Top Ten Educational-But-Fun Museums

The school year has begun, but that doesn’t mean your children should revert back to their boring routines.

Education can be fun, and it is important to remind kids of that fact. Ten major cities in the U.S. host some of the most educational venues in the world, all of which cater to child entertainment with hands-on experiences and engaging new topics. Another major advantage is that most of the museum are indoors and suitable for all seasons, as well as more affordable than many other afternoon activities.

These museums serve as some of the best family outings in the United States:

  1. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
  2. National Museum of Play, Rochester, NY
  3. Children’s Museum of Houston
  4. Glazer Children’s Museum, Tampa, FL
  5. EdVenture Children’s Museum, Columbia, SC
  6. Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, CA
  7. Port Discovery Children’s Museum, Baltimore
  8. Boston Children’s Museum
  9. Children’s Museum of Phoenix
  10. Children’s Museum of Denver

Teen Science Cafe Launched at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences

A new wing for older children and teens was recently opened at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The Nature Research Center, which focuses on research and conservation, is also launching a Teen Science Café program for the first time.

Made possible by a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, this free event will be held on a monthly basis throughout the school year. Topics, speakers and programs will be planned with help from the Teen Advisory Board. Similar cafes will be launched in Chapel Hill with Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and at the Museum of Forestry in Whiteville.

The first session, which will be held this coming Friday, will focus on tree-top exploration and conservation. The presentation will be from ‘Canopy’ Meg Lowman, director of the Nature Research Center, where she will discuss Earth’s rainforest, scientific methods used in their research, as well as things teenagers can do to help protect them. The event will also include a visit to one of the new Investigate Labs, where participants will learn about tree-harming insects.


Camping Trip for the 2012 Perseid Meteor Shower

If you are looking for an impromptu activity to do with your friends, partner or children, tonight is an especially perfect night to embark on a camping trip. Though last minute, the advantage to camping this weekend is the peak of the  2012Perseid meteor shower which can be seen clearly in the night sky, as long as there are no interfering urban lights or glares. According to scientist Bill Cook, more than 100 ‘shooting stars’ can be seen in a single hour during this event.

The moon, Venus and Jupiter will also align in a spectacular display in the night sky, providing a romantic atmosphere or the perfect opportunity to teach your kids about the solar system, Earth and our moon.

Science@NASA released a short video that explains the phenomenon, which ends on August 13th.


Remembering Amelia Earhart

Today’s Google Doodle sets out to honor Amelia Earhart on her 115th birthday. Born on July 24th, 1897, Earhart was an author and aviation pioneer, widely known for being the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Earhart was awarded the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross as a result of her feat, and set several other records in the field as well. Some of Earhart’s bestselling books included retellings of her flight experiences, and her stories and passion for aviation inspired many women throughout the United States, including Eleanor Roosevelt.

Amelia Mary Earhart, or ‘Meeley’, grew up in Kansas with her younger sister Grace Muriel Earhart- ‘Pidge.’ Having been raised in an unconventional manner, Amelia was always encouraged to pursue her interests and spent most of her childhood climbing trees, hunting rats with a rifle, collecting insects and toads, and ‘belly slamming’ her sled downhill.

Amelia and her sister were homeschooled until she was 12 years old; only then were they sent to public school. Despite the numerous moves and relocations throughout her family life, Amelia learned that she was “exceedingly fond of reading” and pursued her education passionately, taking particular interest in fields that were mainly male-oriented, including law, advertising, mechanical engineering and film direction and production.

Earhart trained as a nurse’s aide and helped care for soldiers and other World War I casualties after visiting her sister in Toronto and witnessing the wounded in 1917. She continued her service when the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic hit Canada, and later became afflicted with the illness herself.

During the time spent recovering, Earhart attended an air fair in Toronto and witnessed a flying exhibition put on by a World War I ‘ace.’  Later she recalled:

“I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by.”

She planned to study medicine at Colombia University, but after a visit to an airfield and an impromptu ride, Earhart’s life had changed.

“By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly,” she said.


American Writers Museum Plans Released

For over a year, the American Writers Museum Foundation has been working to develop a plan for a site focused on honoring great U.S. authors. On July 16th, the organization released a detailed outline for such a museum.

The museum, which will likely be built in Chicago, Illinois, will cover 60,000 feet, according to the foundation. The goal is to have the first 20,000 feet completed by 2015. Funded by the Stead Family Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the idea is the brainchild of numerous authors, museum workers and designers from New York, Boston and Chicago.

Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, explained:

“There is a void in the American museum world. We collect in central points the artifacts of civilization and honor politicians and soldiers, athletes and artists, inventors and entrepreneurs, but we neglect our writers. In a country established as an idea explicated in written documents and embellished by generations of poets, novelists and critics, the case for commemorating the written word is self-evident. After all, what is written describes a people and what is celebrated defines their values.”

The museum concept plan, published by the American Writers Museum Foundation, adds:

“Here is what The American Writers Museum will be: It will be a place where diverse audiences have unique and unexpected encounters with American writers and writing; it will be a place with engagement so compelling it will be a must-see, must-do part of the nation’s cultural landscape.”

The museum layout will feature several attractions, including an education center, theater, bookstore, literary lounge and café. The writers’ hall will be arranged in several themed sets, such as ‘American Towns’, ‘Conflict’, and ‘American Families.’ Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, or The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, for example, could be found in the American Families wing.

Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum Prepares New Exhibit

Later this month, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum of South Haven, Michigan will launch its new photo exhibit of the works of ‘America’s Father of Modern Horticulture.’

Liberty Hyde Bailey, Jr. was born in South Haven in 1858. After graduating from the Michigan Agricultural College, now Michigan State University, Bailey became the assistant of Asa Gray, the famous botanist. He later moved to Ithaca with his wife and two daughters, where he founded the College of Agriculture and was elected an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. President Theodore Roosevelt later appointed Bailey chairman of the National Commission on Country Life.

According to Wikipedia, Bailey “represented an agrarianism that stood in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson, he had a vision of suffusing all higher education, including horticulture, with a spirit of public work and integrating ‘expert knowledge’ into a broader context of democratic community action.”

“Most people don’t know, but should know, the name Liberty Hyde Bailey,” said museum director Mr. John Stempien. “He was an environmentalist, author, teacher, poet and photographer. This exhibit gives us a window into the true American whose vision is timeless.”

The LHBM exhibit will feature more than twenty works by the cofounder of the American Society for Horticultural Science, including studies on plant life, family portraits, the Bailey estate and much more, all from the museum’s assortment of 100 glass-plate negatives. The exhibition will also feature archival materials such as documents, artifacts and books from the family’s library.

The museum is part of the Blue Star Museums project, allowing active-duty military and their families free admission to the exhibits.