The Museum Blog

Category: Events

Teddy Bears (and more) get a Checkup!

Teddy Gets a Checkup at Our Teddy Bear Clinic
By: Amanda Girard, CMNH Intern

It's that time of year again! Our Teddy Bear Clinic is coming up on Friday, August 5 2016. This is one of our favorite events that we’ve been doing for over 25 years! At last year's clinic we talked to many families who have made it a tradition to come every summer. One family we talked to has actually cancelled hair appointments to go to our Clinic!

“It’s the cutest idea!” was something that I heard a lot during the last clinic as visitors checked in their patients. After getting an ID bracelet with their name on it (names ranging from "Stuffy" and "Bunny" to "Who Who" the owl and many, many others) and a short wait in the waiting room, each animal was ready to visit one of our volunteer doctors from Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

Stuffed animals were weighed and measured and some got stitches, Band-Aids and stickers too. Last year, we even had a patient named “Doggie” become a Mom to 4 puppies, a first for our clinic!

Even though it’s called a “Teddy Bear Clinic,” visitors brought more than just bears! Tigger, a giant frog,

colorful birds, Clifford the Big Red Dog, a cat mermaid, Pluto, horses, unicorns, and even Dr. Who were just some of the many unique patients!

“The variety is always something that gets me,” said Zach, a Museum staff member. “I mean, there are plenty of Teddy bears, but also snakes, cats, dogs and more. Dr. Who is a first though!”

The event also helped kids who may be a bit anxious about visiting the doctor. “It makes kids more comfortable with the idea of going to the doctor,” one of our volunteer nurses explained. “Seeing that a needle doesn’t hurt Teddy can help kids who may be afraid of needles.” If their stuffed friend can make it through a trip to the doctor, then they definitely can!

Afterwards, visitors played with their dogs, Teddy Bears, cats and bunnies throughout the Museum until our Teddy Bear Picnic where everyone enjoyed juice, fresh fruit and animal crackers on a beautiful day in Henry Law Park!

We hope you can join us for this year's Teddy Bear Clinic!

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​New STEAM Programs

The Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Innovation Lab at the Children’s Museum of NH is now a permanent part of the museum and for the last few weeks has been hosting drop-in events every day. The Lab is designed to provide students, teachers and visiting families with enriching hands-on STEAM learning experiences.

“The response has been wonderful!” shared Jane Bard, President of the Children’s Museum of NH. “We’ve had schools, teachers, and kids of all ages use the STEAM Lab, and with each new interaction, we feel confident that we’ve created a useful and timely resource.” Programs in the STEAM Innovation Lab can be tailored to any group.

Learning Labs are for schools and organized groups and come with themes like “Keeping Current: Circuits” or “Mission to the Moon.” New spring and summer classes and camps for kids are being scheduled now and some of those themes include “Sci Fi Science” and “Learn to Code.” The Children’s Museum educators are gearing up to offer Professional Development opportunities for teachers with workshop themes like “NGSS Crosscutting Standards: What Are They and How Do I Incorporate Them?” The Museum is currently partnering with UNH Cooperative Extension to offer “Inquiry Teaching Methods: Grounding STEM Education Programs in Science Practices” to 17 classroom educators from throughout the region.

Debuting at the Museum’s Earth Day Celebration on April 22 will be a new “Eco Boys and Girls Science Bites” program. CMNH has partnered with Eco Boys and Girls to create a series of 12 hands-on science demonstrations and activities featuring five lovable animated characters, each designed to educate pre-K to third grade children about the Earth, sustainability and our interconnectedness. Ernie Earth preserves the natural world and its ecosystems; Lulu Love demonstrates the importance of loving herself, others and all living things; Patsy Peace resolves conflicts so that humans and other living things can exist in peaceful ways; Ray Recycle shows people ways to reuse, reduce and recycle, and Sammy Sun spreads the word about conservation and protecting natural resources. These programs will be drop-in and free with museum admission. The lessons will also be available on the Museum’s website for free use in classrooms, after school programs or by families at home.

The STEAM Innovation Lab doesn’t get much quiet time because every day the museum is open, there is a scheduled drop-in activity included with admission so that guests of all ages can experience this unique space. Some programs encourage kids and parents to work together to build a prototype of an invention. Other programs lead kids through an engineering challenge to build boats, bridges or towers. Much of the Lab’s focus is on problem-solving and coming up with creative solutions. Other days visitors will be engaged with the Lab’s technology like the 3D printer and the FLoid® Imaging System microscopes provided by Thermo Fisher Scientific, one of the Lab’s legacy sponsors. Check our daily calendar on the Museum’s website: www.childrens-museum.org

In addition to all the daily drop-in programs that are free with museum admission, there are also programs that may cost a little extra to attend, but are perfect opportunities for adults and kids to learn together. Storybook STEAM happens most Fridays 2-2:45pm and is perfect for ages 3.5-5. Kids hear STEAM-related stories, read by a Museum educator, and then work with their adults on a project inspired by the story. Storybook STEAM doesn’t require registration and is $10 per adult/child pair for Members and $12 for adult/child pair for Non-members. There are also adult and child workshops on one Saturday a month called “STEAM Saturday Workshops,” The latest one is this coming Saturday, April 16 from 10:30-11:30am. Kids and adults can create their own Shrinky Dinks Sculptures to take home! On Saturday, May 14 from 10:30-11:30am adults can learn how to code their own video games right along with their kids (ages 8-12)! The cost for workshops like these is $15 per adult/child pair for Members and $20 for Non-members. (Does not include Museum admission.)

To help facilitate these kinds of coding workshops, the Children’s Museum has partnered with local software developer, James Terry, to create the museum’s first app. The “CMNH Game Maker” app has been developed to be used on the STEAM Innovation Lab’s iPads and allows users to switch seamlessly between coding, creating art, debugging, and testing their own video games. “Our goal with CMNH Game Maker is to provide a single tool that lets students (and interested adults) have everything they need to create their first video game,” shared Museum Educator (and James’ daughter) Sarah Terry. The app is currently being Beta tested by enthusiastic museum students throughout the spring. “Sarah and I are learning a lot watching the kids use the App and it’s given us a lot of ideas for new features and ways to make it even more accessible for kids who want to turn their passion for playing video games into the skill to make them," said James.

For more details and a schedule of events in the STEAM Innovation Lab, please visit our website. Thank you to our STEAM Innovation Lab founding sponsors Thermo Fisher Scientific, The Roger R. and Theresa S. Thompson Endowment Fund, Granite State Development Corporation and the Horne Family Foundation.

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​A MOSAIC of Cultures to be Explored

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Becky Field, "Young Somali Woman, Manchester, 2013"

Gallery 6, the space reserved for art inside the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, will have a new exhibition opening on March 5 and featuring art from many different cultures. MOSAIC: Exploring Our Multicultural Neighborhood will be paired with a special celebration of cultural exploration on Saturday, March 12, where guests can taste North African cooking, enjoy traditional Bhutan dancing and music, try their hand at Chinese brush painting and take part in a community art project.

The art on view in MOSAIC will include photographs of immigrants and refugees living in New Hampshire taken by Becky Field from her book Different Roots, Common Dreams, which came out in the Fall of 2015. Photographer David Hiley, who traveled to Haiti with a group of Seacoast, NH medical professional volunteers in coordination with the Haitian Health Foundation, will present his series of Haitian “selfies” of children and parents. “My eye was drawn to the tension I saw between wrenching poverty and the vibrancy and dignity of these children,” shared David. “Allowing the children to take selfies captured the curiosity and joy common to children everywhere.” Also on view will be photographs of children from China taken by retired pediatrician Skip Small and a glimpse into the life of a child from Japan curated by Sayaka and Seth Blewitt. Also on view will be selected dolls from the Museum’s collection of dolls from around the world.

The special celebration of MOSAIC promises to be just as diverse as the cultures represented in the art itself. The event will be from 11am-2pm on Saturday, March 12 at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover. Guests who come in traditional cultural costumes (super heroes and princess costumes do not apply) will receive half-off their individual admission. From 10:45am-Noon European classically trained chef Patrice Gerard will demonstrate North African cooking and guests can taste his vegetarian tagine with couscous. Becky Field will be on hand to talk about her photography project and her work documenting cultural, ethnic and religious diversity in NH. At 11:30am and 1pm dancers from Bhutan will demonstrate traditional dance and music in the Museum’s Muse Studio. David Hiley will be walking around the Museum taking “selfies” of guests who come dressed in their traditional costumes. Runjuan Huang will demonstrate Chinese brush painting and guests can try their hand at that or help create a community weaving project, which, when completed, will be installed on the exterior of the Children’s Museum. The opening celebration events are free with regular museum admission.

The MOSAIC exhibition will be on view through Tuesday, May 31 and is sponsored by Optima Bank and Trust, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the Fuller Foundation. In addition to the art on view and special celebration event, every two weeks the Museum educators will focus on the cultures of different countries and feature country themed crafts and activities in the Muse Studio. The countries, in order of appearance, will include Tanzania, Peru, Haiti, Iceland, Japan, Pakistan and Canada. At the end of May, art projects and facts about all seven countries will be displayed together in the Muse Studio.

As always, no admission fee is required to view the art in Gallery 6. Regular admission applies for families who wish to also explore the rest of the Museum.

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A Message from the Queen of Hearts

Wonderland Tea Party Preview Web

Greetings, my dear ladies, lords, and all my precious citizens of Wonderland!

It is I, your Queen of Hearts, and I thought it high time to address you again! It has been an awfully long time since we last had a chat, hasn’t it? Why, I don’t believe I’ve spoken to many of you since our little party last February! Ah, what can I say? A queen’s work is never done! If I’m not policing those good-for-nothing cards in their rose painting, then I’m having my croquet game interrupted by some other impertinence! But I do remember our time together fondly. There were so many types of tea, lovely cookies, enchanting flowers, a plethora of hearts, of course, and I welcomed so many new lords and ladies into the Royal Court of Wonderland! Such allegiances truly do our fair land credit.

In fact, I rather feel like doing it again! Don’t you? Now, I’d never say that you must come – I’d never say that it was absolutely mandatory for all citizens of Wonderland that they come and enjoy tea and cookies and crafting with their ever-so-magnanimous Queen – I mean, really! Does that sound like something I’d say? But all the same, I do hope you’ll attend. Oh, and if any of you happen to see a rather mysterious blonde girl of apparently varying size, do tell me of her whereabouts. I can’t have just anyone traipsing through Wonderland! We shall see if she dares to show up!

Please do say you’ll come to my tea party! I’d be ever so thrilled to see you!

As always,

Your dear and faithful Queen

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Pizza - A Cautionary Tale

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by Marty Kelley

Pizza is dangerous.

I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t know here. We, as a people, have been warned since infancy about the myriad dangers of pizza. The warnings are a part of our collective knowledge. Don’t swim for an hour after eating. Don’t play with fire. Look both ways before you cross the street. Stay away from pizza. We know this.

And yet now, I find myself in the unenviable and dangerous position of being a judge at a pizza competition called Pizzafest. They might as well have called it DeathFest!

How can I be expected to survive an ordeal like this? We all know the dangers: hot cheese can jump off the top of a pizza and drop, like molten lava from a volcano, onto your lap. I will wear an asbestos apron, naturally, just like we all do when eating pizza.

What of the cheese that does not fall into your lap, but rather clings to the roof of your mouth searing and scalding your delicate palate until it seethes with angry blisters. I will make sure to dunk the pizza in ice water for at least 45 minutes, as we were all taught to do at our mother’s knee.

The toppings, though? What if a rogue pepperoni slides down my throat the wrong way? There are just so many things that could possibly go wrong. That’s why I’m judging this contest. I’m doing it for you. I’m doing it to protect you. If I judge this contest and eat this pizza, it will keep you safe.

And that’s what I want to do.

You’re welcome.


Marty Kelley, children's book author and illustrator, will be one of three judges at this year's PizzaFest Fundraiser and Online Auction. This is an all-you-can-eat (at your own risk) pizza-tasting fundraiser and all proceeds go to benefit the Children's Museum.

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​The Wacky Scientist Reflects on his Career

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By Doug Tilton

I have had the honor of being the “Wacky Scientist” for the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire for about 14 years now and I spend all year preparing for and looking forward to the October Not-So-Spooky Spectacular! I’m actually the second “Wacky Scientist” to hold this position. The first Wacky Scientist was a former employee named Bill Stroup. He and Jane, our current President, came up with the slightly misleading moniker of “Wacky Scientist.” I’ve never thought of myself as particularly “wacky” (but I suppose I have my moments). In my pre-wacky days I actually did a lot of theatre and directing, which I think has served me well when trying to keep my young audience attentive and entertained.

I had presented science concepts to children’s audiences for years and directed others to do it, but still, the first time I did it as the Wacky Scientist was still a new experience. I relied on my fellow educators to help develop the science experiments that have become a signature highlight of our Halloween celebrations. Then as time went on, I started creating my own experiments and made sure that each show was different and unique!

A few of my favorite experiments over the years have included anti-gravity in a jar, “sink or float,” giant gyroscope, Coke and Mentos explosion and screaming balloons! Of course there are always unexpected surprises. Sometimes those surprises come in the form of costumed kids who want to talk to their friends through my experiments, or perhaps think they already know all about what I’m doing. THEY are the ones I make into my first assistants! Hey, every Wacky Scientist needs a Wacky Assistant. It’s in the bi-laws.

Of course, being a Wacky Scientist, or a Wacky Assistant, isn’t all fun and games. Occasionally it requires some serious dedication and risk taking. One year I was working the kinks out of a fantastic experiment where I used a bungee cord to drop a raw egg from the ceiling onto my assistant’s face! We carefully measured everything to make sure that the bungee would stop the egg from hitting his face at the very last second. Let’s just say, the Wacky Assistant’s dedication was tested that day, as were my Wacky nerves. But in the end, we measured correctly and didn’t end up with any egg on our face, literally or idiomatically.

Are you bringing your wacky kids to this year’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular?

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Maker Faire FAQs

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"What exactly is a 'Maker Faire'?"

We hear that question a lot when we are out and about, talking up our Dover Mini Maker Faire, coming up on Saturday, August 29. It's a deceptively hard question to answer! I usually say things like "It's a place where people who make things, engineer things, craft things, etc. can come together and show off their creativity."

"...So, there aren't any rides?"

Well, no. There aren't any rides. But we think it's just as fun. So to clear up some of the confusion about what visitors to a Maker Faire can expect, here's a handy list of frequently asked questions and our answers.

Q. What exactly is a Maker Faire?
A. Maker Faire is family-friendly festival of innovation, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new. Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and share what they have learned.

Q. How did Maker Faire get started?
A. The Maker movement sparked at the first Maker Faire back in 2006 in the Bay Area. Since then, sponsorship of Maker Faire events from corporations has helped propelled this grassroots movement eastward like wildfire. The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA and in 2012 celebrated its seventh annual show with some 800 makers and 110,000 people in attendance. World Maker Faire New York, the other flagship event, has grown in three years to 500+ makers and 55,000 attendees. Detroit, Kansas City, Newcastle (UK), and Tokyo are the home of “featured” Maker Faires (200+ makers).

Q. Why is it called Dover MINI Maker Faire?
A. Across the United States and the world, community-driven, independently organized Mini Maker Faires are now being produced. Dover Mini Maker Faire is independently organized and operated under license from Maker Media, Inc., and is the FIRST Mini Maker Faire in the state of New Hampshire.

Q. Are there rides?
A. No. There aren't any rides like you would see at a regular town fair. BUT, there are a ton of hands on activities and opportunities to explore new things. In addition to all the great Maker tables and demos, we'll be offering an opportunity to help us build a giant Jenga and there will be a grand finale involving coke and mentos "explosions!"

Q. So what exactly will I see at the Faire?
A. You will see lots of tables and booths outside in Henry Law Park with people displaying and demonstrating their creative talents. If you want to learn more about the individual vendors, we've compiled a great list of them over on our makerfairedover.com blog!

Q. How many people can I expect to see there?
A. The first year (2013) we had more than 1,200 people attend (300 of which were kids)!

Q. What does it cost?
A. If you buy tickets online before August 29, tickets cost $10 for anyone over 5 years of age. Kids ages 5 and younger get in for free. You can buy tickets at the door for $12.

Q. Is that all the money I'll spend while at the Faire?
A. If you are just looking around at all the great inventors and trying your hand at the different activities, then yes, that's all you'll spend. There are, however a few vendors who are selling their wares, and of course food will cost you extra. We will also have t-shirts for sale for a reasonable price. But your admission will get you into all areas of the Faire, including the Children's Museum.

Q. I'm a CMNH member. Do I get into the Faire for free?
A. Look for an email from us in early August with a Member discount code.

Q. Will there be food?
A. Yes! We have quite a few vendors who will be selling food.

Q. Can I bring my dog?
A. Yes, you may bring your dog to all outside locations (i.e. Henry Law Park), however with the exception of service animals, dogs are not permitted in the Museum or in One Washington Street Mill. However, for the safety and well being of our four-legged friends, we recommend you leave your pets at home. There will be loud noises, many moveable parts, and large crowds, all of which do not create a safe environment for pets.

Q. Where exactly is the Faire?
A. The Faire takes place in and around the Children's Museum, Henry Law Park, and One Washington Street Mill, which is directly behind the Museum.

Q. Is there parking?
A. Yes! Weekend parking is free throughout the city of Dover, but we suggest:

  • Henry Law Avenue in front of the museum
  • the River Street lot- Drive past the museum along Washington Street, veer onto Waters Street, then cross the bridge to River Street.
  • The Orchard Street lot near the Post Office (accessed via Central Avenue or Chestnut Street)
  • The Amtrak lot on Chestnut & Third Streets
  • The Third Street lot next to Holy Rosary Credit Union
  • The Portland Street lot
  • The Library lot on Locust Street (across from the Police Station)

Q. What about handicap parking?
A. There are a few handicap parking spots on Washington Street right next to the museum, as well as in the TD Bank lot across the street.

If you find yourself saying "I have a question and I don't see the answer here," then feel free to email us at questions@childrens-museum.org and we'll do our best to clear things up for you. We hope you can make it to Maker Faire this year!

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For Older Kids Too!

By Amanda Girard, Marketing Intern

Worried about bringing older kids to CMNH with their younger siblings? Afraid they might just stand there moaning, “I’m bored?” The Children’s Museum does offer exhibits and events that older kids can enjoy alongside their younger siblings so that the whole family can have some fun!

“The Muse Studio is a place that caters to all ages,” said Sarah Terry, one of the Museum’s educators. “We make a lot of the crafts open-ended, so you can make them as simple or as complex as you want.” Museum educators come up with new themes every week, like New England books or Super Heroes, and plan craft projects based around that theme.

The Thinkering Lab is another exhibit that encourages guests to create anything they want, no matter how simple or how complex. Here you can build things with LEGOS, design vehicles and tracks, and create ball mazes.

Finally, Mindball is a fun exhibit that many older kids and even adults enjoy! The game is simple: try to stay as relaxed as you can while an electronic headband monitors your brainwaves. See if you can beat your opponent and if you can stay more relaxed. (You could even switch up the game and see who can be the most un-relaxed!)

“A lot of our events are geared towards all ages too,” said Sarah Terry, “like Super Hero Week or our Mini Maker Faire.” If you’re an adult, you probably have great memories of discovering super heroes in comic books, and what better way to introduce your kids to those same super heroes than to take them to Super Hero Week here at the Children’s Museum. Maker Faire (coming up on August 29) is also an event that is for everyone. Some of our Makers this year are as young as 12 or 13 years old and older kids will get a chance to learn more about topics like robotics, engineering, music or art. Maker Faire has a lot to offer everyone.

So, if you are looking to bring the whole family (including older kids) to the Museum, a special program or some of our tried and true exhibits may be a good opportunity to get everyone engaged and involved!

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