About Kat

Kat has been both the spokesperson for the CSI: The Experience exhibit and project manager for the Imperial Rome exhibit and has a love of all things historical and cultural. She is responsible for the Xplorations summer camp program, coordinating weekday labs during the school year, writing department curriculum and presenting at teacher trainings. Kat has worked at the Museum since 1996.

Educator How-to: Make an Anubis mask!

Anubis is the Greek name for the “jackal-headed” god associated with death and the rituals of mummification in Ancient Egypt. Anubis’ color is black, symbolizing rebirth, which parallels the belief that the deceased is, in fact, reborn in the afterlife.

anubis 1

Ancient Egyptian cartonnage Anubis mask.

Over time, Anubis played several roles in funerary rituals, from protector of the grave to head embalmer, and advocated for the deceased in the Weighing of the Heart ceremony. A mask, like the one pictured below, was worn by the priest performing the Opening of the Mouth ceremony and other funeral rituals.

Anubis 2

Opening of the Mouth Ceremony.

Interestingly, recent genetic research suggests the Egyptian jackal, long thought to be the inspiration for the god Anubis, may not be a jackal at all, but rather an African wolf and a member of the gray wolf family. However, at present, the animal is considered of unresolved taxonomical identity and is presently classified as a golden jackal, despite genetic evidence that suggests otherwise.


The Egyptian jackal, or perhaps the African wolf.

With the directions below, you can make your own Anubis mask! First, print out these Anubis Templates for the mask and ears and gather the following supplies:

  • Cardstock
  • Cardboard (you can recycle a cereal box for this purpose)
  • Crayons
  • Glue
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Elastic string

Cut out the face and ears from the template. Trace the ears onto a piece of cardstock and cut them out carefully. Color the face of Anubis any way you like, using your crayons. When finished, glue the face to the cardboard and cut it out using a pair of sharp scissors. Then use glue or a stapler to attach the ears to the top of the mask. Use the hole punch to make a hole on each side of the mask at its widest point. Finally, tie the ends of a length of elastic string to each of these holes so the mask fits snugly over your face. Now you can legitimately perform the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony yourself!



Use these designs above for inspiration or invent your own. You learn more about Anubis and other Egyptian gods at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in the Hall of Ancient Egypt.

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


Fine grain sandpaper
White paper

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.



Educator How-To: Making your own Samurai sword

Editor’s note: This blog post was contributed by Kathleen Havens, HMNS Assistant Director of Youth Education.

Feudal Japan’s government depended on a warrior class, called Samurai, for over 600 years.

Individual samurai warriors served a daimyo, powerful warlords that governed individual regions throughout Japan. At the pinnacle of this loyal and highly trained group of warriors was the shogun, to which each daimyo was subject. The shogun paid ceremonial reverence to the emperor of Japan, but, in reality, wielded ultimate political power over all of Japan.

One of the few, most prized, and iconic, possessions of a samurai was his sword, known as the katana. This sword, sometimes referred to as the soul of the samurai, was often a family heirloom, passed down, from father to son, for generations. These swords were special, made by highly-skilled artisans, they were highly versatile and could be used to slash and to stab, which made them unique for their time.

Check out this video from National Geographic about the katana: 


Make a Model Katana

Samurai Blog 1




  1. Using the picture provided as a reference, sketch out a curved-shaped blade on a piece of cardboard and carefully cut it out.
  2. Next, create a hand guard, known as a tsuba, by drawing a circle or square shape on a piece of thick paper and cutting it out. Make a slit, using your scissors, in the middle of the tsuba, large enough to slide the bottom of the sword through.
  3. Decorate your tsuba using markers or crayons. You can find examples here for inspiration.
  4. Using the remaining stiff paper, cut a rectangle that is approximately 7’’ x 4’’; this will be the hilt of the sword. Fold the rectangle so that the end of the sword can fit in the middle.
  5. Slide the tsuba on and then the hilt; staple the hilt in place.
  6. Use markers and ribbon to decorate the hilt of the sword.

Educator How-To: Create your own medieval ID with basic heraldry

Heraldry is a unique identification system developed in the Middle Ages to aid in the identification of fully armored knights on the battle or tournament field. The roots of heraldry lay in the insignia, seals, and symbols used in ancient times for individual and/or national identification purposes.

Heraldic designs were applied to shields, tunics, horse blankets, and other items. These graphic designs functioned much like a team jersey by identifying individual players. A variety of emblems were used to adorn shields and many are the same as modern team mascots.

Colors (Tinctures)
These devices were bold in design, so as to be immediately recognizable at distance. Bright contrasting colors and bold graphics were employed for maximum visibility.

Two metals and five colors are used in heraldry.


  • Or: Gold (yellow)
  • Argent: Silver (white)

Hearaldry 1Colors:

  • Gules: Bright red
  • Azure: Royal blue
  • Vert: Emerald green
  • Sable: Black
  • Purpure: Royal purple (rarely used)

Hearaldry 2

Field Divisions
The shield may be divided. Two common reasons for division are differentiating, to avoid conflict with a similar coat of arms, and marshalling, combining two or more designs into one.

Hearaldry 3

An example of extreme marshalling.

A charge is an emblem or device occupying the field of a shield. I only address emblems in this paper. Below are some common charges, but there are many more, each with a meaning.

Hearaldry 4

(Click here for more examples of charges.)

Design Your Own Shield
In order to design your very own shield, you will need the following items:

  • Copy of the shield template
  • Markers
  • Pencil
  • Emblem design you want to use
  • Ruler

Questions to consider:

  • Do I want to separate the field?
  • What emblem(s) do I want to use?
  • How will I make the best use of color to create a contrasting design?

Use a pencil to sketch out your design. Putting a copy of your emblem under the shield template and carefully sketching against a sunny window allows you to trace your design onto the shield.

Use markers to apply color. White is used to represent silver and yellow is used for gold.