New Program Coming to the Greensboro Science Center Volunteer Program

Since 2013, the volunteer program at the Greensboro Science Center has grown by 43%:  from 579 volunteers in 2013 to 830 in 2016!  That growth necessitates changes to ensure a more positive experience for our volunteers.  A new change is coming to the volunteer program which will allow us to better serve the volunteers who participate in the program as well as the visitors who benefit from it.

The Center has traditionally operated three summer volunteer programs:  Animal Ambassadors, Exhibit Guides, and Teacher’s Assistants.  Starting in Summer 2018, the Center will operate one summer-only program, the Teacher’s Assistant program.  This program will continue to serve 75 teens each year, with recruitment starting in March.  As always, returning Teacher’s Assistants will be given first priority to gain admission into the program.  Any remaining spots will be filled with new candidates who apply and interview.  That program will start in June and continue through the month of August.

You may be wondering what that means for our Animal Ambassador and Exhibit Guide programs.  At the end of this summer, the two programs will merge to create one new program:  Museum Ambassadors.  The upcoming Museum Ambassador program will combine the best of the two existing programs, with input from current teens about the areas in which they most enjoy volunteering.  This new program will operate year-round, requiring candidates to make a 6 month commitment in order to participate—just as Zoo and Aquarium Docents do currently.  In making this commitment, these teens will benefit from increased exposure to our daily operations as well as continued mentoring from Zoo and Aquarium Docents.  Eventually, they will take on the role of mentor themselves as new volunteers join the program.

So what will Museum Ambassadors actually do?  These teens will rotate through different exhibits, likely to include Friendly Farm, the Aquarium Touch Tank, Destination Dinosaur (and later Prehistoric Passages), Jeansboro, SciPlay Bay, Health Quest, a cart in the Herpetarium, and Coins for Conservation (a favorite of many of this summer’s teens).  Teens will be volunteering on their own as well as alongside other Museum Ambassadors or Docents.  The program will operate on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the school year, as well as on Guilford County Schools workdays and during breaks and holidays.  Museum Ambassadors will complete two, three hour shifts per month.  Shift times are 9:45-1:00 and 12:45-4:00.

The implementation of the Museum Ambassador program is a big change, but one that we feel will be highly positive for our volunteers and our organization.  The target age for Museum Ambassadors is 13-17, meaning that 13- and 14-year-olds will now have three, as opposed to only one*, opportunity to join the Center’s volunteer program.    This change also means that Museum Ambassadors will benefit from smaller training classes in which they’ll receive more individualized attention as opposed to our current summer on-boarding frenzy during which 200 teens join the volunteer program at once.

The Museum Ambassador program will launch in September with a maximum of 55 teens from Summer 2017.  Following a few months of running the new program with current teens, the first new recruitment will take place in January 2018, with a training class scheduled for March.  Those volunteers will make a six-month commitment of March through August.  Another training class is slated for July, with recruitment beginning in May; their six-month commitment will be July through January.  Current teens will be given first priority for training classes, as we understand that some of them may be unable to continue this fall due to sports or extracurricular activities.

Our teen program exists to develop young leaders, with an emphasis on science and conservation.  This new Museum Ambassador program is a great next step in continuing to provide those opportunities.

Please direct any questions or concerns to GSC Volunteer Coordinator Kelli Crawford, kcrawford@greensboroscience.org.

*The Docent program will continue to operate year round, with openings for candidates who are at least 15 years old.

Why We Support Penguins

With our annual Tuxedo Trot 5K and Kids’ Fun Run just weeks away, you might be asking yourself “Why African penguins?”

Well, first of all, we love African penguins! African penguins are charismatic birds, each with their own personality that you just can’t help but adore. Have you met our colony? They’re a riot!

Secondly, these feathered folks are truly in jeopardy of extinction. The species has declined over 90% since 1900 — they are even listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species which means immediate conservation action is required to prevent further declines. African penguin populations are decreasing for several reasons: food shortages, egg and guano removal from beaches, and displacement from breeding sites by other native species. However, knowing why the species is in decline also means we can work to preserve the population and hopefully expand it in coming years!

So, every year, we host the Tuxedo Trot (link) in order to raise money for these beautiful tuxedo-trot-logobirds. 100% of the proceeds from the race go to SANCCOB to support their conservation efforts. SANCCOB is an internationally recognized non-profit organization whose work helps to reverse the decline of seabird populations with a large focus on African penguins. They rescue abandoned chicks and hand rear them, they rehabilitate injured or oiled birds, they educate the locals about the importance of African penguins and they research ways to permanently reverse population declines. Tuxedo Trot funds help SANCCOB to sustain and expand their African penguin conservation efforts.

Want to help us save penguins?

If you haven’t already, please consider registering for the 2017 Tuxedo Trot and help us save these beautiful birds! If you can’t attend, please consider making a donation. Both registrations and donations are accepted online at www.tuxedotrot.com. We’re grateful for your help!

 

 

DIY Science: Light Maze

With spring in full swing, we thought it was a good time to shine some light on an experiment involving plants! Today we are making a plant maze!

For this project you will need:

  • Shoebox with a lid
  • Several pieces of cardboard
  • Extra cardboard
  • Bean sprout, or a seed (corn and beans work really well for this)
  • Scissors
  • Masking Tape
  • Damp soil
  • Flowerpot or cup small enough to fit in the shoebox when you close the lid

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Start this experiment by cutting a small round hole, about the size of a quarter, at one end (one of the short sides) of a shoebox.

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Next, cut  several pieces of cardboard, and tape them to the inside of the box, creating a winding path through the inside of the box. The pieces should be the same depth as the shoebox, but slightly shorter in width. You only want the light to pass through narrow openings you create with the gaps between the cardboard “maze”. Any other stray light may confuse your plant. Use plenty of tape to block out light in the cracks.

Put the seed or sprout into the flower pot, and cover it with moist soil. Water well, but do not flood the seed.

Place the flowerpot on the opposite end of the shoebox, away from the hole. Cover the shoebox with the lid and put it in a sunny place, with the hole facing the light.

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Finally, close the lid and set your shoe box in a sunny area. Make sure to check on your plant’s progress every few days to record what happens!

What’s going on?

Plants need light, water and carbon dioxide to produce food. When you place obstacles in the sprout’s way, it will find a way around the obstacle (in this case cardboard) to find the light, even without muscles!  The process of growing towards the light is called phototropism, and is controlled by a plant hormone known as auxin. The hormone auxin is formed in the top of a plant and then spreads itself out evenly into all the cells of the plant. This hormone tells plant cells to grow longer. However, if the light does not come from above, auxin will move toward the side that is not lit. This hormone buildup will result in the plant bending toward the light, as you will see from your experiment.

Remember, it is important to note that an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! Check out these questions to get you started:

  • Will different plants grow at the same rate in the same conditions?
  • Does the brightness of the light going into the box make a difference in how fast the plant grows?
  • How tight a turn can a plant make?
  • How many turns can a plant make?
  • Can you make your plant grow down?

Give it a try and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages using the hashtag #gscscience!

DIY Science: Water Cycle in a Bag!

With all the rain we have been experiencing in the Triad lately, we decided it would be the perfect opportunity to have a lesson on the water cycle!

For this experiment you will need the following:

  • Plastic ziplock bag
  • Sharpie (to draw clouds and waves)
  • ¼ cup of water
  • Blue food coloring
  • Painter’s tape

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Begin your experiment by drawing clouds around the top and water around the bottom of your plastic bag. This will serve as a visual aid of the water cycle and how it works.

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Next, fill your plastic bag with ¼ cup of water, and add about 4 drops of food coloring.

Seal your bag shut, and hang it in a window (we recommend using painter’s tape since it is easy to remove once your experiment is over.)

Now it’s time to let nature run its course! Check on your bag periodically and notice how much condensation your baggie collects over time.

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What’s the science?

In nature, the sun’s heat causes water to evaporate from streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans. As the water vapor rises, it condenses to form clouds when it reaches cooler air. When the clouds are full of water, or saturated, they release some of the water as rain. Then the cycle starts over again.

The same principle can be applied to your experiment. Over the next few days, you will see that the water has warmed in the sunlight and evaporated into vapor. As that vapor cooled it began changing back into liquid, just like a cloud. When enough water condensed, the air couldn’t hold it anymore and the water fell down in the form of precipitation.

Remember, it is important to note that an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! Check out these questions to get you started:

  • Does the location (North facing, South facing, partial shade, full sun, etc)  of the window have any impact on the cycle? 
  • Does the amount of food coloring used have any impact?
  • How does the outside temperature impact the experiment?

Give it a try and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages using the hashtag #gscscience!

Party in Your PJ’s!

Jam in your jammies while supporting the GSC’s conservation efforts!

Are you looking for a  family-friendly, affordable way to change up your typical Friday night? Dancing, crafting, face painting and snacking await you at the GSC’s annual Pajama Jam! After all, what better way to spend a Friday night than partying in your PJ’s?!Pajama-Jam-Cows

Tickets are currently on sale for the Greensboro Science Center’s popular after-hours party, Pajama Jam. This annual kid-friendly event will take place on Friday, March 24 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. This is an awesome event for children ages 12 and under – and their parents – to come to the GSC dressed in their jammies and experience an evening of entertainment, tasty treats, and plenty of farmyard fun! Get ready to dance the night away with our favorite kid-friendly band, Big Bag Boom, and the Chick-fil-A cows!

Self-described as a “kid-appropriate frat party,” the popular children’s band, Big Bang Boom, will be on site performing rockin’ kid-friendly tunes for the crowd. Their music is guaranteed to have kids and adults alike dancing and singing along!

Pajama-Jam-Music (1)You are sure to work up an appetite from dancing the night away, that’s why Chick-fil-A will be providing light refreshments for each guest in the form of chicken nuggets, fruit and a cookie. The Chick-fil-A cows (a Pajama Jam fan favorite) will be grazing throughout the GSC, greeting guests, posing for photo ops, and dancing with the band.

In addition to a pint-sized dance party, guests can also expect plenty of hands-on fun as they explore our museum and aquarium. Special activities including crafts, games and face-painting will be available for the evening.

Let your child experience their first ever laser show, Tot Rock! This is a stunning laser show set to fun, upbeat music that will be playing in the Omnisphere Theater during Pajama Jam!

If all that isn’t enough for you, our very own local celebrity, Indiana Bones, will also be entertaining guests in our Destination: Dinosaur! exhibit. Indy will be introducing young paleontologists to his prehistoric pals, signing autographs and posing for photos with fans, and showing off some of his favorite artifacts and fossils, while giving guests a chance to stand beside a virtual dinosaur!Pajama-Jam-Indiana-Bones

This event is great for children and their parents, grandparents or guardians, daddy-daughter date nights, and more! Kelli Crawford, the GSC’s event coordinator for Pajama Jam, says, “We see grandparents taking their grandchildren out for a night on the town, extended families laughing and enjoying each other’s company, and even families who are planning to host sleepovers at their houses when the party ends.”

Tickets are on sale now at greensboroscience.org. Crawford says it’s best to purchase tickets well in advance. “This event sells out every year, so be sure to get your tickets early. You don’t want to miss it!”

Pajama Jam tickets are $10 for Greensboro Science Center members and $12 for non-members. All proceeds from this event will be donated to our conservation fund, which helps preserve wildlife and their habitats as well as enhance sustainable practices around the center.

 

DIY Science: St. Patrick’s Day Slime!

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Today we are making some St. Patrick’s Day Slime! This is a great slime recipe to have on-hand, and make whenever. 

To get started you will need the following:

  • 1/2 Cup of clear or white glue {Elmer’s washable school glue works best}
  • 1/2 Cup of liquid starch
  • 1/2 Cup of warm water
  • Measuring cup
  • A large bowl and a sturdy mixing spoon
  • Food coloring, confetti, glitter {optional}

Start by diluting  1/2 cup of glue into 1/2 cup warm water,{ really mix to combine completely}. Wash out the measuring cup before using it for the liquid starch.

Add some color or glitter to you slime to make it festive! Remember when you add color to white glue, the color will be lighter. Use clear glue for jewel toned slime! Mix the glitter and color into the glue and water mixture.

Now pour in 1/2 cup of liquid starch and mix vigorously. You will see the slime immediately start to form.

You won’t be able to use a spoon for very long, so get ready to get your hands dirty! Switch to mixing with hands for a few minutes until you feel the majority of the liquid incorporated into the slime.

Place your slime in a clean, dry container or on a non-porous plate. Slime can be played with right away but it’s consistency changes a bit over the next 30 minutes to a smoother looking substance as opposed to the stringier slime you may originally see.

Note: Liquid starch slime gets better with time but can be used right away. Playing with it helps it set!

So what’s the science?

The glue is a liquid polymer, meaning that the tiny molecules in the glue are in strands like a chain. When you add liquid starch, the strands of the polymer glue hold together, this gives the slime it’s slimy feel. The liquid starch acts as a cross-linker that links all the polymer strands together.

Remember, it is important to note that an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! Check out these questions to get you started:

  • How does the ratio of glue to starch change the slime?
  • Does the brand of glue make a difference in the final slime product?
  • How does the temperature of the water affect the slime?

Give it a try and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages using the hashtag #gscscience!

http://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/liquid-starch- slime-easy- sensory-play- recipe/

 

 

DIY Science: Make Your Own Rainbow

Today we are going to teach you how to create your own rainbows – rain or shine, day or night!

To start this experiment all you need is:dsc_0421

  • A clear, smooth sided, drinking glass or glass vase, filled almost to the top with water
  • Tape
  • Paper
  • A source of light (this can be the sun, a bright flashlight, or other light source)
  • Scissors
  • A dark room

Begin by filling a drinking glass or vase full of water.
Next, you will need to cut a slat in your sheet of paper (you will want to cut a vertical, thin rectangular shape).dsc_0429

Secure your slatted piece of paper to the outside of the glass so that it is centered more closely to the top of the glass. 

Turn on your flashlight, and shine it down at an angle so that the light hits the top of the water in the glass and — find your rainbow! It depends upon where your light angle hits the water and reflects unto the surface below as to how far away your rainbow will appear. Try moving your flashlight closer and farther away as well as adjusting the angle to the water to see the best rainbow.

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What’s the science?

You probably noticed that this doesn’t look like your average outdoor rainbow. The flashlight’s ray contains different colors that create light (such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple). When you shine the light through the water, it bends, or refracts, and separates into the different colors. This is because the different colors (or wavelengths) of light behave slightly differently as they travel through our variables of water and glass. Notice the order of the colors is exactly the same as they are in a rainbow you see after a rain storm? This is because each color has a different wavelength with red having the longest wavelength, and violet the shortest. This is why red is at the top of the arch and violet is at the bottom.

Remember, it is important to note that an experiment uses a variable (something that changes) to answer a question. To turn this demonstration into an experiment, you have to change something! Check out these questions to get you started:

  • How does the placement of the paper affect the outcome?
  • Do different light angles change the size of the rainbow?
  • Does the size or shape of the glass affect the size or shape of the rainbow?

 

Give it a try and let us know how your experiment turned out on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages using the hashtag #gscscience!