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.

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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:

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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.

 

 

 

5 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day This Friday!

A recurring theme both at the Boonshoft Museum and our sister sites, SunWatch and Fort Ancient, is conservation. We conserve artifacts and specimens, and we teach children and families about our natural resources and how we can best preserve them. On Earth Day, we are all acutely aware of the impact that humanity has on our planet and its inhabitants, some big (like the Polar Bears at the Columbus Zoo) and some small (like Patience, the Boonshoft Museum’s Two-Toed Sloth).

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Two-Toed Sloths just like Patience face habitat loss due to deforestation of the South American rain forests.

It’s easy to be intimidated by the effort requires to slow down the effects of deforestation, habitat loss, pollution, and climate change, but the Museum is committed to making sure that everyone, through small changes, has the ability to make a HUGE, positive impact on our environment–and what better way to kick-off a year of “green” living than by celebrating Earth Day on April 22!

Here are 5 simple things you can do that will have a big impact on our environment:

  1. Actively Educate – By attending events like the Boonshoft Museum’s Earth Day Celebration and Super Science Saturday, your family will learn about our natural resources, like the Miami Valley Aquifer, in addition to how we can use science to conserve, preserve, and sustain our natural resources. Most of our special conservation days are included with regular admission or free to the public, so be sure to check our Calendar frequently for upcoming events!
  2. Be a Good Steward – One of the most critical challenges to the world today is climate change. The change in climate affects the world’s ecosystems and has a ripple effect to which humans are not immune. Climate change affects our food sources and the economy. To be a good steward of the environment, try to save energy in your household. Simply turning the lights off when you leave a room, keeping your house a few degrees warmer during the summer, and unplugging electronics when you leave for school and work can collectively have a large impact on your energy usage and wallet!
  3. Purchase With a Purpose – You can shop smart and help fight deforestation by using sustainable alternatives to products that use Palm Oil and are created with recyclable materials. Palm oil is a key contributor to rain forest deforestation and can be found in common household items and food, like candy and cereal—even makeup. Opt into purchasing certified recycled products and support companies that use sustainable practices. Click here to view a list of companies that are dedicated to saving the environment.
  4. Plant for Pollinators – Between honey bees, bats, and butterflies, millions of dollars worth of crops and food are cultivated each year. With one in every three bites of food being indirectly or directly a result of honey bee pollination, something has to be done about their dwindling populations. Many of our pollinators are at risk due to habitat loss, so the best way to combat that is to create a pollinator-friendly place in your back yard! Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed, a flowering plant that can easily be planted in your back yard. You can also opt for a bat house or plant a bee friendly garden. Some honey bees are often confused with wasps, so if you have a nest that you wish to remove, ask a professional if it is a honey bee hive and if it is contact a local apiarist (beekeeper).
  5. Get Active – If it’s a beautiful day and you need to run errands, consider riding a bike instead of taking your car. Not only does Dayton have some of the best bike trails regionally, biking to work is a green alternative to a car commute and it keeps you healthy! The burning of fossil fuels from motor vehicles creates both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, both of which affect our atmosphere and add to changes in climate.

Just doing these 5 simple things can help save our environment and its inhabitants! Learn more tomorrow during our Earth Day Celebration!

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!

DIY Upcycled Air Canon Project!

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle!

America Recycles Day is this Sunday, November 15 and we want to encourage all of our readers, guests, and friends to make an effort to be a little more “green”. Of course, people have the best of intentions when it comes to recycling, conserving, and reusing, but getting into the groove of being more green can be difficult.

First, here are some need-to-know stats about America’s waste, conservation, and more:

  • The average person produces about 4 pounds of trash a day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste a year.
  • Americans make more than 200 million tons of garbage each year and the EPA estimates that 75% of that is recyclable. Yet our rate of recycling is only about 30%.
  • We generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year, which is unacceptable, as 48.1 million Americans live in food-insecure homes. If we cut down on food waste and composted, it would reduce the same amount of green house gas as taking 2 million cars off the road.
  • Recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on an iPod. Recycling 100 cans can power your bedroom through a two day Netflix binge of your favorite show.
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The Maker’s Space at the Boonshoft Museum Springfield is dedicated to upcycling projects of all kinds!

America, we can do better, but where do we start? You can start by having a candid conversation with your family about small, fun ways you can start reducing, reusing, and recycling.

To kick things off, visit our “Celebrate Earth Day With “Green” Family Fun post and then scroll below for an awesome DIY upcycling project from the Museum’s Education Department:

A great way of reducing waste — and in turn aid to your impact on the environment — is to reuse your wasted materials. This is often referred to as “Upcycling” and involves re-purposing your trash items in an effort to find another use for them. Such examples include milk carton planters, aluminum can stoves, and recycled art and sculptures made from trash materials.

Use recycled items to create an air cannon and learn about air pressure!

Upcycled Air Canon

Supplies: 

  • 1 toilet paper tube or plastic bottles with the bottom cut out.
  • Used or leftover balloon
  • Duct Tape
  • Scissors

Instructions:

1) Cut the thin end of a balloon off
2) Stretch the wide end to a tube or the bottle with the end cut off
3) Tape it in place
4) Pull on the back were the balloon is taped as far as you can and let it go.

As you pull back on the balloon you build force. Once you let go, you cause that force to move forward and it takes the air inside the tube/bottle with it. As the force of the balloon forces the air out, it creates a vortex as the air reacts to the force of the balloon snapping back into place.

Spend some time upcycling with your kiddos and then be sure to visit us for some green-themed public programming on Sunday, November 15 for America Recycles Day!

7 Back To School Tips For Transitioning Smoothly Into the School Year

Back to school—the three least exciting words for students across the country who have spent their summer having a blast outside, in the pool, or at a summer camp. While some parents may be rejoicing because the school routine is somewhat simpler than entertaining children all day for an entire summer, the transition from summer to school can be quite the challenge.

Kids are used to sleeping in, they’re nervous about school, YOU’RE nervous about school, did your little one finish their summer reading assignments? It’s a lot, right? Well, here are 7 tips (backed by science, of course) that will make you student’s transition back to school as seamless as possible.

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1) Introduce an earlier bed timeSleepingChild

Bed time can be a battle, especially when kids are used to staying up later during the summer. Starting an adjusted sleep schedule that will mirror the one your child will have to stick to during the school year, before school actually starts is always a good idea.

Children between 5 and 12 get about 9.5 hours a sleep, but experts agree most need 10-11 each night. Lack of sleep can affect a child’s mood, ability to concentrate and think clearly, and researchers believe too little sleep can affect your little one’s growth and their immune system—which keeps their bodies from getting sick.

The best way to ease into bed time is with calming activities that establish a routine, like bath time or reading.

2) Turn off the tech.
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Credit: telegraph.co.uk

This may not be a problem for children who don’t have access to mobile devices or televisions in their rooms, but because our society is so plugged in—this is worth mentioning (for adults and kids!).

Studies have shown that short wavelength enriched light – also known as the blue light that is emitted from e-readers, tablets, laptops, smart phones, and flat screen televisions – can disrupt sleeping patterns and deprive your children (and you!) of restful sleep. So, put down your gadgets at least two hours before bed time!

3) Breakfast time.
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Credit: ohsu.edu

While everyone should eat breakfast each day, this especially rings true for children. Growing bodies and developing brains need regular refueling from healthy foods. Studies have shown that children and teens who eat breakfast have more energy, do better in school, and eat healthier throughout the day. Without breakfast parents and teachers could potentially be dealing with irritable, restless, and tired students! Click here to find a delicious, kid-friendly, protein-packed breakfast recipe so your kiddo wont get the “tummy grumbles” before lunch!

4) First day of school? Head out early!

Parents with young children who may be nervous about the first day of school and have a laundry list of forms to turn in should consider an early start. This way, a longer goodbye won’t affect your schedule and you will know before the bell rings if you are missing any integral things your child needs for their first day.

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5) What About the Little Ones?

AmelieaFor parents with children who are new to preschool or kindergarten, there can be a ton of complicated emotions involved with the first day of school. Children may be excited, but trepidatious, just like their parents! When we asked Kimberly Clough, Administrator of the Preschool at the Museum’s Preschool, for her top tips when dealing with the first day of school drop off she made two great points.

First, don’t linger. You may want to give just one more hug and your child may be teary-eyed, but the longer you linger the stronger the impression you are giving your child that you are hesitant about the environment you are leaving them in. Children are incredibly intuitive when it comes to emotions; if your child senses you are nervous, that will make them nervous for you to leave.

Second, tell the truth. Giving your child the “who, what, when, where, and why” of their school day, from drop off to pick up, will put them at ease. Of course, your little one might not be able to read a clock, but if they know you are picking them up at the bus stop at 3:30 p.m. and you will have apple slices in-hand to munch on, they will be calmed by your confidence and certainty of how their day will play out.

6) Book Nooks and Homework Zones
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Designating a quite area and time for homework will enable you to ensure that your child is studying in a learning-conducive environment where they can get the most out of their studying. Because reading is also important, you and your child can craft your way to creating a fun, comfy, and quiet reading area.

More and more classrooms are incorporating quiet, designated reading areas into their space that creates a calm environment that encourages reading. If you want to add a “Book Nook” to your child’s room or common area, you can DIY it by reading this article.

7) Establish a Routine

By adding your own personal parenting flair to the tips above, you are probably a pro at transitioning your child into their first semester of school, but it doesn’t stop there! All of these steps, from bed time and breakfast to homework will create a routine that will enable your child to flourish in school, in their extracurricular, and at home.

Establishing a routine creates a sense of security, especially for young children and keeps slightly older children on task.

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Credit: greatschools.org

Do you have any additional parenting tips? Share them in the comments below! From the Boonshoft Museum to all of you fantastic grown-ups and kiddos, have a great 2015-2016 school year!

Celebrating Earth Day With “Green” Family Fun!

It’s no secret, every day is Earth Day here at the Boonshoft Museum. From learning about water conservation in Splash!, to becoming a recycling pro in our new Landfill exhibit, one of the biggest take-aways from a visit to the Boonshoft Museum is learning how every single person can make a difference when it comes to our Earth and the impact we have on it.

Today, instead of just remembering to turn off the lights and take out the recycling (not that those aren’t wonderful, helpful things) make Earth Day a true celebration by participating in fun Earth-friendly activities with the whole family!

Here are five fun and creative things you can do to celebrate Earth Day:

1) Camp In – Though it may not be quite warm enough to camp outside, there is a great alternative! Pitch a tent, grab a few sleeping bags, or build a pillow fort inside. Unplug your devices, turn the lights out and the flashlights on for some quality family time that saves energy.

Simply turning your lights off and abstaining from electricity consumption for one hour can make a huge difference! In fact, during Earth Hour, a worldwide movement encouraging communities to turn of non-essential lights for one hour, places like Bangkok decreased energy usage by 73.34 megawatts – which is equivalent to 41.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Imagine if everyone “camped in” for just one evening a year, which would save an amazing amount of energy in addition to creating a ton of awesome memories!

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Credit: blog.sheaapartments.com

2) Plant a buzz-worthy garden! Did you know that honey bees play a huge roll in pollinating the food you eat every single day? In fact, one out of every three bites of food that Americans eat is directly or indirectly derived from honeybee pollination, so why not help our flying friends out by proving a safe place for them to explore free of pesticides?

Lavender, geraniums, and zinnias are beautiful, while fennel and cilantro can spice up your meals—and the best part? They can all be part of a bee-friendly garden that helps to conserve the honey bee population. To learn more about planting a buzz-worthy garden click here. To test your honey bee knowledge, take the quiz linked below.

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Click here to Take the Quiz

3) Trade in your Subaru for a Schwinn! Just for the day, see what it’s like to take a family outing to dinner, the movies, or to get ice cream. Not only do you treat yourself to some family time while getting some exercise (a 140 pound cyclist can burn up to 400 calories in an hour), you are making a greener choice by using a mode of transportation that does not require fossil fuels, therefore reducing your carbon footprint!

Who knows! Maybe you will get the biking bug and participate in National Bike To Work Day on May 15.

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4) Calculate your Carbon Footprint! Sit down with your family to see how you measure up to your national peers when it comes to energy consumption! The calculator, linked below, estimates your footprint in three areas: home energy, transportation, and waste.

After you have taken the quiz, find small ways to adjust your footprint; hang the laundry out to dry instead of running the dryer, adjust your thermostat, and change your power settings on your computer to save energy and money. Not only can you see how much money and CO2 you will save by making these small adjustments, you can turn it into a family challenge with a goal that you can work towards.

Click here to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

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Credit: cleveland.com

5) Candid Chats About Climate Change! Climate change is not only real, it’s happening as we speak. The implications of a warmer Earth effect everything, from the smallest plants to the largest animals. Discussing climate change and the role that human beings play in it can not only help children understand the gravity of the situation, they can feel empowered to help—even at a young age.

Hop on to nasa.gov to with your kiddos to play climate kids computer games; your child will not only learn about climate change, but what they can do to make big difference!

Click here To Play

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For more ideas on how to become a conservation champ visit our Pinterest board, or stop by the Museum. Today, from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. the Southwest Ohio EPA will be here sharing tons of wonderful Earth Day tips and providing interactive, hands-on opportunities for guests!

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Hands on learning at the Boonshoft Museum with the Southwest Ohio EPA