Get your hands on science!

Terrence McGovern, a volunteer here at HMNS, does several chemistry shows a week to help teach the basics to our visitors. His show, geared towards both kids and adults, is a great way to see science in action.

Terrence explains the principles of density, acids and bases, and polymers in a way that makes it easy to understand no matter what your age is or your background in chemistry. A simple experiment with an egg, saltwater and freshwater helps to show how density affects whether or not items will float.

 Terrence McGovern demonstrates how density works
with the help of a member of the audience.

Terrence also shows how acid and bases can react with one another. Filling a bottle with vinegar (an acid) and placing a little baking soda (a base) in a balloon, he shows how the two react to form a gas that inflates the balloon.

 
 Chemical Reaction!

So come on down to HMNS and see one of Terrence’s many shows and learn all about chemistry.

This show is free for patrons with a ticket for our exhibition halls. For more information and show times, call the box office at 713-639-4629.

Love Bugs: Personal Interface

Sick of those match.com, chemistry.com, and eharmony.com commercials? You’re preaching to the choir. Another muzak version of “This will be (an everlasting love)” and I’m going to throw my TV out.

Dance like no one's watchin...
Creative Commons License photo credit: antkriz

Go green this Valentine’s by turning OFF your computer and come interface with some cuties without perusing any profiles.

This Friday night from 6 - 10 p.m. HMNS will work its magic to create a flirty, fun atmosphere where love can blossom. It’s Love Bugs!

Dance to the rhythms of Grupo Ka-Che, Houston’s hottest salsa band, who will be sure to pack the house with singles and couples alike. Grab some light bites, a drink from the cash bar, and make your move.  Grab that cutie and take them to the Cockrell Butterfly Center for a romantic stroll through the butterfly sanctuary.

Finding love online has its place, but on Valentine’s we’re going to do it the old fashioned way: in person. The band and the people are going to be smokin – come feel the heat this Friday at the Houston Museum of Natural Science!

Happy Birthday, HMNS!

Birthday Cake
So, imagine this –
but times 100.
Creative Commons License photo credit:
Theresa Thompson


HMNS has been around for 100 years! It’s hard to believe, but in 2009 HMNS will be celebrating a BIG birthday. Since we are hoping to have as many people as possible participate – we are going to hold the party ALL YEAR LONG. Exhibits, classes, special events, and behind the scenes action are going to allow all HMNS patrons the opportunity to experience their favorite part of the Museum in a way they’ve never been able to before.

Seriously, though, we have to have cake. I LOVE cake.

If you like cake, face painting, bug chef concoctions, watching different chemicals get mixed and go ‘BANG!,’ taking docent led tours through every hall, learning how to preserve sentimental items, molding & casting dinosaur bones, learning about how exhibits are built, petting tarantulas, and making cool crafts – then you’re going to want to be at HMNS on January 3rd from 10am – 2pm when we have the best party of all: OUR BIRTHDAY PARTY! Don’t miss this special day as we kick off a year that’s going to be filled with surprises that will excite, tantalize, and leave you wanting more!

Sharky-Locks and the Three Gummi Bears

Need another excuse to buy candy this October?  Like cheap entertainment? Of course you do! How about some do-it-yourself grow-animals? For a buck or two, you can have a hundred edible expanding critters of your very own.

You need a few gummi bears or other gummi snacks (I grant you they are of questionable nutritional value, but they have their uses) and water. That’s pretty much it — see what we mean about cheap? 

I started with three gummi bears and one much larger gummi shark which had a disturbing layer of opaque white gummi on the bottom. 

If you want to know how much your gummi critters grow, you might want to trace around them or measure them, or just set some of your gummy snacks aside for comparison later. I had an electronic balance handy, so I used it, but that’s definitely not necessary:


The growing:  You need a container that can hold your gummi animals with a little room for expansion, and enough water to keep them covered:

And now we wait.  You may notice some expansion an hour after you begin, but your animals will look significantly bigger after 12-24 hours in water.  A few things to note: If you plan to eat your critters once they expand, please refrigerate them during the soaking process (this may slow their expansion somewhat, but you will also slow the growth of not-so-delicious bacteria). Whether you are refrigerating or not, set your critters somewhere and leave them alone as much as possible; if they jostle around too much, they may just dissolve and leave you with an unimpressive pool of colored sugar-water.

After a 20-hour soak, one of the bears intimidates his dry brother:


The “after” measurements:

This bear grew about three times as large as it was originally, and the shark about twice as large (it might have expanded further if given more time but it fell apart after being handled.)

Here’s a brief explanationof growing gummi snacks.

Extensions to try:  Soak your critters in distilled water, salt water, soda or juice, or try soaking an expanded critter in salt water.  Do some brands of bears hold up better or expand more?

(In case you were curious: Yes, you can spell it either way: gummi or gummy.)