Project Hibernation: Supercool Turtles!

It’s pretty cold outside this time of year, wouldn’t you say?  Yes!!  Clay Center Turtle House

To deal with this cold, some animals have the right idea – find a nice place and sleep right through it. Our turtles are having a nice rest under the leaves and straw in their garden enclosure.  It is indeed the time of year for some animals to be in a sleep-like state called hibernation.  This dormant state means that they survive on minimal food, water, movement, thinking or going to the bathroom.

Some really deep hibernators, such as bears, rarely “awaken” during this time once they are settled in their den.  Others such as gophers, bats, raccoons and skunks are in torpor where their metabolism lowers and they don’t use much energy, but they’re not really asleep.

Here’s the really cool part!  Reptiles, like our turtles, bury themselves under dirt and leaves IMG_1550as a first defense against the cold, but their bodies also have a natural antifreeze, glucose sugar, that keeps their organs from freezing solid.  This is called supercooling and it allows their blood to cool several degrees below the freezing point of their body tissue.

Try this activity to test out supercooling.

What You Need:Supercooling Supplies

  • Ice cube tray
  • Water
  • Sugar and/or Corn Syrup
  • Stir stick

What You Do:

1. Fill one section of an ice tray 1/2 full with sugar or corn syrup and add some water OR fill one section of an ice tray half full with sugar and another section 1/2 full with corn syrup and add water to each.  Stir until sugars dissolve.

Fill with sugar

2. Fill two other sections of the ice tray with plain water.

3. Put it in the freezer for about 2 hours

4. Take it from the freezer and check out the results!

Plain Water is ICE!

Plain Water is ICE!

Sugar Water is NOT!

Sugar Water is NOT!

The sections with plain water should be frozen while the sections with sugar are not completely frozen.  How “supercool”!?!

Click here and here to check out what others have to say about this cool phenomena!


Take a Look: Artful Opinions

It’s What’s Up Wednesday!  This month we are starting a new occasional series where our staff gets to choose their favorite work of art from our Permanent Collection and tell us why they like it.

Corot Boy in a Tree Painting

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot,Boy in a Tree, oil on canvas, 2010 bequest of Mrs. Mary Price Ratrie

As an art historian I always stress that art is subjective. Do not be ashamed to like something simply because you think it is pretty or there is something that amuses you about the piece. Whatever reason you have for enjoying art is good enough.

One of the pieces I greatly enjoy in our collection is a very simple painting of a little boy in a tree by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot. It is rather small and does not have a great deal of detail, but I enjoy it because it is simply lovely to look at. Corot, himself, was an amazing man. He was one of the fortunate artists, who had a private income and did not have to sell his art in order to live. Corot did not forget his friends in need, either. He was always very generous with those less fortunate than himself and even looked after his fellow artist’s families.

Robin Fisher

Art Educator

Take a look at our ENTIRE Permanent Collection of Art and create your own online gallery of favorite picks in the My Gallery section!

What happens when a big truck gets stuck under a bridge?

When a truck gets stuck under a bridge, it causes a giant trTruck Stuckaffic jam, which soon turns into a party. All attempts to remove the truck fail, but two kids, some balloons and a dog come to the rescue. Find out how they do it on Wee Wednesday, January 28 when we read Truck Stuck by Sallie Wolf. Then you can have fun making a truck craft.

In Truck Stuck two kids are the heroes who save the day. You can be a hero, too, by helping someone do something without being asked or doing something nice for someone, like drawing a cute picture or giving them a hug, when they have had a tough day.

Bear hug

Be a Little Builder!

This Saturday, January 24th, we will open Little Builders in the Mylan Explore-atory!

Back LB_graphicby popular demand, Little Builders is an exhibit geared for kids who like to operate heavy machinery, design and build modern structures and work with power tools. Okay, so maybe those aren’t typically the most kid-friendly activities, but in Little Builders they are!

Operate a gantry crane!

Gantry Crane

Build a castle!

Foam Block Castle

Do a little wood working!

Tool Wall

The fun is endless in this exhibit!

If you can’t join us for Little Builders, you can certainly engineer some structures of your own using a few simple household supplies!

All you need is newspaper, straws and tape. Check out this video on how to make your own newspaper sticks which can be used as building blocks for larger structures.

Where can one little boy go with just a large purple crayon?

Find out when we read Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson on  Wee Wednesday, January 21 and make purple drawings.Harold and the Purple Crayon

In this book, Harold decides to go out for a moonlit walk with his oversize purple crayon. He has a lot of adventures along the way.

Make up a story and draw pictures for it. When you are finished read it for your family. You could also draw some pictures and share them with your friends and family.

The Power of Doodling!

This week we have had artist, Mark Licari, Drawing Out on the walls and windows of our Wall Artmuseum stairwell. He has a new exhibit opening this weekend in our art gallery and while he is here for installation, he is leaving a more permanent mark on our space. His works are whimsical and engaging and they bring to mind doodling!

Doodling is a useful way to start an art project by loosening up your brain and getting your creative juices flowing, but it can also be a useful practice in keeping your mind focused. Have you ever gotten called out during a boring lecture or a meeting for “not paying attention” because you were doodling? Well, there is a great new study that suggests doodling actually helps you focus. It has been determined that if you draw patterns or shapes while listening, you could retain more information! Why is this? One of the best theories is that if you are doodling, you are not daydreaming. You are still taking in information because even though it may look like you are not paying attention the act of doodling is keeping your mind from planning a vacation or figuring out where you are going to eat for lunch. Pretty cool, huh?

Check out some of Mark Licari’s work on our walls and windows and don’t be afraid to doodle to your heart’s content during your next boring meeting or lecture! If you live in the Charleston, WV area, come and check out the rest of this enjoyable exhibit to see more 2-D works by Licari and what looks like “doodling” in 3-D!

IMG_1787 IMG_1788 Wall Art

How do you get rid of four million wasps?

Four million wasps invade the town of Itching Down. They were a The Giant Jam Sandwichterrible noisy nuisance. The townspeople came together to figure out how to make them go away. Bap the Baker is the one who comes up with the perfect plan. Find out what it is on Wednesday, January 14 when we read The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord. Then you can have fun making your very own paper bees.

Bees can be a nuisance sometimes, but they are an important part of our environment since they pollinate plants for us. When spring comes make sure you do something nice for them like plant some bee friendly flowers such as Bluebells, Foxglove, Lavender or, the West Virginia State flower, Rhododendron.

bluebells foxglove-flower (5) lavender flower rhododendron-804-252