Museum of Science, Boston

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Contact the Discovery Center and Living Lab staff at livinglab@mos.org

All Activities of the Month

Archaeology Excavation

Archaeologists study ancient cultures by looking at what they have left behind in the archaeological record. Contrary to popular belief, archaeologists are not "treasure hunters". Archaeologists are actually much more interested in the ordinary things of life that can give us valuable information about the daily lives of past people.

On a very basic level, archaeologists study ancient garbage or "midden". In fact, garbage can be quite indicative of cultural values, social status, diet, and social organization of the society that left it behind.

Bubble-ology

Children love bubbles! Whether blowing, chasing, or popping bubbles, children are fascinated by the floating, iridescent spheres that seem to defy gravity while elegantly soaring around.

The Bubble-ology activity allows children to explore the science concepts of surface tension, air pressure, light and prisms, in a fun and interactive way. While many children have experience playing with bubbles, this activity will help them think about the science behind bubbles, and challenge them to explore the properties of bubbles by participating in a variety of engaging experiments.

Capillary Action Butterflies

Young children love to explore water! And no wonder- playing in water, with all of it’s interesting properties, presents young children with both satisfaction and challenges.

The Capillary Action Butterflies activity allows children to explore one of water’s most appealing properties: it’s “stickiness”.

Water molecules stick to almost everything- the table, your hand, paper, and even other water molecules. This stickiness is what allows water to move through the coffee filter, taking all of the colors with it and mixing them together.

Copter Engineering

Whether watching a jet plane race across the sky, a paper airplane zoom through a room, or a bird soar overhead, children are fascinated by objects in motion and flight. The Copter Engineering activity presents children with an opportunity to explore two contributing factors to flight: air resistance and push. Although air is all around us, it can be difficult for young children to understand what is air and how it works, since air is invisible to the eye. By watching the copters spiral downward, children can see the affects of air on a spinning helicopter-like object.

Fingerprint Detectives

Today’s media is packed with crime dramas depicting forensic scientists examining evidence collected at crime scenes. To give children an experience with collecting and analyzing evidence, the Discovery Center developed the Fingerprint Detectives activity, where children learn how to collect their own fingerprints, use tools (i.e. magnifying glass or microscope) and examine their own fingerprints as well as the fingerprints of others.

Hoop Glider Engineering

In the Hoop Glider Engineering activity, children are able to explore being an engineer by building a hoop glider, testing it out, and making changes to their design.

This activity encourages children to create and test a prototype (ideally, an adult will help children make a glider with the ‘basic’ design to start with), to set a goal for creating a better glider, and to change one variable at a time in controlled experiments to make their glider meet that goal.

Nature Detectives

A "nature detective", or a naturalist, is a scientist that studies plants and animals in the world around them. They search for evidence that can help them discover how a particular animal might live in its natural habitat. Like detectives who solve crimes, nature detectives follow clues to answer questions like, “what happened?” “who was here?” or, “how are these things related?” They also may work in nature centers, zoos, parks and museums, educating people about nature and natural history.

Oobleck

Children love exploring gooey substances! And no wonder- the properties of these mixtures make them fascinating for children to play with!

Has your child ever played with an oozy ‘liquid’ that they can also roll into a ball? The Oobleck activity allows children to experience a material that can act in a variety of ways, depending on how it’s touched!

Playing with Oobleck is a fun way for children to explore the properties of a substance (a “non-Newtonian fluid”) that can exhibit the properties of both a liquid and a solid.

Owl Pellet Dissection

Dissections are a great way for children to learn and practice their observation and classification skills, all while learning about animals that are quite different from themselves! During an Owl Pellet Dissection, children learn about how and what owls eat, as well as how a pellet is formed in an owl’s unique digestive system.

Paper Bridge Engineering

In the Paper Bridge Engineering activity, children and their grownups practice their engineering design skills by building and testing their own paper bridge. Discovery Center visitors are encouraged to brainstorm about bridges, make a prototype, test it, re-evaluate, and re-design.