The Careers in Science curriculum offers three classes: Paleontology, Biology and Chemistry.
At the Paleontology class, participants meet off-site and dig into history to uncover 45 million-year-old fossils from locations on the banks of the Brazos River and at a park teeming with petrified wood. Each participant keeps the fossils she finds!
In Biology class, participants go behind the scenes of the Cockrell Butterfly Center to learn where our butterflies are sourced, how the plants are grown and even how our waterfall works. They’ll also interact with live insects and learn just what makes our “containment room” so important.
Finally, Chemistry class teaches participants about everyday chemical reactions through hands-on experiments, including creating chemical temperature changes and understanding the role chemical reactions play in cooking.
Siblings at least 10 years of age can also participate in class with the purchase of a ticket, and each class ticket allows one adult to accompany each child.
This summer, we had a really fun camp for 10-12 year olds called Freeze Frame. Campers learned about a variety of photography processes and how the technology has progressed over the years. One of the things they learned about was Cyanotypes or the blueprint process.
Generally, people will associate the word “blueprint” with architectural plans or layouts, but the term came from the fact that a process similar to cyanotyping was used to make inexpensive copies of plans without a huge investment in technology.
The Freeze Frame class created cyanotypes by treating both cotton t-shirts and cotton rag paper with cyanotype chemicals, and then using either photographic negatives or opaque objects to block the sun and expose the treated surface to the sunlight.
In this video, Xplorations Summer Camp Educator Andrea Gilbert
walks us through the Freeze Frame camp!
Today, you can easily buy pre-treated paperto create a sunprint of your own, you can find it at your local arts and crafts store (here in Houston you can find it at Texas Art Supply).
By following the simple instructions included with the paper – and being careful to keep your paper in the dark until you’re ready to expose the photosensitive surface with your design on top - you can create all sorts of fun images! For my first example, I used a die-cut paper elephant and some random bits of hardware to create an image. My second example uses tracing paper (this is more like creating a blueprint from a technical drawing on vellum). Any flat, opaque objects will do but these are just what I happened to have lying around!
After only a minute or so, I could see that the paper that started out blue indoors was quickly fading to white… after about 2 full minutes I flipped all of the hardware off and carried the sheets back indoors.
To fix the image, I soaked the exposed paper in water for just a minute, the colors reversed to white images on a blue background, the sunprints lay out flat to dry and voila!
Now, head outside and make a sunprint of your own! What natural objects can you find to use for design elements — sticks, leaves, shells? What other flat items can you think of that will block out the sun?
If you like sunprinting, don’t forget to sign up early for Xplorations Summer camp next year and check out Freeze Frame for more adventures in photography!
Last Friday was the last day of Xplorations summer camp. The Education crew said goodbye to our amazing staff of teachers and teaching assistants and packed up all of our camp supplies, posters, and camp furniture. When we arrived on Monday morning after a restful weekend (finally, a weekend with no Summer camp preparations) it was time to begin the next chapter of the HMNS lower level’s life… demolition. (this is a bit more dramatic – but to those of us who spend all of our time in the basement of the Museum this change is about as big!)
The discovery place platform, tranformed into a pile of plywood!
We add so many classrooms to accommodate our summer camps (only 8 of our 20 classrooms are actually permanent!) that there is always a period of deconstruction, but for many years we have held on to the three classrooms along the edge of Fondren Discovery Place for school year programs. This year, that all changes…
BODY WORLDS will be moving in very shortly and will occupy a good portion of the lower level and the 2nd floor of the Museum – it sounds like there will be a lot of amazing things to see and I’m sure that our bloggers will keep you updated on more specifics as they become available.
So the next time you visit us in the Museum’s basement, things will be looking a bit different but there will still be a lot of learning going on! Our weekday labs and teacher trainings begin in just a couple of weeks along with Overnights and Educational programs and open houses for the whole family!
The Discovery place exhibits on parade down the hallway… they will soon find their new home at the Woodlands Xploration Station during the run of BODY WORLDS — be sure to visit them there!
Robots are amazing! Some make you milkshakes, some help you clean your house, some even entertain us (as if drinking a milkshake while cleaning your house was not entertaining enough) and as we have found at Xplorations Camp this summer, kids love robots.
The kiddos in Rockin’ Robots camp this week have had the chance to learn what a robot is: they program some really adorable bee-bots to travel around, they make some fun robot crafts and even practice moving like a robot for the robot sing-a-long at the end of the week.
As kids get older, they can come back each year for more robot excitement in Roving Robots for 6 and 7 year olds and then RoboLab and Battlebots for 8-12 year olds and we even have an Advanced Robotics class for those who are excited about more in-depth programming.
Kids come up with all sorts of cool things robots could help us with – a favorite has been the robot who does homework and makes root beer floats. My cousin visited earlier this summer for a week of camp and was the grand champion of her Battlebots Friday Battle. It is so much fun to check out these camps as the weeks go by – great to see kids enthusiastic about building and exploring and making things go – a great start for our future engineers.
Just in case you were wondering – Merriam Webster defines a robot as follows:
1 a: a machine that looks like a human being and performs various complex acts (as walking or talking) of a human being; also: a similar but fictional machine whose lack of capacity for human emotions is often emphasizedb: an efficient insensitive person who functions automatically2: a device that automatically performs complicated often repetitive tasks3: a mechanism guided by automatic controls
Just as an update on my last post, the coolest thing I bought for camps this week - by far - is the Pitcher Plant I got at Whole Foods. The Parasites and Predators camp will study it when they learn about carnivorous plants. The grossest thing that’s been in the fridge lately is probably the pans of “gross krispies” – our yucky rock-, bean- and shell-filled version of rice krispies treats that smell like delicious, real rice krispies but are filled with things you know you can’t eat.