Sam Lam: Legacy Camper

Once in a while, the Houston Museum of Natural Science Xplorations program gives children so much enthusiasm about science that they never really leave the museum. Sam Lam discovered the museum as a child with the Xplorations program, and has since never missed a summer at the museum. She now teaches some of the same summer camps she enjoyed when she was a kid.


HMNS: When did you start attending summer camp here? And why?

SL: I started attending camps at HMNS when I was 6 or 7 years old, around 1998. My mom worked downtown and decided to look into sending us to camp at HMNS. After just one week, I was hooked. From that point on, I kept pestering her to sign me up for Xplorations year after year. 


HMNS: What was your favorite class? What made it your favorite? Any stories from that class?

SL: My favorite class was Wizard Science Academy. Reading Harry Potter was a big part of my childhood, so it was very exciting to be able to attend a summer camp that incorporated science with a Hogwarts twist! I still remember dissecting an owl pellet and being convinced it was from Hedwig. I remember having Nicole Temple as my teacher and being so excited that she secretly let me switch out of the house that the Sorting Hat chose for me into the house of my choice.


HMNS: What is your favorite memory from summer camp?

SL: I took a camp called, “Thrills, Chills, and Disasters” that talked all about physics and the science behind amusement parks. As an end-of-the-week field trip that wrapped up all our learning, we were able to go to Astroworld to see the physics in action. I loved going around and riding rides with all of my camp friends. It was such a unique opportunity that I am lucky to have had!

HMNS: If you could go back to Xplorations Summer Camp for one week this summer, what class would you take and why?

SL: I would definitely sign up for Bedazzled! I have had the best time teaching that camp for the past few years. I think the best part of Bedazzled is the Spa Day on Friday when campers get to dress as comfortable as they’d like and pamper themselves for the day. A day with magnetic nail polish and a nice, relaxing mud mask? Sign me up! 


HMNS: What made you decide to come back and work at HMNS?

SL: When I was a camper, the Xplorations staff was always so enthusiastic and fun to be around. Because of them, I never wanted to leave camp when my mom came to pick me up. I wanted to keep the fun going and stay with them. When I officially “aged-out” of camp, I knew I wanted to come back and make camp a positive experience for others, just like the staff did for me.

HMNS: How did the Xplorations Summer Camp influence your life?

SL: During the summers, HMNS has been my second home for as long as I can remember and the people I have met there have become like another family to me. Some of the best friendships I have are with people I have met through Xplorations. Thanks to Xplorations and its amazing staff, I was able to meet and teach with fantastic teachers who inspired me to become a teacher myself. The best part of Xplorations Summer Camp is the people you meet—from the awesome campers, to the fun-loving TA’s and teachers, and the always cheerful and helpful education staff. My best memories from camp are because of them.

Harry Potter Midnight Madness at HMNS!

This post is from Julia, the HMNS Education department’s resident Harry Potter expert.

Finally! <3
Creative Commons License photo credit: worak

Harry has spent the last 6 years at Hogwarts uncovering the truth of his past and discovering his monumental role in defeating You-Know-Who, and it’s finally come down to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

Harry, Ron, and Hermione have set out to finish the task Dumbledore started: find and destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes. Without his horcruxes, Voldemort can finally be defeated by The Chosen One, putting an end to the epic battle between good and evil that has plagued the wizarding world for decades.

But it’s no easy task. As Voldemort and his followers gain control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, Harry, Ron, and Hermione face numerous obstacles from curses and hexes to Death Eaters to the sometimes dwindling faith and doubts they have in one another. However, throughout his journey Harry realizes that he has the full support of the wizarding world and is not alone in his quest to stop the Dark Lord once and for all. Witches and wizards around the world are joining together to stop Voldemort and the Death Eaters in their vengeful plot to take over the entire wizarding world.

So, now it’s our turn to show Harry our support! If you’ve been a dedicated follower of The Boy Who Lived from his first year at Hogwarts you can’t stop now!

Come to the Houston Museum of Natural Science on November 18 at 10:30pm for a Harry Potter Midnight Madness premiere party that will surely give Harry Potter fans something to celebrate! With live animal presentations that would make Hagrid proud (although there are no dragons or hippogriffs), tasty treats that would leave the Weasley boys satisfied, and potions demonstrations that even Snape would approve of, you have to be here! And don’t forget about the costume contest complete with fabulous prizes and Harry Potter trivia for the true HP fan to test their knowledge! It’s all happening right here for the 12:01am screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. So where should you be for the beginning of the end? Why the Houston Museum of Natural Science of course!

Here are few details for the Costume Contest:

To enter the costume contest you must arrive, in costume, by 10:45pm to register at the table just inside the main entrance to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Once registered you will receive a number; this is the order in which you will be called before the panel of judges. Each participant will be judged based on the ABC’s of great costumes: Authenticity, Believability and Creativity! Judges will score each participant and we will award the prizes just before the start of the 12:01am movie for each of the winners – Best Adult Male, Best Adult Female, Best Male under 13 years old, Best Female under 13 years old. So dust off your dress robes and we’ll see you at HMNS for the Harry Potter Midnight Madness Costume Contest!

Hey Shutterbugs – Freeze Frame’s for you!

summer-campThe start of Xploration Summer Camps here at the museum are fast approaching. Campers can take week long classes in archaeology, creepy crawlies, the science behind Harry Potter, dinosaurs, robots, crime scene investigation and much more.

In years past we’ve had a camp class called “Photo Safari” that was always really popular. This year we have decided to take one of the kids’ favorite aspects of “Photo Safari” and added new activities and topics — thus, a new camp is born! This year, it’s “Freeze Frame”!

Andrea G., one of our fabulous Summer Camp teachers and a former ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs program intern for me in Education Collections, is a huge photography buff and she is using her wealth of darkroom knowledge to put together some new projects for the “Freeze Frame” campers this summer!

freeze-frameWe’ll be traveling back in time to experiment with some of the earliest photographic processes, including learning about albumen prints – which originally used eggs!  Using our own darkroom, we’ll build pinhole cameras and shoot black-and-white images and hand-made blueprints. 

Campers will get crafty with Polaroids and image transfers while exploring the artsy side of photography.  Then they’ll turn into scientists, playing with mirrors and light while building their own kaleidoscopes, periscopes, and much more.  Come join us for a bright adventure in “Freeze Frame” this summer!

Just because school is out for the summer doesn’t mean your kids have to stop learning. Check out our Xploration Summer Camps, a fun and educational adventure for your children! These week-long science classes are available for children ages 5 to 12 from June 1 through August 14. For more information, visit our web site at