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!

Stop and smell the orchids at the third annual Orchid Show and Sale April 21 & 22

Our third annual Orchid Show and Sale is back and boy, does it smell sweet. Don’t miss this fabulous — and FREE — event!
orchid show and sale

Join us in the grand hall April 21 and 22 for a judged show and sale of the finest orchid specimens around. Judges will be on-hand Friday, April 20 to decide which orchids are the fairest of them all. Then, on Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22, vendors will arrive with orchids available for purchase.

Peruse the aisles to admire the judged displays and then speak to one of our several national vendors (including one hailing from Hawaii) about what orchid variety best suits your tastes.

orchid show and sale

The Orchid Show and Sale, presented in conjunction with the Houston Orchid Society, is free and open to the public.

What: The Houston Orchid Society 2012 Show and Sale
Where: The Houston Museum of Natural Science Grand Hall, 5555 Hermann Park Dr., 77030
When: Saturday, April 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For a full list of vendors, visit the Houston Orchid Society website.

Calling all creatives: The 2012 Art, Essay and Media contest is accepting entrants grades K-12

Know a creative kiddo with a penchant for all things scientific? An enthusiasm for energy? A fervor for fuel, or a curiosity about where it all comes from?

earth science week

Enter Energy Day. Now in its second year, the Energy Day Festival, held downtown Oct. 20 at Hermann Square Park, aims to teach kids to be better stewards of the earth while propelling interested students to explore careers in science and technology.

In collaboration with the Energy Day Academic Program and Energy Day’s year-long efforts to engage students in energy education, HMNS’ Wiess Energy Hall‘s Energy Conservation Club has partnered with the Houston Geological Society and the Consumer Energy Alliance to put on one of six city-wide competitions designed to motivate students interested in science and technology careers.

For the 2012 Art, Essay and Media contest, students grades K-5 are encouraged to submit a work of art that illustrates the connection between the energy sources we use and our lifestyles — both today and in the future.

Students grades 6-9 may submit an essay imagining themselves as scientists or engineers 20 years in the future. How are they ensuring the U.S. has the energy it needs for future generations? That’s the challenge.

Finally, students of all ages may compete in the media and photography contest documenting “Energy Choices for Sustainability.”

The entry deadline is Monday, April 30, so get those entries in! Prizes from $50 to $250 will be awarded to the first, second and third-place entrants in each category and will be presented during Energy Day on Oct. 20, where winning projects will also be on display from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Hermann Square Park downtown.

check reception

Additionally, teachers of the winning students are eligible to win a matching award as well as teaching materials. Educators can find resources for teaching about earth science and energy here and here.

Can’t wait ’til October? Come celebrate Earth Day 2012 at HMNS April 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To learn more about Energy Day or enter the Art, Essay and Media contest, click here!

———-

HMNS thanks the Marathon Oil Corporation for its generous support of the Energy Conservation Club.

Life: A New Series from the Discovery Channel

Morning Dew
Creative Commons License photo credit: Aaron Escobar ♦ (the spaniard)™

Planet Earth was an unprecedented series that took us on an incredible Journey. It unveiled some of the most fantastic sites and most amazing phenomena on our planet. I had to be one of the first to purchase the series and spent many nights curled up on my couch watching episodes. when I heard that Discovery was coming out with a brand new series called “Life”, I was so excited. Then, when I found out that I was invited to a special screening of the first episode at the River Oaks Landmark theater, I was ecstatic! In my opinion, there is no entertainment that provides the drama, excitement, suspense, and even comedy that nature delivers. Plus, what better use for our high definition flat screen TVs than to capture the brilliant colors and awe inspiring scenery of our planet. So, sign me up for more of that!

cheetah1
Creative Commons License photo credit: kevinzim

The first episode of the “Life” series is called “Challenges of Life” and it airs Sunday evening at 8 pm eastern/7 pm central. This is the episode I had the pleasure of viewing! I think it was a great introduction to the series and definitely left you wanting to see more! Discovery masterfully captured on film how the highly adapted thought processes and behaviors of plants and animals allow them to survive on a constantly changing planet. Predators and prey have to think and act fast to either get their next meal or avoid being someone else’s!  Competition for mates is higher than ever, giving rise to some of the most fantastic displays, graceful dances, and fierce battles. I loved how we weren’t only shown predators dominating their prey, but also animals creatively outsmarting their pursuers and barely escaping.

Strawberry dart frog
Creative Commons License photo credit: sly06

The makers of Planet earth show you everything from cheetahs finding a new way to hunt, to flying fish, to the amazing perseverance of the little strawberry poison dart frog. I was pleased to also see an insect that I know relatively little about, the stalk eyed fly. I have to admit, I even found what these flies do to compete for females, well, weird! I really don’t want to give too much away. This episode promises a series full of wonder and surprises, I was even surprised by the narrator. I can’t wait to see the others! If you liked the Planet Earth series I hope you’ll tune in or at least set your DVRs to the Discovery channel at 8 pm eastern. I know I will!