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

ANGELA M. SHAFFER

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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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How to Have a Great Visitor Experience at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

By ANGELA SHAFFER and EZEKIEL McLEAN

As the Boonshoft Museum explores ways of improving the quality of our guests’ experiences, we’ve developed a few approaches to help to ensure that your visit is fun, interesting, and safe. Every trip starts at the beginning, so plan for contingencies before leaving home.

Guests should be prepared to show a photo ID, as members, reciprocal members, and patrons using credit/debit cards will be asked to show their identification. If you have a reciprocal membership card from a partnering institution, please have that card with you as well.

The Museum does not host a cafe or restaurant, so bring along lunch and a few snacks for yourself and your family. You can also purchase items from the Food Chain vending area on the second floor. The Food Chain’s vending machines offer sandwiches, drinks, snacks, and other treats. There are also snacks and beverages available for purchase in the Discoveries Gift Shop near the front entrance of the Museum.

Be sure to dress for the weather, and consider that temperature fluctuations may occur that can make certain areas of the Museum warmer or cooler than average. Also consider bringing a change of clothing for kids, as they can get their clothing wet playing at the water table. You can place items in rental lockers located in the coat room in the front lobby of the Museum and change according to need.

The Boonshoft Museum has designated stroller parking areas – one inside the planetarium, and one just outside the Kids Place area on the first floor. The Museum offers a limited number of strollers and wheelchairs for rent during visits. See a Guest Services staff member at the front desk of the Museum for information.

There are maps and program guides available at the front desk at check-in. Elevators and stairway approaches also offer stationary maps with visitor information. Restrooms are located on each floor, and the Main Exhibition Hall is located on the second floor adjacent to the Food Chain vending area.

The Planetarium screens many unique science shows about topics as diverse as Sky Tonight, with some featuring dinosaurs like Flying Monsters and Did an Asteroid Kill the Dinosaurs? Still, others investigate the amazing wonders of the world. Be advised that they begin promptly on the hour. To ensure seating, be in line in front of the doors of the theater, (note that the line may often extend into the Hall of the Universe) at least five minutes before the start of the show!

If you or your child suffer a minor injury, a bump, abrasion, or simply need to apply a new Band-Aid, head to the front desk as quickly as possible. If you happen to see a Museum staff member along the way, stop them because they may be able to guide you to a closer first-aid location. We will just need you to fill out a quick incident report.

If your child is lost, head to the front desk right away. If you spot a staff member along the way, stop them as they may have a radio and can begin to mobilize others immediately. Otherwise, the front desk can start the process. You will be asked for a description of your child and where they were last seen. A staffer will stay with you should you choose to start looking, rather than stay at the front desk.

Museum staff members will clear areas closest to the child’s last known location. Once the child is found, staff members will communicate over radio how best to reunite the two parties. One of the most common places that parents lose sight of their children is on the climbing tower, as it can be accessed on either floor. If you have young children, have an adult on each level if possible; otherwise, you may want to consider not utilizing the climbing tower during your visit.

These are some helpful suggestions to help you enjoy your visit to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. If you have questions or thoughts that you’d like to share, please contact the Museum at www.boonshoftmuseum.org, or by calling (937) 275-7431.

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.
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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.

Careers In Curiosity: Party On, Jodi!

OutdoorWeddingRentalsThough it’s not your typical Museum career, our Rentals Manger, Jodi Rettig, certainly has a curious job at the Dayton Society of Natural History. The Boonshoft Museum’s Main Exhibit Hall can be housing dinosaur eggs that are millions of years old one week and then be decorated to the nines for an elegant wedding the next.

From laying out schematics to programming personalized slide shows, Jodi uses science and math to be a success at her job, in addition to utilizing Museum technologies in order to create one-of-a-kind events for her clients. Read more about Jodi’s curious career below and then check out some tips she has to create both a special and casual event.

 


 

JodiMy position as Rentals Manager calls for many different skills, including planning and organizing, working closely with chosen vendors, and communicating with staff from the museum. I schedule tours to show potential clients around the museum, which helps show the museum from a whole new perspective. From using our climbing tower as a place for a band to turning Science On a Sphere into a moonlit area perfect for a bride and groom’s first dance, I truly enjoy making our clients’ happiest days come to life by customizing our spaces.

We regularly host weddings and corporate events in the Planetarium and use the screen in the Dome as a blank slate for the client to create, and I also love outdoor ceremonies and events in our Amphitheater in the spring and summer. Working with our clients and seeing their event turn into an unforgettable experience is hands-down the most enjoyable part of my job, especially because I visited the Museum as a child. Seeing my clients and their guests enjoy the Museum as much as I do is really fulfilling.

Here are Jodi’s top tips for planning and implementing both formal and casual events:

If you’re planning a wedding, holiday party, fundraising event, or prom, don’t forget to:

Email us or pop by during house of operation. Emailing or stopping by a facility are the best ways to stay in contact with your venue and vendors, especially around the busy wedding/holiday season. Many vendors and venues are dealing with several clients at a time, and the best way for us to keep track of all the details is through e-mail. This allows you and the vendor to have the paperwork needed to make a check list.

Research your vendors. It never hurts to ask about vendors, especially when it comes to choosing just the right DJ, caterer, photographer, and florist. At the Museum, we have worked with many vendors, and with a unique venue like ours, we are able to refer you to vendors that know our space and will best fit your budget.

Utilize your venue. If your event is in a unique space, it also never hurts to ask about using those aspects of your venue. We allow guests to incorporate programs and exhibits into their event quite often and because our spaces are so versatile, the possibilities here are almost endless. Yes, we can bring animals out for your guests. Yes, your guests can use the slide. Yes, we can create a program on our Planetarium, solely for you. Never be afraid to ask!

Navigate Your Guests! Accurate Driving directions are great to have as well as a convenient list of nearby hotels. Contact your venue for a map or driving tips that you can relay to your guests. It can save time and it ensures that everyone has a wonderful commuting experience.

Plan ahead! Avoid waiting until the last minute. It is very easy to do when you are coordinating an entire event and things may slip through the cracks if you aren’t organized. Having a timeline and a “to-do” list are great to have and to pass on to your vendors and venues. At the museum, we will have several staff members working on your event. Whether it is programming your personalized hashtag on our Science On a Sphere, pulling together songs for your custom Planetarium show, or displaying your slideshow over our Tidal Pool exhibit, but we always work from a list of vendor requests, so it is a good idea to get the venue and vendors everything they will need a few weeks in advance.

What about birthday parties, family reunions, and anniversaries? If you’re planning one of these events, remember to:

Book it early! It’s always a good idea to call a few months before your big occasion. Though smaller spaces may be more readily available than a full-museum rental, they still book quickly. This is especially something to keep in mind if you have a birthday to celebrate because you may not be as flexible about the date of your rental.

Make use of everything that is offered! At the Museum, we offer admission for all of our guests after your rental. Maximize their experience by passing out our programming schedule for your guests so they can see some of our planetarium shows or participate in a Do Lab program. Our Museum Mascot, Odyssey the Otter, can make his special appearance just for the birthday boy/girl and personal animal programs for your party are available for an additional, but budget-friendly, fee. You can also play music and a slide show for your party guests to see. Make it a moment your guests and birthday boy/girl will always remember!

Give it a theme! Birthday parties with themes work really well for planning invitations and decorations. For example, science, animals, and space themes all work really well at the Museum. The experience your guests will have at the Museum ties in perfectly with these themes.

Ask away! Again, never be afraid to ask questions. If you have an idea in mind, pass it by the venue contact, as we always work to tailor each event to the client’s individual needs.

Manage your guest list closely! Most birthday venues have a guest minimum and a guest maximum. This is for the safety of both the staff and the guests. A headcount of event attendees will also help you plan for what you’ll need to have as far as food, plates, and party favors – which keeps you from overspending and you can stick to your budget!

If you would like to learn more about booking a rental at the Boonshoft Museum or SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological park, click here. To email Jodi about booking a private event or rental click here.

STEM Skills: Everyone Needs Them.

It’s not a secret; here at the Boonshoft Museum, we love all things Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and our goal is to inspire children and their families to do the same. While we’re in the business of engaging our guests with STEM education that will hopefully spark a lifetime of commitment to STEM fields of study, we realize that there are many children whose passion will lie outside of a traditional STEM Career–and that’s okay!

What is important, however, is for parents and children to understand that all jobs in the future will require STEM skills in some fashion, whether you’re a history teacher, small business owner, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. You might remember reading about the importance of STEM from our Educators, but this time we asked our support and administrative staff just how much STEM they use in their jobs every day; and the answer? Much more than you think:

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Families explore hands-on science.

Dona Vella , Vice President, Development and External Relations

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Dona pitching in to help craft some Memberships in a Box

“Encouraging children to build science, technology, engineering, and math skills is a big part of our mission at the Boonshoft Museum, and while I understand that not all children will grow up and become mathematicians and physicists, it is important for current and future generations to have these STEM skills in order to flourish in their careers.

I use math every day to evaluate budgets, develop fundraising strategies, and analyze data. My entire team and I use technology to help us streamline and work more effectively. Because we rely on customers, committed sponsors, and generous donors in order to help us fulfill our mission, it is so important that we are good stewards of the funds that we receive, and by using technology, we are able to do that by working as efficiently as possible.”

Lauren Lemons, Communications Coordinator

“As the Museum’s Communications Coordinator, I am responsible for writing copy, digital marketing campaigns, and creative content, as well as evaluating metrics that pertain to our marketing platforms. My job starts with creativity, is implemented with technology, and is analyzed with math–so I would definitely say STEM is essential to doing my job successfully. I spend a lot of time working with graphics, editing and creating code, and using math to evaluate what makes our marketing campaigns successful.

In fact, though I do not have a traditional STEM job, like a doctor or engineer, I do have a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing, which means I had to take a lot of business and economics-based math and science classes in college. I believe this has certainly come in handy in my career and makes me more well-rounded for my position here at the Museum. I would encourage anyone, no matter what career path they will eventually take, to seize every chance they have to hone their STEM skills, because all jobs will require some degree of STEM in the future.”

Angela Shaffer, Senior Manager, Guest Services and Gift Shops

As an English and Classical Humanities student in college, I didn’t anticipate managing a database in my post-college career! However, as the person responsible for managing the Society’s point-of-sale database, CounterPoint, that is exactly what I do on a daily basis. It is my job to ensure that anything the Society “sells”–including admissions tickets, memberships, gift shop merchandise, group visits, and Astronomy programs, just to name a few–is entered and managed properly within CounterPoint. It is extremely detail-oriented work that incorporates many other fields of study, such as information technology and accounting; I work closely with our business office and many other departments within the Society to make sure that all information is set up and managed correctly and that both software and hardware systems function fully. It’s challenging and rewarding work that requires a lot of STEM skills!”

Sarah Aisenbrey, Dayton Society of Natural History Registrar

“As the Registrar of the Dayton Society of Natural History, I work with many types of technology, including (and most importantly) our collections databases. Databases, which are computerized tables that keep track of information, are a technology you probably use every day–Facebook, Amazon, and Google are all typical examples. Even though the artifacts we curate can be thousands of years old, we use current technology to help us research, exhibit, publicize, and track all 1.7 million of them. Successfully mastering the use of collections databases takes a lot of skill–I have to be very organized, up-to-date on the newest technology, and ready to field questions about the collection at a moment’s notice. Practicing and constantly improving these skills has helped me to excel as the DSNH’s Registrar.”

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Jill, our Associate Curator and Sarah, our Registrar, before the opening of Cut From the Same Cloth.

Jimmy Adams & Caleb Orecchio, Graphic Artists

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Jimmy and one of our SAA externs in the African Room.

“Graphic Designers use technology every day, specifically Adobe Creative Suite. We also have to understand how to use the printing presses, use measurements for production, and I use a lot of math when working with budgets. I would say our job requires as much STEM as it does art and creativity.” – Jimmy Adams

“Besides the obvious use of technology, there is also a psychology that goes into creating advertising pieces. We use science, geometry, and color to make things pleasing the eye.” – Caleb Orecchio

Phillip Dunlevy, Facilities Supervisor

I need things like Technology, Engineering, and Math to get my job done and keep the Museum in top shape! Our power, HVAC, lights–they all run on computers. I also use a lot of math when measuring wood and steel to cut when there are things that need to be fixed around the Museum.”

Marge Forsthoefel, Supervisor, Accounting

“I’m not a scientist or engineer, but I do use math every single day in Accounting. Whether I am calculating sales tax reporting using different percentages for different counties in Ohio, accounts receivable, or balancing sales against cash, my job requires a lot of math and reasoning!

Because our sales come through a point-of-sale system, either at the Museum or online, I also need to understand how to use online sales reporting systems, credit card reporting systems, management information systems, and I need to export data in order to balance our daily sales. Accounting is no longer handwritten ledgers, but all done using accounting programs, which are most certainly technology-based.”

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Erika, having a blast with our Education Crew

 

 

Erika Asher, Education Coordinator

“I’ve learned a lot about science and science-based concepts because I frequently have to talk to teachers about the programs that we provide to their students. I also do a lot of math when calculating numbers for programs, billing, etc.

Being well-versed in technology, specifically the use of databases, is something else that is necessary for my job. We keep schedules, membership information, and book programs with information that are all stored in databases.”

So, what did we learn? It’s safe to say that there isn’t a single staff member at the Boonshoft Museum that doesn’t use STEM in some form. Our goal? To make Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math so accessible to children and their families that STEM no longer seems like a burden or a challenge, but more like a fun tool children use to explore, problem solve, and invent. While we can’t expect all children to grow up to become the next Albert Einstein, we can provide children with some of the tools necessary to poise them for a future of unlimited successes and the confidence to become accomplished problem solvers, in whatever career they choose.

If you want to participate in some STEM fun at the Boonshoft Museum, consider signing up for Summer Discovery Camps or visit the Museum tomorrow, March 19, on Super Science Saturday, for a FREE day of fun, hands-on STEM activities!

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.

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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.

 

6 Tips and Tricks You Need To Know To Become a Star Gazing Pro!

Stop what you are doing immediately. If you are indoors, on a computer just take a break and go outside, if you are on a mobile device enjoying the great outdoors simply look up. What do you see? Pristine sky, a gorgeous sunset, a mysteriously shaped cloud that looks vaguely similar to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (of Ghostbusters fame)? We digress—often, we take the awe-inspiring vastness of our sky and space for granted. In the grand scheme of things we are pretty small, so it’s easy to not think about the limitlessness of space and just how special our Solar System is.

PlanetVideo

If you really want to know how small you are, check out the video above!

From a giant amber Harvest Moon to Halley’s Comet, our night sky holds dozens of beautiful displays of science and physics. One of the things most commonly appreciated by the public are meteor showers, so we asked Joe, Astronomy Department member, resident astrophysicist, and (now) guest blogger, to give us some tips and tricks on which meteor showers are best and how we can see them with the naked eye.

Click below to read Joe’s Guest Blog.

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