School’s (almost) out for summer: Time to xplore with our Xplorations Summer Camps!

Summer Camp is here again!  As we busily prepare, buying all the weird odds and ends it takes to run camp here (everything from plastic spoons to sheep eyeballs), I thought I would share a bit about camp with you.

Xplorations Summer Camp 14Recently I gave a presentation to fellow HMNS staff members about Xplorations Summer Camp, just a little informal FYI. I was surprised at how many of them stopped me later in the day and said, “I didn’t know that ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_________.” 

The No. 1 item they commented on was the sheer size of our summer camps. We have approximately 550 campers per week at HMNS in Hermann Park. This means that, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, we are larger than your average elementary school each week for the eight weeks of camp. 

Because of this, we take safety very seriously … which brings us to the second most surprising camp fact I shared: Staffers were also amazed to learn that all the full-time Youth Education Programs staff regularly has First-Aid, Epi-Pen injection, and Heart Saver/AED training. We have found that parents really like getting their campers back in the afternoon in same condition as when they signed them in in the morning. To that end, we feel like we should be prepared for a whole range of potential problems — everything from a Band-Aid solve-able boo-boo to a zombie apocalypse.

Our number one goal is to keep our campers safe!  A close second is to have fun while learning.

And because we are always learning new things around here, I learned how to make this infographic with some of the other numbers and statistics our staff found interesting about Xplorations Summer Camp. 

Summer Camp InfographicIf you haven’t signed up your little scientists, you’d better do it quickly.  Spots are vanishing before our eyes! 

Camp is an excellent, hands-on way to introduce kids to topics in science. They learn, have fun and are able to explore themes and careers that can help them change the world. Perfect for kids age 6-12, sign up for Xplorations Summer Camps today! Click here to see our full catalog of age-specific camps.

Whip your brain into shape this summer at HMNS’ Aramco Science Fair Boot Camp

Are you tired of scrambling at the last minute to complete your science fair project? Is your kitchen a mess annually due to thrown-together experiments and faux lava gone rogue? Now’s your chance to fare better at the Science Fair, thanks to the HMNS Aramco Science Fair Boot Camp.

Aramco Science Fair Boot Camp at HMNS

Offered to children ages 13 through 17, attendees use museum exhibits and collections to investigate science’s most looming questions, collect data, hypothesize and draw conclusions. From exploring insect behaviors to climate conditions in the Cockrell Butterfly Center to collecting fossils and identifying adaptations in the Morian Hall of Paleontology to inventing energy solutions in the Wiess Energy Hall, students will interact with our expert curators and review their proposed science fair projects.

Registrants will have their entrance fee to the 2014 Houston Regional Science and Engineering Fair covered.

There are only 120 spots open between July 8 and July 29, so book your spot on the double! Click here for a full class schedule and more details.

LEGO my Robotics! New course to be offered at HMNS Main and HMNS at Sugar Land beginning in September

HMNS is launching a new after-school LEGO Robotics program this fall at HMNS’ main campus and at HMNS Sugar Land.

The program is modeled after our popular Xplorations summer course and spans 10 weeks, beginning Sept. 11 at HMNS and Sept. 13 at HMNS Sugar Land.

LEGO RoboticsClass will be held once a week on Thursday afternoons from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at both locations. Students will explore the basics of NXT Robotics Engineering, building models with the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT system and then using a computer to program the models and manipulate them to obey commands.

Students can compete with other teams to finish challenges and earn the top spot on the class leaderboard.

LEGO RoboticsPlease note that the course is limited to 16 students grades 4 through 7 at each location. Pricing is $240 for non-members, $190 for members.

To learn more about LEGO Robotics at HMNS (Sept. 11 through Nov. 13) and HMNS Sugar Land (Sept. 13 through Nov. 15) and register for class, click here.

You don’t have to go far to celebrate Earth Day all year!

{ save the earth }
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ana Santos

Earth Day was last week, and the world united to be green-conscious for one day. But many of you may want to do more. Here are some easy, eco-friendly ideas for your own garden so you can remember earth day all year long…

Can I compost this? A site about items to help those of us just getting started composting so we know what can hurt and harm our compost.

How can I recycle this? Get creative if something is made of a material not recycled by your city.

Capture yummy rainwater for your plants during the heat of summer with this rainwater collection system. I have a storebought rain barrel (it is currently completely full from our recent storm) and the faucet at the bottom of the barrel is perfect for filling up my watering can to give my plants a drink.  

Reuse your newspaper to mulch your garden. I haven’t tried this one myself but several sources say it works especially well for vegetable gardens… which is also a green hint if you can grow your own salad!

At this point I can use the herbs in my herb garden to make my own salad dressing (here’s one to try) but the best I can do for the rest of the salad is buy local at the farmers market near my house. If you live in Houston you should definitely take advantage of one of the many farmers markets; the produce is second to none, and with our long growing season, you can access many items during their usual “off season.”

Worms
Creative Commons License photo credit: Яick Harris

My next project at home is vermicomposting… more on that later! Talk about Creepy Crawlies!!

Last but certainly not least… you can sign up your 8 and 9 year old friends for “It’s Easy Being Green” during Xplorations Summer Camps here at the Houston Museum of Natural Science! Nicole blogged about some of the cool activities they’ll be working on to make their homes a greener place!  

… and if you planted a tree this year in honor of earth day don’t forget to water it!