Author Archive | Brianna Tussing

BugFest 2016

It’s warm! It’s sunny! Flowers are blooming and insects are buzzing. Here at the Cincinnati Museum Center, we are celebrating insects at our annual BugFest on June 4th. Come and find out cool facts about insects.

This year, some of the stars at BugFest will be cockroaches and bees.

What is a cockroach?

Cockroaches have been around for millions of years. Because of their characteristics, they are very resilient insects.

Did you know?

  • They can live almost a month without food
  • They can live about 2 weeks without water
  • They can live for up to one week without their head!
  • They can hold their breath for up to 40 min!
  • They eat all kind of food, including books, toothpaste and even nylon stockings
Hissing Cockroach by Roy Toft

Hissing Cockroach by Roy Toft

In the island of Madagascar, which is off the African mainland, lives one of the largest species of cockroach called the hissing cockroach. Can you guess why they are called like that? They are friendly cockroaches and people keep them as pets. You can meet them at  the museum.

Cockroaches have very special characteristics that make them interesting to study for scientists.

  • They can flatten themselves and still run at fast speed.
  • They can carry a load 900 times heavier than they are.

These characteristics have inspired the construction of a robot that can squeeze through cracks. This can be useful in search-and- rescue in rubble resulting from earthquakes, tornadoes or explosions. Researchers learned that cockroaches reorient their legs completely out to their sides so they can still run even when squeezed in a crack. Kaushik Jayaram, who recently obtained his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley has designed a simple robot, the size of a palm of a hand that mimics cockroaches movements.  First responders could use this robots called CRAM (stands for Compressible Robot with Articulated Mechanisms) to locate survivors and find safe entry points.

The CRAM robot next to its cockroach counterpart. (Credit: Tom Libby/Kaushik Jayaram/Pauline Jennings/PolyPEDAL Lab UC Berkeley)

The CRAM robot next to its cockroach counterpart. (Credit: Tom Libby/Kaushik Jayaram/Pauline Jennings/PolyPEDAL Lab UC Berkeley)


Do you like honey?

By Maciej A. Czyzewski - Own work, GFDL,

By Maciej A. Czyzewski – Own work, GFDL,

Bees are flying insects related to wasps and ants. They are well known for producing delicious honey, royal jelly and beeswax. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees including honey bees and bumble bees.



Bumble bee (from

Bumble bee (from

Bees are pollinators. What is a pollinator? It is an animal (such bees, birds, butterflies and more) that will move pollen within flowers or from flower to flower. The transfer of pollen leads to a successful production of seed and fruit for plants. Bees not only pollinate pretty flowers, they also help with the pollination of a third of the world’s crops (food, beverages, fibers, spices and medicines) and are critical to the agricultural system. Food and beverages produced with the help of pollinators include: apples, blueberries, chocolate, coffee, potatoes, pumpkins, and vanilla.

Bees form colonies of thousands of bees and they live in structures called beehives. People who keep beehives, take care of bees and collect the honey are called beekeepers. Some beekeepers have beehives in their back yards or even on city roof-tops. Bees can travel several miles to collect nectar and pollen, so they do not need flowering plants close by.

Pastel painted wooden beehives with active honeybees near Mankato, Minnesota (photo by Jonathunder - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Pastel painted wooden beehives with active honeybees near Mankato, Minnesota (photo by Jonathunder – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Unfortunately, the honey bee population is in decline. You can take action to help pollinators in your own backyards! One of the easiest ways is to plant native wildflowers and to stop using harmful pesticides.

Also, you can be a citizen-scientist and help scientists with collecting data about bees. You can take photos of bees with a date and location and submit them to In this website, you can also learn in detail what is a bee, how to identify bumble bees and honey bees, bee anatomy, and how bees are different from other insects.

What Can You Do At BUGFEST?

“Meddling with Nature” will be participating in BugFest. They will demonstrate methods for preparing entomological mounts. You can go home with you own creation! See more in

You can find more activities in our website.

Featured Girl In Real Life Science: Dr. Mary Gardiner

Mary Gardiner

This month’s featured girl in real life science is, Mary Gardiner Ph.D. an Associate Professor at the Ohio State University in the Department of Entomology.

Mary was born in Traverse City, Michigan and spent most of her school years in Northport, Michigan where she attended Northport High School. She then went to the University of Michigan where she received her Bachelors of Science degree with a major in Resource Ecology and Management, her Masters of Science degree and finally she received her PhD from Michigan State University in 2008. Although no one in her family is in a field of science, she has always been interested in the natural world and environmental science.

As an Assistant Professor at the university since 2009, Mary runs a research lab and mentors graduate students. She also teaches graduate level courses and provides outreach programs for the public. A typical day for her varies a lot. Many days are spent writing on her computer. She may spend some part of the day teaching or presenting an outreach program. She also spends a lot of time in the field in the summer helping her students collect data.

Mary thinks that young women should study anything and everything that interests them! There is a vast diversity of careers in science form bench science to fieldwork. For example, the goal of Mary’s team is to determine how the management of vacant land in Cleveland influences its value for biodiversity. They collect data on how the plants in the vacant fields affect the number and species of insects and other arthropods. The more type of insects and animals you have living in a field, the better it is for the environment. The final objective of Mary’s team is to increase the quality and quantity of the land.

Mary admits that she struggled with confidence at times, worrying that she would not be able to run her own lab. For her, it is important that young women take stock in their accomplishments to date and know that if they continue to work hard, they will be successful.


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Happy Birthday Florence Nightingale!



The ‘Lady with the Lamp’ who helped revolutionize hospital conditions and transform nursing into an honorable vocation turns 196 on May 12th.

Florence Nightingale was born May 12 1820 into a wealthy and affluent British family. Nightingale shied way from the traditional route of marrying a wealthy man and instead turned her devotion towards the vocation of nursing, which at the time was considered to just be lowly menial labor. After many years of training and caring for the sick the Crimson War broke out between Russia and Britain and she was called upon by the Sidney Herbert the Secretary of War, asking her to organize a group of nurses to come tend to the soldiers in Crimea. There in the hospital at Constantinople, the sanitary conditions were far from superior and were even causing most of the wounded soldiers to die due to sickness rather than from their wartime injuries. Nightingale made it her mission to improve the sanitary and overall condition of the hospital. With her work, she was able to decrease the death toll in the hospital by almost two thirds. After the war had ended and Nightingale returned to her home she was given a reward by the Queen of England which she used for establishing the St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. Nightingale’s legacy revolutionized the conditions of hospital facilities, views on nursing, and so much more. She will forever be known as the ‘Lady of the Lamp’ who helped guide us to a brighter future.

Test your Nursing Knowledge!

Test your Nursing Knowledge with this fun word search.




Featured Girl in Real Life Science: Dr. Antonia Novello

Antonia C. Novello was born August 23, 1944, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Novello was a bright young girl and graduated high school at age 15 and then received her Bachelor of Science degree from Rio Piedras and then her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Puerto Rico at San Juan. In 1979, Dr. Novello joined the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Over the next twelve years, she rose from project officer in the Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism and Digestive Diseases to become Deputy Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. It was her special interest in pediatric AIDS that caught the attention of the White House. In 1990, President George Bush appointed her Surgeon General of the United States making Novello the first female/Hispanic Surgeon General. After serving as Surgeon General for three years, Dr. Novello became a special representative for the United Nations Children’s Fund, where she expanded her efforts to address the health and nutritional needs of women, children, and adolescents, to a global scale. Later she began teaching at John Hopkins School of Health and Hygiene as a visiting professor, where she advised on health services for poor communities. Novello’s influential life is one that many young girls can aspire to.

What are you doing in May?

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Explorer’s University: Dissection Series

Discover the annatomical features of various mammals during this safe, hands-on dissection! Saturday, May 14th from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History and Science. $8 for members, $10 for non-members. Purchase tickets here! 


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Da Vinci – The Genius 

Da Vinci – The Genius features 17 themed galleries with over 200 pieces, including life-size reproductions of over 70 machine inventions, educational animations of da Vinci’s most notable works and an eye-opening, in-depth analysis of his most famous work, the “Mona Lisa.” Push, pull, crank and interact with many of these exhibits for a hands-on understanding of the scientific principles behind them. Opens May 20th, purchase tickets here


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Celebrate Earth Month!


On April 22, millions of people from around the globe will rally together to celebrate Earth Day. It’s the largest civic event in the world with all kinds of people participating – including kids! The goal of Earth Day is to teach people how important it is to keep our planet healthy and clean. One of the great things about Earth Day is that there are so many things you can do to help – plant a garden, start recycling, pick up trash in your neighborhood, learn how to compost or even build a bat house.

You can delve deeper into our Earth’s natural wonders at the OMNIMAX® Theater! Join world-class mountaineer Conrad Anker, adventure photographer Max Lowe and artist Rachel Pohl as they hike, climb and explore their way across America’s majestic parks – including Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Yosemite, and Arches – in an action-packed celebration that will inspire the adventurer in us all, and highlight how important it is that we protect these treasured landscapes.

Also, you can join us in the STEM Discovery Lab for environment and sustainability-themed activities on Tuesdays from 2 – 3 p.m. And visit our booth at Sawyer Point on Saturday, April 16 during the Greater Cincinnati Earth Day Celebration.

Phone Technology for Whale Conservation

whale app

Marine conservationists are always looking for new ways to protect ocean life. In order to get the job done, they’re asking for help from citizens like us. Blue Point Science teamed up with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) to create a “whale spotter” app. This app allows anyone with a cell phone to record the location of whales off the coast of Northern California. This information is then sent to NOAA and they are able to inform boats and ships that there is a whale in their area – and they need to be careful! NOAA estimates that every year, 1,800 to 2,000 blue whales travel in this area to feed. By giving more people tools to track whales, it will allow scientists to use this information to decide the best routes for boats and ships to take in order to protect the blue whale. The “whale spotter” app is a good example of technology being used to protect our planet’s animal species.

 Featured Career: Botanist

femlae botanist

Here in Cincinnati, there is one thing all of us have on our minds in April – spring! With the new warmer weather and the celebration of Earth Day, this is a great time to talk about plants. The scientific study of plants is called Botany. The definition of plants includes algae, fungi, lichens, mosses, ferns, conifers and flowering plants. The study of plants is important because it helps us find new foods, building materials and medicines to treat illness. It’s also important because it helps with the conservation of plant species. The information provided by botanists, people who study plants, can help conservation organizations better manage land, parks, forests and wilderness area.

Botanist works in all different types of settings where they can focus on many plant topics. They study everything from the smallest bacteria to the giant sequoia that can grow over 250 feet fall! Some botanists study the structure and parts of plants. Some botanists study the relationship between plants and their environment. Others want to know how plants will grow under different conditions.

Scientists in plant research must conduct experiments in the lab and make observations in the field. They work indoors, outdoors and in exotic places full of new and interesting plant species. There are so many areas to study when it comes to plants that it leaves a lot of room to explore what interests you most. This makes a career in botany one that is both fun and beneficial for the greater global community.  For more information about careers in botany, please visit the Botanical Society of America.

Wondering if botany is for you?

Be the botanist and try these experiments and games!

 game screenshot 2

People who study plants often perform experiments in the lab to see how different conditions affect parts of plants. You can try this too by examining how light affects seed germination and plant growth. Can you predict how light will affect growth?

When studying plants, it is important to understand how other parts of nature interact with plants. Try your own experiment by using different types of soils and compost to grow plants.

Just like other living things, plants prefer particular types of food. Play Dirt Detective to find out what kinds of soil these trees prefer.

Plants are a part of the food web in an ecosystem, so if they change, a whole forest can change too. Map changes in the forest by examining plants, insects and trees with this game from the National Zoo.

What are you doing in April?


GIRLS University: Shark Dissection

Discover the anatomy of a fetal shark during this safe and fun dissection! You will have your own specimen to work on to learn more about what makes our favorite aquatic creatures unique. Saturday, April 23rd from 11 to 12:30 in the Museum of Natural History and Science. Ages 8-14, registration required.

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Explorer’s University: Nano!

Learn the big science behind small things. Saturday, April 2nd from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History and Science. Ages 9-14, $$, registration required.

Nano Days

Celebrate the study of small things in a big way at Nano Days!

Nano Days is a national celebration of nanoscale science and engineering, an initiative of the NISE (Nanoscale Informal Science Education) Network and the National Science Foundation. Cincinnati Museum Center will join the festivities on Saturday, April 2 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

You’ll become a scientist at the all-day celebration of nanoscience, the study of how atoms and molecules behave on a super tiny scale in everything from sunscreen to computer processors to gecko feet. Explore hands-on experiments in the STEM Discovery Lab in the Museum of Natural History & Science, talk with local nanoscience experts and help us build one of the largest scale models of a carbon nanotube ever constructed in the Rotunda – out of balloons!


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Winter is for the Birds!



Winters in Ohio can be cold. We often think of this as a time where wildlife is in hibernation or has headed south for the colder months. However, winter is a great time to do some bird watching. The type of birds you will see depends on location, but here in Ohio and Northern Kentucky, you’re sure to be able to spot a few different species in your backyard or at your local park. Because there is less foliage this time of year, it can make it easier to spot birds perched in trees and bushes. If you’re hoping to attract birds to your own wintry landscape, you have to provide three things: water, food and shelter.

In the winter months, it can be difficult for birds to find food. If you’d like to put out a bird feeder, be sure to include nuts, cracked corn, and suet. It’s better that you don’t feed birds people food like bread, cake and cookies. Allow berries and other fruits in your yard to fall on the ground and avoid raking leaves, since this is a natural spot of bird food.

Water can be a little trickier, but it’s doable. Even though snow melts into water, it takes a lot of energy for a tiny bird to turn snow into liquid. Bird baths should be shallow and sturdy. Be sure to include rocks and sticks, so birds are not required to stand in cold water while they get a drink. Put the bird baths or containers in a sunny location and check the water often, especially during freezing temperatures.

Finally, if you want to attract birds to your yard and keep them safe, they will need some shelter. You can build a birdhouse or purchase a birdhouse from a bird supply store. Bird houses don’t have to be pretty. Brush piles and evergreen trees make good winter bird homes too.


To learn more bird watching in Ohio, click here.

If you are unable to search for birds in your own community, try this bird cam from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


For the Love of Bird Conservation

Don’t be discouraged by people who have less vision, passion, tenacity, etc. than you. Face challenges head-on and have the grit not to quit when things get tough.” – Jackie Bray


jackie 2

Jackie Bray: Associate Director at RAPTOR, Inc & Former trainer at the Cincinnati Zoo

This month’s Featured Girl In Real Life Science is Jackie Bray, who is the Associate Director of RAPTOR, Inc. (Regional Association for the Protection & Treatment of Raptors). RAPTOR, Inc. is a nonprofit organization devoted to the care, rehabilitation, and the return of raptors to their natural homes. When an injured raptor is found, they rescue it safely and take it to an environment where will feel less stress. Once settled, they inspect the animal for illness and injury. Once they know what is wrong, they can work on appropriate medical treatment. Their main mission is to rehabilitate raptors so they are able to be released back into the wild. They also educate the public on the importance of raptors in our environment and on how we need to strive to preserve their natural habitat.

As associate director, it’s Ms. Bray’s job to coordinate these educational programs for the public. She also writes a grants, which are documents used to help an organization get money in order to continue their mission. The position may seem like it’s all behind the scenes, but she still gets to work directly with the raptors as she assists in their training and rehabilitation.

Jackie also works with the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in their Wings of Wonder bird show and with Kea conservation (you can see a photo of the Kea above with Jackie). She started as a volunteer, completed an educational program through the zoo, was chosen for an internship and was then hired as a paid employee. She is passionate about avian conservation and hopes to continue working toward their protection. To read Jackie’s full interview, click here.

What are you doing in December?


GIRLS University: Neuroscience

Ever wondered what’s actually going on inside your head? Join the Greater Cincinnati Association for Women in Science to learn all about the body’s control center with this fun, hands-on lesson about the brain!

Sunday, Dec. 13 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History & Science. Ages 8-14, registration required.

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Explorer’s University: I Can’t Believe it’s Not Newtonian! 

It’s a liquid, it’s a solid — it’s a non-Newtonian fluid! Through a variety of experiments, learn about the unique properties that differentiate Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids.

Sunday, Dec. 6 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History & Science. Ages 9-15. Registration required.


Rocky Mountain Express

Go on a steam train journey through the breathtaking vistas of the Canadian Rockies and experience the adventure of building a nearly impossible transcontinental railway. Recruited to realize this venture—one of the greatest engineering feats of all time—were engineers and laborers from around the world.

Rocky Mountain Express weaves together spectacular OMNIMAX® aerial cinematography, archival photographs and maps, and the potent energy and rhythms of a live steam locomotive to immerse you in this remarkable story from the age of steam. Learn more and purchase tickets here!

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Full Interview: Jackie Bray

Since I was a child I have had an insatiable curiosity about the natural world, especially as it related to the biology of the species around me.” – Jackie Bray

Jackie Bray

Where are you from originally? I’m a Cincinnatian through and through. I was born at Good Samaritan Hospital and have lived here all my life.

What is your job title? I’m an Associate Director with RAPTOR, Inc. I have also work as a trainer with the Wings of Wonder Bird Show at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. I also help manage the Kea Encounter exhibit at the zoo.

Are you working towards one specific goal? I hope to have a significant positive, long-lasting impact on avian wildlife conservation.

Why did you choose to go into this career field? Because I fell in love with wildlife, especially avian species, and realized how important they are to our Earth and our continued healthy existence. I also realized I could make a positive difference in this world while engaging in activities I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s personally fulfilling.

What’s the coolest thing you have done at your job? What’s your favorite thing about your job? My job is cool every day. I especially like developing a trusting relationship with the education birds and learning to understand the ways in which they communicate with us. I love treating an injured or ill bird and returning it back to the wild. I also like meeting interesting people who share my passion for avian wildlife.

If a girl was interested in a career such as yours, what does she need to know? What tips/suggestions would you share? Spend time volunteering and talking to others who work in the field. It’s important to understand what you’re actually getting into. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. I spend a lot more time cleaning enclosures and cutting up dead mice than I do handling a bird on the glove.

Did you know anyone with this job before you decided on this career path? No. I started on this career path by visiting the zoo and falling in love with the birds. I ended up signing up and working as a volunteer, then enrolling in the Miami University graduate degree program that was being conducted on zoo grounds. I served an internship with the Bird Show and was offered a paid position afterwards. My kea conservation work began as part of my master’s degree requirements. My raptor rehabilitation work began after meeting some highly skilled and passionate rehabilitators doing great conservation work in our local Cincinnati community.

Why do you think young women should study science? Because women have just as much to contribute to any field of study as any man. The more scientists we have working to further our understanding of our world, the better.  I think the sex of the researcher is irrelevant.

Did you encounter any struggles on your path to this job? Yes. There are many people who want to work with animals and are willing to do the work for little or no money, so it is challenging to secure a well-paid position. This is a highly competitive field that most people choose to fulfill their passion, not their wallets.

What do you still want to study/work on? Raptor rehabilitation, non-profit management, grant writing, expanding my conservation impact.

Where did you go to school (high school and college)? My son likes to tease me about being a permanent student. I graduated from Milford High School where I studied general college-prep courses. I attended Bowling Green State University and Northern Kentucky University where I studied nursing but didn’t finish the degree. Instead, I completed the paramedic program at the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated class valedictorian. After working several years as a paramedic and 911 dispatcher, I went back to school to study education.

I completed an Associate of Arts degree at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College focusing on the general education requirements for a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree (graduated Summa Cum Laude). I then transferred to Northern Kentucky University and completed a BA in Middle Grades Education with minors in English and Mathematics (graduated Summa Cum Laude). I later completed a Master of Arts in Zoology degree from Miami University in partnership with Project Dragonfly and the Cincinnati Zoo.

How long did you need to go to school? I consider myself a lifelong learner. As opportunities arose, I tried to make the most of them. I believe formal education is very important, but I also believe it’s important to seek out opportunities to gain practical experience, such as volunteer opportunities, internships, etc. My conservation work is not directly dependent on a college degree, but it does require a highly educated person with advanced skills in oral and written communication, research, science, etc.  These skills are most often obtained in pursuit of a college degree.

Besides going to school/college, did you have to do anything else to prep for your career? In addition to the things discussed above, I also stay up to date by reading published materials in my field and I attend conferences and workshops when possible.

Who is your favorite female scientist? Dr. Terri Roth, VP of Conservation and Science and Director of the Lindner Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Terri’s work with Sumatran rhinos and other endangered species is legendary. She is a highly respected principal researcher in reproductive biology that focuses her talents on the preservation of endangered wildlife.

What do you do for fun? I like to take short, interesting online classes or attend workshops and conferences to satisfy my curiosity and to increase my abilities. Most importantly, I like to spend my time volunteering on projects that benefit avian species, especially the kea parrot from New Zealand and raptor species (birds of prey) native to our local Cincinnati area.

What is your first memory of science, either by reading, lecture, observation, etc.? My first memory of science was reading through my parents’ Emergency Medical Technician manuals. When I was young, both of my parents were very active with our local volunteer ambulance service and fire department. I knew a lot more about where babies actually came from than my fellow elementary school classmates! My oldest sister and I followed in their footsteps. My sister has made a very successful lifelong career out of it.

Did you always like science? Yes, but I didn’t see it as science when I was younger. I was just interested in the complexity of life and how cells, organs and systems worked together to create a living organism. As I got older, I gained a greater appreciation for the elegance and complexity of nature in general.

What do you enjoy about science? My favorite thing about science is that there is always more to learn. Each answer we discover gives rise to 10 more questions. Engaging in scientific inquiry gives me great personal satisfaction and, hopefully, will contribute in a positive way to our understanding of our world.

Is anyone from your family in a field of science? My sister, Rita Burroughs, is a firefighter/paramedic captain. Her career requires her to have great understanding in many scientific fields, such as biology, medicine, fire science, physics, psychology, engineering, etc.  Science is everywhere so fields that you might not consider science-related probably require scientific knowledge. Every person should have a strong science background to be a well-rounded, educated, contributing member of society.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? Align yourself with respectable, like-minded individuals and organizations. Develop your character and guard your reputation. Explore a wide variety of interests and discover what you are passionate about, then find a way to make a living doing what you love. Give back to your community and use your time on Earth to make a positive and meaningful contribution.

LEGO® to the Museum!

AABrick Art

Cincinnati Museum Center presents The Art of the Brick, a touring exhibit of the world’s largest display of LEGO brick art created by Nathan Sawaya. This award-winning artist has been able to transform these common and colorful toys into meaningful contemporary art. Sawaya has taken more than one million LEGO bricks around the globe and has been proclaimed by CNN as one of the world’s “must see exhibitions.” The exhibit consist of numerous amazing pieces that are interpretations of historic masterpieces, pieces that explore various themes of human emotion, and countless whimsical pieces all solely pieced together with LEGO bricks. So join in and become witness to an experience of awe-inspiring creations that is sure to be fun for all ages and experience LEGO bricks as you have never seen them before. Learn more

Building Requires Engineering

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Engineers are innovators who help turn imagination into reality. They shape the future by making a difference and leaving their mark on the world, but how exactly do they accomplish all of these amazing things? Engineers help transform our world through creation, exploration, and innovation. Engineers are very important in numerous different fields and can specialize in anything from aeronautics to computer software. They work together in different environments by putting their outstanding intellect, problem solving skills, and imagination to use by creating everything from products that we use everyday to exploratory rovers for Mars. Engineers have helped keep our world up and running, while simultaneously designing for a better tomorrow.


Put your Knowledge to the Test with Engineer Trivia!

See if you can correctly answer this engineer trivia that will test your knowledge about different structures, dams, landmark and much more!

  1. What kind of bridge is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco? Click here for the answer.
  2. In electricity, voltage is measured in volts while current is measured in what? Click here for the answer.
  3. The Panama Canal joins which two oceans? Click here for the answer.
  4. Is a mangonel a type of catapult or bridge? Click here for the answer.
  5. The Hoover dam is on the border of which two U.S. states? Click here for the answer.
  6. In what country is the Taj Mahal found? Click here for the answer.
  7. Did the Eiffel Tower open in 1789 or 1889? Click here for the answer.
  8. The Great Sphinx of Giza has the head of a human and the body of a what? Click here for the answer.
  9. In terms of engineering software, what does CAD stand for? Click here for the answer.
  10. Which country gave the Statue of Liberty to the USA as a gift? Click here for the answer.

Featured Girl in Real Life Science:


Morgan Lynch: Water Resources Project Manager in Colorado

This month’s Featured Girl In Real Life Science is Morgan Lynch, a Civil Engineer who helps identify flood risks throughout the State of Colorado. Lynch received her Civil Engineering degree from Colorado State University and has helped put her education to work for the past 10 years, Morgan had the opportunity to help reduce future flood damage after a big flood hit Colorado in 2013 by reevaluating the probability the storm could have even occurred and help identify risks for people in the future. To read Lynch’s full interview follow this link!

What are you doing in November?


observatoryGIRLS Day Out: Join staff at the Cincinnati Astronomical Society (5274 Zion Road, Cleves OH 45002) on an exploration of outer space. Weather permitting, view the moon and stars through a telescope and learn about the phases of the moon and the travel of light. Then create your own constellations and spaceships. Dress for the weather! Ages 8-14. Saturday. Nov. 21 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Registration required (opens Nov. 4) by phone at 513-287-7001 or online.


GIRLS University: Cool Chemistry That’s Hot Right Now: Join us as we explore some of the ways chemistry brings special effects to the stage and screen, allows us to create new products for the marketplace, and saves lives around the world. Ages 8-14. Saturday, Nov. 28 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History and Science; registration required (opens Nov. 4).

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Explorer’s University: How the Bone Turned to Stone: Why are all of the dinosaur bones we find today made of rock? How are trilobite fossils still the same material after millions of years? Join us as we explore how different types of fossils are preserved! Saturday, Nov. 7th from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History and Science; $7 for members, $10 for non-members; registration required.


The Art of the Brick  presents LEGO bricks in a whole new light, demonstrating the potential of creativity and the power of imagination. The Art of the Brick features over 100 works of art including classic pieces, like the Mona Lisa, and original works by contemporary artist Nathan Sawaya. But rather than paint and canvas, these masterpieces are made entirely of LEGO bricks. Millions and millions of little LEGO bricks.  Find out more and purchase tickets by visiting the Cincinnati Museum Center website.

journey-to-space-poster Journey to Space takes you along for the ride as NASA prepares to launch into a new phase of exploration and discovery while showing you just how far we’ve come. Get ready to blast off on a mission beyond the stars in the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater at Cincinnati Museum Center. Purchase tickets here!

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Things Are Getting Batty Around Here!


Join us on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. for a day of batty celebration!

BatFest is always one of our favorite Museum holidays, but this year, we’re blowing it out of the bat cave! Chat with experts who will dispel all the dark myths you’ve heard about bat behavior, watch our Big Brown Bat colony take flight every hour and sample some food pollinated by bats.

Witness the Cincinnati Grotto members scale 106 feet to the top of the Rotunda, which is always a crowd pleaser. Channel your inner Batgirl or Batman by creating a superhero mask for the costume parade and test your IQ in Batty Brain – a twist on the classic game of Jeopardy. Don’t miss out on a day that even Dracula would be proud of! See the full schedule here.



Bats are awesome. Are you wondering how you can help keep them healthy?

There are a lot of people who fear bats or at least don’t particularly care for them. There is a misconception that they frequently attack humans and spread rabies. While it is true they can carry rabies, it is rare. Bat attacks on humans are also rare. You should never handle wild bats, but that goes for all wild animals. Fear of bats is unnecessary. First of all, bats are the only mammals that have achieved powered flight, which is pretty neat. Did you know they also help humans? Bats play an important role in our environment by eating bugs (including mosquitoes!). They provide an ecosystem service to agriculture valued at $4 billion to $50 billion dollars per year (USGS). This allows farmers to spend less money on pesticides, which means lower prices for us when we go to the grocery store or farmers market. Without bats, our food system would suffer and we would have to pay higher prices.

So what does this have to do with you? White-nose syndrome, caused by a fungusis currently found in at least 25 states ( The danger in the fungus is that it disrupts hydration and the hibernation of bats, causing them to leave their hibernation spots in the middle of winter. One of the spreaders of WNS is humans. Thankfully, there are things we can do to help:

1. First, if you see that a particular caved is closed – DO NOT ENTER. WNS is either present in the cave or park officials are trying to prevent it from being spread to that location. It is important that you don’t ignore the sign. All it takes is one person disregarding a sign and WNS can spread even further.

2. Avoid hibernation spots. If you’re unsure, seek out information for your local area on where bats typically hibernate. Ask local park representatives if it’s okay for you to enter a specific area.

3. Report unusual bat behavior, like flying outside in the winter months, to your Department of Natural Resources or local park organizations. Remember to never approach or handle a wild bat – this is protection both for the bat and for yourself.

4. Before entering a cave, make sure you haven’t worn your shoes or clothing in another cave. It is also best that you do not take any items (bags, camera, phone, etc.) into one cave that you had in another cave. WNS doesn’t affect humans and we don’t see it on our belongings, so don’t assume that just because you don’t know about it, that isn’t there. It’s best to be cautious. Always ask local park staff if it’s OK to enter a cave or limit your cave exploration to tours that are led by trained park officials.



How much do you know about bats? Take this quiz to find out! 

Be the Bat and Catch a Moth. This game requires several players and a large open space. Players take turns pretending to be protective trees, a hungry bat and the dinner moth.

Install your very own bat house! One of the things we can do to help bats is to hang a bat house in our yard. Is important to make sure your bat house is the right shape, size, and in a good location. The People at Bat Conservation International provide all sorts of information on bat houses that you can pass along to the adult in your home.


What are you doing in October?

Explorer's University Lockup 300

Make It! Try your hand at making. Discover some of the things you can make for yourself while learning some skills to make your visions come to life.
Saturday, Oct. 3 from 2-3:30 p.m. $7 for members; $10 for non-members. Sept. 5 from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History and Science.




Journey to Space takes you along for the ride as NASA prepares to launch into a new phase of exploration and discovery. Get ready to blast off on a mission beyond the stars in the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater at Cincinnati Museum Center.  Journey to Space opens Friday, Oct. 9. Purchase tickets here!




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Featured Girl in Real Life Science: Dr. Susan Kidwell

Interview with Dr. Susan Kidwell: Featured Girl in Real Life Science


Where are you from originally? Virginia, right outside Washington DC

Do you have any siblings? Yes, an older sister

What do you do for fun? Garden, cook, quilt/needlework

What is your first memory of science, either by reading, lecture, observation, etc? Just being outdoors and finding things like pine cones and sand really interesting, impossible not to collect and organize

What do you enjoy about science? Discovering new things, especially about how the natural world works and what lies behind everyday things we see. It’s also a very satisfying creative outlet once you get into it professionally, part of a spectrum with the visual and other arts. Science is about finding meaning or order in a complicated world thru a combination of observation, experimentation, and modeling – it’s about building new views of the natural world (and of human interactions with that world) that are both analytically robust and true. I have equally high respect for novelists and artists who find new insights into human experience by dint of determined, analytic thinking.

Is anyone from your family in a field of science? No, but some technical types. My father worked his way into computer graphics over the course of his career, working on the technical aspects of printing maps for the federal government. He always encouraged me to go into something technical in order to have a well-paying job – looking back, it was very unusual advice to give a daughter then.

Did you know anyone with this job before you decided on this career path? I heard about geologists from my dad talking about the ones he met at his job – they were always traveling to interesting places and working outside, so that sounded pretty great. From participating in science fairs and applying for programs, I also got a non-paying summer job with the federal government – the US Geological Survey — one summer. I also met some geologists at the Smithsonian because of a free course I took there during high school about minerals. So early on I realized that there were many kinds of jobs I could get using geology, but that I would have to go to grad school, beyond college, to get the research-focused jobs that most interested me. I thus started college knowing what I needed to do, where I wanted to end up. Only after I got to college did I met geologists who were university professors, and only late during grad school did I met geologists who worked for oil companies. So all during school it was unclear to me which kind of job I might end up with, they all had advantages. In the end, I decided to take a teaching job as a start, and then once in the job realized I loved it, so have stuck with it.


Were you considered a “good student” in elementary and junior high school? Yes, and I became one largely because I had some excellent teachers, especially in middle school. They opened my eyes to the idea of aiming high and *not out of competitiveness with others, but simply for the joy of scholarship. That was very liberating – I just followed my own drummer, it was the quality of the work that mattered, and in an absolute sense, not whether there were others around you doing it. In retrospect, I realize what exceptional role models these teachers were, because they both took pride in their teaching and had a genuine interest in their subject matter, whether it was history or biology or English.

Where did you go to school (HS and college)? In Virginia

What was your major? Geology

How long did you need to go to school? After 4 years of college, I spent 5 years working on my PhD degree full time. I left school to take my first teaching job, and so finished the PhD degree during my first year as an assistant professor. That sounds like a long time in total, but grad school was absolutely fantastic so it flew by. One of the great things about my teaching job is that I’m surrounded all the time by grad students, so it’s a way for me to continue to enjoy that entire atmosphere of discovering your vocation.


What is your job title? I’m a geology professor

How long have you done this job? 34 years — I taught first at the University of Arizona for 4 years, and then got offered a position at the University of Chicago, where I’ve been since 1985

What do you do for your job? My responsibilities are a combination of doing original science research, teaching and advising graduate students in our PhD program, and teaching college-level courses, both to students who are majoring in geology and to students who are taking geology to satisfy their physical science requirement.

What is a typical day like for someone with your job? Long and varied. A couple of hours of preparation for a class lecture, which is then typically an hour or an hour and a half long; maybe an hour meeting one-on-one with a grad student, or a 2-3 hour long grad seminar; an hour writing letters of recommendation for students applying for jobs or grants, or an hour or two reviewing a manuscript written by a student or colleague for publication. Some weeks all of my time when I’m not in class or in consultations with students is devoted to writing a grant proposal, and other weeks it’s spent on research in the library or writing a research paper for publication or making preparations for fieldwork. There are also one or more committee meetings each week devoted to departmental or university business, or contributing work to professional groups. So these are not 9 to 5, Mon thru Fri jobs — you know your basic responsibilities to students, to colleagues, and to original research, and are expected to be pulling hard without supervision. So there’s a great deal of independence and self-determination, with much of the work self-designed.

Are you working towards one specific goal? (A cure, invention, create a product or solution to a problem?) I study the formation of fossil records, and specifically how fossils can be used to reconstruct ecological conditions in the past – ‘paleoecology’. For the first phase of my career, I studied these problems using very old fossil records, tens of millions or hundreds of millions of years old – my research involved going out into the desert or to coastal cliffs, making observations in the field and sampling rocks with a rock hammer. Within the last 10-15 years, I’ve most worked on the same kinds of questions but in present-day environments, where I can do experiments on what happens to shells and bones between the death of the animal and final burial in sediments. So now I get my samples from fieldwork in modern environments, like bays and lagoons.

How will what you’re doing affect people, animals, plants, and/or the Earth? I’m trying to improve our understanding of how humans have altered present-day coastal ecosystems, and specifically am trying to improve our ability to reconstruct what these systems were like in the past so that we can do a better job of managing and restoring the environment. By using very young fossil records, that is the shells and bones of animals that have died within the last few 100s or thousands of years, we can figure out whether the local community has changed and, equally important, whether those changes were driven by entirely natural processes, by human stresses such as pollution or over-fishing, or by some combination of natural and human factors. We will then better know which regions need restoration effort and what those regions should look like, that is, what our target should be.

What do you still want to study/work on? Exactly what’s going on in clam shells, at a microscopic level, that permits them to persist so long in the seafloor – seashells that you pick up on a beach can be many hundreds to a few thousands of years old, and this great age is difficult to reconcile with how rapidly we know they can be destroyed during short-term experiments and just extrapolating from thermodynamics. So it’s one of the great ‘paradoxes’ of preservation. I’m starting to use scanning-electron microscopy and x-radiography to test for different kinds of physical and chemical alteration of the shell structure, aided by microbes – this is what I suspect is going on during the first few decades after death based on my work and that of others so far.

Has your job taken you any place interesting? I’ve traveled to China, Central America, Israel, Europe, Mexico, Canada, all over the US, and the grad students I advise have in addition traveled to South Africa, Madagascar, and the Seychelles for research (I should start insisting that I go with them). Right now I have projects that focus on modern environments along the Southern California coast and in the Red Sea.

What’s the coolest thing you have done at your job? I’ve loved all my fieldwork, all the driving vehicles off-road, climbing cliffs, camping, lugging rocks. But the total coolest was being lead scientist of an oceanographic cruise a few years ago. The ship was 285 feet long, had 7 decks, a crew of 23 to operate it and a team of 35 scientists and students working around the clock… it was an entire floating village, dedicating to taking seafloor samples exactly where my collaborators and I wanted them to be taken. It was insanely challenging to organize, very big stakes while at sea, but at the same time wildly fun and satisfying. I could tell the marine tech on deck, ‘tell the caption to shift the stern over a few meters’, and the entire ship would pivot to reposition the sampling gear… if only I had such power at home.

What’s your favorite thing about your job? As much as I love research and the interactions with inspiring colleagues, the greatest pleasure (and it is very very great) is working with students. The continual stream of smart, intellectually hungry people into your life is totally wonderful.

If a girl was interested in a career such as yours, what does she need to know?  Stick it out, don’t cave. There will be times you will be the odd-ball, especially in high school, but who really cares — almost all of life comes *after high school, and you will rule that.


Being a Girl in Real Life Science

Why do you think young women should study science? Because why should boys have all the fun? Or all the rewards?

Did you encounter any struggles on your path to this job? Of course, but everyone has struggles. These jobs aren’t easy, there will be plenty of ups and downs – experiments don’t always work, you don’t always get the research grant or first job you want, things can seem (or actually be) unfair sometimes. But I would absolutely without hesitation do it all over again including the tough patches, which taught me a lot – the rewards of being involved in science and working with other scientists far outweigh the rest.

Dig for fossils this fall!

fossil week

 What is a fossil? Watch this video and find out!

Did you know Cincinnati is famous for its fossils?

The upper Ordovician strata of Southwest Ohio, Southeast Indiana and Northern Kentucky are some of the most fossiliferous (this is actually a real word!). The rocks here have been studied by professionals for 175 years. In fact, there are so many fossils here that the uppermost rocks of the North American Ordovician Period are referred to as the Cincinnatian Series (Encyclopedia Britannica).

The Ordovician Period is known for its vast array of marine invertebrates including trilobites, graptolites and brachiopods. It is also known for early vertebrates, the conodonts, as well as primitive fish, cephalopods, coral, crinoids and gastropods (University of California Museum of Paleontology). This period lasted 45 million years, during which the earth was experiencing a mild climate. Most of the planet’s land was collected together in one big continent (University of California Museum of Paleontology). A shallow sea covered most of what is now North America, depositing limestone, shale and sandstone (Rieboldt, Springer & Whitney).

At the end of the period, a drop in sea level occurred due to glaciation. This left previously deposited rocks eroded and exposed. This drop in sea level may have contributed to the mass extinction that occurred during the end of the Ordovician Period, when it is believed that up to 60 percent of marine invertebrates went extinct (Rieboldt, Springer & Whitney).

In this video, Dr. Brenda Hunda, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at Cincinnati Museum Center, explains more about Ohio fossils, including trilobites.

What is a paleontologist and what do they study? Sesame Street’s Elmo and his friend Amy explain.

How well can you do in a dinosaur race? Choose your dinosaur and help him make it to the finish line first!

Mark your calendar for Cincinnati Museum Center’s annual Fossil Fest on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015!

Featured Girl in Real Life Science: Dr. Susan Kidwell

Professor of Geology – University of Chicago


Now that you are a fossil expert, meet a girl who is working to tie fossils and the environment together to study how life has evolved. Dr. Susan Kidwell is currently a Professor of Geology at the University of Chicago, where her interests include studying mollusks, advising graduate students, and conducting field work in places like California and Yellowstone National Park. You can read more about Dr. Kidwell in her GIRLS interview, and hear her lecture at Cincinnati Museum Center on October 14th, 2015, on National Fossil Day!

Want to dig for your own fossils? Try these local parks!

Remember to have an adult contact the park before you start digging!

Trammel Fossil Park: Fossils ranging from 450 to 500 million years old in inter bedded shale and limestone. For more information, have an adult call 513-563-2985. This park has a lot of fossils and some of them are very easy to find.

Caesar Creek State Park: Fossils ranging from 450 to 500 million years old found in limestone forming the crest of the Cincinnati Arch. Collecting rules apply. A permit must be obtained at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Center, which also features a display of fossils found at the park. For more information about fossil hunting at Caesar Creek, have an adult call 513-897-1050.

Cowan Lake State Park: Fossils ranging from 450 to 500 million years old found in limestone forming the eastern edge of the Cincinnati Arch. Collecting rules apply. Special permission to collect fossils must be obtained from Ohio State Parks.

East Fork State Park: Fossils ranging from 450 to 500 million years old in inter bedded shale and limestone. Collecting rules apply. A permit must be obtained at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Center.

Hueston Woods State Park: Fossils ranging from 450 to 500 million years old in limestone and dolomite forming the western edge of the Cincinnati Arch. Collecting rules apply.

Stonelick State Park: Fossils ranging from 450 to 500 million years old in inter bedded shale and limestone. Collecting rules apply.

Remember to have an adult contact the park before you start digging!

What are you doing in September?


GIRLS University: Edible Soil Science
Come learn about the wonderful world of dirt! Our soil systems are the foundation for all living things and are closely linked to the health of our ecosystems. We’ll learn the basics of soil formation through a hands-on activity – edible soil profiles – that we’ll eat at the end! Ages 8-14. Sept. 19 from 11 a.m.-noon. Included with museum admission, registration required.


Explorer's University Lockup 300

Don’t Trash it, Fix it!
Learn skills that can help you fix some common problems with toys, electronics, and small appliances. We’ll provide some broken items, you learn how to fix them. Ages 9 to 15. $7 for members; $10 for non-members. Sept. 5 from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History and Science.

Scavenger Hunt: The Best Fall for All
Celebrate this month with us as autumn begins and “fall” into these clues as you earn Nature’s Trading Post points. Sept. 1-30 in the Museum of Natural History & Science

…and so much more!

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