These students are real GEMS: Girls Exploring Math and Science

On February 21, 2015, The Houston Museum of Natural Science will celebrate our tenth year hosting Girls Exploring Math and Science (GEMS)!

GEMS highlights student projects covering science, technology, engineering and math. It aims to increase interest in STEM through student presented projects, and highlight possible STEM careers as represented by our Community Booths.

We had quite a turn out last year, and we are lucky enough to offer awards to the top student projects as selected by STEM professionals. Here’s a story from two groups that won prizes at GEMS 2014!

GEMS winners 3Girl Scout Troop 21318 represented two booths in GEMS – “Any way the wind blows” and “A look into Optics.” The girls were excellent at explaining their projects to both young visitors as well as professionals visiting their booths. “Any way the wind blows” was presented by Josie Blackburn and Tiffany Bridges, and they took a look at wind energy and its effects on the environment. They discussed the many ways that wind energy is used from wind mills to paragliding, and they even had a windmill generator to demonstrate wind power in action! Hannah Cox, Hanna Gano and Qiwei Li also presented at GEMS last year, but their project took on a different focus! In their project, “A look into Optics,” the girls used a laser to show how different lenses affect the focus on the retina of the eye. The girls showed other ways lenses are used outside of our eye, like with telescopes and binoculars. It was a really eye-opening project!

GEMS winners 1 GEMS winners 2

Both groups from Girl Scout Troop 21318 won prizes for their STEM projects! We caught up with them a few months after GEMS to see how they used their winnings. Blackburn, Bridges, Li, Gano and Cox chose to give half of their winnings back to their school, Glenda Dawson High School. They wanted to give back to the people who had helped them with ideas and supplies – a great way to continue STEM education!

They used the rest of their winnings to take an educational trip to HMNS! They went on a docent tour of the Magna Carta Exhibit to see the infamous document on its only journey outside of the United Kingdom. The rest of the day was spent visiting the special exhibition Bulgari: 130 Years of Masterpieces, the Cockrell Butterfly Center and watching a film in our Giant Screen Theater. Of course a trip to the museum wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Moran Hall of Paleontology! All in all, it was a fun-filled day of Science!

GEMS winners 4

Troop 21318 has participated in GEMS for many years, and we wish them all luck as they graduate and go on to their next STEM adventures! We hope to have more projects like these at GEMS 2015!

You have the opportunity to win prize money just like these girls! If you would like to participate in GEMS 2015, you can apply here. All it takes is a group of enthusiastic students, an adult chaperone and a project exploring science, technology, engineering or math. For more information, check out our GEMS page and download the application!

Paper to Predator: Making your own shark with sandpaper!

Have you ever touched a living shark? Sounds like a scary proposition, but you can do so safely at Shark! The Touch Tank Experience. 

A view of a shark’s skin through a microscope.

Before you reach into that tank observe shark’s skin (above). How might it feel to the touch? A shark’s skin is actually very comparable to… sandpaper! That’s right folks, the tiny dermal denticles that cover a shark actually have a texture very similar to sandpaper.

Want to learn more about the texture of shark skin? Watch this video from Myth Busters:

 

Now here’s your chance to make your very own “shark skin” in the craft below! And don’t forget to come to Shark! The Touch Tank Experience so you can compare your shark to the real thing!

How To Make Your Own Sandpaper Shark!

Ed How To - Shark 1

Supplies: 

Fine grain sandpaper
Pencil
Glue
Scissors
White paper
Crayons

Draw a shark on the back of a piece of sandpaper and cut it out with scissors. Next, color the top portion of the shark grey and the bottom white using crayons. Use a black crayon to add gills, eyes, and other details. This kind of coloration, called countershading, is a form of camouflage that allows fish to blend with the environment; it is typically seen on fish living in the open ocean. The dark top blends well with the ocean depths when viewed from above, while the white belly blends with the sky when viewed from below. 

Now, use crayons to create an environment for the sandpaper shark. When finished, glue the shark onto the paper. When the glue has dried, run a finger over the shark.

Ed How To - Shark 2How does it feel? It feels rough, of course. If a shark is rubbed from tail to head, it would feel a lot like sandpaper due to special scales called dermal denticles. Derma means skin and denticles means teeth; skin teeth, yikes! Under a microscope each scale looks like a tiny tooth.

 

 

Einstein Scavenger Hunt: Guess That Hall!

Editor’s note: This post was created by HMNS Concierge and Discovery Guide Corey Green.

Einstein at HMNS

 

Our good friend Einstein came to visit the museum and went through many of our exhibit halls. Can you name the halls he’s pictured in? (Click the pictures for answers!)

Einstein at HMNS Einstein at HMNS Einstein at HMNS Einstein at HMNS Einstein at HMNS Einstein at HMNS Einstein at HMNS Einstein at HMNS

 Want to go on a scavenger hunt with your very own Einstein? Good news! You can get him at the Museum Store!

 

 

Mark Your Calendars for these events happening this week (12/15-12/21) at HMNS

Bust out your planners, calendars, and PDAs (if you are throwback like that), it’s time to mark your calendars for the HMNS events of this week!

DDay-poster

D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944 Screening ends December 18
Don’t miss your chance to see the award winning film D-Day 3D: Normandy 1944. Screening ends Thursday, December 18. Free ticket to Active Military/Veterans through December 18 courtesy of Gallery Furniture. Click here to purchase tickets. 

Holiday Trunk Show – Glam Rock
Saturday, December 20
12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
We’re closing out the shopping season and getting ready for the New Year’s with all the glitz and glam! Whether it’s crystal encrusted or in-your-face gemstones, we’re featuring rock star worthy statement pieces from MAWI London, Assad Mounser, and more.