Complete Your Holiday Shopping List at the Discoveries Gift Shop at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery!

ANGELA M. SHAFFER

Rocks

Are you still searching for the perfect holiday gifts for your friends and family? The Discoveries Gift Shop at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery offers thousands of educational, fun, and unique items for everyone on your list! Whether you’re searching for hands-on science and robot kits, striking rock and fossil specimens, colorful plush pieces, or even a Star Wars™ Death Star™ serving platter, we’ve got you covered!

Diecast and backpacksOur knowledgeable, friendly Guest Services staff is always happy to help you choose the perfect gift. Visit us anytime the Museum is open (9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday); you may shop anytime in the Discoveries Shop without paying general admission.

Just in time for the busy holiday shopping season, here are some of our most popular items and staff favorites, organized by price. Happy holidays!

Stocking stuffers under $5.00

We have a plethora of fun stocking stuffers at affordable prices. A perennial favorite is astronaut ice cream, in delicious flavors like mint chocolate chip and cinnamon apple wedgeIce Creams. Other bestsellers include bright Ty™ plush clips for accessorizing backpacks and jackets, sparkling crack-open geodes and amethyst and citrine specimens, earthy rock and mineral dig kits, slimy Mars mud and Pluto plasma,  and slippery water snakes—all priced at $4.99 or less!

Stocking stuffers under $10.00

You’ll find lots to of unique plush pieces in the Discoveries Shop, and we carry several smaller pieces, including super-soft otters, meerkats, and sloths. If you’ve got a little one who loves to play with diecast toys, we’ve got those, too, including trains, police cars, planes, and tractors. You can fill a branded drawstring bag with rocks or magnet stones to give to a young geologist, or you can gift a robot claw to a young explorer!

Gifts under $20.00

Ty plushWe carry a wide variety of DIY science kits for less than $20.00, so stock up for all of the budding astronomers, paleontologists, and scientists on your list! Just in time the holidays, new Ty Gear™ plush backpacks are available in a variety of styles. You’ll also find ant farms, large plastic dinosaurs, mermaid-and fairy-making kits, and backpacks full of themed diecast toys!

Gifts under $50.00

For less thanTy Gear backpacks purses $50.00, there are several truly unique options in the Discoveries Shop. The Inclocknito and Spy Science Money Safe kits allow kids to keep their treasures safe, while our brand-new Scientific Robot kit offers many experiments and learning opportunities in one convenient package. Dinosaur table lamps offer a cool way to light up the night, and impressive pizza and space station playsets will bring hours of imaginative play to the creative kids on your list. And don’t forget the large Ty™ Beanie Boos™ and Beanie Babies™, which promise hours of colorful cuddling fun!

Adults

AdultWhat do you buy for the guy or gal who has everything? A Bigfoot action figure or scarf, of course, or perhaps Star Wars™ salt-and-pepper shakers or that Death Star™ serving platter! Pass the time by completing a puzzle featuring the periodic table of the elements or beautiful gemstones; keep the time with a cool galaxy-print (or, yes, Star Wars™-themed) wall clock. Cozy socks in a variety of fun animal designs help keep cold winter feet warm; cold winter mornings are made a little more bearable when hot coffee or tea is sipped from a handwarmer animal mug. And office work always goes a little faster when you have a woodpecker stapler or otter tape dispenser by your side.

Visit the Discoveries Gift Shop today and let us help you choose the perfect holiday gifts!

Angela M. Shaffer is the Senior Manager, Guest Services and Database Management at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.

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Science @ Home: Candy Sparks

SCIENCE @ HomeFourth of July and fireworks go hand-in-hand, but you don’t have to attend a fireworks display to see a spark! That’s right, with some simple science, you can create spark (in your mouth!) with some refreshing candy.

What You’ll Need:

  • A bag of Wint-O-Green Lifesavers (not sugarless)
  • A pair of pliers (use if you are not allowed to crunch on hard candy)
  • A mirror or a group of friends

Experiment:

  1. Head into your bathroom and stand in front of a mirror. If you are at home with friends, you can head outside when it’s dark. Keep in mind you will need complete darkness to best see the spark, so if you are outdoors head to an area of your yard with the least light pollution.
  2. Give your eyes 3-5 minutes to adjust to the dark, you will be able to see the spark better this way.
  3. Place the Wint-O-Green lifesaver between your teeth, make sure you are standing across from your friends or directly across from the mirror. Bite down on the Wint-O-Green with your mouth or crush it with a pair of pliers.
Wintogreen_Video

Click to play

Observations:

What did you see? Was it a greenish-blue light? If you didn’t see the spark, repeat the experiment a few more times until you see the spark.

What is Happening?

You’ve created a little storm in your mouth, that’s right! This actually is more similar to lightning than it is to a sparkler. Lightning is an electric stream that excites nitrogen molecules in the air, proving them with extra energy which is released as visual light.

When sugar is crushed with teeth or pliers, the pieces become negatively and positively charged, making electricity jump through the air between the pieces of sugar. This is what creates light.

But can’t I just crush a piece of sugar and see the reaction? The answer is no, but that’s just because the release of energy when regular sugar is crushed is ultraviolet light, which can’t be seen by the naked eye. However, the wintergreen in the Wint-O-Green Lifesavers is a special substance that absorbs ultraviolet energy and transforms it into visual light – aka triboluminescence.

Summer is a Great Time to Be a Member!

We’re counting down the minutes until summer begins and we bet you are too. There’s so much to do: plan your vacations, summer camps, family outings, activities, and more. The list could go on forever, even though the summer season is only three months long. If your goals is to have some great summer family experiences that keep the kiddos happy — and probably more importantly, keep you under budget — check out a Dayton Society of Natural History Membership!

New and current Members can maximize their Memberships this summer with so many things to do, see, and experience in just three short months:

memberguidesummer

The cost of a Museum Membership, transportation, and snacks (because everyone needs snacks!), can get you an entire summer of entertainment, family memories, and fun.

Here are some Dayton Society of Natural History summer highlights you won’t want to miss (bonus: everything listed below is either FREE for Members or Museum Members receive a discount).

New Exhibitions: Both the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery & SunWatch will welcome new exhibitions this summer. On June 4 the Amazing Butterflies opens at the Boonshoft Museum and Johnny Appleseed opens at SunWatch later on during the summer season. Members enjoy a special sneak preview of Amazing Butterflies from 9:00 a.m. – Noon on June 4 before it opens to the public.

Special Events: From Movie Nights at the Museum to the Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow hosted at SunWatch by the Miami Valley Council for Native Americans, there are some stellar events that you won’t want to miss this summer, here are some of the highlights:

Fort Ancient: Summer Solstice Sunrise on June 19, Nature Hike on July 9, Archaeology Day on July 16.

SunWatch: Keeping the Tradition Pow Wow on June 25-26, Kids’ Days throughout the summer.

Boonshoft Museum of Discovery: Movie Nights at the Museum (A Bug’s Life in June and Frozen in August), Red White & Boonshoft on July 4, and our Meerkat Mob’s Birthday on July 30.

To learn more or purchase a Membership, visit www.boonshoftmuseum.org.

 

 

 

Cookie Chemistry

You can’t think of the holidays without thinking of cookies! From gingerbread houses to sweet sugar cookies, everyone has a favorite—including a certain someone who is responsible for magically bringing presents to kiddos across the world!

It just so happens that National Cookie Day was last week, and because science and baking go hand-in-hand, we are going to explore the chemistry behind the perfect cookie! Too much flour, different fats, baking soda, and liquids, they all play a roll in crafting your cookie favorites.

First, let’s consider what holds our raisins, chocolate chips, and macadamia nuts together: the dough. Depending on the cookie, the dough can be created using different ingredients. For this example, we’ll use the classic chocolate chip cookie which requires eggs, butter, brown sugar, white sugar, baking soda, flour, salt, and vanilla. How do these things mixed together go from gooey to great? The answer: Heat causing a series of chemical reactions.

  1. You’ve just placed your dough on the cookie sheet and popped it in the oven. The heat causes the butter inside the dough to melt, which is what causes the cookie to go from a doughy ball to a round flat cookie.
  2. Next, your cookies will blow off some steam—literally! At 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the water in your dough turns into steam and the water vapor rises through the dough. Additionally, the baking soda starts to turn into carbon dioxide gas which will raise the cookie up even further.
  3. By now, you’ll start to notice that your cookie is turning golden brown in color, which means your cookie is just about done! Some tasty reactions are happening, including caramelization, when sugar reaches a high enough temperature, it begins to break down from clear crystals and transforms into a brown liquid, and the Maillard reaction.  This reaction combined with reaction from the combination from the sugar and protein from the eggs and flour creates a simply scrumptious result.

cookie-science3

You can conduct your own experiment by making a batch yourself and trying different ingredients, but if you want to make the classic chocolate chip cookie—look no further than this Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

 

Science @ Home: DIY Glow In The Dark Slime

We have a theory that has been well tested at the Boonshoft Museum; most children love gross, sticky goop. This theory isn’t quite as fleshed out as, say, Einstein’s theory of relativity or Newton’s Law, but we’re pretty sure it rings true—especially during Halloween. Zombie goo, vampire blood, witch’s brew—each monster or spook has some sort of gross fluid that completes their persona, and while we don’t necessarily believe in spooky monsters, we certainly celebrate the science behind them!

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Credit: Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures

This month’s Science@Home is a homage to one of the most popular ghosts of all time. Casper is the obvious choice, but he’s not quite gross enough—so we’re going to go with our favorite mischievous, hot-dog-eating ghost, Slimer, of Ghostbusters fame.

slime-bill-murray-1200x675

Credit: Ghostbusters, Columbia Pictures

Slimer is green, almost suspiciously green—as if he glows in the dark. So, why not make some Slimer slime? This glow in the dark goop is easy to make and only requires a few household items. See the complete experiment below:

DIY Glow in the Dark SlimeSafety First:

This experiment requires the supervision of an adult. Please remember to not eat/drink the science! Borax, glue, and paint should not come into contact with the mouth and/or eyes.

Ingredients:

½ cup glue

½ cup water

Borax solution (1 tsp. borax with 1 cup water, mix until borax is dissolved)

3 tbs. non-toxic glow in the dark paint

Directions:

In a bowl mix ½ cup glue and ½ cup water.

Once this solution is mixed add 3 tbs. glow in the dark paint.

In another bowl, mix 1 tsp borax with 1 c. water until the borax is completely dissolved.

Add the glue mixture to the borax solution, stirring slowly.

The glow in the dark slime will start to form immediately; stir this as much as possible, then with your hands, knead the slime until it gets less sticky.

Pour extra water (if there is any) out of the bowl.

Hold your glow in the dark slime under a light to expedite the “glowing” process.

Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

ghostbuster in training

Who you gonna call?

What is happening?

There are two reactions happening when you make your slime, one is the absorption of light and one is a polymer reaction. Think of the glue like long strands of spaghetti; now imagine trying to fit all of those spaghetti strands next to each other; difficult, right? This is where the borax comes in. Once the borax is added, it immediately creates a reaction that fuses the “glue strands” together—and poof—slime!

Well, what about the glow in the dark part? There are many reactions that can cause a glowing reaction, but for this purpose, phosphorescent paint does the trick. One your slime is exposed to energy from the light in a room, it releases it at a slower rate—which results in a “Slimer-esque” glow.

This experiment not only gives children an opportunity to explore chemistry, it gives them the opportunity to experience tactile learning, which is especially important for early learners.

Take it further: Halloween is around the corner and whether you are trick or treating as a mischievous ghost or a Ghostbuster in training, this completes the costume.

For some Halloween fun before trick or treating starts, visit the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Dayton for Spooky Science Saturday and the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Springfield for their Halloween Kick-Off.

Celebrate National Play-Doh Day With This DIY Recipe!

PreschoolPlayDohFind your rolling pins and get ready to create—today is National Play-Doh Day! Play-Doh is a childhood classic—spaghetti, zoo animals, simple shapes, you’ve made them all—and even if you haven’t it’s never too late! After all, there’s no rule that says adults can’t play with Play-Doh.

Some adults, however, may not know the true power of Play-Doh, especially when it comes to early learners. For many young learners, what seems like simple playing to pass the time is actually integrally important to early childhood development—and the best part? As a parent, guardian, teacher, or friend you can expand on sensory play with your little one by using observation as a teachable moment.

Sensory play” is literally what it sounds like; an engaging activity that stimulates a child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. We asked Kimberly Clough, Administrator of the Preschool at the Boonshoft Museum, for ways parents can expand on simple sensory activities, “Observation is critical to all scientific discovery. Engaging children is crucial when it comes to their learning experiences. Turn off the cell phone, the television, and sit with your child and simply engage them at eye-level, ask them about what they are doing. Think about what the child is smelling, hearing, tasting, seeing, and feeling, ask them questions — then let the learning commence!”

Can you remember the moment you learned what “soft” felt like?  What about sticky?  Or what about different smells, and how to define them? Simple observations create a moment to share what you know with your child, which helps them learn!

Because we can’t end this post without some awesome experiments, below are not one, but TWO recipes for a simple salt dough and a Boonshoft Preschool Classic, cornstarch dough. Enjoy mixing your way to awesome sensory fun and observe away!

Color_Sphere_SectionCornstarch Sensory Dough (aka Oobleck)

Ingredients:

1.5 – 2 c. Cornstarch
1 c. Water
A few drops of food coloring.

Directions:
Mix ingredients into a bowl, then add the food coloring. Try mixing different colors so your young scientist can learn that mixing colors can make new colors on the color wheel!
Expand: To add to the sensory fun, use cornstarch and shaving foam in a 1:1 ratio!

homemade-playdough-2-webSalt Sensory Dough (Similar to Play-Doh)

Ingredients:
1 c. Salt
1 c. lukewarm water
2 c. Flour
Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then slowly pour in water and mix. Your Play-Doh should be stored in an air tight container like a mason jar or plastic ware.
Expand: To add to the sensory fun you can add spices, glitter, and color to your salt dough. You can also turn your salt dough into a permanent craft creation by baking it in the oven at 2000F. To completely dry the dough out, it may need to be in the oven for a few hours, depending on the thickness of your creation. Once dry, you can have fun painting your salt dough to complete your permanent masterpiece!

Interested in different dough recipes? Click here.

See what else the Preschool at the Boonshoft Museum has in store by clicking here.

Makers Are Getting Things Moving! Join In On All The Fun!

From problem solvers and upcyclers, to DIY robotics newbies—the “Maker Movement” is something everyone can get excited about. To be a “maker” is to be a visionary, a builder, an engineer, a creative, and much, much more. Makers across the country are getting things done in amazing ways—like Brittnay Wegner, who took home the Google Science Fair’s grand prize for developing computer programming technology that accesses tissue samples for breast cancer with 99% accuracy. Brittnay was 17 at the time she developed her invention. The organization, Girls Who Code, has myriad of testimonials from young girls, who, through training in computer skills, have built, modeled, coded their way to create wonderful things:

On graduation night at Google, I was approached with my first ever job offer. Today, at 15, I have two web design jobs to help make ends meet at home. I am teaching my dad to code. He’s now working to become an IT professional to replace his substitute custodian job. My sisters are next on the list.

Moms and dads are using “lifehacks” to kick-start their cleaning, home, and personal projects, teens are upcycling furniture for their dorm rooms and creating apps, and children are engineering robots and programming using their own open source hardware (like the very popular Raspberry Pi).

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FIRST LEGO League Teams create and program LEGO robots.

Even the White House has taken notice of how important makers are to the economy and the world! During the White House’s Week of Making, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Springfield will be hosting public programming themed around “making”—and don’t forget, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Springfield has a designated Maker Space that is filled with creative ways to complete projects. MakerMovement While diving into “maker” activities may seem intimidating, one of the best way to encourage your children to tinker and create is to complete a project with them—and because we at the Museum are huge Astronomy fans (I mean, we only have the coolest Planetarium in the region!) we recommend this DIY Constellation Light Box featured in Make Magazine. Not only do you get to paint, light, and measure, the end result is a beautiful night light for your little one’s bedroom!

LightBox

Credit: Makezine.com

To complete the DIY Constellation Light Box Project click here. To learn more about the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Springfield click here. To learn more about the White House’s Week of Making click here.