Connect With Us

Guest Blogger

The Gorgosaurus Gets the Royal Treatment

Gorgosaurus Phil quoteBy Dallas Evans, Lead Curator of Natural Science and Paleontology

The museum’s large predatory dinosaur Gorgosaurus will make its first appearance in Europe at The Summer Science Exhibition of the Royal Society in London. 

Among scientists, that’s a pretty big deal.

The Royal Society has played a role in some of the most important discoveries in the history of science. It was first created in the 1600s and is the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Its membership has included famous names like Newton, Owen, Plot, Foucault, Planck, Einstein, Schrodinger, and Hawking.

This puts our Gorgosaurus in some great company.

The Summer Science Exhibition was created as a way to highlight some of the most exciting science and technology developments in the UK. Some of that technology is being utilized to take a closer look at prehistoric life.    

A cast of the Gorgosaurus will become the centerpiece for an exhibit entitled X-Appeal showing the work of Dr. Phil Manning and his colleagues at the University of Manchester. Phil and his fellow researchers use state of the art imaging techniques to look at “pathologies” or healed injuries that are evident in the fossil bones.  
On exhibit will be some of those real bone pathologies of the Gorgosaurus on loan from The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.    

In the Royal Society exhibit and in his blog Dinosaur CSI, Phil  looks at how researchers “help unlock the story of how this dinosaur accumulated so many healed injuries.”

The Children’s Museum values special collaborations—like this one with the University of Manchester—that provide great opportunities to engage ever-broader audiences and to promote scientific research. 

Meet the Gorgosaur

Gorgosaurus at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

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, learn the story behind all of your favorite dinosaurs, from their lives in the Cretaceous period to their discoveries!

One Interesting Gorgosaur
We can tell by the injuries found on The Children's Museum's Gorgosaur that she lived a very rough life. Her injuries included broken bones, bad teeth, and a brain tumor! The Gorgosaur's brain tumor may be the first one ever discovered in a dinosaur. It may have contributed to the Gorgosaur's other injuries, and may even have caused her death. Almost all the fossilized teeth of the Gorgosaur are intact and attached to her jaw, but she had a bad infection in her mouth that caused her to lose some teeth. Because of all her injuries, scientists believe this Gorgosaur walked with pain and most likely had help from others in her pack to survive.
The Gorgosaur's injured bones include:

  • A broken fibula. Instead of being strong and straight, this twisted and bumpy lower leg bone healed poorly.
  • Crushed caudal vertebrae. These tail bones began to grow together as they were healing.
  • A broken femur. This leg bone was so badly injured that a section of the bone tore away from the rest.
  • Broken gastralia. These belly ribs helped protect the gorgosaur's vital organs. Some of the ribs healed.
  • Broken scapula. This gorgosaur had a shattered scapula, or shoulder blade. A huge growth formed around the bone to stabilize it as it healed.
There are several things about this Gorgosaur which make scientists think this may be a new species of dinosaur previously unknown to science. These include a manus claw, a sharp, curved claw similar to that of a T. rex; a furcula which leads some scientists to suggest that dinosaurs may be related to birds; and a rugose (bumpy) lacrimal. Preparators working on the Gorgosaur skull also found delicate structures in her nose. These structures, which are unusually well preserved, are called vestibular bulae. They may help scientists learn more about the anatomy of dinosaurs.

Gorgosaurs vs. Tyrannosaurus

Gorgosaurus means "fearsome lizard." Gorgosaurus lived in the Late Cretaceous Period, about 70 to 80 million years ago in the western United States. Gorgosaurus looks like its cousin T. rex. The two have a lot in common. Both were fierce carnivores, which means they ate meat instead of plants, with dozens of sharp teeth designed for biting and swallowing prey. Both were bipeds, which means they walked on two legs, and had small, muscular arms and long tails that they used to balance themselves. They both had eyes on the front of their heads which helped them look in the distance for prey, and they had a strong sense of smell, which also helped them find prey.
Gorgosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex weren't exactly alike, however. Gorgosaurus lived several million years before T. rex, had a bony plate over its eyes and was slightly smaller than T. rex. An adult Gorgosaur was approximately 25 feet long and 10 feet tall at the hip. Gorgosaurs had strong, powerful legs, which helped them to run more than 20 miles per hour when they were chasing prey. They had three-toed feet with sharp claws. A Gorgosaur had a strong, muscular neck to support its huge head and jaws. It had more than 60 teeth 4 to 5 inches long. The teeth were serrated, which means they had notched edges like a steak knife. The teeth were not well suited for chewing, so the Gorgosaur may have swallowed large chunks of flesh whole.
The Gorgosaur's Discovery
What do you do on your summer vacation? The Linsters—Cliff, Sandy, and their seven children—are a family of amateur paleontologists who hunted dinosaurs on their summer vacations. They found the Gorgosaur in 1997 in Teton County, Montana. Finding a Gorgosaur is more rare than finding a T. rex. There have been only 20 Gorgosaurs ever found and this one is the most complete.
The body of this Gorgosaur is about 75 percent complete and her skull is about 90 percent complete. 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. A Maiasaura and a Bambiraptor were found with the Gorgosaur.

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

A local collector shares his lifelong love of Hot Wheels

Nicklin Hot WheelsToday's post is by guest blogger Tom Nicklin, a local Hot Wheels® collector and enthusiast, and a Children's Museum of Indianapolis member. Tom's early introduction to Hot Wheels has turned into a serious hobby...

My interest in Hot Wheels started on the floor with my brother and me pushing cars around the house in long lines making engine sounds.  We would spend hours at a time playing with them, imagining driving real cars.  I played with them off and on throughout my youth but I eventually left them for plastic model kits, bikes and video games and eventually my own car. 

I discovered them again in 1997 when I happened to walk down the toy aisle at a department store and noticed the shape & scale of a Hot Wheels car—a Ferrari.  I started taking notice of other HW designs I hadn't seen before and it started clicking with me again.  I think I developed my appreciation for designs that have form following function when I was building scale model kits- ships, airplanes and cars. 

To me, Hot Wheels cars capture the essence of freedom and speed that our real cars give us and they can put you in a state of mind that was developed early on in life. 

The Hot Wheels collecting hobby can be approached in many ways, which shows when you get a group of collectors together.  No one really does it  the same way.  Some try to collect all of the different castings (body style), while others collect a particular type of car and others just a certain color.  Or it can be any combination of those and other interests.  Pink cars from the older generation Hot Wheels have become some of the most sought after and valuable cars with values surpassing $2,000 for a single car!  So far, the record highest price paid for a Hot Wheel is over $70,000- yes, the price of a house!  Pristine examples of older Hot Wheels in various colors regularly trade for $100-$500 each, so check your closets and attics!  

Redline collectionFor me, I don't follow any particular collecting pattern, just what I find appealing.  I've been focusing my collecting for the past 10 years on the older "Redline" era Hot Wheels.  They hold the most interest (and value) for me. I have about 3,000 cars in my collection with about 180 being redlines. They're called redlines because of the red stripe that Mattel put on the side of the black wheeIs. They made cars with redlines from their first year, 1968, to 1977. They've begun putting red stripes on some models again as a tribute to the older era. 

There are many great events around the region and around the country tailored to collectors for buying, selling and just communicating with each other.  The thing I enjoy most about collecting is meeting other people in the hobby that share the same interests. Friendships are the best byproduct the hobby has. Finding a pristine car I've long looked for at a bargain is fun too!

Hot Wheel collecting can even be a form of investment if you take time to study market value trends and you're patient in buying and selling.  Some people even use the hobby as a form of income and have dedicated websites for buying and selling them, but enjoy I them too much to let a good one go!

Q&A with Hot Wheels Collectors Pete & Simon Chen

As families and children of all ages continue to race in to see the Hot Wheels For Real™ exhibit, we reached out to local Hot Wheels® collectors from the Indy Hot Wheels Club to learn what they find so special about Hot Wheels. In this post, Peter Chen writes about his shared love for collecting Hot Wheels with his son, Simon.

Q: How long have you been collecting?

A: We attended the Hot Wheels 40th Anniversary Road Tour at the Indy MotorSpeedway in 2008, and have been hooked on Hot Wheels ever since!
Q: What is the most prized piece in your collection?

A: The 40th Anniversary Otto from the Indy 40th Anniversary Road Tour—it's my son's first Hot Wheels!
Q: Why is your collection unique?

A: We collect cars that have family meaning— we have a collection of state cars that represent all of the places my family has visited. We also have a collection of Honda cars because we drive a Honda.

Q: Why do you like collecting?

A: We like collecting because it's something we do together, as a family.  Whether it's attending a special Hot Wheels event or an Indy Hot Wheels Club meeting, or finding a new car to add to our collection, the joy we get from collecting creates family memories.

40th AnniversaryStates

What It's Like to be a Hot Wheels Track Designer

Stacy O'Connor acted as an advisor for the Hot Wheels For Real™ exhibit at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis May 26, 2012–Jan. 27, 2013. Read on to hear about how she got started in the business and her foundation for inspiration.

Stacy O’Connor, Track Designer in Mattel’s Hot Wheels division

Product design (and toy invention, in general) is not just a job to me—it’s who I am. My dad was an at-home inventor who was always tearing stuff apart and combining it in new ways. I grew up in an environment where if it didn’t exist in a store, it didn’t matter—you just made it yourself. One of my favorite toys growing up was a cardboard refrigerator box.  Sometimes my dad would come home from work with one in the back of his work truck and it would feel like Christmas to me. I would build houses, forts and rocket ships. My earliest Hot Wheels memory is when I was 7 years old. I had all brothers. I was surrounded by boys. I remember being fascinated by these cars that rolled really fast and went through loops.  After high school, I took a job at Tomy Toys where I discovered the design department where they researched and developed new ideas for toys. I couldn’t believe you could do that for a living!

Now I lead a team of designers that build Hot Wheels track sets at Mattel, like Wall Tracks, and other track sets you see at the store. My favorite product I’ve worked on while at Hot Wheels is the Trick Tracks track system because it launches cars through a series of dynamic stunts in a chain-reaction manner and all the stunts can be rearranged in any pattern you want to try. I think these are very creative track sets.

Hot Wheels Track DesignerThe foundations for my inspiration are my ongoing fascination with how things work and watching science fiction movies with my family on Sunday afternoons when I was little.  My dad loved science fiction and I guess I still do.  These two childhood experiences helped me develop the ability to imagine things that did not exist yet and knowing how things worked helped me make the things I was imagining.  I spent a lot of time, as a child, daydreaming and imagining a future that did not exist yet.  

The kids of today are the future.  I think they need more time to daydream and create the stories that will help to create a better tomorrow. When I was 7 years old I didn’t have endless choices of entertainment on cable, computers or video games. We would make up our own stories and games.  One of the goals I have when I design toys is to make sure our toys allow kids to use their imaginations and to create their own stories.  

If you want to follow in my footsteps and be a conceptual designer or inventor when you grow up, take time to imagine a future that doesn’t exist yet and learn how to make your ideas come to life. This could mean building, drawing or writing about your idea.  Being creative is all about taking action! School is a great place to learn the skills you’ll need to be a designer or inventor.  Being creative is also about believing in your ideas and keeping that passion going!

Hot Wheels Track Designer

Hot Wheels Track Designer

Hot Wheels Track Designer

Hot Wheels Track Designer

How We Chose 100 Toys That Define Childhood

By: Andrea Hughes, Curator, American Collection

I was excited to begin working on a list of 100 Toys that define childhood over the past 100 years.  At first, it was easy—just rattling off the names of some of my own favorite toys didn’t take very long.  There were my baby dolls, blocks, Clue game, red wagon, Barbies, Dressy Bessy.   Wait…  Dressy Bessy?  Yes, well, she was terribly important to me!  But that was when it started to get more difficult, because it wasn’t just about what one person remembers or liked.  In thinking over last 100 years, there are just so many wonderful toys to choose from!  While we tried to choose things we thought most people will remember, there was just no way to satisfy everyone or to include everything.  Unfortunately for Bessy, she didn’t make the cut. 

We chose to make this list something that would inspire storytelling and intergenerational sharing.  It isn’t meant to be a definitive list.  In other words, it isn’t meant to be a list of what we think are the absolute most important toys ever.  It is a list of 100 things from our collection that represent a wide variety of childhood experiences.  Some of them are among the most important toys of the past century—it is hard to deny the impact that Barbie or Star Wars toys had on the toy industry.  Some things were left off the list for the simple reason that we don’t have them in the collection.  Not yet, anyway! 

We hope you will start thinking about and sharing with family and friends what you most enjoyed playing with as a child.  Is there something you wish was on the list?  Is there something popular now you think we should put in our collection one day?  Let us know in the weeks ahead, as we celebrate not only these 100 toys, but all the memories of our childhood and the joy of play!

Like Hot Wheels®? Join the club!


Nobody's a bigger fan of Hot Wheels® than our local Indy Hot Wheels collectors! We've been working with the Indy Hot Wheel's Club for special events surrounding the Hot Wheels For Real, and now some of these collectors have written guest blogs about their collections. Today we're hearing from Dave Koch, who has a collection of over 20,000 Hot Wheels cars!

Dave Koch, Hot Wheels collector

I started collecting all types of die-casts that I picked up at garage sales before deciding to collect Hot Wheels in 1995. In January of 2004 I started the Indy Hot Wheels Club to bring together others that share my love for the hobby.  I estimate that I now have more than 20,000 1/64 scale Hot Wheels in my collection!

The club has different levels of collectors, from what I call the "serious collector" that collects anything Hot Wheels to the person that collects a favorite car.  Some collectors get started in the hobby by finding Hot Wheels they played with when they were a kid. Others may start collecting their dream car.  Whatever the reason, collecting Hot Wheels is a hobby for kids age 5 to 105.

The Indy Hot Wheels Club meets every third Saturday of each month and there are no dues.  There are regular vendors that attend the meetings for sale and trade.  If you're interested in being a vendor at our meetings or are interested in joining, contact me at 317-509-0327.

Dave Koch Hot Wheels collection

Dave Koch Hot Wheels collection

Dave Koch Hot Wheels collection

Dave Koch Hot Wheels collection

Dave Koch Hot Wheels collection

Dave Koch Hot Wheels collection

Dave Koch Hot Wheels collection

Hot Wheels Chief Designer Shares His Inspiration

Mattel Track Designer Alton Takeyasu helped design the track layouts for the Hot Wheels For Real™ exhibit at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis May 26, 2012–Jan. 27, 2013. Read on to find out how Alton finds inspiration, and hear his advice on how you can follow in his footsteps.

By Alton Takeyasu, Chief Designer in Mattel’s Hot Wheels division

Growing up, I lived on a 40-acre flower farm in California, so we often had to make our own fun. I drew cars on paper and then folded them into car models for friends. I still remember the first Hot Wheels car my mom got me—a gold Deora. My sister was really into cars, too, and we used to run track from one end of the house to the other, clamping it to beams, and ending it in the kitchen right in our mom’s way.

Today I’m a chief designer in Mattel’s Hot Wheels division, working on special cars – like one that’s a bottle opener on wheels!

Hot Wheels Track DesignerPart of my job is to find ways to expand the Hot Wheels brand into all parts of life. For example, I work with Team Hot Wheels, a group of professional drivers in life-size Hot Wheels car who do amazing stunts, like the big jump at the Indianapolis 500 last year. I also helped design an innovative iPad app that works with a Hot Wheels car. Every day is something new. It’s unpredictable, which is what makes it fun.

Inspiration is all around. I find mine on the Internet, in movies, in personal hobbies like building RC models, in animals, flavors, color, and personal experience. When you’re looking for inspiration, it’s important to stick with something people can relate to, and something that causes a reaction in people. For example, if you’re looking at a series of different colors of orange, think, “which orange looks good to eat?” Pick that one.

If you’re interested in a career like mine, you have to be interested in how stuff works. I used to unscrew stuff and take it apart. Ask yourself, “why is it this way?” and “could this be done better?” Don’t just accept things the way they are; look at every perspective and view point.


Explore the Rooftop Garden

By Becky Wolfe, Science Programmer

Bright yellow and purple flowers. Lush green vegetation. Sounds like you are on the roof!  Wait. The roof? At The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, we have the Schaefer Rooftop garden, visible from the Sunburst Window. This beautiful garden is one of the ways the museum is trying to be greener and more sustainable. By adding this garden, we are helping with water conservation efforts.

When water falls on this garden or enters the garden from gutters on the roof, it is absorbed by the soil, which is a mixture of clay and plant food. We have to use a special mixture so the garden doesn’t become too heavy for the roof. Plants in the garden use the water and will even release this back into air.  Water that is not used by the plants, particularly if we have a huge rainstorm is filtered by the plants and soil.

So why would the museum want to capture this water? Why don’t we just it run into the sewers? In Indianapolis, all of the rain water that enters our sewer system is sent to the treatment plant. When we have a lot of rain, this puts a lot of stress and strain on the treatment facilities. By sending some of the rain water to our garden, we are helping to filter water and also lowering the burden on our treatment facilities.  We also provide a beautiful garden for visitors to enjoy!

In front of the Welcome Center, the museum has also installed a rain garden. The rain garden provides the same benefit to our environment.  While rooftop gardens can be difficult to install at home, a rain garden can be planted in your yard. Look for areas where water naturally collects in your yard or choose a place near your downspouts for your garden.  Send the water from your gutters into your garden to filter and conserve water. Native plants work well in rain gardens and there are many local resources to help install rain gardens. A quick internet search will connect you with experts!

Next time you are at the museum, stop by the Sunburst window, located on Level 2 to see the museum’s beautiful rooftop garden!

How to Clone a Potato

By John McCollum, Biotechnology Learning Center Supervisor

This is a great at-home science activity for your kids! Seeds often use the genetic material from two parent plants to grow into a plant with a new mix of traits different from the parent plants. Since farmers want their crops to consistently have the same types of traits (such as large size, good taste, fast growth, etc.) they try to grow certain crops like potatoes without using seeds. Instead, plants like potatoes are reproduced using a process called cloning.

When planting potatoes, you will cut a fully grown potato into pieces and use those little pieces to start your new plants. In cloning, there is only one parent plant and the genetic material stays the same, so the offspring produce the same traits as the parent. 

Be sure to prepare your potatoes the day before you want to plant them, as you need to have the seedlings dry overnight. Any potatoes could be used, but special “seed potatoes” are preferable to grocery store-bought eating potatoes if you actually want to grow plants for food. Store-bought potatoes will be more likely to have problems with disease.


Paring knife
Mulch and/or potting soil


  • Take a potato and locate the "eyes." Use the knife to cut the potato into 1-inch cubes, each cube having one eye.
  • Let the potato cubes dry overnight.
  • Put the cubes on top of well-drained soil, 16 to 24 inches apart, in a sunny location.
  • Cover the cubes with 6 inches of mulch, and water them until the mulch is wet.

If you would rather start your clones indoors, it is acceptable to plant each potato cube into its own pot with potting soil. Once you see a sprout in your pot, you’ll want to transfer it to a garden area outdoors as soon as weather permits. A typical growing season starts in the early spring with some people choosing to plant as late as mid-June.

You can do even more programs like this in the Biotechnology Learning Center at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis!

Note: Adapted from content by Andrea Helaine
Read more: How to Clone Potatoes |


The Mad Scientists Club

JohnAs part of Literacy Month, we asked Children's Museum of Indianapolis staff to share their favorite or most influential book from childhood. Today, we talked to John McCollum, Biotechnology Learning Center Supervisor.

Don't forget to keep shopping at the online Scholastic Book Fair throughout March. Each book purchased earns us points that will go toward buying new books for the kid's in our community. Last year we were able to provide more than 300 new books!


By John McCollum, Biotechnology Learning Center Supervisor

I was an avid reader as a child. My love of science was sparked by  the book The Mad Scientists’ Club  written by Bertrand R. Brinley. My father passed his own childhood copy on to me when I was in middle school, and it quickly became one of my most cherished books. The Mad Scientists’ Club strengthened my desire to study science almost more than any other fiction book I read as a child, and the wacky science adventure tales it contains still inspire me to share my excitement about science with others today. Check out The Mad Scientists’ Club website at

What passions are being inspired by your reading collection?

A Web of Favorites

Book BlogAs part of Literacy Month, we asked Children's Museum of Indianapolis staff to share their favorite or most influential book from childhood. Today, we talked to Joan Emmert, manager of InfoZone Brand Library here at the museum.

Don't forget to keep shopping at the online Scholastic Book Fair throughout March. Each book purchased earns us points that will go toward buying new books for the kid's in our community. Last year we were able to provide more than 300 new books!

By Joan Emmert, Manager of Info Zone Branch Library

As a young child I could always be found in the mystery section of our local library.  I would check out stacks of Nancy Drew and the Boxcar Children series.  I loved being outdoors and my books would go with me so that I could read and then act out all the scenes from the books.  Part of being outside meant that I spent time with animals, spiders, and worms!  When I was given a copy of Charlotte’s Web it immediately became my all-time favorite book.  Although I’ve added several more favorites to my collection of books, I still like to recommend Charlotte’s Web to young readers.

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.


The Science of Flight Soars to the Museum!

Flight AdventuresOn February 25, the museum is launching (pun intended) a new experience called Curious Scientific Investigators: Flight Adventures. It’s not an exhibit, but more a series of experiences, programs, and a new multimedia show that teach children and families about flight. We’ve been thrilled to work with some great partners on this project including The Academy of Model Aeronautics that, believe or not, lives right down the road in Muncie, IN. When it comes to model aircraft, these are your guys and gals! This week’s guest blogger is Bill Pritchett from the AMA to tell you more about their organization and how they’re helping with this project.

Flight AdventuresBy Bill Pritchett, Director of Education at the Academy of Model Aeronautics

Before planes and space shuttles, there was aeromodeling, or the making of model aircrafts to test ideas and principles of flight. All the way back in the 1800s the father of the Wright brothers gave them a rubber-powered model aircraft, and less than 100 years later man walked on the moon! Aeromodeling is a truly significant component of actual flight. Plus, it provides learning, excitement and, most importantly, fun for its many followers.

We’re not just talking about paper airplanes here! Aeromodeling includes everything from Free Flight (FF) models, such as Hand Launched Gliders or Catapult Launched Gliders (now that sounds cool!), and also includes any powered aircraft (rubber band, electric, or gas) and radio-controlled flight, and the AMA has activities for all of these! (Check out this video to see a professional remote control pilot and AMA member flying his plane at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis!)

AMA has been a proud participant in a significant NASA grant with The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.  CSI: Flight Adventures  has developed some amazing opportunities for kids to be introduced to aeromodeling, the educational aspects of model aviation, and having fun while they learn.  

This program promotes and supports aviation as an educational tool to educators and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) qualities of flight. Flight Adventures is just the beginning. The partnership between the museum, NASA and AMA also begins a collective journey to a more comprehensive understanding of building and flying all types of model aircraft for America’s youth.

If your kids are interested in getting started with the AMA, visit our website!

The Life and Challenges of a Museum Actor

Matt Anderson, Children's Museum of Indianapolis actor, gives you a first hand account of how our extraordinary actors bring the museum experience to life for you and your family. This is the first in a series of posts from Matt. You might remember Matt from his exceptional Jelly Belly Art blog post last year!

Captain ExtraordinaryIn my bright blue outfit and neon green cape, guests instantly recognize me as a superhero.Of course, because Captain Extraordinary is unique to our museum, they don’t necessarily know which superhero I am. I often get: “Green Lantern!” or “Superman!” (or one time, inexplicably: “Wonder Woman!”). Either way, the kids are excited. We talk about dinosaurs and Transformers and how people can use porcupine quills to make art… but now it’s 10:30 am, and I must bid my friends farewell. I head to the dressing room and replace the outfit with an understated gray suit, a vest, and a tie. I whiten my temples and paint spirit gum on my lip to affix a mustache. Finally, I make my way to The Power of Children exhibition where, as Anne Frank’s father, I give a performance about the holocaust.

This is just my average day as an actor at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

For me, the fact that this is just an “average day” is precisely why I love the job so much. It’s a ridiculous understatement, but performing as Captain Extraordinary is rather different from performing as Otto Frank. And performing as Otto Frank is rather different from – well, whatever I’ll be performing next. Yet that’s exactly what makes the job so great: the incredible and almost staggering variety of programs we do here.

As much as I do love it, I had no idea growing up that this is what I’d be doing for a living. While I’d been interested in acting for much of my life—from making videos with friends in middle school to obtaining a theatre major in college—I never thought I’d be able to do anything with it for a career. Following graduation, I found work at the fantastical City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri and later at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’ve always enjoyed working with children and families so these jobs, though not traditionally in the theatre, felt well suited to me. It wasn’t until moving to Indianapolis in 2008 and seeing a listing for ACTOR on their children’s museum’s website that I realized that what I’d assumed were two entirely separate career tracks could actually merge.

Otto FrankMy case is not an isolated one. There are nine full-time actors here at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and most have similar stories — a theatrical interest nurtured in high school, pursued into undergraduate studies, but with post-graduate jobs suddenly veering far from that path: brokerage assistant, coffee-shop barista, ballroom dance choreographer. Why weren’t we all actively pursuing careers in theatre, when it was clearly something we all loved?

Unfortunately, work in that discipline can have something of a stigma around it—being an actor means being either absurdly rich or famous in Hollywood, or a starving artist on the streets. It’s easy to see those extremes and not realize that there is a theatrical middle ground, such as in museums, especially if that type of specialized field is not yet in the public consciousness. Perhaps in the years to come, museum theatre will become a more mainstream profession. As it stands, my coming across this job may very well have been a fluke… and as such, I feel extremely lucky to have found it, and extremely lucky to once again be doing what I love.

To be continued...

The Keeper of the Frogs

Hello all you frog fans!  My name is Aaron Klugh, and I am currently the frog keeper with the exhibit, Frogs—A Chorus of Colors.  It's certainly never boring working with these critters!  Like all animals, they require daily upkeep.  Because they drink and breathe through their skin, they must always have clean water and a clean enclosure.  Believe it or not,  some of the frogs are real characters!  For instance, one of the Waxy Monkey Frogs will follow you with his eyes when you walk passed.  We call that one, Creeper.  There is also a giant African bullfrog named, Jabba. 

Frogs: A Chorus of ColorsI have always had a passion for animals.  My father was a high school biology teacher and I always had reptiles and amphibians as pets, as well as a dog.  I went to school at a college in Florida called, Santa Fe College, and they have a Zoo Animal Technology program where you are taught to become a zookeeper.  They even have an AZA accredited zoo on the campus where I did my training. I have been traveling with the frog exhibit for six months of the year;  first in Denver, then New York City, and now Indianapolis!  Indy, is a beautiful city.

Everyone always asks me what my favorite frog is.  It's a tough decision! They all have unique characteristics. For example, the Long-nosed Horned Frog is perfectly camouflaged to resemble a dead leaf on the ground, while the Chinese Gliding Frog is speckled to resemble the spotted leaves on which it sits.  However one of the most impressive frogs to me, are the Poison Dart Frogs. The Golden Dart Frog is the most poisonous animal on Earth!  Dart Frogs get their toxins from insects they eat, such as ants and beetles.  The insects acquire their toxins from certain rainforest plants they eat.  The toxins go right down the food chain and into the frog.  Certain chemicals in the frog magnify the toxins making them deadly poisonous to any potential predator.  In captivity, the frogs are fed fruit flies, and they lose their toxicity.

Amphibians are the foundations of our ecosystems and it is important to conserve these delicate species.  Learn more about these cool critters in Frogs—A Chrous of Colors here at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis through January 2, 2012.

Coming to terms with the frog that left me

Today's guest blogger is Daniel Incandela. Daniel lives a few blocks from the The Children’s Museum. He has no frogs, but does blog from time to time on his own site:


As a young boy I moved a lot. I experienced urban environments and the countryside. I loved both, but only one of those settings had frogs. As a 9 year old riding around on a bike, running through fields and jumping over creeks – there was nothing better than catching a frog.

One time I caught one and brought it home with me. I built a dwelling for it in my back garden – using rocks as walls, I included a tiny little pond, manicured lawn, amphibian treats and other creature comforts (I don’t quite remember it all). I checked him into his compound and he seemed quite happy with the new digs. I wished him pleasant dreams and went in for the night.

The next day I awoke with excitement and rushed out to check on him. That untrustworthy, ungrateful, yet adorable frog had jumped over the rocks and high tailed it out of there. My dreams were crushed.

Fast forward 30 years and I found myself at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis this past weekend with my family. The memories from yesteryear crept in. Why did that frog leave me? What did I do wrong? Was the mini pond too small? The betrayal. What could have been! And other related sane thoughts for a middle aged man.

I decided to use this visit to Frogs: A Chorus of Colors as my opportunity to get past this emotional issue of mine.

Blow DartI never follow paths, instructions or people in exhibitions. So I set off, leaving my family in the dust. I immediately encountered a display case about blow darts. Not what I expected, but as someone that holds a degree in Anthropology – cool. Hunters in Ecuador use poison tipped darts (from a frog) to capture prey. What kid or middle-aged man doesn’t think that’s cool? A bonus for point for frogs for offering poison, hanging out with the Ashuara Jivaro culture and hopping it old school in Ecuador.

Chinese Glider FrogThen I wandered looking for my favorite frog. That was easy. I picked one that didn’t move (abandonment issues). Despite its name - Chinese Gliding Frog, this gorgeous jade-like frog seemed content to let me observe and take a photo. Maybe I should have grown up in Asia instead? Another point for frogs all over the world. And for this green little monster for being so patient and still with me.


Frogger. A game I played as a kid (in fact video games practically raised me). It brought back so many wonderful memories of being young and playing video games. 
Later in life, I watched with my jaw agape as Seinfeld’s George Costanza tried to navigate his Frogger Arcade machine across a busy street to preserve his high score.  As George said:  “Kramer, listen to me. I'm never gonna have a child. If I lose this Frogger high score, that's it for me.” That’s all I needed to hear. Now the coolness of Frogs began to sink in.
I can only assume that my vanishing frog was ultimately found by a video game designer at Konami. I mean, that’s has to be what happened. My frog was the inspiration for Frogger. Talk about a great dinner party story.

That’s all I needed. Closure.

Since my visit to the museum, I’ve thought about Frogs in a brand new light.

They’re everywhere! Frogs falling from the sky, Warts, Frog Legs, Egyptian Mythology, Kermit, Chocolate one’s in Harry Potter, Science Class, and I’m sure we’ve all read the Ancient Greek comedy The Frogs by Aristophanes (just nod).

Embrace the frog. Find your favorite at The Children’s Museum. Look for frogs in popular culture. And if you happen to catch one, don’t be surprised if it leaves for bigger and better things. After all, it is a frog – they’re ambitious little hip hoppers.

(If you are thinking about owning a pet frog, be sure to read Cathy Hamaker's post, "So you think you want a pet frog?" first!)

My Little Fairy

Today's guest blog is by Jaclyn Falkenstein, the Public Relations Coordinator for The Children’s Museum. In her other job, she is Mommy to two girls, ages 18 months and three years.

Barbie The Fashion ExperienceAs I was reading the copy for one of our upcoming museum programs the other day (BarbieTM The Fairy Fashion Experience) it reminded me of one on my family’s favorite stories about my oldest daughter. As a typical three-year-old, one of my daughter’s very favorite activities is playing dress-up. We constantly find ourselves living with a pretend princess, mermaid or fairy. This love of dress up was discovered by my aunt just before the holidays. Naturally, she knew the perfect gift to give my daughter – a frilly green tutu and purple iridescent fairy wings. My daughter opened this gift with delight and immediately requested to put on both items. She wore her fairy outfit with pride for the rest of that day and as often as we would allow it in the days following.

One evening, as my daughter was clad in her usual outfit of green tutu and fairy wings, I asked her to go put on her pajamas so we could brush her teeth for bed. A short while later she emerged from her bedroom dressed in her favorite pajamas – zip up, one piece, footy jammies. She had even managed to zip them up herself, but with a peculiar bump around the middle. It took me a moment to realize that she had never taken off the green tutu and had managed to jam the entire thing inside the pajamas so she could actually wear it to bed!

My little fairy is one funny girl and even now, months later, she still loves wearing her green tutu and fairy wings. If we would only let her wear them everywhere she goes she would – even to the museum!

Don't miss the final Barbie® Late Night! Registration closes at noon on July 29th.  Join us for an evening of fashion fun. Work with a real Mattel designer and local designers to create fairy wings and see a big-screen viewing of the latest Barbie® movie, Barbie™: A Fairy Secret. Register now!

Make a Difference. Become a Volunteer at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Adult Volunteer in the Paleo LabToday's guest post is by Debbie Young, Director of Volunteer Services at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

According to the American Association of Museums publication of “Fast Facts: Here Are 12 Facts About U.S. Museums” fact # 4: “Every week, Americans donate 1 million hours of their time to museums, with a total annual value of more than $1 billion.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ 540 volunteers in 2010 contributed 72,301 hours with a contributed value of $1,544,439.

Thirty Museum Apprentices, ages 13-18, the museum women’s Guild and Board of Trustees, Corporate partners, families, and 60 university interns all shared their time and talent to establish these amazing numbers.

The Children's Museum Adult VolunteersAs the world’s biggest and best, this museum is the place to volunteer. With volunteer opportunities in almost every area of the museum, and some behind the scenes, it is one of the best places to contribute your time to make a difference in the lives of others.

What are you waiting for? If you are over 18 years of age and would like to start the process to potentially become a museum volunteer, complete an Adult Volunteer application!

We look forward to hearing from you but don’t wait too long!

A Dream Job Making World Famous Toys for Children

Cassandra KroskrityToday's guest blogger is Cassandra Kroskrity, Mattel's Director of 3-D design, who will be our guest of honor at our final Barbie late-night event on July 29. Cassandra, an Indiana native now rooted in California, has the career most children dream about. She brings Barbie® and other famous Mattel toys to life everyday in her role at Mattel, Inc. Kroskrity leads the teams responsible for Sculpting, Face Design, Hair Design, Fashion Development, and Prototype Model Making.  In short:  She builds toys!  During her time at Mattel, Kroskrity has worked on many of the company’s famous brands including Barbie®, Hot Wheels®, Monster High™ and Polly Pocket™. 

I could not be more honored to write this today. As I sit here, I have an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the moment. I have a dream job making some of the world’s most famous toys for children all over the world, but thanks to my favorite celebrity client, Barbie, and the wonderful people I have met because of her, I’ve been asked to contribute in a small way to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

Growing up in southern Indiana, this museum has touched my life in many ways.  My mother grew up just around the corner and visited regularly after school in the 1950s.  As a result of her love for the museum, special occasions in our lives often meant a stimulating visit for me and my younger brother. I have amazingly vivid memories of the vintage doll and toy displays, the Ruben Wells steam locomotive (hearing the whistle on a recent visit took me back to being eight years old again!) and running up the ramps, begging Mom to hurry so we could get to the next exciting display. Now, a mother of two very inquisitive young boys, I take such pleasure in sharing the many treasures of today’s museum with them. 

While the Barbie: The Fashion Experience exhibit was in the planning stages in 2009, I had the great fortune to meet our museum partners during a tour of the Mattel Design Center in El Segundo, CA. After sharing my personal connection to the museum, I then happily assisted in the collection and creation of several items that are now on display in the exhibit. Completely thrilled to now have this professional connection, I had no idea I would once again be invited to support our relationship with this amazing institution. Barbie Workshop

Fast forward to today and I am incredibly excited to be a part of the Barbie Family Night festivities on Friday, July 29 and the Barbie Design-a-Doll Workshops on Saturday, July 30.  Since I have the honor to oversee several of the teams that it takes to build a physical toy, I have worked with the Barbie Design team and The Children’s Museum staff to create a program of sharing and hands-on experiences to bring Mattel’s everyday efforts to guests of the Museum where you can expect to learn some of our secrets on how Barbie comes to life through the design process.  Whether you or little ones in your life are fans, I do hope you’ll join me for a peek into Barbie’s world!

(Register for Barbie: The Final Fashion Experience here.)