The Museum Blog

Category: STEAM

Make a Bird Kite!

by Meredith Brustlin, CMNH Educator

The craft I have to share with you today is making a bird kite! This is a really simple activity that you can do with a handful of household items - and it will (hopefully) supply your little ones with a whole bunch of fun.

This awesome activity was found on www.krokotak.com - browse their website for a variety of other fun activities that use simple materials you can find at home, mostly paper! 

Materials Needed:

  • Piece of 8.5 X 11 paper 
  • 2-3 Sticky notes 
    • Or pieces of colorful scrap paper and a glue stick or tape, I like the sticky notes because they are self adhesive!
  • Stapler, scissors, hole punch
  • Markers, stickers, any other decorations you’d like
  • String/ribbon/yarn

Instructions:

  1. Fold a piece of paper in half 
  2. Gently “swoop” down both sides to form the wings of your bird and attach with one staple
  3. Punch a hole on the bottom for the kite string
  4. Cut a sticky note to make a beak and tail feathers--feel free to add other decoration using markers
  5. Add some sticker eyes
  6. Attach the string - you’re ready to fly! 

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Two Ingredient Snow Dough

By Colie Hahr, CMNH Educator

Our most popular drop-in STEAM activities at CMNH seem to involve making messy mixtures! From slime, to dough, to puffy paint most kids love getting their hands a little dirty, and enjoying a sensory experience while they play and create.

One of the easiest make-at-home messy projects is two ingredient snow dough. It’s part science experiment and part sensory play, and honestly just a  bit messy compared to the wild world of slime! 

Materials:

  • Table cover of some kind (a trash bag works!)
  • Corn Starch
  • Hair conditioner -white works well
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing spoon
  • Optional: food coloring, cookie cutters, placemat or tray for play, playdough accessories

Dough recipe: this dough has a one to two ratio of liquid to solid ingredients, so it is easy to double or halve the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups cornstarch

1 cup inexpensive hair conditioner

Food coloring (optional)

Directions:

  • Add the food coloring (optional) to the conditioner, then mix in a large bowl.
  •  Add the cornstarch to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Kids can take turns mixing. Keep mixing with a spoon until the consistency seems like playdough
  • If the mixture is too wet, add corn starch, and too dry add a little more conditioner. Avoid handling the dough until it looks nice and smooth- this will help contain the mess in the bowl until it is ready to be handled. 
  • Play with the dough using cookie cutters, stamps, small figurines, or other manipulatives of your choice. It is washable from most surfaces, but kids should be supervised as they would with playdough

What Happened? Once the dough is mixed together, a whole new material has been created, however, the reaction is complicated because the conditioner includes several mixtures and solutions in its ingredients. A mixture is when two substances are mixed together, but you can separate them back into their individual parts. Trail mix is a good example of a mixture. A solution is a substance where you mix ingredients together, and it’s not possible to separate them. Hot Cocoa is an example kids may understand: once you mix hot cocoa powder with milk or water, can you turn it back into milk or water again? 

For this activity, you mixed together two different ingredients to make something new. The corn starch is a solid, even though it is a very fine powder. It’s similar to the shape, size, and texture of sand, so making this comparison may be helpful for kids to understand that something can be solid, but also be made of very small parts. Corn starch is used to help make things thicker for cooking, and it also helped to make the dough thicker and more solid. 

The other ingredient is hair conditioner, which is a liquid even though it is very thick. The conditioner helped to make the dough softer and easier to mold. The dough you created is still a solid, but it is able to be sculpted and shaped! The ratio of conditioner to corn starch is what made the dough work. This recipe used a 2 to 1 ratio, so there was twice as much cornstarch as conditioner. Older kids can work on fractions, adding, measuring, and dividing as part of this project. 

One way to explain this experiment to kids is to ask them to think about making a cake. When you mix all of the ingredients together to make a cake, the ingredients go through a physical change and create a mixture.  When the cake goes into the oven to bake, a chemical change takes place, and the batter mixture turns from liquid into a solid baked cake. It would not be possible to take the eggs, flour, or milk back out of the cake once it is cooked, and that’s part of what makes it a chemical change rather than a physical change. For matter to change, usually something needs to be added such as heat or pressure. We didn’t add heat or pressure for this experiment, so even though the dough was very different from the two ingredients that we put together to make it, it is still a physical change. We did not cook it like a cake, AND it’s not edible, so don’t eat it! 

Physical Change: A physical change is a type of change in which the form of matter is altered but one substance is not transformed into another. For example, folding paper to make an origami crane changes the shape and size of the paper, but it is still paper. 

Chemical Change: A chemical change is any change that causes a new substance to be formed. For example, if an origami crane were to catch fire and burn, the paper would turn into ashes, a new substance. 

Mixture: A substance made by mixing other substances together. For example, trail mix. 

Storage: The dough should last for about a month if it’s sealed up in a container. Add a little water to the dough if it dries out, and it will last longer.  

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St. Patrick’s Day Treasure Hunt!

Materials Needed:

  • Cake pan or other container with deep-ish sides
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar or lemon juice
  • Green food coloring
  • Spray bottle or small bowl
  • If using a bowl, also have a spoon
  • Coins/spare change

Prep the activity:

  1. Place a trash bag or plastic tablecloth over the “experiment area” (food coloring can stain!)
  2. Spread out the coins on the bottom of your cake pan
  3. Cover the coins with baking soda
  4. Fill the spray bottle or small dish with vinegar/lemon juice and green food coloring

Invitation to play:

  • Welcome your little one(s) into the science area and explain that some leprechauns stopped by and left a science experiment...and some treasure! 
  • Invite them to begin investigating---spraying the spray bottle or carefully spooning some vinegar onto the baking soda
  • Inquire: What is happening? What do you notice? What do you hear? Why is that happening? What is hiding under the baking soda?!

The science:

  • Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base. When acids & bases are added together--we get a chemical reaction! A chemical reaction is when you combine two substances and create something new. In this case, we are combining vinegar (a liquid) with baking soda (a solid) and getting a gas (carbon dioxide!) We can HEAR the carbon dioxide being created when we listen for the fizzing/bubbling sound. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

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Six Books to Celebrate Women

Six Children’s Books To Celebrate International Women’s Day 2019

Friday March 8th marks International Women’s Day 2019. In celebration we’ve compiled together a list of six children’s books that honor and empower strong women.


Grace for President

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Written by Kelly DiPucchio, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Grade Level: 1, 2, 3

Genre: Fiction, Hybrid

New York Times Bestseller

2008

 

An introduction to the American electoral system, Grace for President tells the story of fourth grader Grace Campbell. Upon learning that America has never had a female president she decides to become the first, launching her political career by running in her school’s mock election.  


She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World

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Written by Chelsea Clinton, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

Grade Level: PreK, K, 1, 2, 3

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

New York Times Bestseller

2017

In She Persisted, Chelsea Clinton outlines 13 American women who have helped shape the country through hard work and persistence. Featured figures include Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, and Oprah Winfrey. The success of She Persisted as a New York Times Bestseller spurred the creation of a second book: She Persisted Around the World. This companion book details the stories of 13 additional history-changing women from around the globe.

 


Malala’s Magic Pencil

 

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Written by Malala Yousafzai, Illustrated by Kerascoet

Grade Level: PreK, K, 1, 2, 3

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography/Autobiography

2017

 

As a child in Pakistan, Malala would often wish for a magic pencil, one that would help her create happiness, clean her city, and sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as Malala grew up, she saw the ways a magic pencil could truly be used to make the world a better place.

 

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai details her story for a younger audience in her first picture book, Malala’s Magic Pencil. She hopes to inspire children to think globally, and through hard work and determination, change their world.


Girls Who Code, Learn to Code and Change the World

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Written by Reshma Saujani

Grade Level: 5, 6

Genre: Nonfiction, Science/Technology

New York Times Bestseller

2017

Written by the founder of the Girls Who Code organization, Reshma Saujani aims to inspire a new generation of female coders. This novel incorporates eye-catching artwork, understandable explanations of basic coding principles, and the inspiring real life stories of women working for corporations like NASA and Pixar. Girls Who Code aims to show women how coding can help them reach their dreams, whatever they may be.

 


I Dissent, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

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Written by Debbie Levy, Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

Grade Level: PreK, K, 1, 2, 3

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

2016 

In I Dissent author Debbie Levy demonstrates the power of saying no and standing up for what you believe in. This biographical picture book details the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ginsburg constantly says no, disagreeing when it matters the most. I Dissent outlines the stories of Ginsburg’s most famous dissents, and demonstrates to young readers “disagreeing doesn’t make you disagreeable”!

 

 


Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

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Written by Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo

Illustrated by 60 female artists from around the world

Grade Level: K, 1, 2, 3

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography

 2016

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls tells the stories of 100 historical female figures, both past and present, in an accessible fairytale style. Each figure is given a one-page biography accompanied with an original work of art. The book aims to inspire children across a range of fields including science, politics, history, sports, technology, and the arts. Featured women include Elizabeth I, Serena Williams and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls broke records by becoming the most crowd funded children’s book in history, raising over half a million dollars from over 13 thousand backers on Kickstarter. The book’s success has inspired two volumes, a journal and a 12 episode podcast, all of which can be found on the official book website: https://www.rebelgirls.co/   

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​Finding the Summer in STEAM

by Sarah Terry, Museum Educator

Could it finally be summer in New Hampshire? This winter child is a little sad (and hauling up the air conditioners from my basement…), but it’s hard to feel too badly when all the trees and flowers are in bloom!

I’ve been watching our museum garden start to grow out back – we have a ton of different herbs, all kinds of vegetables poking their stems up – and contemplating my unfortunate black thumb. I’ve never really been able get anything to grow except aloe plants (which apparently thrive on neglect), so I’ve been thinking a lot about the science behind growing things, the way plants and animals fit into their environments, and the effects, both positive and negative, that human beings can have on those environments.

It’s with those thoughts in mind that I’ve decided it’s high time to dirty up our fancy new STEAM Lab a bit! For the month of June, all of our lab activities are going to be focused on ecology.

I chose ecology in particular because it focuses on how all the elements of our environment work together. Ecologists look at plants, animals, soil, people – all the pieces of the puzzle. That’s what I’m hoping kids and parents will get a taste of in the lab this month.

And taste may be literal! I’m planning on growing some oyster mushrooms in the lab for kids to inspect, as well as planting some pea plants. We’ll be looking at strawberry DNA, making seed bombs, learning about beavers, making biomes in a bag, and even raising some butterflies!

We’ll be posting our STEAM Lab schedule weekly, so make sure to check our Facebook page and calendar for updates!

And who knows – maybe I’ll even get to upgrade my black thumb to something a little greener! Wish me luck!

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