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The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Saturday Science: Animation Illusion

Saturday Science: Animation Illusion How do your favorite cartoons become talking and walking TV or film characters? In this week’s Saturday Science, from Science Sparks, discover animated illusions by putting your own drawings into motion just like a cartoonist! 

Materials

  • white cardstock
  • color pencils
  • scissors
  • sellotape     

 

Process

  1. Using scissors, cut the white cardstock into two pieces.
  2. Draw and color in some fish on one piece.
  3. Draw and color in a fish bowl on the other.
  4. Tape the pencil between the two pieces of cardstock.
  5. With the pencil between your hands, rub them together.

            
Summary
When you rubbed the pencil between your hands, did the fish swim around in the fish bowl? You created an animated illusion! 

This is the same concept animators use to bring cartoons to life! When still images that are just a tad different from each other are sequenced together and flashed before your eyes very quickly, they create the illusion of movement. 

This illusion also happens when we quickly and simultaneously spin our two images. All of a sudden the two pictures become one and the fish swim in their fish bowl!  

What other two things can you draw to create an illusion? 

Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest. And don’t forget to visit our latest exhibit, Inside Hollywood Film & TV! You're On The Set!, to learn more about how your favorite TV shows and movies are made! 

Join the Instagram #OwnThatStyle Challenge

OTS Challenge

There's nothing better than seeing the confident smile on a child's face when they're dressed in their favorite clothes. Whether it's a tutu with cowboy boots, or a dinosaur t-shirt with a superhero cape, kids sure know how to own their style! Adults can find inspiration in this free-spirited approach to personal style. So, this February we're doing just that. Join in the Instagram #OwnThatStyle Challenge, be inspired by fabulous textiles from the museum's collection, and show off YOUR unique style!

It's all part of our latest exhibit and digital engagement project, "What's Your Style? Express Yourself!" which showcases quirky and classic styles from our collection of over 9,000 textiles. 

  • WHAT: Be inspired by a new look from our textile collections and share your style! 
  • WHERE: Instagram.
  • WHEN: Every day in February.
  • HOW: Check the theme of the day posted by @childrensmuseum, then share your style using #OwnThatStyle. Style themes range from #lace and #sweaterweather to #patterns and #90s throwback styles!
     

We need YOUR help to make this campaign a global success! Your contributions will be showcased in a dynamic map within the exhibit, showing families that everyone can have personal style, whether you live down the street, across the country, or around the world. 

We can't wait to see you #OwnThatStyle on Instagram!

MarDixon WillRyan OwnThatStyle

Full Schedule:

  • Feb. 1: #SweaterWeather
  • Feb. 2: #Sporty
  • Feb. 3: #Handbag
  • Feb. 4: #Boots
  • Feb. 5: #90s
  • Feb. 6: #StatementPiece
  • Feb. 7: #BundleUp
  • Feb. 8: #Print
  • Feb. 9: #50s
  • Feb. 10: #Dress
  • Feb. 11: #Pink
  • Feb. 12: #VintageTee
  • Feb. 13: Scarf
  • Feb. 14: #PopOfRed
  • Feb. 15: #AnimalPrint
  • Feb. 16: #Colorful
  • Feb. 17: #Sunglasses
  • Feb. 18: #Vacation
  • Feb. 19: #FavoriteShoes
  • Feb. 20: #Boho
  • Feb. 21: #GatsbyStyle
  • Feb. 22: #Lace
  • Feb. 23: #Glam
  • Feb. 24: #Jewelry
  • Feb. 25: #Leather
  • Feb. 26: #HighSchoolDays
  • Feb. 27: #Hat
  • Feb. 28: #Prom

Why Does My Breakfast Taste Funny After I Brush My Teeth?

Why does my breakfast taste funny after I brush my teeth? Beeeeep! Beeeeep! Beeeeep! It’s 6:00 a.m., and your alarm is going off. You spring (or slowly crawl) out of bed and into the bathroom to brush your teeth. You finish getting ready for the day and then head into the kitchen. Your breakfast smells good. It looks good. But GROSS! It doesn’t taste good. Why does your breakfast taste funny after you brush your teeth? We answer this question with help from mental_floss.

The breakfast ruining culprit: sodium laureth sulfate (SLS).

Depending on your favorite brand of toothpaste, sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES) or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) might also be to blame. These chemicals are the surfactants that make toothpaste foam by lowering the surface tension of the liquid.

As we brush our teeth and our mouths begin to fill with foam, our taste buds become affected by the SLES or SLS as well.

According to mental_floss, these chemicals “suppress the receptors on our taste buds that perceive sweetness, inhibiting our ability to pick up the sweet notes of food and drink. And, as if that wasn't enough, they break up the phospholipids on our tongue. These fatty molecules inhibit our receptors for bitterness and keep bitter tastes from overwhelming us, but when they're broken down by the surfactants in toothpaste, bitter tastes get enhanced.”

So thanks to these chemicals, that delicious breakfast now tastes less sweet and more bitter, and not nearly as delicious as it smells.

Tomorrow morning, wait a little longer after you brush your teeth to eat or eat breakfast before you clean your chompers.

Looking for more Never Stop Asking "Why?" questions? Catch up on all of the past "Whys" on the blog!

Microwave Soap—It's Not Magic, It's Science!

By Becky Wolfe, Science Programs Manager

NOTE: Before starting this activity, please remember to be careful when pulling your soap out of the microwave.  Any time you microwave something, it gets hot! The soap will too!

As one of the museum’s science educators, I spend a lot of time researching and trying interesting science experiences for our visitors.  Microwaving a bar of Ivory soap is one of the demonstrations that had me yelling at my family across the house, “Hey! You have to come see this! It’s so cool!” I even threw a second bar in the microwave, just so our family could watch the reaction a second time.  

So is it magic? Nope—just a bit of physics. SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to start talking about reaction, so if you haven’t tried your soap in the microwave and want to be surprised, stop here and come back when you are done. (Follow the directions in the blog post Saturday Science: Microwave Soap!) 
...[Cue hold music]...

Back to the reaction. So what causes the soap to expand into a big fluffy mass? First, it’s important to know how Ivory is made.  All soap is a mixture of the soap ingredients such as glycerin  (this varies by type and is often proprietary), water and air. In the case of Ivory, it has a bit of extra air whipped into the soap mixture. This is why it floats in the bath tub. If your soap has cooled down, touch the microwaved soap and notice the texture. Is it the same as the bar of soap? You might notice that it’s crumbly and a bit drier, in addition to having expanded greatly in size. This is a big clue has to what is happening with the soap. 

SoapThe soap expands due to Charles’s Law, named for the scientist who is credited with the calculations to explain what happens to gases when heated. This law explains that when a gas is heated, its volume expands. When soap is microwaved, the air trapped inside of the soap heats up and starts to expand. The water inside the soap also heats up and will turn to steam. As the gases grow in volume, they push on the remaining soap ingredients, expanding the bar from something small and compact to a fluffy blob.  This is also why the soap feels a bit drier. The water in the soap has turned to steam, and has been released from the soap. 
The same reaction you see with the soap happens when you make popcorn. Water inside of the kernel expands as the kernels are heated. Eventually, the water becomes hot enough that it turns to water vapor or steam.  As the steam expands, it pushes on outer walls of the kernel until they burst exposing the yummy insides for the popcorn kernel. I actually think the microwaved soap looks like a large piece of popcorn.  But don’t eat the soap!

Some of you may be asking what to do with your soap bar, now that it’s a big fluffy bar. There are a number of sensory activities that use crumbled ivory such as ghost mud. You can also use the soap like, soap. 


P.S. A number of you may be wondering why I didn’t mention the “accident” that caused the invention of Ivory.  A few years ago, the makers of Ivory, Proctor and Gamble, shared documents from their archives that showed the process their chemists used to develop floating soap. While a great story of a mistake leading a great invention, no worker accidently whipped more air into the soap. 

Sources: 

 

Saturday Science: Microwave Soap

Saturday Science: Microwave Soap It’s a beautiful day with big puffy clouds … of soap! In this week’s Saturday Science experiment, found on Steve Spangler Science, discover what happens to Ivory soap when you heat it up in the microwave! 

Materials:

  • Bar of Ivory soap
  • Various bars of another brand of soap
  • Deep bowl of water (or a plastic tub)
  • Paper towel
  • Microwave oven

 

Process:

  1. Fill the bowl with water.
  2. Drop the bars of soap in the bowl of water. 
  3. Did the Ivory soap float? 
  4. Place the bar of Ivory soap in the middle of a piece of paper towel and place the whole thing in the center of the microwave oven.
  5. Cook the bar of soap on HIGH for 2 minutes and watch closely. 
  6. What does the soap look like now? 
  7. Allow the soap to cool for a minute or so before touching it. What does it feel like? 

 

Summary:
Did the bar of Ivory soap look like a puffy white cloud but feel hard and rigid? 

Unlike many other bars of soap, Ivory soap is able to float in the water because air is added to it while being manufactured. When soap is heated, the bar becomes pliable and traps the air bubbles that form as the water in the bar of soap vaporizes. 

According to Steve Spangler Science, “this effect is a demonstration of Charles' Law. Charles' Law states that as the temperature of a gas increases, so does its volume. When the soap is heated, the molecules of air in the soap move quickly, causing them to move far away from each other. This causes the soap to puff up and expand to an enormous size.”

If you tried to heat one of the other types of soap, without added air, in the microwave it would just melt into an ewwy-gooey mess! 

Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.

Inspired by the Museum: The Fun is Just Beginning!

DotThis post was written by Children's Museum Blog Ambassador, Samantha Cotten. Follow Samantha's posts on the blog or follow her on Twitter @samanthacotten


It's a hard to believe that my stint as a member of the Blog Ambassador Panel with The Children's Museum has already come to an end. Didn't we just get started?!

I have to admit that six months ago, as the mother of a then 9-month-old, I was skeptical about the benefit my family would see in the museum. In my mind, the exhibits and programs were just a little too advanced for my little baby, and I couldn't imagine how she would enjoy it at such a young age.

I was so, so wrong.

We, as a family, have been inspired—just as the name of this series states. Since our first visit, we have seen a huge change in our daughter. Her creativity has been ignited, her curiosity is ever-present, and her mobility is at an all-time high. She's hit so many milestones—many of which become more apparent each time we visit. Her imagination is growing, in large part due to her time at the museum, and it never ceases to amaze us.

Over the last six months, we have explored (and climbed) every part of Playscape. We have driven IndyCars, rode on locomotives, dug for dinosaur bones, and have even flown to China. We attended a delightfully spooky Halloween bash, welcomed Santa Claus to Indianapolis, and of course we can't forget the time we watched Bucky come to life in the atrium.

But perhaps the best part of our new-found love of The Children's Museum has been the incredible inspiration for play and learning within our own home. Water tables have transferred over to bath time play, stairways have become mountain climbing courses and every pot and pan has become a musical instrument.

Everything is an adventure when you're 15-months-old!

Even though my time as a Blog Ambassador has come to a close, the fun is just beginning for our family. I hope you've enjoyed following us, both on this blog and via the #BlogTCM hashtag, as we reacquainted ourselves with the museum and brought the inspiration and wonder home with us. I hope to see you all soon at The Children's Museum!

Samantha

Inside The Children's Museum's New Textiles Closet

Chris TextilesBy Jennifer Noffze, Children's Museum Registrar and Archivist

Over the past two years, I’ve worked with our two Textile Assistants, Chief Conservator, and American Collection Curator to update storage conditions for our wonderful 9,000 piece textile collection! Obviously, we need a lot of space to store that many objects—could you imagine having a closet big enough to store 9,000 pieces of clothing? Our textile collection comprises everything from special outfits like baptismal gowns, Girl Scout uniforms, and wedding dresses to everyday items like jeans and sweaters and even fun items like Halloween costumes!  

In 2012, the museum was awarded a prestigious IMLS Conservation Support grant in the amount of $125,000 with additional generous financial support from Gerald and Dorit Paul. We used these funds to hire two temporary assistants to help with inventory, moving and re-storing the items in a fabulous new shelving system. As Registrar/Archivist, it’s my job to keep track of everything in the collection; this means making sure that each item has a database record, digital image, and storage location.

Before moving the textiles, I worked with the two assistants to inventory the entire collection. This alone took us close to two months! We then moved everything out of the collection. Finding somewhere to store the items during this time was a challenge, but we used aisles in our over-sized storage space.  Let’s just say that area was cramped for a while!

DressOnce the new shelving was installed, our Textile Assistants started moving the items into the new space. I created a worksheet for them to use for gathering additional information about each piece including condition, measurements and types of materials. They also took a digital image of each piece that I added to the databaseI've now seen every piece in the collection! It’s been great seeing new and fun items that I didn’t know we had. I’ve started a whole new list of favorite pieces including this fabulous 1960s dress!

The previous textile storage rooms were cramped and the overcrowded conditions were not safe for moving the pieces. It also made it hard to show off the collection to our visitors! With our new space it’s much easier to share our collection on special tours. The photo above shows our Director of Collections, Chris Carron, showing off the Campbell's Soup dress in the new, upgraded storage. The items are now less cramped and we can easily find pieces with the addition of hanging tags which list the accession number (the unique identification number that is given to every piece in our collection.) We were also able to upgrade storage conditions for specific groups of objects, like these incredible parasols!

Parasols

Watch out next week for a brand new This Week's WOW, when Josh takes us inside the upgraded Textiles Storage to show us his top 5 favorite pieces!

Saturday Science: Crazy Putty

Saturday Science: Crazy Putty Squish it. Squash it. Mold it. Bounce it. In this week’s Saturday Science experiment, found on Science Kids, learn how to make Crazy Putty!

 

Materials:

  • 2 different size food storage containers.
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • White glue
  • Borax solution (ratio of about 1 Tbsp of borax to a cup of water)

 

Process:

  1. Fill the bottom of the larger container with white glue.
  2. Add a few tablespoons of water and stir.
  3. Add 2 or 3 drops of your favorite food coloring and stir.
  4. Add a squirt of the borax solution (possibly a bit more depending on how much white glue you used).
  5. Stir the mixture up and put it into the smaller container.
  6. After some time, the mixture should have putty-like consistency.
  7. This is when you’re putty is ready to get a little crazy! Squish it between your fingers. Mold it into your favorite shape. Bounce it on the ground!

 

Summary:

What made your crazy putty so CRAZY?! Two things: polyvinyl acetate, a polymer found in glue, and sodium borate, a chemical, found in Borax.According to Science Kids, when you combine the polymer and the chemical together in a water solution, their molecules react and join together as one giant molecule. Because this new compound is able to absorb large amounts of water, a crazy, putty-like substance is formed.

Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.

What's Your Style? Be Inspired, Be You, Join In

What's Your Style facadeBy Lori Phillips, Manager of Digital Content

As fashion stylist Rachel Zoe has said, "Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak."

Everyone can show off their personal style, no matter their age. Kids especially love to look crazy-cool, and they certainly know how to own their own style! This inspired us to bring style into the spotlight for our latest Digital Engagement Project. What’s Your Style? lets grown-ups and kids from around the world show off who they are through their own unique style, online and on-site, and all around the worldwherever you may be!

You'll be inspired by fashion finds from one of the coolest “closets” around—The Children’s Museum's 9,000-piece textile collection! Take a look at featured ensembles at the museum, or see even more in our Online Gallery. We hope these unique pieces will spark your own style memories that you can share with your family and friends. Do you have a favorite pair of shoes, or a prom dress or suit that will go down in history? Does your kiddo refuse to take off their superhero cape when they go to bed? We want to hear about your memorable styles, and we want to see them, too!

Here are all of the ways you can participate in What's Your Style, and even have your style digitally showcased in the museum!

Explore at the museum

  • See inspired designs and quirky accessories like the 1970s Telephone Purse or Gianni Versace's Warhol-inspired suit
  • Make the cover of our style magazine! Check out the on-site photo opportunity and share your cover story!
  • Try out the What's Your Style? app to mix and match fashions from the collection on your digital mannequin. Then download it for your home tablet, too!


Share and learn more online

  • Share your style stories. Did Mom rock “big hair” in the ’80s? Tell us your tales of style!
  • See even more fashions, from the classics to the bizarre, in our Online Gallery.
  • Download the What's Your Style? app, and mix and match styles from the museum's collection at home! Available for Android tablet (download) and iPad (download.)
  • Explore our Pinterest style board, and re-pin your favorites.
  • COMING SOON: Learn the stories behind some of our most unique fashion objects on the blog.


Join in on Instagram

  • Show off your style on Instagram! Join the #OwnThatStyle Challenge in February, or share your favorite looks throughout the year using #ownthatstyle, then check out style submissions from around the world in the museum and on Instagram. 


Fashions may be fleeting, but style is something you own—it’s unique and personal. We can't wait to see you #OwnThatStyle!

Why Dracorex hogwartsia Is a Dinosaur, Not a Dragon

Victor DracoBy Mookie Harris, Lead Interpreter for Dinosphere and Treasures of the Earth
 
It's a question we're often asked in Dinosphere—why is Dracorex hogwartsia considered a dinosaur, not a dragon?

In 2003, amateur paleontologists in South Dakota discovered fossils which they believed to be from a Pachycephalosaurus. The fossils were sent to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ Paleo Prep Lab for preparation. It was discovered during this process that the bones were not from a dinosaur we already knew about, so our paleontologists got to name the new dinosaur species.

Because most people don’t spend as much time staring at dinosaur fossils as Victor Porter (pictured) and the rest of our paleontology team, museum guests who saw the new specimen said that it looked like a dragon or a crocodile—or even an alien.

Victor took all this into consideration. He named the small-toothed, herbivorous dinosaur Dracorex after the Latin words for “dragon king.” Why? Because it sounds really cool! 

Draco displayDracorex is in good company, too. Of the over 1,000 named dinosaur species,  several others have been named after creatures from myths and folklore. 

  • Dilong and Guanlong, two Chinese dinosaur species, are both named after the mythical “long,” or Chinese dragon. In fact, since “di” means “king” in Chinese, Dilong is also a “dragon king!”
  • Siats is named after a man-eating giant in Ute legend.
  • Seitaad gets its name from a mythological Navajo monster that buried its victims under the sand.
  • Jobaria is named after the Jobar, a gigantic mythical beast from Touareg legend.
  • Tarascosaurus is named after the Tarasque, a lion-dragon monster in medieval French folklore.
  • Harpymimus and Garudimimus are named after Harpies and the Garuda bird.
  • Anzu is named after a lion-headed bird from Mesopotamian mythology.
  • The prehistoric flying reptile Quetzalcoatlus is named for the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl who had the combined features of a snake and an eagle.

 

Dinosaurs were real wild animals that once walked the earth, but are now extinct. Everything we know about these creatures comes from our discoveries of fossilized evidence of their bones, footprints, dung, and in extremely rare cases, mummified soft tissue (blatant plug for Leonardo).

Dragons are magical creatures from fun stories. Sometimes, dinosaur fossils or even living creatures remind us of dragons. But the evidence tells us that dragons only exist in those stories.

Fortunately, as long as we have imaginations and the ability to tell stories, dragons will never go extinct.

Special thanks to Thomas Holtz for his encyclopedic assistance during the writing of this blog post!

Indiana's Top 5 Sky-Watching Events in 2015

By Claire Thoma, Evaluation Research Coordinator—and astronomy enthusiast!

I have a very fond memory of waking up in the middle of the night to watch a meteor shower with my dad when I was 8 years old. It was really cold, so we huddled inside sleeping bags in the yard. We only saw a few meteors, but we had so much fun together, and the experience deepened my love of science. If you’d like to introduce your family to some of the more exotic celestial sights, mark your calendar for these events (no special equipment needed)! 

Double the Planets, Double the Fun: Conjunction of Venus and JupiterJUNE 30 (and OCT 26)
Shortly after sunset, in the west-southwest sky, two bright planets, Venus and Jupiter, will be strikingly close together. They will appear to be separated by only about half the apparent width of the moon, making for a very eye-catching sight. Then, on October 26, Venus and Jupiter will engage in another close conjunction, this time separated by about twice the width of the moon. Venus will pass to the southwest (lower right) of Jupiter and shine more than 10 times brighter than the huge gas giant.

Observing Tips: 

  • Don’t despair if it's cloudy on these dates! Venus and Jupiter will still appear close together for many days before and after. It would be a cool project to chart their positions at the same time every night over a week or two to see how they move closer and then apart again!
  • This is a good event for binoculars. Even fairly small binoculars should be able to show the two planets as discs, rather than points of light, and you will probably notice a difference in color between them. 


Perseid Meteor Shower (AUGUST 12) 
The Perseid meteor shower is usually considered to be among the best of the annual meteor displays thanks to its high number of shooting stars. Lucky observers can sometimes see up to 90 meteors an hour during the shower. Last summer, the moon was waning gibbous (more than half full) and presented a major nuisance for those who wanted a dark sky to watch the shower. But in 2015, the moon will not rise until just before daybreak, leaving most of the night dark for prospective observers.

Observing Tips:

  • You should plan to spend an hour watching the skies, so bring blankets and pillows and make yourself comfortable on the ground. A fun game is to make up your own constellations or stories while waiting for the shooting stars. You will be able to see the brightest meteors even with streetlights around, but you will be able to see many more if you can get to a darker spot. 
  • Binoculars are not helpful during meteor showers because they restrict your field of view to a small amount of the sky. You’re more likely to miss a shooting star than see it through binoculars! 


Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Aldebaran disappears behind the Moon (SEPTEMBER 4–5)
The last-quarter moon will pass in front of one of the brightest stars in the sky, Aldebaran (pronounced al-deb-or-on), the orange “eye” of Taurus the Bull. This occultation will be visible over Indiana around 1:00 am, but there will be another visible early on Nov. 26—Thanksgiving morning.

Observing Tip:

  • The most striking moment of this event will be when the star disappears behind the moon’s edge, so plan to get outside to locate the moon and star a few minutes before the actual occultation. Aldebaran is the bright reddish star in the constellation that looks like a sideways “V” near Orion. If you have binoculars, check out the moon’s craters and see if you can locate the nearby Pleiades star cluster. Because the moon and Aldebaran are both so bright, you don’t have to worry about streetlights for this event. 


Lunar Eclipse (SEPTEMBER 27-28)
Eclipse watchers in Indiana will see the entire lunar eclipse from start to finish. Totality (the time during which the moon is completely in the Earth’s shadow) will last 72 minutes. The Earth’s shadow begins moving across the moon about 9:10 pm, and the moon will be in total eclipse at about 10:10 pm. 
It's helpful to have detailed information on the timing of the different eclipse phases for Indiana.

Observing Tip:

  • The entire lunar eclipse process, from the time the Earth’s shadow first starts creeping over the moon until the moon is completely out of the shadow, lasts almost 3.5 hours. I like to check periodically as the moon goes into eclipse and then make sure to see it fully in shadow (when it looks reddish). No binoculars or dark sky needed, although it is fun to look at the moon’s craters with binoculars! 


BONUS EVENT: International Observe the Moon Night (SEPTEMBER 19)
If the timing of the lunar eclipse doesn’t work for you family, or you would like to check out the moon through a telescope with other sky-gazers, looks for an event near you during this international event!

Geminid Meteor Shower (DECEMBER 13-14)

If there is one meteor display guaranteed to put on an entertaining show, it is the Geminids. Most meteor experts now put it at the top of the list, surpassing even the August Perseids in brilliance and reliability. The moon will be a narrow crescent and will set early in the evening, leaving the sky dark all through the rest of the night — perfect conditions for watching shooting stars. This will be your chance to see an average of as many as two meteor sightings every minute, or 120 per hour in a dark location! 

Observing Tips:

  • You should plan to spend an hour watching the skies, so bring blankets and pillows and make yourself comfortable on the ground. Sleeping bags, hats, and gloves would be a good idea since Indiana is cold in December! A fun game is to make up your own constellations or stories while waiting for the shooting stars. You will be able to see the brightest meteors even with streetlights around, but you will be able to see many more if you can get to a darker spot. 
  • Binoculars are not helpful during meteor showers because they restrict your field of view to a small amount of the sky. You’re more likely to miss a shooting star than see it through binoculars! 

Like mother, like daughter

Image image

By: TryItOut Visitor

I always wear big sunglasses and loud dresses. My daughter at only 3 years old had the chance to pick out her own outfit. She picked out the biggest sunglasses and an orange dress with ruffles. She isn’t scared to wear what she likes just like her mom.

Why Does My Laugh Sound This Way?

Why does my laugh sound this way? The chortle. The guffaw. The titterThe giggle. The yukThe snicker. The heehaw.

There is a reason there are many different types of laughter—we all laugh a bit differently. But why? We answer this question with help from Mashable.

When something tickles us, our limbic system, larynx, lungs, and respiratory muscles, work together to produce a sound that we call our “laugh.” While the “primal vocalizations,” as well as our sense of humor, might be inherited, to understand the variation in laughter, we turn to psychology and human behavior.

The truth is that most of us have more than one laugh. When we are nervous, our laugh sounds different than when we are happy. When we are alone, our laugh sounds different than when we are with a group of people.

Body language and behavior expert Judi James explains to Mashable that, "We all have a range of different laughs that we use for different purposes and circumstances. Most are within the 'social masking' spectrum — that is, we do them to be polite or to create social bonds."

Our genuine laughs—the ones that are not affected by our surroundings—are the ones that burst out unexpectedly. James explains that these are the laughs with loud snorts and wide mouths that many of us find embarrassing.

Another place to find authentic laughter is with children.

“A lot of it has to do with inhibition,” according to Mashable. “Children, James explains, produce the most spontaneous form of laughter because they lack the inhibitions we acquire later in life. Adults will often cover their mouths, or bend to hide their faces.”

So, once again, children can teach adults something. Whether your laugh is a loud cackle, full of snorts, or a bird-like snicker … don’t hide it. Use it!

Hahaha!

Looking for more Never Stop Asking "Why?" questions? Catch up on all of the past "Whys" on the blog

Saturday Science: Creating Colorful Icicles

Saturday Science: Creating Colorful IciclesWhen the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, everything begins to freeze. Rain turns snow. Ponds harden into ice skating rinks. Droplets of water take the shape of icicles. With this freeze, the last of fall’s vibrant colors fade and shades of white, blue and brown take their place. But what if we could make icicles less clear and more colorful?

This winter, brighten things up! When the temperature drops below freezing, use this Saturday Science experiment, from Housing A Forest, to create your own colorful icicles!

 

Materials

  • 4-5 (or more) disposable containers
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Freezer
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Ladder
  • 2 liter soda bottle
  • 6 long pieces of yarn
  • Plastic syringe

 

Process

  1. A day or two before you create your colorful icicles, make some colorful ice blocks! Fill the disposable containers with water and stir in your favorite colors of food coloring. Place in your freezer and let freeze. When the ice blocks are frozen, you’re ready to create colorful icicles!
  2. Take your ice blocks out of the freezer and pop them out of their disposable containers. Spread them out on a cookie sheet. If you have extra blocks, you could even build an ice castle!
  3. Set up the ladder and place the cookie sheet and ice blocks underneath it.
  4. Make a small hole in the bottom of the 2 liter soda bottle and thread the yarn through it.
  5. While you’re inside, soak the threaded piece of yarn, as well as the other 5 pieces, in water.
  6. Go outside and place the bottle on the highest step of the ladder.
  7. Tie the other end of the yarn to the broom handle. Tie the remaining 5 pieces of yarn to the handle as well so that all the pieces of yarn are touching.
  8. Stick the other ends of the yarn to an ice block. Use the syringe of water to help the yarn stick to the ice. Your yarn should be in the shape of a tent.
  9. Carefully fill the soda bottle with water and add a few drops of food coloring. Stir and let the water drain down the yarn.
  10. Every 10 minutes repeat Step 9 adding different colors to the water. The more water you add, the bigger your icicles will be!
  11. Let the icicles freeze overnight.
  12. In the morning, go outside and check out your colorful icicles!

 

Summary

What do you see? Is the yarn covered in colorful icicles?

This happened because the temperature outside was below water’s freezing point: 32 degrees Fahrenheit. As the colorful water from the soda bottle drained onto the yarn, small droplets ran down towards your ice blocks and the cold air eventually froze them in place.

This is how icicles form naturally, too! On cold but sunshiny days, bits of snow and ice melt from the sun’s rays. But as the water droplets begin to run off the side of your house or the edge of a cliff outdoors, they freeze again. If enough water droplets freeze in the same place, an icicle forms!

Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.

Celebrating National Mentoring Month

It's National Mentoring Month, and our former interns are celebrating the amazing mentors here at The Children's Museum by sharing their thanks on Instagram! In the Internship Program's 26-year history, 240 mentors have supported 1,271 interns. In 2014 alone, 32 mentors hosted 54 interns. We've compiled today's Instagram posts here on the blog. Thank you to all of our incredible mentors!

Allyson Ferrari, Interpretation Intern
Mentors: Carey Meier and Rachael Matthews
I know all of the mentors at The Children's Museum do a fantastic job at mentoring their interns and giving them the support they need. Carey and Rachael provided invaluable support, opportunities, and advice that I know I will use consistently in my future as a museum educator.


AndrewOlivia Day, Science Programs Intern
Mentor: John McCollum
John is an excellent mentor that always went above and beyond to make sure I got the most out of the intern experience. He always took the time to give individualized advice and offer his insight on projects as well as professional endeavors.


Brittney Beck, Professional Development Intern
Mentor: Deb George
Deb allowed me to explore my project independently, while also giving me necessary guidance to create an extraordinary finished product. I was lucky to have gotten to work with her and I will always think back to the lessons and laughs she brought to my experience at The Children's Museum.


Molly Mersmann, Collections/Archaeology Lab Intern
Mentor: Ashley Ramsey Hannum 
My mentor always managed to put a smile on my face every morning. Ashley was ever willing to assist me in my projects, gaining confidence, and even giving me nonstop encouragement the days before my GRE. It is difficult to sum up my mentor into a few sentences, but in short she was amazing. –  


Andrew Kimmel, Volunteer Services Intern
Mentors: Debbie Young and Mary LaVenture
My mentors are like a suspension bridge -- there's a lot of different types of support happening, but I got to take the project from point A to point B. It's a terrible analogy that can't quite capture the esprit de corps that resonates in volunteer central.

Sarah Lange, Digital Marketing Intern
Mentor: Lori Phillips
My internship at The Children's Museum was one of the most valuable experiences of my college career. Not only did my mentor provide me with countless shadowing opportunities and hands-on marketing projects--including writing blogs, drafting social media campaigns, and researching bloggers--I even got the opportunity to see Ruby Bridges speak and have an in-depth private collections tour!

How We Bring Bucky the T. rex to Life

Bucky

This blog post is written by Patrick Weigand, one of The Children's Museum's Interpretation Operations Coordinators—who also happens to be our resident puppetry enthusiast! You can experience Bucky Lives! weekends at 11 a.m. in January and February. 

As the Operations Coordinator for Interpretation, I wear a lot of hats around the museum. One of my favorite responsibilities is being the go-to puppet guy and “Paleo-Veterinarian,” responsible for the care and feeding of Bucky the T. rex from our Bucky Lives! performance. I do everything from styling her feathers to making sure she's in good health to go out and perform. At this point, I should post a *Spoiler Alert* I am going to be revealing some of our behind the scenes secrets, so if you want to preserve the magic of Bucky Lives! Stop reading RIGHT NOW! If you’ve seen Bucky come to life and are curious about how the magic happens, go ahead and jump down to the next paragraph.

Hi there! I’m glad you're still with me. One of the questions we get a lot around here is, “Is Bucky a real dinosaur?” I wish I could say we really bring dinosaurs to life around here, but Bucky is in fact a puppet. If you look closely, you can see the puppeteer’s legs sticking out from under Bucky’s body and going in to her feet.

You may be thinking to yourself: “Wait, if the person is WEARING the dinosaur, why is it a puppet instead of a costume?” Great question! Bucky is a puppet because simply wearing her wouldn’t bring her to life. There are controls inside the dinosaur’s body that the puppeteer uses to move the head, open the mouth, blink the eyes, and move the hands. Bucky may be able to walk around without the puppeteer using those controls, but her head would just hang down and it wouldn’t look very lifelike. We also have a small camera in Bucky’s chest that feeds to a small monitor inside the body that the puppeteer uses to see where they are going.

In This Week's WOW, Josh went inside Bucky with a GoPro camera to show you exactly what it's like! Check it out...

Bucky full bodyI've been working with puppets for nearly 10 years now. I started when I was studying theatre at Butler University, trained with puppeteers from all over the world, and spent time with a nationally touring puppet theater company before coming to the museum. Actually, I started working at the museum by designing and building puppets for shows in the Lilly Theater.

While I can’t take credit for designing or building Bucky, I've done quite a bit of work on her since we got here. I helped give her feathers, and heal any “cuts or bruises,” that she gets while performing. Much like we might skin our knee when we trip, Bucky has some injuries from time to time, too. Most often, they're on her tail. The dinosaur’s skin is a rubbery, silicone-based material, so I use a special silicone glue to help seal up the cuts; like giving her stitches. We call it paleo-surgery. Usually everything is healed up overnight and Bucky is ready to go for the next morning.

I hope this may have answered some of your lingering questions and look forward to seeing you at the next performance of Bucky Lives!  

Read more about Patrick's puppetry experience at The Children's Museum in his blog post, Behind the Scenes: Chinese Shadow Puppet Theatre.

 

Why do songs get stuck in my head?

Why do songs get stuck in my head? “That song is stuck in my head again!”

We’ve all been there. You’re going on about your day when you realize you’re singing, humming, whistling, or silently mouthing the words to a popular song. Now you can’t stop. That tune, also known as an earworm, is lodged into your brain, and there’s no way of knowing when it’s coming out. “Whyyyyy does this happen?” you ask. Today, we answer this question with help from Science Friday.

There is still much to be learned about earworms, but scientists are beginning to understand this annoying little trick our brains play on us.

While we might not be dancing or singing along when we listen to music, our brains are still actively participating. Elizabeth Margulis, director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas and author of On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind, explains to Science Friday, that “when people listen to music, ‘there’s a lot of activity in the motor planning regions.’”

Chances are the song you’re listening to is one you’ve heard before. And when we listen to a song over and over again, we begin to anticipate the following lyrics and melody. Even if you don’t hear a song in its entirety, your brain fills in where it left off and occasionally sets the song on repeat.

But it’s not just the number of times you listen to a song that causes your brain to press play and repeat. The songs that stick often have similar qualities. According to Science Friday, one study, led by Victoria Williamson, a visiting professor at Switzerland’s Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, found that earworms “tend to have notes with longer durations but smaller pitch intervals. This makes sense, she says, because these are two main features that make songs easier to sing, even for the musically untrained. ‘Fundamentally, an earworm is your brain singing,’ Williamson says.”

Williamson also points out that your brain might start singing most often when it is tired, stressed or not doing much else.

So how do you stop it?

Distract yourself. Try listening to another song or playing a crossword puzzle. If that fails, listen to the song that is stuck in your head. According to Science Friday, “because earworms are only fragments of music, listening to the entire track might relieve a person of repeating the same part in her head.”

Looking for more Never Stop Asking "Why?" questions? Catch up on all of the past "Whys" on the blog!

The Children's Museum's Top 10 Blogs in 2014

atTCM buttonsBy Lori Phillips, Digital Content Coordinator
 
It's time again to share our Top 10 (maybe 15?) blogs from the past year! As the coordinator for The Children's Museum's social media and blog, I get to find out about all of the fantastically cool stuff our staff is up to—and then share it with you! That means that I talk to our paleontologists, curators, actors, educators, exhibit developers—even Children's Museum Guild witches—and work with them to write blog posts about it.
 
At the world's largest children's museum, there's no shortage of things to blog about! In 2014 we published 218 blogs—that's an average of over 4 blogs a week! Here are the top five blog posts from 2014, followed by the five posts on my "not to be missed" list... and maybe a few extra, too.

The Top 5 in 2014

  1. 10 Amazing Facts About the Terra Cotta Warriors May 1, 2014
    These 10 fun facts laid the foundation for a fantastic seven months hosting the incredible Terra Cotta Warriors.  
  2. Saturday Science: Growing Gummy Bears January 25, 2014
    Our weekly DIY science experiments have become a family favorite! 
  3. Why Does Cold Air Smell Different? February 3, 2014
    Our weekly series, "Never Stop Asking 'Why?'" is on its third year and going strong!
  4. Join Us For the Black Hat Bash: Creepy Carnival! September 23, 2014
    The 51st Annual Haunted House had such a fun theme this year, with the Peru Children's Circus joining us for the annual Black Hat Bash.
  5. Meet Dracorex Hogwartsia July 23, 2014
    This summer we shared blogs about all of the beloved dinosaurs in Dinosphere, and who was the most popular? Dracorex, of course! 

Not To Be Missed

  1. When Kids Throw a Dinosaur A Birthday Party...This Happens April 7, 2014
    Kids are the experts on birthdays, so we asked for their help celebrating Dinosphere's 10th birthday. See what happened...
  2. Pete and Ollie's Top 10 Tips for Lemonade Day April 23, 2014
    We partnered with Pete the Planner and his daughter, the brilliant Ollie of "Ollie Wisdom," to bring you tips for your lemonade stands.
  3. Take Me There: China—Top 10: Panda Research Center May 2014
    In May we shared a series of 10 blog posts detailing what you'll find in Take Me There: China, including photos of the original locations that inspired the recreations found in the exhibit. Start with the Panda Research Center and then catch up on the entire series!
  4. Three Lessons I Learned From an 11-Year-Old in China July 3, 2014
    The museum's Director of Digital Marketing traveled to China last year and was greatly impacted by Jacki, the young boy featured in Take Me There: China
  5. A Great American Museum Advocate: Spencer's Story February 25, 2014
    This year Spencer Hahn shared his incredible story with the American Alliance of Museums and the Institute for Museum and Library Service, later accepting the National Medal for Museum and Library Service from Michelle Obama on behalf of the museum. 

The Top 5. . . Ever!
Many old favorites were some of our most-viewed blogs in 2014, too!

  1. Why Would I Ever Lick a Fossil? January 21, 2013
    Written by our favorite dinosaur-discovering cowboy, Bucky Derflinger, this post was featured on Reddit in February, reaching 10,000 views in one day.
  2. Why Can I Roll My Tongue? July 22, 2013
    A favorite "Never Stop Asking 'Why?'" question—answered!
  3. Saturday Science: Homemade Plant Cell Pizza, February 2, 2013
    This Saturday Science proved so popular that we created a matching Animal Cell Cookie graphic, too!
  4. Why Did Some Pirates Wear an Eye Patch?, September 23, 2013
    Mythbusters inspired us to share this fun fact about pirates for our Never Stop Asking Why series.
  5. Egg Balancing Myths and the Vernal Equinox March 20, 2012
    This blog post is an old favorite. We did our own myth-busting—with eggs!


On top of all of this, we also launched our Blog Ambassador Program, featuring local bloggers who write about their experiences for the museum's blog. And there are so many more inspiring, funny, and interesting moments on the blog that I couldn't even fit onto these lists! 

Did your favorite make the list? Leave a comment and let us know—we want to know what YOU love on the blog.

 

Saturday Science: Crystal Suncatchers

Saturday Science: Crystal Suncatchers During the cold months of winter, sometimes it’s nice to get a glimpse of the sun’s warm rays of light. That’s why in this week’s Saturday Science, found on Babble Dabble Do, we are showing you how to catch some rays with crystal suncatchers! It takes just a few ingredients but results in a pretty awesome winter surprise.

 

Materials:

  • Epsom Salt 
  • Clear Plastic Lids
  • Water
  • Empty Jar
  • Bowl
  • Measuring Cup
  • Fork
  • Microwave 
  • Tray
  • String
  • Pin    

 

Process:    

  1. Pour 1 Cup Epsom Salt to an empty glass jar.
  2. Pour 1 Cup of water to a microwave safe bowl. Heat the water in the microwave for 45 seconds.
  3. Quickly pour the warm water into the jar with the salt. Stir the salt and water for 1-2 minutes until salt is dissolved.
  4. Place several plastic lids on a flat-bottomed tray.
  5. Pour some of your water and salt mixture into each of the recycled plastic lids so that each lid has just enough water to cover the bottom. Be careful to not overfill the lids.
  6. Place the tray of lids in sunny location.
  7. Wait! Depending on how much water has been added to the lids, it can take a few hours or a day to start crystallizing.
  8. Once the water is completely evaporated, carefully poke a small hole in the edge of the lid.
  9. Thread a piece of string through the hole and tie in a knot.
  10. Now hang your suncatcher up in a window and watch it catch rays of sun!

 

Summary:
When a ray of sun hits your suncatcher just right, does it shimmer and beam the sun’s light in different directions? 

This is caused by the small crystals that formed on your plastic lids as they dried out. 

Crystals are solids that are formed by an organized and repeating pattern of molecules. When you added warm water to your Epsom Salt, the water molecules separated the sodium and chlorine atoms. You then poured the salt water mixture into shallow lids and put them in a sunny area. As the water evaporated from the lids, the sodium and chlorine atoms bonded together forming small crystals. If you look close enough, you might be able to see that these crystals are in the shape of small cubes. 

Now take a step back, and enjoy your beautiful crystal suncatcher! 

Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.

Family Health Tip: Yoga for Kids

Family Health TipThis blog post first appeared on Kids HealthLine, courtesy of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent.

Yoga has benefits beyond the physical alone. If you’re a yoga enthusiast, you’re likely to be in the fittest of both physical and mental health. But, what about the benefits that this ancient eastern art holds for kids?


When it comes to health and fitness for children, we tend to focus on sports and outdoor play rather than think of exercising at the gym or following a workout routine. But another form of exercise that offers various advantages is yoga, a fact that is not as well known as it should be.


Yoga helps children by...

  • Enhancing concentration: When your child gets used to the postures of yoga, they automatically improve their concentration skills. Your child learns how to sit still in one place and focus on what’s important as opposed to letting their mind wander and be distracted easily. This helps them in their lessons and at school, boosts their attention span and improves their grades.
    Kid Yoga
  • Increasing flexibility and balance: Yoga helps improve flexibility and balance and tones their muscles too. It makes them stronger and less likely to suffer sprains and fractures through accidental falls.
     
  • Improving general well-being: Kids who practice yoga regularly feel good about themselves and are healthier and happier than those who don’t. They feel both mentally and physically rejuvenated after a yoga session and this improves their mental and physical health.
     
  • Boosting confidence: When your child is able to display great agility and flexibility, it does wonders for their confidence. Their improved performance at school also helps boost their self assurance. They become more poised and start to believe in their abilities. This feeling provides them with the adrenaline they need to achieve success in all their endeavors.
     
  • Relaxing their minds: Even kids are subject to a great deal of stress these days because of their workload at school and the high expectations that their parents have for them. They are pushed to be achievers at every single point of their lives, and when they fail, they take it to heart and become depressed. Yoga helps them relax and de-stress when they feel upset or depressed. It soothes their frayed minds and helps them get back to a normal mental state.
     

Children are more flexible and agile than adults, so the earlier you get kids started on to yoga, the more benefits they gain.