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Sponsorship Spotlight—Target Free Family Nights

TargetBy Lindsay Pavell, Corporate Partnership Manager.
What makes the first Thursday night of the month so special? ...Free admission to The Children’s Museum, of course! Since 2007, Target has been a major partner in providing monthly free admission nights for the community—leading Target Free Family Nights to become something of an Indianapolis tradition.
Thanks to Target’s support, on the first Thursday of each month the museum opens free of charge from 4–8 p.m. On this special night, families explore five floors of museum galleries and participate in activities and programs centered on a unique theme, which may tie in with a current exhibit or the time of year. In the past we've celebrated World Space Week with an “Out Of This World” Target Free Family Night, complete with a talk from Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence astronaut Dr. David Wolf!
Target celebrates the museum’s mission with a specific focus on providing free admission for underserved children and families. Because of Target Free Family Nights, we have new opportunities to create extraordinary learning experiences for families. At the museum we like to say that a day will last a lifetime—free nights make it possible for even more children to be inspired when they visit.
Be sure to stop by our next Target Free Family Night on Thursday, November 6, where we'll celebrate the Power of Children and National Adoption Day.  This event follows closely behind our annual Power of Children Awards,, which recognize youths who exemplify an extraordinary commitment to public service and social responsibility. On November’s Target Free Family Night your family will explore the lives of three extraordinary children: Ruby Bridges, Ryan White, and Anne Frank, and discover ways to give back to the community.
Did you know? We’re not the only museum that receives support from Target!  You can learn more about how Target is making a difference for kids nationwide at

The Intern Experience: StarPoint Campers and Museum Apprentices

Natalia groupToday's blog post is brought to you by Natalia Welch, a senior at Butler University focusing on Marketing. Natalia is a Family Programs intern working with youth in the StarPoint summer camp and teen volunteers in the Museum Apprentice Program


In the left corner on the first floor of the Museum lies Family Programs. It’s a beautiful space that comes to life throughout the school year with the Museum Preschool and during the summer with StarPoint, The Children’s Museum's summer camp. During my time as a Family Programs Intern, I've had the pleasure to work with StarPoint and the Museum Apprentice Program. 

The StarPoint campers arrive daily at 1 o’clock—with oodles of energy. I jump around helping out with each of the cabins named after iconic pieces in the museum. These iconic pieces include the Trains (after Ruben Wells), the Polar Bears (after Martimus), and the Racecars (after the Indy Car). Each cabin has been busy learning and exploring everything from dinosaurs to China this summer. I help bring each week’s theme home to family and friends through weekly newsletters that illustrate StarPoint’s week through pictures and brief write-ups.  It is greatly rewarding to be able to promote communication—and of course a weekly joke—between families with each newsletter.   

Another facet of The Museum I've been able to work with is the Museum Apprentice Program (MAP). The Museum Apprentice Program is the museum’s teen program whose members volunteer their time to create public events. The event this summer was entitled “The Warrior Challenge.” I've had the opportunity to design a map, sticker, and other visual displays for the challenge. On Saturday, July 19 the MAPs put all their hard work together for the event. It was truly uplifting to watch each family come together to defeat an obstacle course and succeed in a dress-up challenge (all Terra Cotta Warrior themed, of course). But watching the MAPs see their project come to life was even more exciting, as families laughed and limbo-ed their way to the end. The themes of the Museum Apprentice Program include fun, hard work, and bonding, and it shone through during the Warrior Challenge. 

Being able to interact with elementary and teen aged individuals has truly made this summer extraordinary. Watching their smiling faces as they learn Chinese characters or figure out the scoring system to their challenge has given me a positive attitude and perspective that I can proudly carry with me after my internship ends.   

Natlia starpoint

Natalia bubbles


Robots + Nano + Astronauts = One Extraordinary STEM Camp

This post is brought to you by Don Riefler, The Children’s Museum’s Science Programs Coordinator. Don is highly trained in building, exploring, and (safely) destroying things with science. He also has the coolest safety goggles money can buy.

Okay, folks, I have to admit it: I’m really excited for The Children’s Museum’s Curious Scientific Investigators STEM Camp coming up in a few weeks. Granted, I am biased because I’m the one that’ll be leading the campers through all sorts of awesome experiments and activities (and some of them are some of my favorites). But seriously, it’s going to be all kinds of fun.

Let’s back up a bit, though, just in case some of you out there aren’t familiar with STEM. STEM is simply an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Like the science of chemical reactions. Or nanotechnology. Or engineering your very own robots and learning to program their brains. And to those of you who say math is boring, I say “Pshaw.” Math is awesome. Especially when it’s ancient Chinese math. That you unearthed during an archaeological dig.

Yes, we’ll be doing all of those things and more during this year’s STEM Camp. And unlike pretty much every other summer camp in town (okay, definitely every other summer camp in town), this one happens at the biggest and best children’s museum in the world. What does that mean for our campers? Well, not only will you get to participate in all sorts of great science activities, but you’ll get to explore our extraordinary exhibits—and maybe even go behind the scenes! I’ve already scheduled special visits and programs for the campers, including a custom Planetarium show. You (yes you, the campers) will get to direct the show and I will merely be your puppet as you tell me where in the universe to fly to next. 

Other stuff you’ll be doing:
•    Meeting and working with Dr. David Wolf, former astronaut and The Children’s Museum’s Extraordinary-Scientist-in-Residence
•    Exploring items from the museum’s huge collection
•    Engineering new chemical compounds
•    Making a mock digestive tract to explore just how poop is made
•    Hanging out with probably the coolest guy in Indianapolis (that would be me)

So if you don’t sign up you’ll be missing some unbelievably great stuff. I’m personally assuring that STEM camp will be as fun as possible, because I love science and I want you to love science as much as I do. Sometimes folks think science is boring. Perish the thought! Science can be more fun than just about anything else out there, and it’s such a wonderful, useful, powerful way to look at and think about the world. It gives us insight into the entire universe, from the very tiny to the unbelievably huge, and we’ll be looking at those and everything in between for a whole week.

Just sign up for STEM Camp 2014, from June 23rd to June 27th, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Safety Tips To Keep Your Family Cycling On This Summer

With its days full of warm weather and sunshine, summer is the perfect time for your family members -- from young children to parents to grandparents, and everyone in between -- to get outside and ride bikes.

But before your family takes advantage of all the health and leisure benefits that biking affords, it’s important to learn the ins and outs of bicycle safety.

We’ve compiled safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration below to help keep you and your loved ones safe and active all summer long while cycling. Make safety a family learning experience.

  • Girls wearing helmets on bikesMake yourself visible. Wear reflective clothing and outfit your ride with bike lights or reflectors on the front and back.
  • Get road ready. Before embarking on a bike ride, be sure tires are properly inflated and brakes are functioning properly.
  • Check fit. Wear a properly fitting helmet and adjust the fit of the bicycle seat and handlebars.
  • Know the rules of the road (or trail or sidewalk). No matter where you ride, it’s important to pay attention to your surroundings at all times. Go with the flow of traffic and obey laws or regulations that apply to the street, trail or sidewalk you’re riding along.
  • Be alert! Be on the lookout for traffic in all variations -- cars, pedestrians, other cyclists and so forth. Remember to watch for people or vehicles turning, merging onto your path or stopping ahead of you. Pay attention to any obstacles on your path, like potholes, puddles and parked cars.
  • Remember! It's generally safer to bike in the street, children under 10 should ride their bikes on the  sidewalk.

For more info check out this great post on Tips for Biking with Kids.

With a little planning and effort, your family is sure to enjoy this summer cycling safely!

The Sweet Taste of Success: Museum Apprentice Program Updates

Over the past few weeks, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis Museum Apprentices have been hard at work creating their stands for Lemonade Day on Saturday, May 19th. To start this project, we divided them up into four groups and gave each group these challenges:

-Create a lemonade stand that is themed after an exhibit or icon in the museum.

-Create a unique recipe for your lemonade stand that will make it stand (ha, pun!) out from all the rest.

-Design an educational activity  that will enhance your stand and teach visitors about the icon or exhibit you are featuring.

-Meet with members of the Children's Museum Marketing Team to create a brand and really cool signs that will immediately cause lemonade cravings.

The challenges were set, the MAPs accepted, and they have been tirelessly creating lemonade stand gold for the big day.  Along the way, they sharpened their teambuilding skills, became experts of the lemonade culinary arts, and practiced their skills at creating fun and educational programming for children and families. They constructed their stands and spent hours in the test kitchen perfecting their lemonade recipes for the big day, and have arrived at the perfect lemon to sugar ratios. Millions of ideas were tossed around, and only the strong survived. What is left are four lemonade stands, four activities, and four recipes designed by the MAPs for the tastebuds and eager minds of our visitors.

I can't tell you all of the details, but I CAN tell you that you can expect to see some pirates, robots, dinosaurs, and explosions of color. Join us on Saturday, May 19th to buy lemonade to help support the Museum Apprentice Program and see what these amazing youth have been creating over the past few weeks. Learn more about the Museum Apprentice Program.

LEGO® Travel Adventure—This Week's WOW!

Spring is quickly approaching (can you believe the warm weather this week?!), and here at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, spring means Spring Break! This Spring Break we're especially excited about the LEGO® Travel Adventure exhibit that just opened.  The exhibit invites you to use one of the greatest building materials of all time—LEGO® bricks—as a vehicle for imagination. Where do you need to go? What does your vehicle need to do? You're not just along for the ride! You imagine the journey and the destination, and build your dream machine!

In This Week's WOW, Josh, Claire, and a special guest Nicole take part in a cool LEGO® challenge similar to what families will get to do at our LEGO® Late Night event on March 31. You pick the destination, determine what terrain you'll have to cross to get there, then build a vechicle to take you.

If you want to participate in a challenge like the one here, be sure to sign your family up for Spring Break LEGO® Late Night on March 31. If you're visiting from out of town this Spring Break, check out our hotel packages and get the most out of your family trip to Indianapolis.

LEGO® Travel Adventure is at the museum through July 22, 2012. Be sure to see it before it leaves!

March into Literacy at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis!

Book FairBy Ashley Zrosec, Family Programs Teacher

It’s National "March into Literacy" month!  At The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, we're celebrating with a series of activities and events to get YOU excited about reading!

We're kicking it all off at our Scholastic Book Fair opening today! We have books for the whole family.  The best part? Your purchase will earn points that allow us to purchase books for kids in our community. Last year we were able to provide more than 300 brand new books for kids to keep! This year, even your online purchases in the month of March will earn points, too!

In celebration of Literacy Month we've been compiling a list of our favorite books from when we were kids. Check out some of our favorite authors, titles, and book series:

Top 5 Authors

  • Dr. Seuss
  • Robert McCloskey
  • Shel Silverstein
  • Eric Carle
  • David A. Carter

Scholastic Book FairTop Book Series

  • The Mad Scientists’ Club
  • Harry Potter
  • Nancy Drew
  • Hardy Boys
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
  • Little House
  • Pinkerton

Top 10 Favorite Books

  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  • Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
  • Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
  • Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
  • The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper

Stay tuned, all month we'll be posting blogs about books that were influential in the lives of staff members here at the museum.

We’ll see you at the book fair where you can purchase new favorites of your own! And don’t forget...

"The more you read, the more you know, the more successful, you will grow!" - Dr. Seuss.


Digging for Dinosaurs - You will be WOWed.

One of the things that makes The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis the biggest and best in the world is its ability to extend learning beyond the walls of 3000 N. Meridian Street. In fact, every summer, museum staff and paleontologists escape the Dinosphere dome and travel all the way to the Badlands of South Dakota where they dig for real dinosaur bones! And the best part? You can do it too. That’s right, families, teachers and adults are all invited to register for single or multiple days of dino digging fun. And yes, we find stuff. Lots of stuff.


For example…

Last summer we found over 200 65 million year old specimen including Nano-tyranous teeth, femora from school bus sized Edmontosaurus annectens (aka Duckbill Dinosaur), ribs, mandible pieces and so much more! 


Check out This Week’s WOW to see what a day at the dig site looks like and learn the answer to the question Just what happens to all those fossils once they’ve been discovered and can I use mine as a paper weight?



To learn more or to register for this summer’s dig, click here.