GEMS 2010 – Share your knowledge!

DSC_0087Girls Exploring Math and Science (GEMS) 2010 is looking for Girl Scouts (4th-12th graders) to host the activity booths and we are now accepting applications! GEMS 2010 is going to be held on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Girl Scout booths will be placed throughout the Museum exhibit halls so that visitors can learn all about the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics!

HMNS has been hosting GEMS since 2006 alongside the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council and we have seen many really incredible booths put together by Girl Scouts! From probability games and circuit testing to optical illusions and magical mobius strips – girls can really get creative with the topics they choose to share with the crowds at the GEMS event. A really fun part of being a GEMS booth host is participating in the booth host set up event and Overnight the night before GEMS, then everyone wakes up on Saturday morning ready to roll!DSC_0167

So – how can my Girl Scout troop apply to be a booth host- you ask?

It’s easy…

1)BRAINSTORM: Come up with several ideas of math and science topics that seem intriguing to your group.

2) KNOW THE GUIDELINES: Download the information packet for Girl Scouts interested in hosting a GEMS booth from the HMNS website and review all of the parameters for hosting a booth. Think about the space limitations, participant requirements, etc.

3) SELECT A TOPIC: Pick which topic from your brainstorming session that will best suit the GEMS guidelines and complete the booth description part of the application — be creative!

4) APPLY! Applications are due by 5pm on Nov. 20, 2009 – that’s only a few weeks away so don’t delay!

Be sure to contact us if your group is interested in hosting a Girl Scout booth! Stay tuned for more information on how to join us on the day of GEMS as a visitor and visit all of the fun booths!

100 Years – 100 Objects: Teinopalpus Imperialis

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Nancy, the museum’s director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center and curator of entomology. She’s chosen a selection of objects that represent the rarest and most interesting insects in the Museum’s collections,that we’ll be sharing here – and at– throughout the year.

Kaiser-I-Hind or Emperor of India or Teinopalpus imperialis

Kaiser-I-Hind or Emperor of India - Teinopalpus imperialis resizeThis stunning swallowtail is very rare, threatened both by over-collecting and by increasing destruction of its habitat.  Found in small pockets in northeastern India, Nepal, and Bhutan at 6,000 to 10,000 feet in the Himalayan mountains, it is today protected by Indian law but is still hunted illegally, as its unusual and beautiful coloration, and its rarity, make it highly prized by collectors.  Luckily, its strong, rapid, irregular flight and habit of perching high up in trees makes it difficult to capture.

The female (bottom photo), larger than the male, has several “tails” on the hindwing and large gray areas on both fore and hindwings.  The smaller male (top photos, upper side on left, underside on right) is a brighter green, with a brilliant yellow patch on the hindwing and only one tail.  Caterpillars feed on the leaves of trees in the laurel family.

Learn more about butterflies and their relatives in a visit to the new Brown Hall of Entomology, a part of the Cockrell Butterfly Center– a living, walk-through rainforest at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the 100 Objects section at

It’s National Magic Week! FREE Magic Performance, 1 p.m. Saturday


Kids at Cornelius Elementary
react to our magicians’ illusions
(and then learned the science
behind them) at our official
announcement of the exhibit
at their school today.

Click here to check out photos
from the event!

National Magic Week might not seem like something a science museum would get excited about (as opposed to, say, National Mole Day. Which today totally is. 10/23… get it?).

However, as students of magic know – things are not always as they appear. [Insert diabolical laughter here.]

Though magical methods are often enshrouded in secrecy, in reality, magicians combine the art of performance with a variety of scientific disciplines, including math, physics and psychology, to create their dazzling effects and fascinating illusions.

Which is why we are very excited about our just-announced spring exhibit: Magic: The Science of Wonder, opening Feb. 26, 2010. This extraordinary exhibit will examine how science and magic are intertwined, tapping into our universal desire to know “How does that work?” We think magic is the perfect subject to inspire people of all ages—especially kids—to learn about the science behind the magic, and the world around them.

So, we’re kicking off this year’s National Magic Week – an annual celebration of The Society of American Magicians, which falls Oct. 25 – 31 – with a FREE magic performance in our Grand Hall tomorrow. Come at 1 p.m. to be dazzled by nationally known magician Curt Miller – you won’t believe your eyes as Curt makes a volunteer from the audience levitate in midair. Or, stop by any time between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to marvel at close-up magic from Scott Hollingsworth and Scott Wells. See if you can figure out how they do it!