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!

Bee Cam!

I think besides the Dress Up Theatre, the Ranger Station is my favorite place in the Museum & Theatre. I love going in there to watch the turtles swim around and to search for the queen bee. Bees are a little harder to watch than turtles, though, because they move so fast. But now you can see the bees up close and personal with our new bee camera. If you haven’t visited our beehive or you’d like to see what they’ve been up to since you left, here is a quick video I shot:

The bees are only here in the spring and summer months! Don’t miss the chance to search for that ever elusive queen bee (hint: she has a white dot on her back!).

Celebrating AmeriCorps Week!

Did you know that this is AmeriCorps week? It’s a week to celebrate the people of all ages who commit to serving at non-profits across the nation. AmeriCorps members commit to full-time service positions for terms of at least several months (some serve for several years!), receiving a small stipend, money to apply toward education, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. (That’s just a smidge of an explanation about what this program does – you should definitely check out their website to find out all about what they do.) The programs, exhibits, productions and events that happen here could not happen without our AmeriCorps members – thank you ALL for your service!

I asked all of our current staff who are or were AmeriCorps members to tell me a little about their experience with the program and what has made it worthwhile. Read on to get to know four of our favorite Americorps members!

Jamie Andrew, Volunteer Coordinator and Educator (member 2008-2009): I spent eleven months as an AmeriCorps Community Resource Corps member here at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine starting in 2008 – I wore a lot of different hats, learned more than I ever fathomed possible, and grew exponentially as a person and as a working professional. Initially I saw serving in AmeriCorps as a way to give back – but now I see that it was a great way to transition into a meaningful, professional job. Currently I’m a full-time Educator as well as the Volunteer Coordinator here at the Museum & Theatre, and I couldn’t be happier. It can be tough (sometimes nearing impossible!) to live on an AmeriCorps stipend – but at least now I know how to cook on a teeny-tiny budget. Besides – in the end, it’s all worth it. Tenfold.

Hannah Wilhelm, Science Educator (member 2009): I served as Maine Conservation Corps Environmental Educator in 2009 at the Department of Environmental Protection here in Portland. Every summer, the state’s Biomonitoring Program captures insects, algae, and water samples from rivers, streams, and wetlands. Last summer, we traveled to Aroostook County to collect samples. I helped with data entry, and started a teaching herbarium of wetland plants. One of the best parts of my year was visiting schools to teach outreach lessons about water quality and insects that live in streams and ponds. I appreciated getting a chance to see the inside view of how part of the state government works. The state biologists I assisted are dedicated and patient. They are engaged in service work every day. Getting to help them exposed me to so many new people and places, and I am so grateful for the experience.

Kathryn Miller, Marketing & Public Relations Assistant (current member): I began my AmeriCorps position in the Marketing and PR department in late September and I can’t believe it has already been 8 months! Since I started, I have learned so many skills that are invaluable to my professional career. Coming in with just a little old degree in English and Theatre, I have now gained responsibility for the Museum & Theatre’s entire social media presence. I’ve even be given the opportunity to use Adobe Design programs to make graphics and signage, something that I NEVER saw myself learning – and now I really enjoy it! AmeriCorps is a great option for those who want to use their knowledge and skills to give back to a community that sorely needs them and for those who want a chance to grow with an organization and be given opportunities you could never receive in an entry level job.

Matt Chamberlain, Museum Assistant (current member): I started my AmeriCorps position at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine just two months ago. My first week was “Auction week,” which needless to say was hectic and a little intimidating. Everyone on staff was more than helpful though, so I was quickly put at ease. We then moved on to designing and creating the set for the theatre’s production of “The Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings.” This was right in my wheel house and I felt completely at home painting and fabricating faux trees and rocks. It’s such a great sense of pride to watch a production that I had a part in creating. I think this is what makes this place so special. There is a lot of hard work involved but at the end of the day you get to see your results come to life and actually enrich someone else’s life.

I’d also like to give shout-outs and huge thank yous to past Museum & Theatre AmeriCorps members Shawn Cole, Becky Mueller and Shana Tinkle!

Even more whale watchers!

The final post of all our excited whale watchers. If you haven’t found the answer to What About Whales? then visit the Museum & Theatre to learn and discover!

To see even more pictures (yes, there are TONS more) from the exhibit opening, visit our Facebook fan page. While you’re there, you can become a fan of Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine and get up-to-date information on all things museum, theatre and kid related!