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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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Happy National Women’s History Month!


March is National Women’s History Month! This month celebrates all the terrific women throughout history who have helped to make history. From Susan B. Anthony who fought for women’s right to vote to Marie Curie who became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, women have been leaving their mark on history and this month is here to celebrate the great women of the past and the future.

The Mother of Modern Day Physics


Marie Sklodowska Curie, The Mother of Modern day Physics, is best known for her work with radioactivity, it’s use in the medical field and becoming the first female to win a Nobel Prize in 1903. Curie began her life November 7th 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. From an early age Curie always had a passion for the wonders of math and science, which led to her receiving degrees in both mathematics and physics from Sorbonne University in Paris, France. After she finished her studies she began working in a lab with Pierre Curie who became not only her husband, but also her lab partner. Together the intellectual duo became the first people to win two Nobel Prizes in two different fields, one for their work with radioactivity and the other for being the discoverers of two radioactive elements polonium and radium. It is because of Marie Sklodowska Curie’s work the science of radioactivity, which opened up and unlocked key advancements for medical research and treatment.

Physics Funnies


Q: Why can’t you trust atoms?                      

                        A: They make everything up               

Q: What did one quantum physicist say when he wanted to fight another quantum physicist?

            A: Let me atom

Q: Where does bad light end up?

            A: In a prism

Two atoms were walking across a road when one of them said, “I think I lost an election!” “Really!?” the other replied, “Are you sure?” ”Yes, I’m absolutely positive.”

Physics Experiment to do at Home

chemistry-575651_1280Have you ever wanted to make a giant dry ice bubble? Make your own quick sand? Or learn the science behind your bath salts? If so follow this link to tryout some fun at home.


What are you doing in March?

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GIRLS Day Out: Geier Collections and Research Center

Dig deep into Cincinnati’s ancient past with Brenda Hunda, Ph.D., Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology. Discover the secrets lurking deep beneath your feet, and uncover fossilized evidence of the spineless Cincinnatians of the Ordovician. Join us at the Geier Collections and Research Center for an afternoon of hands-on exploration.

Saturday, March 26th from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the Geier Collections and Research Center, 760 W 5th St, Cincinnati, OH 45203. Ages 8-14. Registration required. Transportation not provided.

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Explorer’s University: Pi Day

Pi is a number, but it’s so much more than that. Learn all about this fascinating and important mathematical wonder.

Saturday, March 19 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History & Science. Ages 8-14. $7 Member; $10 non-Member. Register now!


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We ♥ Hearts!


The heart is one of the most important organs in the human body. Your heart, which is slightly larger than a fist, helps keep your body functioning by pumping blood through blood vessels throughout your body. Since your heart is very important it safely resides in your chest and is protected by your rib cage. Inside your heart are four valves that help to ensure blood only goes one way. When the heart contracts it causes the blood to pump out into the body which creates a heartbeat. The average heart beats about 100,000 times a day and pumps roughly 2160 gallons of blood a day.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love


When Cupid brings out his arrows on Valentine’s Day it isn’t just our hearts that begin to change when love is in the air. Falling in love effects both your brain and your heart which can in turn effect other parts of your body as well. It turns out that love truly is a chemical reaction that takes place in our bodies. The four compounds; dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin, and serotonin (always present in our brain) increases and interact causing what we refer to as ‘love’.  Being in ‘love’ also causes your adrenaline and norepinephrine levels to increase which causes the butterfly feeling we get in our stomachs. All of these chemicals are what causes our cheeks to flush, our palms to sweat, and our hearts to race. So this February, don’t worry about love being in the air… it’s actually in your head!

Become a Cardiologist!

stethoscope-306476_1280Learn how to build your very own stethoscope and be able to check someone’s heart beat just like a real Cardiologist!


  1. Empty 2-liter bottle
  2. Cardboard paper towel tube
  3. Scissors
  4. Masking tape
  5. A friend or family member



  1. Cut the top off of the empty 2-liter bottle.
  2. Remove cap from bottle top and attach the cardboard paper towel tube to the mouth of the bottle with tape.
  3. Find a friend or family member and go to a quiet location to conduct your experiment.
  4. Ask your partner to locate his/her heartbeat on the upper left side of his chest using his right hand. Your partner should be able to feel it beating up and down.
  5. Now put the open end of the bottle on your partner’s heart.
  6. Place the cardboard tube over your ear to listen to your partner’s heartbeat.
  7. Switch places so your partner can hear your heartbeat.


Featured Girl in Real Life Science:

37MQ7_w120h160_v5407Dr. Grace Smith, M.D., FACC Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Akron Children’s Hospital

This month’s featured girl in real life science is, Dr. Grace Smith, a pediatric Cardiologist at Akron Children’s Hospital. Dr. Smith studied at the University of Michigan for both undergraduate and medical school. She has been working with children and babies with heart diseases for 13 years. Her more resent work has looked into understanding the correlation between learning difficulties and children with heart diseases. She hopes, in the long run, to be able to make the life of a child with heart disease better. Dr. Smith believes if you want to become a doctor like her it demands a lot of time and energy. If you remember these six things you’ll have the tools to achieving your dreams:

  1. Believe in yourself. Be brave.
  2. Be in it for the long run. Achieving great things doesn’t come from going the easy path.
  3. Speak up when you don’t understand something. Don’t think you are “dumber” than the person next to you.
  4. Work really, really hard. This will get you far in life.
  5. Learn to talk to people. Look them in the eye. You will make a big impression with good social skills. 
  6. Show kindness even when others don’t deserve it.

To read Dr. Smith’s full interview follow this link!

What are you doing in February?

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Explorer’s University: MICA Mosaics!

 Learn about muscovite mica, a centerpiece of the Hopewell Interaction Sphere and a favored medium for prehistoric Native American artwork in the Ohio River Valley during the Middle Woodland Period. You can even try your hand at creating your own! Sunday, February 7 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History & Science. Ages 8-14. $7 Member; $10 non-Member. Register here!


National Parks Adventure 

Narrated by Academy Award® winner Robert Redford, National Parks Adventure takes you on the ultimate off-trail adventure into the nation’s awe-inspiring great outdoors and untamed wilderness. Through our five-story, domed OMNIMAX® screen, soar over red rock canyons, up craggy mountain peaks and into other-worldly realms found within America’s most legendary outdoor playgrounds. Opens February 12th, learn more and purchase tickets here!


GIRLS University: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 

Discover the ways that Geospatial Technologies are used by different types of scientists to discover the effects of climate change, explore your favorite ecosystems, and to map archaeological sites all over the world. Learn to use state of the art technologies to create your own maps!  Saturday, February 27th from 11 to 12:30 p.m. in the Museum of Natural History and Science. Ages 8-14.  Registration opens February 1st.


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Hope You Have an ‘Ice’ Time!


Physics is visible in all sorts of daily activities, and this is especially true when it comes to ice skating. This fun winter activity is a perfect example of being able to see friction, momentum and Newton’s third law all in action to explain why is it that we are able to glide so smoothly over the ice as opposed to slipping. Friction between the blade and the ice is produced when the blade melts small ridges into the ice allowing the blade to easily push off the edge of the ice. The speed created when a figure skater pulls their arms in and spins is a result of the increased angular momentum they pick up with their decreased surface area and drag which in turn helps to increase the skater’s rotation speed as they spin. Lastly, ice skating also displays Newton’s Third Law which states with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is displayed each time a skater pushes off of the ice. With that one push off of the ice, the ice pushes right back and propels the skater forward. All of this combined is sure to equal an “ice” time on the rink.

Grow Your Own Snow!


Forget having to put up with the chill of the winter air and bring the fun into the comfort of your own home by growing your own snow!


  • Bowl
  • Sodium polyacrylate (white fluffy stuff from clean disposable diapers)
  • Water


  1. Collect sodium polyacrylate from inside a clean disposable diaper.
  2. Place in bowl.
  3. Add water to desired snow consistency. For slushier snow add more water. For “drier” snow add less water and a little salt.

If decorating with this snow, you may want to have the drier variety and make sure to not place it on items that can be damaged by water. Want to do a yellow snow prank? Just add yellow coloring to the mix. A few drops will go a long way!

How Does Hot Chocolate Work? 


When making a cup of hot chocolate, have you ever noticed how difficult it is for the powder to dissolve in cooler milk as opposed to how easily the powder dissolves when the milk is warmer? This all has to do with solubility, the ability for a substance to dissolve. This is because the rate of solubility is much higher the hotter the temperature of the solvent (the milk) poured on the solute (the cocoa powder) is and the solution’s inability to mix properly when the solvent is cold. This is why the hot chocolate powder is able to dissolve easily and form hot chocolate when the temperature of the milk is higher. So, be sure to stick with warm milk and you’ll mix together a perfect hot chocolate solution great for a cold winter day.

Featured Girl in Real Life Science: Dr. Twila Moon, Glaciologist, Big Sky, MT


Twila Moon is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado – Boulder. Moon’s work consists of analyzing ice sheets to help us understand how quickly the ice sheets are changing and how ice interacts with the ocean and atmosphere, which helps us to better understand potential impacts for ocean circulation and biology because of the ice sheets significant contribution to the freshwater in the ocean. She accomplishes this by analyzing data generated from examining satellite images of the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets, and going to places such as the small town of Illulisat, Greenland. Moon’s career has not only allowed her to follow her own interests and passions through research and advancements in her field, but it’s also given her the opportunity to constantly learn new things through research, travel and meeting other amazing, smart, fun people.

 To learn more about Twila Moon and how “cool” glaciers really are, check out her full interview!

What Are You Doing in January?

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Explorer’s University: NASA Challenge!
Are you up to the challenge? Use innovation and creativity to complete challenges developed by NASA educators. Saturday, Jan. 2 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Ages 9-15; $8 for members, $10 for non-members.



GIRLS University: Introduction to Robotics and Coding
Explore types of robots and how they are used in science, medicine, and of course for fun! Learn how robots are programmed and get a chance to program your own light up jewelry; there may even be a surprise appearance by some of your favorite droids, dropping in from a galaxy far, far away! Jan. 23 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; ages 8-14, registration required online or by calling 513-287-7001.


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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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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?

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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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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.


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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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