World Water Day & Sustainability

With an economy that relies on the health of Maine’s waters and land, and a population of people dedicated to the outdoors, the Museum & Theatre seeks to rally and excite our community to take part in preserving our natural resources. Children and families use the Museum & Theatre as a resource to learn more about our environment and how to protect it, and the Museum & Theatre plans to grow that impact through expanded programming and exhibits.

Casco Bay remains one of the fastest warming bodies of water in all the world. The Museum & Theatre’s live touch tank program, How Climate Change Effects Casco Bay, seeks to inform and empower children and their caregivers, fostering empathy in the youngest visitors and action and engagement with older visitors. During the program, visitors have access to real tools to measure salinity and temperature, as well as microbe health, and compare these results to current scientific data.  Visitors also have freedom to touch and explore the life within the tank, from microscopic phytoplankton to large anemone, sea stars, and rock crabs.

Crab (named Sandy-Shelley by visitors) being held by the hands of a Museum & Theatre educator.

For World Water Day, March 22nd, we will be exploring our Tide Pool Touch Tank at 10:30am to meet our marine creatures and explore a little piece of Casco Bay. 

Sustainability & the future home of the Museum & Theatre

The future Museum & Theatre on Thompson’s Point (coming in 2020!) will feature a brand new, custom aquatic exhibit designed to explore the interconnected Maine watershed through incredible experiences with live fish and animals. Three large touch tanks and several viewing tanks will be the feature of this interactive aquatic adventure. This exhibit will feature many of Maine’s native aquatic species from freshwater turtles to gulf of Maine skates, providing the opportunity for all ages to develop connections to Maine species and fostering stewardship of natural resources.

While plans to build the future Museum & Theatre at Thompson’s Point progress, the organization is continuing to ramp up our offerings at 142 Free Street and in surrounding schools, including a new education outreach program available to surrounding schools and organizations: Heating Up: Climate Change & Sustainability in Maine. Now students can explore the interconnected relationship between microscopic plants, humpback whales, and humans during a hands-on experience that allows participants to view live samples under a microscope and climb inside a life-sized whale.  

Our sustainable programming


Eric Venturini, a native pollinator conservation expert from The Xerces Society, educates visitors on the importance of Honey Bees in our community.

Current sustainability programs at the Museum & Theatre on Free Street focus on the roles different creatures play in maintaining a healthy ecosystem for Maine. On February 23rd, the founder of the Maine Wolf Coalition, John Glowa, joined Museum & Theatre visitors to talk about how wolves hold an important role in keeping our ecosystem healthy. In our popular February vacation week mainstage theatre production, The Three Little Pigs, audiences experienced an interactive version of the story which suggests that perhaps the pigs built their houses on wolf territory; this play (with youth actors from Maine!) explored habitat use in a fun, playful manner for families. Biologist and conservationist, Eric Venturini, from The Xerces Society talked to families visiting during February vacation week all about native bees and pollinators. And a honeybee exhibit allows visitors year-round to see a live honey bee hive in action as the bees come to and from the Museum & Theatre’s unique observation hive.

As the primary resource for Maine families, we believe it’s important to offer families learning through play opportunities for increasing their understanding of and connection to the natural world. Do you have suggestions for other sustainability educational programming or special guests that you would like to see at the Museum & Theatre? Please comment below with your ideas, and we hope to see you soon!

Young visitors play in Cascade Stream of our Discovery Woods (sponsored by L.L Bean)

What’s Happening, Honey Bees?

If you make your way to the second floor of the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, you’ll find a one of our most dynamic exhibits: our real, live, honeybee hive! With glass walls and a special entrance & exit to the outside world just for bees, it’s easy to spend hours just watching as the bees go about their busy day.

 

Recently, you may have seen a crowd of honey bees gathering around their special entrance. There are two reasons they might do this.

 

Our intern Tym holding up a piece of honeycomb.
Our intern Tym holding up a piece of honeycomb.

The first is called “bearding”, because the cluster of bees on the outside makes it look like their hive has a beard! Bees do this to try          and lower the temperature inside their hive. They even flap their wings to act like fans!

 

The second reason bees gather outside their hive is because they’re preparing to “swarm”. When the hive gets cramped, the queen      bee lays some eggs that will grow into other queens. Because each hive can only have one queen, the old queen takes about half of            the worker bees and flies away to find a new place to live, leaving her daughter as the new queen bee.

 

The group of bees that leaves is called a swarm. The new swarm gathers on the outside of the hive, making a giant mass of bees! No  need to worry about getting stung; to make sure they don’t get hungry on the journey, swarming bees eat lots of honey. Their full  bellies make them so happy, they rarely, if ever, sting during this process!

The beekeeper looking for the queen bee, to make sure she stays with us!
The beekeeper looking for the queen bee, to make sure she stays with us!

 

Twice this year, our bees have started to swarm. We had a lot of days where our window was covered in thousands of bees!

To make sure they found a good home, we took them to the Audobon Society, where our beekeeper split the hive in half. She took a new queen and some bees to a new home and we got the other half back with our current queen.

The second time this happened was last week. Now our hive has lots of space for new bees! Even with so many fewer bees to hide amongst, our queen bee is really hard to spot. If you see her, let us know!

 

Next time you’re at the Museum & Theatre, make sure to stop by the hive on the second floor! We’re sure you’ll agree it’s the bees’ knees.