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.

Become an Inventor at Invention Camp July 20-24

Attention 6 to 8 year old inventors!

Did you know we are surrounded by inventions everywhere we go? During our week-long Invention Camp we will discover the stories behind famous inventions, test out those inventions, and become inventors ourselves!

You might be surprised to learn that inventions are often born through making a treasure out of someone else’s trash. One person might throw away a pie tin, but another might turn it into a flying disk toy! Similarly, one person might throw away slimy goo, but another would see this goo as a timeless child’s game. Get ready to play with a pie tin to discover how the Frisbee was invented and recreate an experiment gone awry to make your own Silly Putty. Exciting inventions like these can be made out of everyday objects around us and we will use these and other recycled objects to make our own inventions!

Inventions can also happen because of accidents or mistakes. At the Museum & Theatre, our mixing bowls are ready with flour, sugar and butter to relive the one of the greatest “oops!” inventions of all time: the chocolate chip cookie! Instead of getting upset that cookies or other creations do not turn out the way we were expecting, we will learn how to look upon unexpected events as creative inventions that could quite possibly be better than anything before!

All those who love to create will find new avenues to use their imaginative talents as we look into a new topic of invention every day. Create your own flavored ice recipe as we explore inventions in the kitchen; make innovative improvements on toys; explore the scientific principles of thermal energy and action and reaction as we venture into the world of aviation to create airplanes, hot air balloons, and rockets; trace inventions throughout art history from 3D drawing via our very own Camera Obscura to the very first animated films… and last but not least, no invention camp would be complete without robots! We’ll finish up camp by making our own bristlebots to take home.

Invention Camp runs from Monday, July 20th through Friday, July 24th, 9am-12pm. Ages 6-8. Join us during this exciting week as we turn trash into treasure, accidents into triumphs, and discover and celebrate creativity, originality, and inventions!

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Singing Science: Drop-Off Class for 3-5 Year Olds

Let’s get silly with song as we explore the natural world! In this class designed for ages 3 – 5, we’ll use stories and music to investigate the Museum & Theatre’s live turtles and fish, fossils and minerals, and other natural specimens. Through movement, rhythms, and rhyme, we’ll practice being young scientific sleuths as we hone our creative and critical thinking skills. At the end of the month, we’ll go home with a book of songs to remind us of all that we have learned!

This is a drop-off program, and space is limited, so sign up today.
Singing Science: Thursdays May 7-28.
$60/members, $75/visitors. To register, call 207-828-1234×231 or stop by the front desk.

Squid Dissection

01/03/2015 | 12:30pm
Did you know squid crush their food with bird-like beaks and have a gland full of ink they spray when scared? Join science educator Laura Poppick to learn all about squid – inside and out – in this hands-on dissection workshop! We’ll compare the squid’s body to our own bodies, discover how sea creatures live their lives underwater, and create sketches of our dissection to take home. Suggested for ages 4 and up.$5/member, $6/visitor plus admission. For tickets call 828-1234 x231 or stop by the front desk. Click here to register online!

Wonderful Puffins Tomorrow, Sat. 12.6

project-puffin-slideWonderful Puffins with National Audubon’s
Project Puffin (R$)
Saturday, December 6, 2014 2:00 PM
Join educator and biologist “Seabird Sue” Schubel from National Audubon’s Project Puffin to explore the lives and adaptations of the amazing Atlantic Puffin! Maine is the only state in the U.S. where Atlantic Puffins nest – they are found on just four islands here.

With a variety of show and touch items and a take-home seabird craft, visitors will learn all about puffins through this interactive science program. There will also be puffin costumes for puffin play time!

Reservations recommended.
$4/person plus admission. For tickets call 828-1234 x231, stop by the front desk, or click here.

 

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.

Fossil Making Workshop October 2 & October 11

Fossil Making Workshop (R$)
10/02/2014 | 3:30pm | Click here to register online!
10/11/2014 | 11:30am | Click here to register online!
Check out some real and replica fossils from plants and dinosaurs as inspiration to make your own faux fossil. We’ll talk about how fossils are made then make realistic models from natural sculpture materials like clay and plaster. Take your fossil home and add it to your rock collection, or place it outside to watch it return to nature.Best for ages 4+. Please allow 1 hour for fossil to set.

$5 per fossil for members, $6 per fossil plus admission for visitors. For tickets call 828-1234 x231 or stop by the front desk.

I’m Rosanne. Be one of my campers!

Meet Rosanne!About Rosanne:

BA Biology, Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH)
Having joined the Children’s Museum & Theatre as an intern in the garden, Rosanne imbues a sense of curiosity and respect for the natural world into all of her teaching. Her previous work in education has taken her from Ohio to Central America and, most recently, to Vermont as a garden-based educator. Rosanne loves the creativity and imagination of the museum visitors and sees her work as an opportunity to inspire young people to be inventors, growers and makers.

Here’s what Rosanne has to say about her 2013 summer camps:

I’m excited to spend the summer telling stories, digging in the dirt and building amazing inventions! Our campers have such wonderful curiosity and imagination, perfect for understanding and appreciating the science that makes our world work. At these camps, we will be exploring the world of science with storytelling, imagination, and lots of excellent messes.

• Young Inventors 7/22-7/26  •

At Young Inventors camp, we’ll be choosing our own adventures! This camp is all about fostering curiosity and inventiveness and building problem solving skills. Together, we will be devising creative solutions to whimsical challenges, drawing on the museum’s exhibits for inspiration (we have whozits and whatzits galore!). We will learn basic principles of science, explore the beauty of simple machines and learn to embraces challenges as an opportunity to be more creative. For example, from a given set of supplies, we’ll tackle a whole bunch of challenges: create something to keep a secret in! Create new instruments for your band and sing us a song! Create a flying machine to safely carry a family of jelly beans! This camp is designed for 6-8 year olds. Come to Young Inventors camp and dream up your own incredible invention!

• Dinos Rock! (8/12-8/16) •

Later in the summer, we’ll be traveling back to the Age of Reptiles- to the time of the dinosaurs. This camp is all about exploring prehistoric dinosaur life and the earth’s landscape 180 million years ago, a time when the Museum’s special collection of artifacts was being made! Learning from life-size replicas of dinosaur fossils and real plant and animal fossils, we’ll make casts of animal tracks, play rousing games of fossil charades and dance in a dinosaur disco. Campers will play archeologist and search the garden for fossils, carefully uncovering its hidden treasure. What ancient species will they uncover? How did it live? What did it eat? Dino Rock! camp is developmentally appropriate for 4-6 year olds and, if you child loves dinos and digging and dressing up, this is the camp for them!

Talk to Rosanne:

Curious about Rosanne’s camps? Contact her at 828-1234 x229 or email her at rosanne@kitetails.org.

Ready to register? You can do it online here or call Shana at 828-1234 x232.

New Exhibit: Child Inventor Service

There goes Sandy! She's an unstoppable inventor and the star of our new exhibit.

We’re in the home stretch of exhibit construction for Child Inventor Service, an exhibit that explores engineering through the eyes of Sandy, a young problem-solver, and her clubhouse full of exhibits and inventions. This is our first all-new, permanent exhibit since we opened We Are Maine in 2006, and we couldn’t be more proud! All of our staff – educators, exhibits and operations team members, development, marketing and administration – has been part of making this exhibit happen. The volunteers and philanthropy committee from Fairchild Semiconductor have been enthusiastic partners throughout many months of exhibit development, and they were essential to making the exhibit content accurate, authentic and fun. YOU have been a part of it, too! We’ve learned a lot from your feedback as members and visitors, from observing how you and your family engage with exhibits, and we’ve even prototyped components of this exhibit and brought them out onto the floors to get your input.

Thanks for your patience as that corner of Our Town has been under construction for the past few weeks. The exhibit will open to the public this Friday, June 15. (If you’re a member, you’re invited to attend a special exhibit opening party on Thursday evening, June 14 – email lucy@kitetails.org for details.)

For more info about the exhibit, I’ve pasted our press release below. And of course, to really understand what the exhibit’s all about, I hope you’ll come in and see it for yourself!

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Portland, MaineThe Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine will open Child Inventor Service, its first all-new, permanent exhibit since 2006. Resembling a child’s fantasy clubhouse crossed with a scientist’s laboratory, the exhibit invites children to use robotics, circuitry and other technology to devise creative solutions to problems in Our Town, the Museum’s child-size city.

The exhibit opening is the culmination of a fifteen-month collaboration with a team of volunteers (many engineers) from Fairchild Semiconductor, the exhibit sponsor and a key advisor. Fairchild is committed to supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) literacy among Maine’s K-12 students. The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine creates hands-on exhibits that inspire discovery and imagination through exploration and play. This unique partnership, in which the sponsor provided financial support and staff expertise, proved vital to determining the exhibit’s direction and purpose.

“The engineers told us that they have trouble explaining their jobs to their own children,” says Suzanne Olson, the Museum & Theatre’s Executive Director. “That inspired us. We got excited about combining our expertise with theirs to create a place where engineering is not only comprehensible, but fun.”

The Museum & Theatre and Fairchild want the exhibit to inspire a lifelong interest in science and technology, making a long-term impact on Maine’s students, and ultimately, its workforce.

“I think the kids of today are picking up technology really fast,” says Jim Siulinksi, an Applications and Systems Engineer and member of the exhibit development committee. “If we can help them learn how these technologies work, they’ll want to learn more. This is key to developing the next generation of engineers and technology workers. It will give them the power to shape their own futures.”

The exhibit stars Sandy, a child inventor who uses technology to solve problems for her Our Town neighbors. A private opening for Museum members and Fairchild staff and their families will be held on the evening of Thursday, June 14. The exhibit opens to the public during regular Museum hours on Friday, June 15.