Mark Your Calendars for these events happening at HMNS 8/24-8/30

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! 

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Behind-the-Scenes Tours
Tuesday, August 25
6:00 p.m.
Enjoy the beauty of one of our special exhibitions on an after hours tour with our master docents. Tour the stunning display of ancient jades, bone, pottery, elephant tusks and monumental bronzes that were discovered in Sanxingdui in China’s Lost Civilization: The Mystery of Sanxingdui or witness the exquisite objects related to the legendary Samurai warriors of Japan in the special exhibition Samurai: The Way of the Warrior

Last Week of Cockrell Butterfly Center Summer Events
Small Talk (Tuesday)
Wing it! (Wednesday) 
Friday Feeding Frenzy

 

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Go ahead. Take your toddler to the museum!

by Victoria Smith

When my children were younger, and I was hip to the toddler scene, I would schedule play dates at all the usual places: I’d push the stroller to the park, load up the red wagon for the zoo, and slip Cheerios to fussy babies during story time at the library. The Houston Museum of Natural Science was also on the top of my list, and I was surprised other moms thought their kids were too young to appreciate it.

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“Oh, no! He’s after us!”

The museum is fantastic for small kids! It’s got air conditioning, wide spaces to navigate, and if you have a two-year old who will only eat peanut butter sandwiches cut in squares, not triangles, you are welcome to bring your own food.

And of course, DINOSAURS! They’re huge, they’re exciting and they have pointy teeth (at least the carnivores do). Even if you don’t have a toddler who can identify every prehistoric creature and pronounce the names better than most college graduates, every kid loves dinosaurs. (Thank you, Dr. Scott the Paleontologist!) In the Morian Hall of Paleontology, the dinosaurs are mounted in active poses, bringing these ancient creatures to life for young visitors. The displays tell a story, and the murals illustrate it.

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It’s the Circle of Life, baby.

Speaking of stories, my youngest daughter’s favorite story is the lion chasing the zebra in the Hall of African Wildlife.  Even though she knows how it’s going to end for that poor zebra, every time she asks, “Mommy, tell me the story of the lion and the zebra.” It’s not only a great chance throw in a few Mufasa quotes, but it’s also great to discuss how nature doesn’t waste anything because after the predators come the scavengers. I usually manage to work in a moral lesson about the selfish leopard who won’t share, too. There are interdisciplinary opportunities at every turn!

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Let me know when the wonderment is over, so Momma can sit down!

The Cockrell Butterfly Center is one of our favorite spots to visit, and perhaps even my favorite place in the museum, period. Yes, the awe and delight in a young child’s face is a daily miracle, but they’ve got cushioned benches and free wi-fi! When you’re through with the center, there’s a beehive-themed play area with puzzles and blocks, and most importantly, it’s enclosed!

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My daughter at age four, as an assistant in a chemistry demonstration…

If you want your daughters (and sons, of course) to grow up to interested in science, it’s never too early to start. Let them know that science is fun and not scary. The museum has dedicated tour guides who specialize in making the exhibits come alive for young children, and docents who offer many hands-on experiences. Kids can touch real fossils, feel if minerals are rough or smooth, and guess if an animal was an herbivore or carnivore while holding an actual tooth! It’s all there, at their eye-level.  

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…and at age eight, taking on a brain dissection at Xplorations summer camp.

So now that the big kids are back in school, it’s a great time to plan a visit to the museum. If you’re lucky like me, you can convince their grandparents that even though your one-year-old can’t talk, he really wants a membership for his birthday, and not another toy to clutter the playroom.

Editor’s note: Victoria is the Executive Assistant to the President of the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

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Camera trap captures video of kinkajou in South America

Tom Williams, my father-in-law, is a retired oil prospector who has a fascination with all things science and engineering. As such, he always gets me gifts for birthdays and holidays that he thinks will benefit me in my work (scientific texts, gadgets, etc). Last May, he gave me a fairly high-tech game trail camera with mounting attachment. This was delivered to my old study site (now new again?) in the Peruvian Amazon, by Ron Rossi, a Science Technology instructor from Michigan who spends a lot of time at the Amazon Explorama Lodges, just as I used to many years ago… In fact, today Ron runs a non-profit called EKOAmazon that does wonderful things for the communities living in the region.

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Kinkajou. Flickr Creative Commons.

Our initial plan was to monument the camera at a mineral lick at a reserve up the Sucusari Tributary off the Napo River, which Ron did last June. When he visited again earlier this month he realized that nothing was recorded yet, so went ahead and moved the camera to Platform 7 of Explorama’s world-famous Amazon Canopy Walkway at ACTS (Amazon Conservatory for Tropical Studies). It was with much excitement when he sent me news and the attached clip of a kinkajou (Potos flavus) visiting the bait site of bananas at Platform 7. The kinkajou is a member of the raccoon family (Procyonidae) that is built like a primate to eat fruit. It has a prehensile tail, which is strong enough to wrap about branches to secure the animal’s weight when it is foraging or moving among branches, essentially serving as a “fifth arm.”

The other exciting news is Ron was able to set up the camera at a bird’s nest. Unknowingly at the time, and very luckily, the nest happened to be that of a species of antbird of which virtually nothing is known of its nest, and absolutely nothing documented for parental care. We plan on publishing that information later, so stay tuned…

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Test your trend awareness with our HMNS Special Events quiz

by Ashley Zalta

As we all know, the relaxation of summer is coming to a close. School’s starting back up, the days are growing shorter, and fall and winter are right around the corner. And when it comes to parties, social gatherings, and special events, we’re also heading into the busiest season. Whether you’re planning a social affair for friends, family, clients, or business associates, you want to make sure your event is memorable and on-trend. Do you know what’s all the rage for appetizers, decorations, themes, and colors? Here’s a fun quiz to test your trend knowledge, courtesy of the Special Events team at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Take the quiz.

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Special Events at the Houston Museum of Natural Science are classy and colorful, with a science spin. Fossils at the Morian Hall of Paleontology blow guests away.

How’d you do? Post your score below and compare your results with other blog fans!

Whether you scored an A or an F, our Special Events team can help you plan the perfect party, mixer, or wedding. We’ve got a wide selection of amazing event spaces, including the Morian Hall of Paleontology, the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, and the Grand Entry Hall. And you can trust our experts to provide those trendy touches that will set your event apart from the rest. Call us at (713) 639-4749. Or find us on the web.

Editor’s Note: Ashley is the Special Events Manager for the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

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