and allows the staff to measure the success of the gallery. The families I've spoken with have been happy to share about makes this space so special for their little ones. Parents share memorable moments that make their experiences rich and encourage them to return for more learning and fun. 

Working in the Research and Evaluation department has helped me better understand how the evaluation process informs decisions and provides valuable insight to almost all other departments in the museum. The Children’s Museum uses the information and guidance of the Research and Evaluation department when planning, developing, installing and improving exhibits. The museum also studies the local community to ensure that we're providing stimulating family learning opportunities that serve their needs.

Observing and interviewing families in Playscape this summer has allowed me to experience the museum from another perspective and contribute to the success of the teams working behind the scenes to create extraordinary experiences for our visitors. I've had the chance to listen to parents discuss their visit, which produces data that informs the exhibits team regarding what is working well and what needs some adjustments. This learning experience has allowed me to use my strong people skills and acquire new talents which I hope to put to use in the museum again in the future!

Learn more about internships at The Children's Museum at childrensmuseum.org.

Meet the Hypacrosaur Family

An infant Hypacrosaur dinosaur at the Indianapolis Children's MuseumYou’ve seen the dinos in Dinosphere– but have you ever taken the time to really get to know them? Well now’s your chance! In the Meet the Dinos blog series, you learn the behind the scenes story on all of your favorite dinosaurs, from their lives in the cretaceous period to their discoveries!

Who are the Hypacrosaurs?

Hypacrosaurus means "almost the highest lizard," because of its size. Hypacrosaurs are called duckbill dinosaurs because their mouths are shaped similar to a duck's bill. Hadrosaur is another name for duckbill dinosaurs. There are four hypacrosaurs in Dinosphere; an adult, a juvenile and two infants.

The adult hypacrosaur in Dinosphere is a combination of fossilized bones from more than one hypacrosaur and is 75 percent real fossilized bone. The juvenile is also a combination of fossilized bones from more than one hypacrosaur and is 70 percent real fossilized bone. One of the infants is 35 percent real fossilized bone from one hypacrosaur and the other infant is a cast of the first one. The remaining bones are casts from other hypacrosaurs that have been discovered.

The hypacrosaur family was discovered in 1990 at the Two Medicine Formation in Montana and was excavated over a period of five years. Hundreds of hypacrosaurs have been discovered at this site, possibly because the dinosaurs, traveling in a herd, drowned while crossing a river.
 
HypacrosaurThe adult and juvenile hypacrosaurs were found by the commercial paleontology group, Canada Fossils Ltd. The infant hypacrosaur was found by Dorothy and Leo Flamand working for Canada Fossils, Ltd.

Hypacrosaurs, like many other duckbill dinosaurs, had a nasal crest. Scientists think the hollow crest may have been used to make sounds so hypacrosaurs could communicate. Some think the sounds were similar to a low trumpet call. Only adults had crests, so younger hypacrosaurs may have made very different sounds. Some scientists think the crest may have been used by male hypacrosaurs to attract females.

How Hypacrosaurs Lived
 
Scientists believe that hypacrosaurs lived together in families. Several families lived together in groups called herds. There could be hundreds of hypacrosaurs living together in a herd. By living together, hypacrosaurs were better able to find food and protect themselves from predators. Hypacrosaurs were migratory, which means they moved to different places during different seasons. They may have migrated to find food, or they may have migrated from forests to the sandy shores of lakes to lay their eggs.
 
The mother hypacrosaur could lay up to 20 eggs in nests made of soft sand or dirt. She may have covered the eggs with sand or plants to keep them warm because she was too heavy to sit on the nest. Hypacrosaur eggs were about the size of cantaloupes. After hatching, the babies were about 24 inches long. The adults might have taken care of their young because the babies' leg bones were not strong enough for walking. It's not clear how soon the young hypacrosaurs joined the herd. The baby dinosaurs were so tiny that they could have been trampled by the bigger hypacrosaurs, so they may have lived together until they were big enough to travel.
 
Hypacrosaurs were herbivores, which means they ate plants instead of meat. Hypacrosaurs lived in the Late Cretaceous Period approximately 73 million years ago in western North America. Hypacrosaurs were big. An adult could be 30 feet long (as long as three basketball goals laid end-to-end), 15 feet tall, and could weigh 1.5 tons (3,000 lbs.). Because they were so big, hypacrosaurs had big appetites. An adult hypacrosaur ate around 350 lbs. of food a day. Hypacrosaurs had a long snout and a beak. It had rows and rows of teeth on both sides of its jaws, which it used like a grater to grind tough plants and leaves up to 6 feet off the ground. It had hundreds of teeth that were constantly replaced with new teeth.
 
Three of the four fingers on a hypacrosaur's front legs were enclosed in a mitten-like skin. This shape wasn't much help to the hypacrosaur in picking up food or fighting off predators, but it could help in walking. This has led scientists to believe that hypacrosaurs probably walked on all four legs. A hypacrosaur could probably walk faster on its back legs than on all four legs. Scientists estimate it could walk up to 12 miles per hour in a hurry, but that it usually walked on all fours at a much more leisurely pace.

Want to learn more? Be sure to meet all of the dinos in Dinosphere!

Meet Kelsey the Triceratops

Kelsey TriceratopsYou’ve seen the dinos in Dinosphere– but have you ever taken the time to really get to know them? Well now’s your chance! In the Meet the Dinos blog series, you learn the behind the scenes story on all of your favorite dinosaurs, from their lives in the cretaceous period to their discoveries!

Who is Kelsey?

Kelsey is a Triceratops horridus which means "horrible three-horned face." Why do you think they named this type of dinosaur that way?

Kelsey was discovered by the Leonard and Arlene Zerbst family in the fall of 1997 on their ranch in Niobrara County, Wyoming. The ranch is part of the Lance Creek fossil bed, where the fossils of many dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous Period have been found. The Zerbsts named Kelsey after their 3-year old granddaughter, Kelsey Ann.
 
Alongside Kelsey were found more than 20 fossilized teeth of predatory dinosaur, Nanotyrannus, a smaller cousin of T. rex. Did the Nanotyrannus kill Kelsey, or did Kelsey die of natural causes and the Nanotyrannus just happen along to scavenge on the already dead Triceratops? Does this explain the tiny bite marks found on Kelsey's leg?

Triceratops at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

Interesting Facts about Kelsey

Like other Triceratops, Kelsey had a big head. It was as long as a human adult is tall (over 6 feet) and was nearly one-third as long as its body. The fossilized bone of the skull is up to 2 inches thick and is very heavy. The skull is bumpy (scientists refer to this as "rugosity"). Some scientists think this bumpiness might have been a sign of old age.
 
No dinosaur is discovered 100 percent complete. Due to erosion and other factors, some fossilized bones are always missing. The people who prepare the dinosaurs for exhibits create casts of the missing bones, usually from other dinosaurs that have been discovered, to fill in the missing pieces. Very few Triceratops have been found and most of the ones that have been found aren't very complete. More than 50 percent of Kelsey's skeleton has been found, which makes it possibly the most complete Triceratops ever found and one of the top three ever discovered. 

The Life of a Triceratops
 
Kelsey lived in the late Cretaceous Period, more than 65 million years ago. Triceratops like Kelsey could be found in the western part of the United States and in southwestern Canada. You can tell Kelsey is a Triceratops by the three horns on its head. Scientists call a horned dinosaur like Triceratops a ceratopsian. The two horns above the eye sockets were up to 3 feet long. The horns were sharp and covered with a thick coat of the same stuff your fingernails are made of, called keratin, which made them strong. They came in handy in a fight with any T. rex that decided Kelsey would make a nice meal.
 
Although Kelsey wasn't a predator looking for a fight, it wasn't defenseless if attacked. In addition to having horns, Triceratops could use its size to defend itself. Triceratops could be as tall as a basketball goal (10 feet), and as long as three basketball goals laid end-to-end (30 feet), and could weigh as much as three cars (six tons). A Triceratops' eyes also helped it defend itself. They were on the sides of its head and helped it scan for any predators coming after it.
 
You can't miss the big bone sticking up at the back of Kelsey's head. This bone is called a frill and scientists used to think it was there to protect the neck area. Some scientists now think the frill may have been important in helping male Triceratops attract females or distract potential male rivals for a female's attention. Another possible explanation for the frill is heat regulation. As the Triceratops' body warmed up, heat escaped from the frill and the body temperature returned to normal.
 
Kelsey was a herbivore, which means it ate plants instead of meat. Because a Triceratops was so big, it ate many pounds of plants a day. It ate low-lying plants such as ferns and cycads. Scientists think it may have used its horns to knock down small trees and then snipped off the leaves with its parrot-shaped beak. Scientists know some of the plants it ate by studying phytoliths, tiny parts of plants that left scratch marks on fossilized dinosaur teeth or remained between teeth after they fossilized. Scientists debate whether Triceratops lived in herds. Some think they might have roamed the Cretaceous forests on their own and did not migrate.

Want to learn more? Be sure to meet all of the dinos in Dinosphere!

 

Behind the Scenes—The Making of the Emperor’s Portrait

Emperor's Portrait in Progress

Rob Day is a nationally-recognized illustrator, with work appearing in Smithsonian, Time, Business Week, Rolling Stone and more. Day’s portrait of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is his second project for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. You can also find his first painting of the infamous Captain Kidd in the Museum’s permanent exhibit, Treasures of the Earth.

When visitors to the Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit are welcomed by the larger-than-life image of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, they might never guess that the emperor had a “stunt double.” Many thanks to David Donaldson, The Children's Museum's Chief Technology Officer, for graciously agreeing to be photographed—wearing full emperor garb—for reference images that have made the emperor’s portrait come to life!

The Reference Image: Shooting reference shots is often necessary when historic images are rare or difficult to obtain. As an illustrator, I’ve found many a model over the years to help me capture just the right reference images. When combined with historic information, they make for a much more realistic and engaging painting. Working with Children's Museum Creative Director Ned Shaw, we found just the right model in David, who Ned described as having “a regal bearing of an emperor.” (I wonder if this is a prerequisite for all CTOs?) Knowing that we needed a full-length portrait that captured the power and posture of Emperor Qin, we went to work shooting various poses that ultimately would be combined in the final portrait. 

The Research: One of the things that I enjoy most about working as an illustrator is the opportunity to research and learn about the subjects that I paint. I began by investigating existing images of Emperor Qin, costumes, and sword designs of ancient China. During my research I learned details about the emperor that would be included in the portrait. For instance, did you know that the dragon shown on the emperor's clothing always has five toes? Or, that the emperor is always portrayed wearing an unusual cap called a Guan Mian? In the Chinese idiom, Guan Mian Tang Huang translates: "elegant and stately in dressing". The "Guan" and "Mian" refer to cap. 

The Sketches: As Ned and I reviewed the dozens of reference photos taken from our shoot, we chose several images to combine for the portrait. I created pencil sketches incorporating details gleaned from my research to achieve an historically accurate portrayal of Emperor Qin's physical likeness. After discussing final elements with Ned and his team, I began painting the emperor’s portrait.

The Scan: The painting, which is 23"x38" oil on paper, took three weeks to complete. The next step was making a high resolution digital scan of the painting. Color corrections and costume details and embellishments were made digitally. Museum staff reproduced and enlarged the image and today the portrait of Emperor Qin towers over guests who enter the exhibit.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the history of what is considered to be the most significant archaeological find of the twentieth century and look forward to being one of the thousands of visitors who will be welcomed by Emperor Qin as I visit The Terra Cotta Warriors.

Want to see the portrait for yourself? Buy your tickets to see Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor's Painted Army.

 

All photos and sketches are courtesy of Rob Day, 2014.

Meet Frannie the Prenoceratops

Prenoceratops at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.You’ve seen the dinos in Dinosphere– but have you ever taken the time to really get to know them? Well now’s your chance! In the Meet the Dinos blog series, you learn the behind the scenes story on all of your favorite dinosaurs, from their lives in the cretaceous period to their discoveries!

Who is Frannie?

Frannie is an adult Prenoceratops and is about 60 percent real fossilized bone. No dinosaur is discovered 100 percent complete. Due to erosion and other factors, some fossilized bones are always missing. The people who prepare the dinosaurs for exhibits create casts of the missing bones, usually from other dinosaurs that have been discovered, to fill in the missing pieces.

Dorothy and Leo Flammand found Frannie in 1995 in the St. Mary's Formation in Pondera County, Montana while working for Canada Fossils Ltd., a commercial paleontology group. Frannie is named after Fran Julian, a supporter of The Children's Museum.

There are two Prenoceratops in Dinosphere. In addition to Frannie, there is a cast model made from Frannie's bones. Some scientists believe that Frannie could be an entirely new species of Prenoceratops!

The Life of a Prenoceratops

Not all dinosaurs were big or had long necks and sharp teeth. Many dinosaurs were quite small. Frannie, an adult Prenoceratops, is less than 6 feet long and 3 feet tall and would have weighed less than 150 lbs in life. Prenoceratops lived in the Middle and Late Cretaceous Period, approximately 65 to 74 million years ago in western North America and Australia.
 
There's something mysterious about Prenoceratops. It doesn't seem to belong to the usual cast of Cretaceous creatures. At the end of the Age of Dinosaurs when Prenoceratops lived, most dinosaurs had adapted and evolved in special ways to meet the challenges of a changing environment. Prenoceratops, however, was around for a very long time in geological history and did not seem to develop unique adaptations. Perhaps it survived on the fringes of the forest or in the uplands where there was less competition for food and fewer predators.

Prenoceratops is a cousin to Triceratops. Both are members of the Ceratopsian family of dinosaurs, which means they have horns. But Prenoceratops does not have a horn, even though its name means "slender horned face." Prenoceratops did have some things in common with Triceratops. Both were herbivores, which means they ate plants instead of meat, and both had a beak like a parrot that they used to snip plants to eat. Prenoceratops also had a frill, but it was smaller than a Triceratops frill. Prenoceratops had teeth different from the teeth of Triceratops and other Ceratopsians. Prenoceratops teeth were broad rather than long, perhaps for eating a variety of plants. Each tooth also had only one, rather than several, replacement teeth available. The Prenoceratops teeth had one root rather than double roots like the teeth of Triceratops.
 
Prenoceratops probably walked on all four legs, but may have had the ability to stand on two feet for feeding. Its slender build indicates that it could move quickly. Some scientists think Prenoceratops may have used its hind legs to burrow into the ground to hide from predators. Other scientists disagree and think Prenoceratops could have run swiftly to escape predators. Scientists also aren't sure if Prenoceratops lived alone or in herds. Six, however, were found together in a bone bed in 1999. Could this be a clue?
 

Want to learn more? Be sure to meet all of the dinos in Dinosphere!

Meet Bucky the Teenage T. rex

Bucky the teenage T. Rex at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.

You’ve seen the dinos in Dinosphere– but have you ever taken the time to really get to know them? Well now’s your chance! In the Meet the Dinos blog series, you learn the behind the scenes story on all of your favorite dinosaurs, from their lives in the cretaceous period to their discoveries!

Who is Bucky?

Bucky is a Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) which means "tyrant lizard king." Bucky is a teenager almost the size of an adult T. rex. Although still young, Bucky is already big, about 34 feet long and more than 10 feet tall!

A young rancher and rodeo cowboy named Bucky Derflinger discovered Bucky in 1998. That's how Bucky the T. rex got its name. Bucky Derflinger has been collecting dinosaur fossils since he was 9 years old. He was 20 when he saw Bucky's fossilized toe bone sticking out of the ground. The part of the fossilized bone he saw was white because it was weathered and had been bleached by the sun. Bucky Derflinger is the youngest person ever to have discovered a T. rex. You don't have to be a professional paleontologist to be a dinosaur hunter!
 
Bucky DerflingerMost of Bucky's fossilized bones were scattered and difficult to find. The dig site for its bones was about half the size of a football field—the largest dig site ever for a T. rex. Bucky was extremely well preserved and easy to prepare for display in the museum because the rock surrounding its fossilized bones, called the matrix, was soft and easy to remove.

  • Bucky is the sixth most complete T. rex ever found and the first teenage T. rex put on permanent display in a museum.
  • Bucky is the first T. rex to be identified with a furcula (also called a wishbone). This is very important because modern-day birds have wishbones. Does this mean that dinosaurs are distant relatives of birds?
  • Bucky also has a nearly complete set of gastralia and is only the third T. rex to be discovered with an ulna, or elbow bone.

The Life of a T. rex

Bucky lived in the late Cretaceous Period, around 65 million years ago. Tyrannosaurs like Bucky could be found in parts of western North America. Bucky lived at the top of the food chain, but life during the Cretaceous was tough and it wasn't easy to find food. Tyrannosaurs were carnivores, which means they ate meat instead of plants. Starvation, disease, and fights with potential mates and rivals were some of the bad things that could happen to a T. rex.

Although adult tyrannosaurs were one of the largest and most powerful of all predatory dinosaurs (about as heavy as an elephant, tall enough to look through a second story window and long enough to stretch out the width of a tennis court), some other dinosaurs, such as a large duckbill or Triceratops, may have been too big and powerful for a T. rex to kill by itself. Some scientists think tyrannosaurs worked together in families or groups to kill prey.
 
Bucky had a strong sense of smell, powerful legs that may have allowed it to move quickly, and forward-looking eyes which allowed it to quickly spot and focus on prey—characteristics that made it a ferocious hunter. (Some paleontologists believe tyrannosaurs were actually slow moving.) Bucky's lower jaw hinged like a door at the midpoint between its jawbone and chin so it could open its mouth wider to take bigger bites. Scientists think the T. rex moved its lower jaw backwards so its sharp lower teeth could tear through what it was eating while its upper teeth held the food in place. Fully grown tyrannosaurs were relatively lightweight for their size (around 6 tons—about as heavy as 3 cars) because their bones were hollow and they had large openings in their skulls.

Want to learn more? Be sure to meet all of the dinos in Dinosphere!

Meet the Didelphodon

The Jaw of a DidelphodonYou’ve seen the dinos in Dinosphere– but have you ever taken the time to really get to know them? Well now’s your chance! In the Meet the Dinos blog series, you learn the behind the scenes story on all of your favorite dinosaurs, from their lives in the cretaceous period to their discoveries!

Who is the Didelphodon?

Didelphodon is a mammal, not a dinosaur. Despite its small size, Didelphodon was among the largest mammals in the world 65 million years ago. But dinosaurs ruled the land and even the largest mammals were an easy target. In Dinosphere, you will see a fossilized Didephodon jaw bone and two models of a complete Didelphodon.

The discovery of the Didelphodon jaw is important because it is the first Didelphodon jaw containing teeth. The jaw will help scientists determine the size, position and number of its other teeth, and will serve as a useful comparison tool when studying other early mammals.

Barry Brown was searching for fossils in 2001 in Harding County, South Dakota, when he spotted a small area of eroded rock that was filled with "micro material" - tiny fossilized bones, teeth and claws from mammals, fish, amphibions, reptiles and dinosaurs. Included in the fossilized material was the Dinosphere Didelphodon jaw.

The Life of a Didelphodon

Didelphodon was a small creature that lived among the forests of the Late Cretaceous Period around 65 million years ago, along with T. rex, Triceratops and the duckbill dinosaurs. If you have ever seen an opossum, you know what Didelphodon might have looked like. Though no one has found anything more than a few pieces of a Didelphodon - fossilized teeth, jaw and skull fragments - scientists have speculated that it resembled today's opossum in shape and size. In fact, the name Didelphodon means "opossum tooth."
 
Didelphodon likely burrowed in the ground and slept during the day for protection. At night, it relied on its keen sense of smell and good vision to scavenge for insects, small reptiles, amphibians, other mammals, or dinosaur eggs. Its teeth were especially suited for crushing, so it could probably feast on hard-shell clams, snails or baby turtles. Like today's kangaroos and koalas, Didelphodon was a marsupial and probably carried its young in a pouch. Although marsupials are found today mostly in Australia and South America, Didelphodon fossils have been found only in North America.

Want to learn more? Be sure to meet all of the dinos in Dinosphere!

Three Lessons I Learned From an 11-year-old in China

Jackie school deskLast year I had the privilege of traveling to Quan Zhou, China to do research for the now open Take Me There:® China exhibit at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. It was my job to photo-document and interview the Wang family who is represented in the exhibit. I was only there three days, but I was completely immersed in their day-to-day life. This family was one of the kindest, most generous, most hardworking families I’ve ever met.

I grew especially fond of eleven-year-old Wang Yijie (Jackie). These are three lessons I learned from Jackie that I still carry with me today.

1. Eat Bitterness. 
This means that when hard things happen, you have to endure them in order to accomplish your long term goals. It’s a common saying in the Chinese culture, but to hear it come from an eleven-year-old is pretty special, in my opinion. When I was interviewing Jackie he told me this was a lesson he learned from his parents and grandparents and something he really admired about them. Any time I am struggling I think of this phrase.

2. You can communicate without speaking the same language.
While I did travel with a fantastic translator there were times when I sat with Jackie alone in the back seat of the car as we were traveling to our next destination. Jackie speaks some English, but my Mandarin-speaking skills are, well, non-existent to say the least. It was ok, though! We communicated with hand gestures and facial expressions and still managed to form a strong bond over those three days. Often when we sat down to a meal Jackie would watch my facial expression. If he thought I didn’t know how to eat a certain food he would get my attention and show me so I didn’t feel awkward. It’s not always about what you say, it’s your actions that can matter the most.

3. Challenge yourself.
One of Jackie’s favorite activities is chess. Why you ask? Because it’s complicated and it helps with your critical thinking and strategic planning (these words are coming from an eleven-year-old, remember!) I was so impressed when I heard this response to my interview question. When I think back on this it reminds me that I should challenge myself every day. If Jackie can do it, I can do it! 

What unexpected lessons have you learned from a child?