Thursday, July 30, 2009

Birds and Bees and Ice Cream .. oh my!!

Wow! What a busy day we've had at the museum! As some of you might know, every Thursday and Friday of the summer we have a different themed Drop-in-Day. Today was called The Birds and the Bees!
Right from the start Joe Joyce, meteorologist from NECN gave a really informative talk about the weather and all the things that go along with it.

As New England weather would have it, as soon as he started talking about thunder and rain it started to pour!! We had to put our events on hold for about a half hour and then it passed. Gotta love New England!

Thankfully the rain passed and soon we were all back outside with Jeani Warish from the Bristol County Beekeepers Association learning all about honeybees! She had a sample of bees from her own personal hive in a observation glass, busy at work. Jeani was super informative! We learned all about the differences in bees, how they work and what they do!

Here's some quick fun facts:

- Sugar water is the closest thing we have to nectar, that's what beekeepers feed their honeybees!

- Honey stays good forever!

- If you take one teaspoon of LOCAL (it's important that it's locally produced/colonized honey) everyday starting in February you will notice a decline in your pollen allergies. Wow! A spoonful of honey is also good for coughs and sore throats ... and it tastes good!

- A honey bee takes 21 days to hatch.

- Male honey bees are called drones and their main purpose in life is to mate.

- Every fall the female honey bees kick all the drones out of the hive!
- In the wild, bees make their hives into what is called Burr comb and it usually takes only 24 hours!

There was a taste test too for anyone that wanted to try it. Which do you prefer: acacia honey or blossom honey? I liked the acacia honey the best, and so did mostly everyone else! It was not as strong as the blossom honey, but if you really want some kick to your honey I would definitely recommend blossom! It's super sweet!

Some of the museum volunteers and interns were helping the kids make their own bees and pinwheels to take home out of everyday, household materials. There were some pretty creative bees flying out of there!

The best part of the day was when we got to see four honey bees being hatched!! It was so cool and takes about 20 minutes for the whole process. The queen bee puts the eggs into the little caves of the honey comb and the other bees (called nurse bees) cover them up and keep them safe until it's time for them to hatch. When their 21 days are up they eat their way out of the cave and then out they come! It was amazing! Thanks Jeani for bringing them to us :) Thanks also to Haagen-Dazs for donating free seed packets for everyone to take home and plant their own bee-friendly flowers!

That's not all though (I told you we were busy today!)! at 1:00 Marla Isaac from the New England Reptile and Raptor Exhibits came and gave an en"rapture"ing presentation about Birds of Prey!

We learned all about the different kinds of birds of prey there are (owls, falcons and hawks were at this presentation!). And we got to meet some pretty cool birds, like Rufus the red-shouldered hawk and Mo the red-tailed hawk.
Here are some more fun facts:

-Raptors are a type of bird of prey that has talons.
-All birds of prey are protected by law ... which means you, CANNOT hunt them, hurt them, or capture them.
-A short-winged hawk only eats birds that are diseased or dying.

-Once a bird of prey learns something (like in falconry) they don't forget it.

-Vultures can smell up to 12 miles away!

-Turkey vultures only started showing up in Massachusetts 10-12 years ago! Now they stick out the winters on Martha's Vineyard!

After all that the Museum gave out some free, delicious ice cream and Italian ice! Yum!!

It's been such a great day at the museum! Tomorrow is A Pirate's Life for Me!, which promises to be just as exciting! Thanks for dropping by and until then, don't forget to check out our website for more information on all the Drop-in-Days!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Outdoor Fun

"Rainbow in a Box" is a great scavenger hunt that siblings or friends from a variety of ages can enjoy. (Adapted from The Siblings' Busy Book. You may remember the authors' visit to the museum in April.) First use different colored markers to draw a few 1/2-inch dots on the bottom of a shoe box. For older children you can write the color words. Then go on a nature walk to find something of each color. Tape what you find near the dot on the bottom of the box. You and your children may be surprised at how many colors are right in your own yard.This activity reinforces color recognition and involves visual discrimination, an important pre-reading skill.

Michelle's Kids Try it at home!

For another fun outdoor activity involving balls and ramps, check out the "Balls and Ramps I" clip from the PBS Kids Curious George Video Page (which is loaded with videos great kids videos!) You don't need to go all the way to the playground though! Try making a ramp by putting something flat such as cardboard on a stack of books or over a small staircase. You can have the kids go around and collect different size balls, as well as non-ball items such as a soup can, an apple, or toys with wheels. They can even include some things that don't roll. Now have them explore how fast and far each item rolls and why some roll better than others. The kids won't know it, but they are actually building a foundation for learning physics. Don't be afraid to incorporate new vocabulary words such as friction, gravity, and inclined plane.

One of the Museum's newer exhibits in the Fetch Lab builds on this balls and ramps theme. It is similar to the "Balls and Ramps II" clip also from the PBS Kids Curious George Video Page. After checking out this exhibit at the Children's Museum, be sure to enjoy the outdoors in our Wild Place where you can climb the tree house, dig for dinosaur fossils, or put on wings and dance in the Butterfly Garden. Don't forget your picnic lunch!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

An American Educator in Korea Part 2 - "Born Into Focus"

Click here for Part 1 of "An American Educator in South Korea"

Month 3 of my stay in Gangneung, South Korea has come and gone. The first trimester was noted “The Impossible is Possible.” This upcoming trimester will be deemed “Let it Be.”

Obviously, the education system here is unlike any Western system, because South Korea focuses solely on achievement, the business and the face value of intellect. These children don’t play because they are busy laboring on activity they are expected to succeed in. Their future is determined; training is set and standards are high. If none of the aforementioned are met, it is defamation of family character, societal standards and values, which are not tolerable or accepted.

The children are bright. By far, the most intellectually inclined students I’ve ever had the privilege to teach. They prove that hard work pays off, because this culture reassures them that their education is the foundation for the future of their country. The American belief is geared towards the safety, concern, comfort and level of understanding. However, some students in America don’t believe they have a chance to succeed. This is due to the lack of parental involvement, home environment, and their level of certainty with themselves and peers. As an American educator, I preached every single day to my students that they can go anywhere and do anything as long as they worked hard. Of course some didn't want to work and constantly complained about the level of difficulty. However, if someone , other than their parents, believed they could achieve any goal, then it was mission accomplished! There may not be individuality in South Korea, but there is one goal working for this stern exactness, where is there is no room for failure.

Where individuality is absent, the knowledge of community, togetherness and are present. Complaints don’t exist, only agreement. A child will not tell a teacher there are problems at home, their vision is bad or the uniforms are ugly for that would be too much opinion. There is a recognized unison in this culture, especially the schools, because this is where the training for future success is built. This is a great thing, for the government supports all teachers, administrators and tutors, because the future of their country is of great importance. This philosophy must be implemented in our American educational system. Imagine the possibilities; the doors of success through optimistic attitudes will rise to the surface, smashing through negative situations.

On the other hand, this may be a bad idea, because these children don’t have the opportunity to fail, to learn by doing, to have fun, to use their imagination and freely discover their likes and dislikes. The American child will know their opinion matters. Here, if a child shows interest in art, that student will study every artistic discipline from elementary school through college. If a child shows interest in weight lifting, every physical activity will be studied extensively by this child and graduate with a degree in this field. They have interests, but are allowed to explore only one.

When I was a child, I LOVED reading, writing, dancing, playing, and painting. There was never a single focus on one subject, I was allowed a plethora of passions, and grew well rounded because of it. Here, they chose only one.

Each country has a system that works for them, and both have much to learn from one another. In South Korea, the strictness is a value. In America freedom to explore childhood is a must. What I would like to see in my America, are our children to know that they are the future. They can succeed in anything as long as they are focused. For Korea, I wish for the young to be given the gift of moderation, that they may find new interests within themselves, everyday. But who am I? I'm just their foreign English teacher. I didn't come to change the world; I came to share it!

I’m saying that both work well for their own culture. What I would like to see in my America, are my students, our children to know that they will not fail as long as they are focused. What I would like to see in this country, are the students to have more fun and learn that not everything in life is hard work. Here, the focus was born when they were.