February school vacation week has the potential to be the bogey man of a museum programming calendar. Attendance is seriously weather dependent, weather is seriously unpredictable, and in one week you can have a day with over 2,000 people one day and under 200 the next. Fortunately, despite some habitually inconvenient New England weather, we had a great week of vacation programming inspired by Beyond Human and from here to ear (the one with the live finches and the electric guitars!)
In addition to great performances and presentations by Curious Creatures, The Loon Lady, Jackson Gillman, and Steve Lechner from The Science Works, we had a lot of fun with our drop-in activities inspired by animal sounds. We made ‘sonar shakers,’ bull roarers, and bird calls, and people showed a lot of creativity in their decoration of particularly the last two!
Set up for making bird calls: we dispensed rosin from the staff supply table to prevent it from going in small mouths
Final bird calls hanging up to dry, ready for a nature walk
Painted bullroarers. Helpful tip: the shorter the string, the easier it is to make that great low buzzing noise!
If you’re interested in the directions and background information from these activities, feel free to download the pdf with everything you need! Sounds Like an Animal Activity Directions
“It’s Common Knowledge” by Rune Guneriussen, 2009
One of the perks of my job is that each new exhibition that comes through the museum gives me an excuse to read and/or research something new. I’ve come across a number of fascinating and occasionally hilarious books during the planning of Beyond Human (opening in October), and I’ve blogged about some of my favorites over on PEM’s Connected. Find reviews of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction for kids and adults, from haiku cats to people who fly with whooping cranes.
Check it out and let me know if you have any suggestions for other artist/animal-related good reads!
No princesses were injured in the creation of this post.
It’s time for another Ideabox–this time, on CD spindles and the many uses thereof, with a guest appearance by a few spools of thread.
I think CD spindles are a remarkable piece of design: they’re the kind of thing that do what they’re supposed to very well, and then sit there and taunt you, gathering dust because they LOOK like you should be able to do something else with them. If you have a few of these lying around that you’re looking to ‘upcycle’ into something new and useful, here are some ideas to get you started. (Instructables was a really valuable resource in assembling this post. You’ll see what I mean.)
First, a video that gives you four options in what feels like forty seconds, just to get you thinking:
Next, for the folks who can never get too organized:
- The ‘you’re kidding, someone wrote instructions for that?’ Headphone Holder. (Yes, they did. But just because it’s easy and not exactly aesthetically pleasing doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid idea!)
- The ‘I know a techie sort with too much jewelry’ CD Spindle Earring Holder. (I know an artist who could really use this kind of display stand…)
CD Spindles for the Plant and Animal Worlds:
- Flower Planters — this is a particularly cool idea if you’re trying to do a science experiment that allows you to watch the roots of things grow. Visible carrots!
- Mushroom Storage Case — I wasn’t sure whether to put this under ‘plants,’ ‘organization,’ or ‘huh?’ but it’s cute.
- High Speed Silent Hamster Wheel — For the fleet of foot, but not the faint of heart.
For the Electrically Savvy:
- CD Spindle Lamp — Gorgeous, actually. And using an LED or CFL bulb would make it even safer. I’d love to see a version that took up less horizontal footprint though, for the sake of those of us who live in small spaces.
- Water-Powered Tesla Turbine — There are a number of variations to this idea provided by ‘mrfixits’ on Instructables. They’re all fascinating in a ‘how do you come up with these things?’ way. I love the idea of using recycled materials and water power and magnets to talk about generating electricity, though. (And on that note, a similarly cool variation, A Pringles Can Wind Turbine)
Spools get to play too:
Detail from “After Vermeer 2” 2006, by Devorah Sperber. Click for link to artist’s statement.