New Exhibit Now Open: the Be Well Center!

A visitor to our opening celebration examines slides using the video microscope!

A visitor to our opening celebration examines slides using the video microscope!

 

With the support of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center, the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine just opened our newest exhibit: the Be Well Center! This new exhibit features an Ambearlance, real medical equipment such as stethoscopes and a video microscope (with slides of real cells!), and plenty of teddy bears to rescue and make better. Here you can pretend to be a doctor, nurse, or EMT (the people who drive the ambulance and get you to the hospital!). You can use real scales and stethoscopes to give a teddy bear a check-up, and then record the info you find on the bear’s very own medical chart!

Our own Chris Sullivan, who was in charge of making the Be Well Center, said that the Be Well Center is designed to encourage kids to explore, work together, and learn to be nice to people who are hurt, sick, or have to go to the doctor. Dr. Lorraine McElwain, Associate Chief of Pediatrics at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital said that the idea is  “…to engage children and their families in their own health and wellness, and maybe make a future visit to a hospital or doctor’s office less intimidating.” She’s also hoping that maybe some of the kids who play here will grow up to be real doctors and nurses!

 

 

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A group of visitors works together to take care of their patient.

Here kids can act out everything from a medical emergency to a regular doctor’s visit, learning about their own bodies and the jobs of medical professionals along the way. There’s all sorts of medical stuff you can play with, like an exam table, scale, a height chart, and a movie showing what’s really happening when you move parts of your body!

 

 

 

A young 'EMT' hangs up the phone after communicating with the Ambearlance.

A young ‘EMT’ hangs up the phone after communicating with the Ambearlance.

 

As a permanent part of Our Town (right next to the farm), the Be Well Center is included with regular entrance fees. Come join in the fun!

 

ABOUT OUR SPONSOR

Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center is a non-profit organization benefiting from generous community support. From routine check-ups and immunizations, to the treatment of life-threatening illnesses and injuries, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital provides comprehensive, family-centered healthcare for all of northern New England. With 109 beds, including 31 Level III NICU Beds and 20 Level II Continuing Care Nursery beds, it is Maine’s premier referral hospital, offering services not available elsewhere in the state.

 

 

The new exhibit.

The new exhibit.

 

 

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.

What’s a Nudibranch?

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Nudibranchs are sea slugs. Those tentacle-like things are actually its gills! Nudi = naked, branchs = gills. There are more than 3,000 species of nudibranchs in the world and, according the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (http://mystery.gmri.org/blog/blog-details.aspx?ID=59), there are more than 45 species that live in the Gulf of Maine!

This one has been hiding unnoticed for weeks in our tank. It looks innocent enough, but it’s actually a predator that feeds on sponges, barnacles, and anemones.

Throwback Thursday: Games from the Past

Have you played any of our “Old Fashioned Yard Games” yet? Our educators have been bringing games that children loved to play 100 years ago back into style this summer. I did some digging into our own history, too, and found out some interesting things…

Our community first became a permanent settlement in 1633 – only we were called “Casco…” sound familiar? – and was later renamed Falmouth in 1658, and then Portland, officially incorporated in 1786. Our history as a settled community now goes back over 380 years, but in 1982, staff of the Children’s Museum of Maine created a new exhibit for Portland’s 350th anniversary… all about old-fashioned games!

The exhibit, called “Games Children Played,” opened as an official event of the anniversary celebration  and featured games and toys that were popular throughout the 350-year period of 1632-1982. The Museum collected artifacts from a game store in Scarborough, as well as from the community, to create a rich half-exhibit, half-hands-on trip through beloved toys and games throughout our town’s history.

Want to know something even cooler? “Games Children Played” opened on March 14th, 1982… and “The Playscape” opened March 14th, 2014! It’s great to know that the spirit of play is always alive and well.

Be sure to stop by the Museum & Theatre for some Old Fashioned Yard Games like marbles and ring-toss, and check out another old favorite, croquet, in our fall production of “Alice in Wonderland!” It’s always fun to look back and see where we came from – some things are very different, but some things never change.

Kitetails Spring 1982 Newsletter article about the "new" exhibit, "Games Children Played."

Kitetails Spring 1982 Newsletter article about the “new” exhibit, “Games Children Played.”

 

The Smallest Whole Foods Market & Our 5% Day

Whole Foods

Photo by Kaitlynn Perrault

Welcome to the smallest Whole Foods Market in the entire company!  Our exhibit in the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine may be small on space (a mere 211 sq ft!) but it is big on experience.  The colors and chalkboards were specifically chosen to mimic our Portland store, but in a miniature size.

I began my career as the Marketing Team Leader at the Portland store in 2007 when the store opened.  When I was dreaming up my marketing action plan, I secretly desired to have the grocery space at the CMTM but it was currently being utilized by another sponsor.  Imagine my surprise when two years later, I received a call from the Museum that the space is available and would Whole Foods Market like to sponsor it?  YES, PLEASE!!!

Several Portland team members were involved in the refurbishing of the space to have it resemble the Portland store; painting, ordering supplies, illustrating the chalkboards and imagining how the space would be best utilized. We also requested help from our regional décor team to find cute items (like the banana and the strawberry) to decorate the walls with and create a bench for parents to sit on while their kids “shopped”. One of our suppliers, Melissa & Doug had the most perfect kid-friendly faux fruit and veggies for our produce department. And the bakery? What can I say? I always want to chomp on one of those faux croissants.

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Photo by Olivia Birdsall

One of our core values is to satisfy and delight our customers.  At The Children’s Museum& Theatre of Maine, we have an opportunity to satisfy even the smallest and youngest with imagination and the chance to “shop” and “work” in a real grocery store. You can’t imagine how satisfying and delightful this is for us!

Don’t forget to shop at our real store, located at 2 Somerset Street on Tuesday, June 3rd when we will give 5% of the day’s net sales to the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine!

Please visit our website to learn more about what’s happening at our Portland store: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/portland-me

Barbara Gulino is the Marketing Team Leader for Whole Foods Market – Portland.  They are proud to provide charitable giving and community support to organizations that improve the lives of Maine citizens. 

The Market has a new look!

If you’ve been in our Market lately, you’ve probably noticed some changes – new colors, new signs, new food! Beginning this month, Whole Foods Market is sponsoring The Market, and they have lots of great plans for making this Museum favorite feel brand new! While all the changes won’t be done until the beginning of October, over the next few months you’ll begin to see the space transform (but don’t worry, it will still be open for play!).

The focus of this renovation is on healthy New England foods – many of the products you’ll find in The Market are brands made right here in Maine! While you can still shop for products and bring them to the register, the exhibit will also have recipes and puzzles (what do you need to make spaghetti?) that will turn choosing items into a fun game. Figuring out which foods go into healthy meals adds an additional interactive element to The Market and will give families an opportunity to take home what they learned from this game and discuss it during mealtimes!

In addition to healthy eating habits, The Market will also be a space to discover multicultural foods. Local fruits and vegetables will be the focus in the renovated produce section, with signage as to where you can find this particular tomato or that ear of corn. Breads from across the globe will be featured in the bakery and ingredients needed to make many multicultural dishes will be on the new shelves and inside the new refrigerator.

The blackboards and food graphics will be familiar to regular Whole Foods Market shoppers. The blackboards are another great way to convey the emphasis on local and healthy foods as the messages will change throughout the year. Aprons and baskets will still be available for all the little shoppers! We’ve already added a feature the parents will be excited about: a bench in The Market which serves as a little rest area. As we all know, The Market (like any grocery store) can get pretty crowded!

I am really excited about these new changes and updates to The Market. It will be fun to see them happen throughout the summer. I am sad that my AmeriCorps term will end before The Market will be fully complete, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye on the blog for updates and the final product!

Dinosaurs make way for Whales!

Anyone who has visited us in the last week can tell that something BIG is coming to our Big Gallery! The Dinotracks! exhibit is officially extinct, and the Exhibits team has been working behind the scenes for months to prepare our next original exhibit, What About Whales?

This week, that work has moved from the design shop to the first floor as this exhibit takes shape. Dozens of games, signs, props, electronics and other components are being installed. Take a peek at a few photos of the exhibit in progress, and see if you can guess which piece is which!  See the comments for answers.

1. Vertebrae from a whale’s back          2. Baleen from a real whale

3.  Dock for whale watching      4.  Build-a-Whale game

Our members will be the first to explore the whole exhibit at a private opening event on Thursday evening (reason #548 to become a member!). What About Whales? will open to the public on Friday, January 22nd at 10am.

Dino Tracks: Take A Giant Step Back in Time

Opening Day
Friday, May 8

Come see our fourth Environmental Exhibit Collaborative (EEC) exhibit! Study the fossil footprints of the dinosaurs who once roamed New England and Eastern Canada in the early Jurassic. Learn about the methods scientists use to study and interpret tracks, including how modern birds help scientists to understand the behavior of ancient dinosaurs. The exhibit is tri-lingual, featuring English, Spanish, and French and was developed with the assistance of the staff of Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, CT.