Story Time – Oh No!

Oh no! A poor little frog jumps into a hole and he can’t get out! Will his bk_ohnoanimal friends be able to get him out or will they fall down in the hole too? They better beware of the tiger sleeping very near to the hole. Will the animals be able to help or will they maybe become lunch?

Find out what happens at Wee Wednesday when we read the delightfully, rhyming Oh No! by Candace Fleming on Wednesday, April 2nd.

After the story, stick around to make animal masks.

Which animal will you choose to be?  After making your animal mask, act out your character in the story.  Will you be helpful or try to eat up all the other animals?

Can’t make it to Wee Wednesday?  Make an animal mask and pretend to be that animal.  Do you swing from trees?  Do you hop?  Do you swim? What sounds do you make?

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

– Kayte

Draco’s Dinner: Ribbon Snake Goes Fishing!

Draco is the Clay Center’s ribbon snake. Ribbon snakes closely resemble garter snakes and are native to eastern North America.

Snakes are an important component of natural ecosystems as they serve as both predator and prey. Ribbon snakes, like Draco, are semiaquatic and are often found at the edges of lakes, bogs and salt marshes. In the wild, they feed on worms, slugs, minnows, insects, small mice, fish and frogs. However, our Draco loves to go fishing! He finds his prey mainly by sight and scent. When we put fish in Draco’s tank, he begins to flick his tongue. His tongue picks up the scent of the fish by using an organ in the roof of his mouth called a Jacobson organ. He usually glides around his tank a few times before he peers over the edge of his water rock and notices his dinner!

Draco doesn’t chew his food like a civilized snake, but that’s not his fault. His teeth are only designed to grab the prey and help push it into his mouth. If he gets ahold of a fish that is bigger than his head (and it happens more often than not) he is able to unhinge his jaw to make room for the larger size.

Take a look at Draco hunting for dinner! If you have a sensitive spot in your heart for fish, you may want to cover your eyes and just enjoy the music.

Snakes and their eggs also take their place in the food chain as prey. They are food for fish, amphibians, other snakes, birds and predatory mammals like skunks, raccoons and possums. Birds are their worst enemies though and not just large birds. It is not unusual to spot the tail of a ribbon or garter snake poking out of the mouth of a songbird.

You can visit Draco at the Clay Center as he is currently part of the RiverWorks Discovery exhibit in our brand new STEAMworks galley! He is one of a few animals including a box turtle and bluegill fish that are part of this must-see exhibit!

– Kayte

StoryTime – Little Hoot

Meet Little Hoot, an owl who begs for an earlier bedtime.

Little HootHe loves all the tasks that come with being an owl – the pondering, the staring, but he just wants to go to bed at the same time as all his friends.  Will his parents give in and allow him to go to bed early?

Find out when we read Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal during Wee Wednesday on March 26th.

What is an owl’s typical bedtime?  Owls are nocturnal creatures which means they are active at night and sleep during the day.

Try this fun game of identifying nocturnal animals by sound and a clue.

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

–          Kayte

Eggs, More Fun Than Bacon

It’s March! And here at the Clay that means eggs. Forget warm weather and flowers, forget lions and lambs; instead, think of the egg and how this versatile breakfast food is also all kinds of science fun!Egg sign

Yes, in the Cavern of Time, you can join us for Egg-sciting Science our latest Milton’s Marvels of Science demonstration. Messy? Absolutely. More fun than eating bacon? Probably.

I’m going to give you two experiments today and debunk a myth!

Eggs: 6 Raw and 1 Hard Boiled

Egg carton (to fit six eggs, can be cut down to size)

Experiment 1: Egg Spin
So, the first thing you need to do is hard boil one egg. Have students see if they can determine, by visually and physically examining the eggs, which is raw and which is hard boiled.

Now, take your hard boiled egg and your raw egg and give them a spin. Have your kids or your class observe the differences. See if anyone would like to change their guess. Then, have them give the two eggs another spin and try to stop them by simply tapping one finger on top of the eggs.

What’s Happening?

The hardboiled egg will spin more easily and more quickly. It should also stop completely after one tap. Meanwhile, the raw egg will have a hard time getting started and a hard time getting stopped.

When you spin the hardboiled egg both the shell and the cooked egg inside begin and stop spinning at the same time. However, with the raw egg, the shell starts to spin but it takes a moment for the liquid to start moving. Also, once the liquid has built up momentum, when you stop the shell, the liquid is still in motion and eventually the drag will start the egg moving again.

Experiment 2: Egg Crush

Eggs on BOoksDon’t let the name fool you. You shouldn’t actually crush any eggs. Take your six raw eggs and place them in the half-carton. Make sure each egg is upright and try to pick eggs of approximately the same height. Now, place books one by one on the eggs. (I like to be very dramatic about this, wincing, and closing my eyes while asking the kids if the eggs are holding up.) If you’ve done this right, they won’t break! You’ll still have six perfectly usable, whole raw eggs and some very entertained kids.

What’s Happening?

Although we think of eggs as fragile, they’re actually formed very closely to nature’s strongest shape, the sphere. Eggs are slightly oval and slightly tapered too, but that’s all about keeping the egg in the nest and making it easier to lay. The curved shape of the egg distributes pressure equally around it, making it tough to break unless you have an egg-tooth, as do baby animals needing to get out of an egg, or the side of a table to act as an egg tooth.


Have your kids wrap their hands around a raw egg and try to break it. Again, the egg’s shape will evenly distribute the pressure they apply so that the egg doesn’t crack.

Bonus Number Two!

There’s a popular myth that on the Vernal Equinox (Thursday, March 20th) one can balance an egg on its head. Well, it is true! The myth part is that you can only do this on the Vernal Equinox. Go ahead. Try it right now! If you’re patient, and have steady hands, you’ll make it happen today!


Museum Galleries Transformed!

It’s What’s Up Wednesday and there have been MANY changes here at the Clay Center’s Avampato Discovery Museum since January.

Our Art Gallery reopened on February 15th with a brand new lighting system and two fun exhibits, Gallery Divided: A Head to Head Matchup between Marshall and WVU Art Faculty and Every Living Thing: A Closer Look at Nature.

Gallery Divided is a creative battle Gallery Divided Exhibitbetween art department staff from West Virginia’s two largest universities.  It is a great time to come out and decide who you think should come out ahead!

Every Living Thing takes you up close to plant and animal life, land and seascapes and even offers a microscopic view at nature’s beauty.  This exhibit is also host to live brook and Every Living Thing Exhibitbrown trout that are being raised in the gallery and will be released at Kanawha State Forest during our final After School Explorer’s Club, Tank to Creek Part 2 on Thursday, May 8th.


You have to come see these works under this brighter, cleaner light and see colors pop off the walls like never before!



Our most dramatic change has taken place in our former Gizmo Factory!  The Gizmo Factory, once an exploration in physical sciences, has transformed into STEAMworks, a gallery dedicated to Gizmo Factoryexhibits focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art Gizmo Factory and Math.


Gizmo Transformation





On Saturday, March 22nd, we open this brand new gallery with RiverWorks Discovery.  Take a trip on America’s waterways to RiverWorks Discoverydiscover why rivers are so important to all of us!   


RiverWorks Discovery






At the end of June, RiverWorks will leave us and make way for a new Clay Center-designed exhibit, What’s YOUR Story opening mid-July. This exhibit will offer a chance to create a puppet show with an Ipad, perform live on stage and explore fun ways to tell stories from your imagination!

So much to do here at the Clay Center! 

Come check us out!

StoryTime – The Honeybee and the Robber

Go along with a busy honeybee as she goes from plant to plant Honeybee and Robbercollecting nectar while occasionally stopping to play with butterflies and avoiding the dangers of hungry birds.  Soon a hungry robber bear comes scratching at the hive looking for a delicious snack.  Will the bees be able to defend their home and hard work?

Come and listen as we read Eric Carle’s, The Honeybee and the Robber on Wednesday, March 19th.

So, do bears really eat honey?  YES! However, they are after more than just the honey.  Bears will raid beehives to get a hold of immature bees and larvae which are a great source of protein.  The honey is just a sweet addition to this nutritious snack.

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

–          Kayte

Mini-Greenhouse Gardening

Whether you live in the country or the city, starting a garden can be lots of fun!  Container gardening, especially, is rather simple.  Try your hand at gardening and begin spring early by starting your herbs in a unique mini-greenhouse.

What You Need:

  • 2 liter bottle
  • Box cutter or scissorsGreenhouse Supplies
  • Small planter (paper planter or egg crate will work)
  • Plate or planter base
  • Seed starting soil
  • Herb seeds
  • Plant label (cut up yogurt container or popsicle sticks work well)

What You Do:

1. Cut the bottom off of the 2 liter bottle using a box cutter or scissors

Cut Bottle

2. Fill the small planter ¾ full with seed starting soil

3. Sprinkle in a pinch of herb seeds


4. Lightly cover the seeds with more soil

5. Write the name of the herb on your plant marker and place it in the planter

6. Place the planter on a plate or plant base and pour some water in the base

7. Cover the planter with the 2 liter bottle and place it on a sunny windowsill

Finished Mini-Greenhouse

What’s Happening?

The water on the planter base is absorbed by the paper planter and the soil. When the sunlight through the window heats up Greenhouse Workingthe bottle, the water begins to evaporate and condensation forms on the bottle.  As the condensation builds, droplets of water fall back down onto the plant and into the plate and the process starts all over again providing a consistently warm and moist environment for your budding herb. By leaving the lid off of the bottle, your plant gets plenty of fresh air as well.

Eventually, your seedlings will need more room to grow and spread their roots.  At that point, you can transplant them to a large planter.  If you can find a larger bottle, you can Basil Plantkeep your greenhouse going, but at this point, they should be able to flourish with just a daily watering.

Happy gardening and check back for more about the Clay Center Education Gardens