Star Gazing!

Winter is a great time to bundle up and go star gazing! One of the most prominent constellations in the winter nighttime sky is Orion the Hunter.

Watch the video to hear a story about Orion the Hunter and discover an easy way to locate him in the sky tonight.

Saturday, March 8th will launch a new journey into the size and scale of our vast Solar System with a new Bayer CropScience Planetarium show Beyond the Sky in our ElectricSky Theater!


Do lizards make good artists?

Find out when we read Art & Max by David Wiesner on Wednesday, February 26 and make Fingerpaint Lizards.

In this book, Arthur and Max are friends who love to paint. Arthur has artandmaxcovermore experience as an artist and Max is a beginner. When the friends paint together they create some very interesting paintings.

MeetRory our new lizard, Rory!  Rory is a bearded dragon and will be part of our spring school workshop, Reptiles vs. Amphibians.

Look for more about Rory in upcoming posts!

Wee Wednesdays take place every Wednesday at 11am and 1pm for our pre-school guests and caretakers.

– Robin

Video Games Make Great Engineers

Tomorrow is our annual Discover Engineering day in honor of engineering week! Last year, I got to set my hands on fire (safely!) with students from one of the local universities. There are hover craft rumors being bandied about for this year’s festivities.

Normally, this is where I’d post instructions for one very nifty engineering project, but today I’m going to offer a few links with some engineering facts and ideas for your classroom. And, yep, one of those ideas has your kids playing video games.

First, let’s get a little cross-curricular and talk history and science with 10 engineering feats we learned from Rome. I bet you are all thinking aqueducts and arches, but how about pontoon bridges? Think your kids can construct a working model?

Or maybe it’s hard to get them to focus when there are video games out there to be played. Head over to for information, articles, and engineering video games. My favorite, at the moment, is “Learn 2 Fly”, an RPG-style revenge-against-the-iceberg game in which you learn how to make a penguin fly using thrust and payloads and hang-gliders.

There’s also “Flight” where students can virtually launch paper airplanes. Why not have them play a few rounds, then apply what they learned to a paper airplane competition with awards for altitude and distance? (Bonus: It’ll get you out of your classrooms and into the nice weather while it lasts.)

You can even check around our site for some engineering activities like the one we posted earlier in the week:

Finally, shake up how your students think of engineers and engineering. They don’t just build houses or bridges. They help design the shoes star  athletes are wearing, not to mention skis and slopes; they build parachutes, air planes, self-driving cars, and even make fireworks.

If you can’t make it to our engineering celebration, consider hosting one for your entire school. All over the United States, but in Appalachia especially, we need our kids thinking about STEM careers and using them to build a better future. Step one is getting them interested. Let’s work together to make that happen.

I hope we see you all tomorrow, but whether you make it or not, we’d love some pictures on how you brought engineering into your classrooms or your homes!


Celebrate National Engineering Week!

February 16 – 22nd is National Engineering Week! 

What can you do to celebrate?  Learn how to turn an ordinary newspaper into a super strong structure!

Check out this video to learn how to create a newspaper dowel rod that can be a building block in making really neat structures!

Can your structure hold weight?  How much?  Show us some of your creations!

Visit the Clay Center this Saturday, February 22nd as we celebrate Discover Engineering Day!  Local engineers and students from area engineering colleges will provide challenges, activities and take-home ideas from 10am – 4pm.

Is it possible to catch a star?

Find out when we read How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers on Wednesday, February 19 and make a Star. How to Catch a Star

A little boy loves stars so much he wants to catch one of his very own. He is not sure how to do it, though and everything he tries does not work. Will he ever be able to have his very own star?

Do you ever look at the stars at night?

One popular constellation in the winter nighttime sky is Orion the Hunter.  On a clear evening, bundle up and go try to find him. The best way to spot him is to look for his belt made Orion star mapup of a row of three stars.




Wee Wednesdays take place every Wednesday at 11am and 1pm for our pre-school guests and their caretakers.

– Robin

What’s Up Wednesday: School Tour Kick Off!

What’s Up Wednesday is a new twice a month post that will feature happenings at the Center. 

After many weeks of snow and ice and a water crisis, school is back in session (at least for now) and we finally kicked off our school tour season with a BANG!

Today we hosted 17 schools and over 1,300 students who came to see Everybody’s Hero: The Jackie Robinson Story and visited our science galleries.

Several of our visiting school groups also took advantage of our school workshop, Retiles vs. Amphibians.  In this workshop, students learn about the differences between reptiles and amphibians, learn some of their cool defenses and get to meet live critters!

The critters featured in this semester’s school workshops are, Sarah Jane and Rose, our African Clawed Frogs and our new little Bearded Dragon, Rory.

Extra credit points will be given to any blog readers who can guess which popular British television show, about a certain time-traveling doctor, inspired the names of these critters!

Meet our amphibian friends,  Sarah Jane and Rose (cute, huh?)

African Clawed Frogs

Meet our reptile friend, Rory


Quick Facts: Amphibians vs. Reptiles

  • Reptiles include snakes, turtles, lizards and crocodilians (alligators and crocodiles)
  • Amphibians include frogs, toads, salamanders, and worm-like caecilians
  • Reptiles usually have dry, scaly skin and are cold-blooded, needing an outside heat source like the sun.
  • Amphibians usually have non-scaled skin and live on the edge of land and water in what are called Riparian Zones

It can be easy to get these two animal groups confused simply because they are not warm and fuzzy creatures, but hopefully this will help you a little when trying to tell the differences.  Enjoy critter spying!

Will Jackson ever tell Cami that he has a crush on her?

Find out when we read A Giant Crush by Gennifer Choldenko on  Wednesday, February 12 and make Heart Pendants.A Giant Crush

In this book, Jackson tries to show Cami that he likes her by giving her candy and a Valentine. He is afraid that if he tells her, Cami will say that she does not like him. Will Jackson ever get the courage up to confess his feelings?

Make a Valentine card for someone you love.  

Valentine CraftWee Wednesdays take place every Wednesday at 11am and 1pm for our pre-school guests and their caretakers.

– Robin