Sweet classes in Sugar Land: Build your own butterfly garden this Saturday

Is your yard an ugly caterpillar just waiting to blossom into a beautiful butterfly of landscaping grandeur? Well the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land is here to help. Think of us as the fairy godmother to your languishing larva, and our butterfly gardening course as the magic wand that can turn that pitiful pupa of a yard into a glorious flying tapestry.

Adopt A Butterfly 2011

Think that was dramatic? Wait until you see your garden after an afternoon with HMNS Sugar Land’s Outdoor Learning Center Coordinator Aureline Roberts.

This Saturday, Aureline will teach 30 pupils all about gardening for butterflies: How to identify host and nectar plants and what sort of native butterfly species each attracts; how to preserve native insects; and how to incorporate all of this know-how into a new butterfly garden or into your existing landscape.

Each participant will take home a gift to get started. Book your spot today — space is limited to 30 participants and tickets must be purchased in advance. Spaces fill up quickly, so click here to get your garden going!

What: Butterfly Garden Discovery
When: August 4 at 10 a.m.
Where: HMNS Sugar Land, 13016 University Blvd.
How much: $8 for public; $5 for members

Educator How-to: Teach archaeology with edible excavation

It’s time, once again, for our monthly Educator How-To! Today we’ll help you teach kids to keep track of what they find — just like an archaeologist does.

Archaeologists keep careful records, as do all scientists. One important way to keep track of their work is by mapping where each artifact is discovered. Show your students how to plot artifact locations onto a grid with this tasty activity!

Materials
• Large chocolate chip cookies with lots of chips
• Toothpicks – 1 box
• Waxed paper sheets
• Cookie grid
• Markers
• Masking tape
• Ziploc baggies – 1 per child

Screen shot 2012-07-26 at 7.40.37 PMA printable cookie grid just for you

Procedure

1. Tell the students that they are going to be excavating a chocolate chip cookie. And just like a real archaeologist, they must record where each “artifact” is found. In addition, they must be as careful as possible to get each “artifact” out of the “dig site” with the least amount of damage.

2. Supply each student with a cookie, a piece of waxed paper, a toothpick, a pencil, and a cookie grid worksheet.

3. Students should carefully draw a grid on their cookie using a black marker. It should match the grid on the worksheet cookie as closely as possible.

4. Students should then carefully excavate the “artifacts” out of the cookie trying to cause as little damage to the “artifact” (the chips) or the “dig site” (the cookie).

5. When they retrieve an “artifact,” they must assign it a number and plot it on the cookie grid. When an “artifact” is removed, it should be put on a small piece of masking tape and numbered.

6. Give each child a baggie to put all of their “artifacts” in.

7. When the time is up for this activity, count each child’s “artifacts” and look at the condition of their “dig site” to determine the most successful archaeologist for the day.

While we are working with cookies here, we do not advise eating the dig site or munching on your priceless artifacts — extra cookies are recommended!

Bringing the wonder to you: Science on Stage

We’ve got permanent exhibit halls, special exhibitions and an entire basement full of classrooms for camp and education. But did you know that we can bring HMNS to you?

HMNS outreach programs — which include Science on Stage, Docents To Go, Wildlife on Wheels, Discovery Dome, Bugs on Wheels and more — can be booked for school appearances, youth groups, or nearly anything else you can dream up.

Our largest program, Science on Stage, can serve an audience of up to 250 people, and offers three compelling programs: Exploring Energy, Cool Chemistry and Motion Commotion.

Science On Stage - HMNS Outreach Programs

Each program lasts about 45 minutes and can be customized for certain age groups or group sizes. Each program includes live demonstrations and strives to make learning visual by bringing student volunteers on stage and weaving a question-and-answer portion throughout. HMNS provides all the supplies needed for each program and manages clean-up — how great of a house guest are we?!

Youth Educator Carolyn Leap walked us through the Cool Chemistry program. “We start off demonstrating chemical reactions versus physical reactions, usually through combustion. Things on fire on stage usually get people’s attention.”

“In this program, the audience learns how fireworks function and engage in color-changing reactions, as well as experimenting with water-absorbing polymers,” Leap explained. “And, depending on the age of the audience, we make our own slime.”

Leap continued, “We use a concentrated form of hydrogen peroxide to create a foam reaction we call Elephant’s Toothpaste.”

“We dip all sorts of stuff in liquid nitrogen with the assistance of our student volunteers, who love to shatter frozen flowers and dunk balloons,” she said.

Science On Stage - HMNS Outreach ProgramsHMNS’ catalogue of outreach programs covers many fields, from life sciences with Wildlife on Wheels and Bugs on Wheels to anthropology with Docents to Go to our Discovery Dome portable planetarium  — and much more, thanks to a wealth of programming.

Most of our Science on Stage programs are hosted by Leap, who was this year named Educator of the Year by the Texas Association of Museums.

Science On Stage - HMNS Outreach ProgramsTo reserve Science on Stage for your students or group and get introduced to one of the best educators Texas has to offer, call 713-639-4766 or click here.

Oh, just another day in the life of exhibits: Installation in pictures (with inanimate commentary)

Done any home improvement projects lately? Us, too! This Monday we installed two new nautical creatures in the new Hall of Paleontology, and we documented one of the installs for you fine people.

THIS GUY:

DSC_0002Know what he is? He’s a ginormous Eurypterid, otherwise known as a sea scorpion. We don’t know about y’all, but we’re pretty glad these thingers are extinct. I mean, he’s a whopper (and he looks angry):

DSC_0006

Associate Curator of Paleontology David Temple was on-hand for the install. Here he is giving Eury a pep-talk. We imagine he’s saying something like “No, your chelicerae don’t look big in this sling.”

DSC_0017You’ve got to have velvet hands to be a handy-man at HMNS. Eury, meanwhile, is #overit.

DSC_0024

Up, up and away!

DSC_0029Buckle up, Eury. You’re about to go for a ride.

DSC_0041“Do you even know what you’re doing?”

DSC_0071And finally, we’re finished!

DSC_0080

Come meet Eury for yourself at the new Hall of Paleontology. We’re open late today (Tuesday) — ’til 8 p.m.!