Thank you, onliners!

HMNS.ORG today.

So, the next time we do a survey of our online visitors, it should include the question “What do you call a group of people who interact online?” The closest I could find was onliners, though this really refers to something much more specific. I also liked “online hero” – because it seemed like an apt description for the awesome people who took the time to help us out by answering some questions about their online activities.

Clearly there is a gap in – this needs to be rectified. Ideas, anyone?

In the meantime, I’m happy to announce that the randomly selected winner of the iPod Touch is Brandi Roberson. Congratulations, Brandi!

Since so many of you (almost 2,000!) took the time to answer our questions about what you like to do online, I thought I would share some of the trends with you here.

The most interesting answers came in response to the open-ended final question, “What – if any – new features would you like to see added to” They included gems like “More Robots!” (um…ok?)and “Gravity!” (more details, please) as well as tons of great ideas – like an online gift shop, webcams, virtual tours, member-specific content, the ability to review exhibitions, RSS feeds, social networking, increased interaction in general and much more.

Other interesting tidbits: you’re young (over half between 25 – 44) and you really like the Internet (99% use it either “constantly” or daily” – though I suppose it might be more surprising if you didn’t). You like Facebook waaaay more than MySpace (by a margin of 35%) and 1.6% are still stuck with dial up. You’re creative – 35% are creating content on Flickr, YouTube or Twitter.

15% of you stop by our web site for more information about an exhibit after you visit the Museum in person – a scenario we generally have not considered with regards to the information available online. I can assure you we are considering that now – along with all of the other needs and preferences you shared – as we work on improving our online programs. Thank you!

If you missed the survey, or if you have any further ideas you’d like to share, please do so in the comments. We would love to hear from you!

I Search, You Search, Erin and I Researched.

Black Diamond, part of HMNS rich
history – check back here and on for features and events
celebrating our centennial
throughout 2009.

Last Friday, Erin and I went to the Texas Room in the Julia Idasen building at the downtown Houston Public Library to research the history of our beloved HMNS.  We had so much fun, I thought we were going to get kicked out.  Besides the building being an amazing treasure itself, the articles we found about the Museum were awesome. 

Many of them were inspiring, some of them were serious, but a good handful were just plain fun. Did you know for example that the original title of the Challenger Center was something to the effect of “Space Lab – 2061” ? There were also several articles on objects that we remembered as kids, but that haven’t been on display in a while – like Black Diamond and the shrunken heads.

So, why am I telling you this?  2009 marks our 100th anniversary as a museum and because of that we will be having a number of special events – 100 in fact. We will also have a special section on our website devoted to our 100 years of history.  Watch for what made us giggle in the weeks to come.

On the Seventh Day of HMNS…look inside the human body

It’s that time again – delicious cookies, pies, chocolates and treats of all types are constantly swirling past, in a holiday smorgasbord of epic proportions. It’s delicious – but we all know we’ll be waking up a few pounds heavier on Jan. 2. So – what does all the holiday excess do to your body? For that matter, what effect does all the holiday stress have on your brain?

Find out in BODY WORLDS 2 & The Brain – our Three Pound Gem, now on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. You can see exactly where all those holiday goodies go after you’re through enjoying them – and learn how your body functions in general, as well as examine the latest neuroscience research into the brain.

Check out this video for a sneak peek into the exhibit:

BODY WORLDS 2 is just one of the fun and fascinating family events at the Houston Museum of Natural Science during the holiday season. In a take-off of everyone’s favorite holiday classic, The 12 Days of Christmas, we’ve got 12 ideas for fabulous family fun this holiday and we’ll be sharing the possibilities here every day until Christmas Eve. Best of all, most are activities that last past the holiday season – some, year round. You can also check them all out now at the spiffy new 12 Days of HMNS web site.

Check out the first six days of HMNS:
On the first day of HMNS, explore The Birth of Christianity.
On the second day of HMNS, shop for Sci-tastic gifts.
On the third day of HMNS, meet Prancer the reindeer.
On the fourth day of HMNS, discover the making of The Star of Bethlehem.
On the fifth day, move it, move it with Madagascar 2 in the Wortham IMAX Theatre.
On the sixth day, hunt dinosaurs with Dr. Bob Bakker.

On the Fourth Day of HMNS…Discover The Star of Bethlehem

Discover The Star of Bethlehem this holiday.

There’s always a lot happening at the Houston Museum of Natural Science – especially during the holiday season. We’ve put together 12 ideas for fabulous family fun for you, which we’re sharing here every day until Christmas Eve. You can also check them all out now at the spiffy new 12 Days of HMNS web site. For the fourth day of HMNS, go behind-the-scenes of the film The Star of Bethlehem, a holiday tradition in the Burke Baker Planetarium. (Of course, each day’s idea can be done on any day this holiday – and in some cases, all year.)

Many are familiar with the Biblical Star of Bethlehem – the bright star that the wise men followed to reach the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. But – what was the historical, astronomical event that initiated this story? What was the Star of Bethlehem? What did the wise men see?

These are questions that have puzzled biblical scholars and scientists alike. And every year, audiences can explore the latest archaeo-astronomy research into this fascinating topic. In the video below, go behind-the-scenes with Adam, one of our Planetarium astronomers, as he updates the film for this year.

Check out the first three days of HMNS:
On the first day of HMNS, discover The Birth of Christianity.
On the second day of HMNS, shop for Sci-tastic gifts.
On the third day of HMNS, meet Prancer the reindeer.