SLC Young Ambassador Blog: Week 2

22 07 2013

Hello, my name is Alana Zamora from San Marcos, Texas. This year, I was selected as a 2013 Smithsonian Latino Center Young Ambassador; Up to twenty-four graduating high school seniors are selected each year and are given the amazing opportunity to intern in a museum/cultural institution in their local community for four weeks. Currently, I am interning here at the Austin Children’s Museum. I will be posting weekly blog posts to describe my journey here at ACM, as well as, insights into the different summer camps that we offer at the Museum.

This week, I helped lead the ‘Young Scientists’ half day summer camp program for children, ages 4-6. For every half day camp, we have story time, hands-on activities and free play in the Museum. I assisted in leading science and art activities, playing with the children in the Museum and supervising them throughout their time at the camp. At this week’s camp, I had the opportunity to prepare the activities for each day, so I was able to see how much work goes into organizing a camp. Also, I was able to give feedback in ways to improve the activities for next ‘Young Scientists’ camp.

On Monday, July 8th, the theme for the day was measurement. The children learned about time, weight, temperature and length. Some of the activities for that day were, measuring and weighing sand, taking the temperature of warm and cold water, and creating a clock. Another activity that we had the children do was draw a picture of what they think a scientist looks like.


On Tuesday, July 9th, we learned about chemistry, reaction and slime. Camp leaders demonstrated baking soda experiments and helped the children create slime. The slime activity was very messy, but so much fun!Image

     On Wednesday, July 10th, the theme was color and magnification. Some activities that we had were, color mixing with paint, making a solar bead bracelet and Play-dough mixing. One of my favorite activities of the day was creating our own ‘rainbow’ using a flashlight and glass prism.Image

     On Thursday, July 11th, we learned about architecture and electricity. We had the children build houses out of wooden blocks and we had them create their own circuits.

     On Friday, July 12th, we learned about flying. The children learned about bats and made their own ‘bat hats’. They also created their own kite and roto-copter.

     Again, this week was amazing! I enjoy working with the children and watching them learn. Also, my fellow interns and volunteers are truly great individuals! I am amazed with all the learning that takes place during camp and I really do wish that I had the same opportunity at a younger age that all of these children are having now. Learning is fun!

     If you haven’t had the chance, check out my blog post from the first week of my internship!


What’s inside the mystery box?

19 10 2009

Be a super science sleuth this Halloween and let’s see if you and your fellow scientist friends can figure out each other’s experiments—without looking! For this game, you brave scientists will put your hand inside some covered boxes and try to guess what’s inside using your sense of touch.


Grab a friend, sibling or parent to be your partner. Both of you will secretly gather supplies, such as a bowl of jello or a teddy bear. You can pretend these things are old lab experiments gone wrong or supplies for a new creepy project! Then you will cover each object with a cardboard box. Cut a hole in the box big enough for your partner to stick an arm inside.

Now take turns putting an arm inside each other’s boxes and feel around with your hands and figures. As you feel around, jot down what you feel on a sheet of paper. You can fold a piece of construction paper to make a scientific journal like I did!


Is it wet? Is it rough? Is it squishy? Is it round? Using your deductive reasoning skills, can you correctly guess what’s inside?

Scientists have to be very detailed about their observations, so try to be as descriptive as you can. What do the mystery objects remind you of—does it feel like brains inside one box? Maybe eye balls inside another? Draw a picture to go along with each box.


scientist's journal entry

When both of you reveal your mystery objects, see how close your guesses were!

Happy guessing!

Electricity and YOU

28 08 2009

If you’ve been to the Museum lately, you may have seen one of our gallery educators playing with an energy ball:            

Read on to learn more about electricity and the discovery that our bodies are conductors…


Have you ever heard of Luigi Galvani? What about Count Allesandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta? They are two scientists who changed the way we look at our world today.


Galvani was a doctor, and he used frogs to study how the body works. Galvani used an iron scalpel while working with his frogs and this iron scalpel hung from a brass hook. When the scalpel touched the frog’s leg, it twitched! He thought this confirmed that there was an electrical fluid in the body that made the muscles move. He was almost right, but not completely. Even though Galvani was wrong, he inspired many others to explore this idea. He showed that studying science is not always about being right, but about using our imaginations, and trying things even though they might be wrong.


Galvani’s friend, the Count Allesandro Volta, who disagreed with Galvani’s electrical fluid idea, saw that the electrical twitch in the frog’s leg was actually produced by the combination of metals Galvani used: a brass hook and an iron scalpel. From there, Volta was able to discover which metals conducted electricity the best. Then he invented one of the first forms of a battery by stacking pairs of metal disks that had wet cloth between them. Volta showed that in science it is important to question things. Galvani thought he was right, and Volta disagreed. He questioned him, and he discovered how metal can be used to produce energy by conducting electricity!


Question things, and explore! We now know that our muscles do use electricity, just not exactly the kind Galvani was talking about. But his ideas led to the exploration of electricity in our bodies.


Another fun fact: Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein, got her ideas from Galvani’s research in electrical fluids. Science is everywhere!