Get your wings with Your Community and Heritage, a new Eagle-required badge available this summer!

After the rip-roaring success of our Spring Break series, we’re offering Summer Scouts a new Eagle-required badge as one half of a week-long class: Your Community and Heritage. In just one five-day course, Scouts will have the opportunity to earn both the Citizenship in the Community badge and the American Heritage badge.

Citizenship in the Community explores how the local community works to provide services for its residents. Participants will talk to a government representative to learn how city services are provided, learn about community organizations and ride the light rail downtown and visit a court session.

In earning the American Heritage Badge, Scouts will research their family’s history and their community and explore how our Nation’s past has led to its present.

Boy Scouts - Chemistry Merit BadgeIt’s going to be a big summer at HMNS for Scouts: Scouts can earn up to four Eagle-required badges at HMNS Main and up to three at HMNS at Sugar Land, in addition to an array of other badges.

But it’s not all Boy Scout-centric! We’ve also got Webelos Super Science for the younger set and a brand new summer summer edition or Careers in Science for the Girl Scouts.

To learn more, view a full schedule and register for classes, click here!

Are you ready for this? Public registration for Xplorations Summer Camp begins Monday!

Set your alarm and ready your clicking fingers: Public registration for our sell-out Xplorations Summer Camps begins Monday, March 25!

Thank you, Summer Campers!

Whether you’re a first-time camp family or Xplorations veterans, you’ll find something new and exciting in this year’s catalog. Each week-long, interactive class features before-camp and after-camp care to make shuttling the kiddos as convenient as possible. Choose from a variety of topics ranging from paleontology to robotics to chemistry and so much more.

To peruse the full catalog of camps and get started on registration, click here. Decide early and be ready when Monday rolls around; these camps will sell out!

March 4th and conquer: Camp, that is! Family level member registration for Xplorations Summer Camps opens Monday

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: We’re gearing up for our Xplorations Summer Camps, and online registration for Family level museum members starts Monday, March 4 at 12:01 a.m.

That’s right. It’s like Black Friday, except replace the rock-bottom deals on televisions with crazy-awesome intensive science camps. And it’s on a Monday. So, let’s say, Fuschia Monday — perhaps even with confetti.

Thank you, Summer Campers!For those of you who might be unfamiliar, our week-long educational camps run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (with before and after-camp care also available for an additional fee) and cover science topics ranging from physics to robotics to understanding the universe in interactive classes tailored for kids ages 6 through 12.

Camps do sell out, so we recommend checking out our full catalog in advance here, and having your picks ready once the witching hour rolls around.

Camps are available at both the HMNS Main and HMNS Sugar Land locations throughout the summer; for a full schedule at both locations, click here.

Educator How-To: Build your own personal hovercraft

A hovercraft may look like some high-tech alien vehicle, but the concepts behind its inner workings are really quite simple. Building a hovercraft is an excellent way to investigate the principles of air pressure, friction, lift, thrust, and drag and serves as an excellent motivator for hands-on discovery — for even the most reluctant of learners.

A hovercraft is an ACV (air cushion vehicle) that rides on a pillow of slightly pressurized air. The hovercraft sports a skirt around its perimeter designed to contain air generated by a fan, or in the case of our craft, a repurposed leaf blower.

Build your own hovercraft!The air contained by the skirt in turn creates a cushion that lifts the hovercraft a small distance off the ground. Note: The weight a hovercraft can lift is easily calculated by multiplying the cushion pressure by the area of the craft.

Once lift is achieved, the craft uses directed air to create a forward thrust, allowing the vehicle to be forwardly mobile. A typical hovercraft creates this forward thrust using a propeller or propellers that push air toward the back of the vehicle. Using the principles of lift and thrust, as explained above, the hovercraft operates much like an airplane.

Build your own hovercraft!Now that the craft has forward momentum, it must be steered. Steering is achieved in various ways, depending on vehicle design. A system of rudders placed behind the fan may be used to direct air in different directions, allowing the vehicle the freedom to turn.  This configuration is similar to the mechanism used to steer some boats. Other hovercrafts use subtle shifts in the operator’s body weight to steer, a skill that takes practice to master.

The Museum’s simplified hovercraft was constructed by our own Carolyn Leap using a collection of ideas with a few modifications:

•    Rounded off corners on a square of plywood in order to reduce the weight of the vehicle – a circle of plywood is an even better option for reducing weight.
•    We sought help from the Exhibits Department to cut a hole to accommodate an unusually shaped leaf-blower outlet.
•    We used a plastic tablecloth completely reinforced with duct tape because the plastic seemed inadequate on its own.
•    Reinforced the skirt’s attachment by stapling AND taping around the edges.
•    Added pool noodles (split along one side) instead of pipe insulation as a bumper
•    Added duct tape flaps (sticky sides together) and attached them around the perimeter of the nozzle to create a more effective seal to improve lift.

This hovercraft is used in the Museum’s Xplorations Summer Camp Programs to illustrate various physics concepts. Our hovercraft does not create its own forward thrust and has no steering mechanism, so the craft and rider are guided by the instructor. Take a look at the fun pictures of one of our campers, Noah, as he rides on a pillow of pressurized air!

Build your own hovercraft!For instructions on how to build your own hovercraft, click here.

Sciencebuddies.org and Wired.com have some great additional info. See you same time, same place next month!