Bouncy Houses Are Fun, But So Overdone!

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The only thing better than watching your children have fun is watching them play and learn at the same time! As a parent, I’m constantly on the hunt for things to do and places to take my child that will provide a safe and highly enjoyable experience. If I am able to find something that is safe, fun, and educational, I’ve hit the trifecta, and it can be challenging to find a place that meets all three of these needs. The Science Mill is a refreshing destination that quenches parents’ thirst for a way to span the gap between fun and education. The museum shows kids that it is possible for an experience to be simultaneously intellectual and enjoyable! Children have an amazing capacity for learning and an innate curiosity about their world. Why not foster that desire to discover on their birthday? Bouncy houses are fun, but overdone. Celebrate your child’s milestone by giving the gift of exciting learning!

The Science Mill offers three birthday party options to suit your child’s interests. In addition to our standard party package, our deluxe party packages are themed and include three facilitated activities. Learn about nature and what makes our unique planet so amazing in our Nature Extravaganza party, or experience the fascinating, prehistoric world of the dinosaurs in our Prehistoric Party! First, the kids are able to get hands-on as they make take home gifts in an activity led by a museum staff member. Whether it’s building a birdfeeder or forming a fossil, each child will leave the party with a special souvenir. Next, the children will do some scientific sleuthing as they use exhibit clues to solve a puzzle in a scavenger hunt through our museum. Finally, a thrilling sensory experience awaits party-goers in our 3D movie theater where they will watch a private showing of a movie that defies two dimensions! In addition to the facilitated fun, party attendees have ample time to free explore our 40+ interactive museum exhibits and customize their own avatars!

Birthday parties are a way to celebrate another year of life, be thankful for the experiences that helped us grow, and look forward to the experiences ahead. Make the first experience of your child’s next year amazing at the Science Mill!

To learn more about our birthday parties and reserve a date, please follow the link below:

http://www.sciencemill.org/birthday-parties/

New Exhibit Interaction Guides

With the rising pressures of standardized testing and an already tightly packed school year, Science Mill staff are always searching for ways to help teachers make field trip correlations effortless and more germane to their classroom curriculum. We are excited to launch a pilot program with Exhibit Interaction Guides to help teachers get the most educational bang for their buck out of their free exploration time at the Science Mill. The Exhibit Interaction Guides pilot will be available for 5th to 8th grades initially and we will add K-4, and 9-12 before next school year. We have correlated an exhibit activity to vocabulary connections, writing prompts, modeling ideas, sentence stems, content review questions, and STAAR review questions. To stay true to our commitment to get students invested in STEM careers, we’ve added career correlations and links to learn more. Our goal is that teachers will use these booklets to make correlations to their current units of study and encourage administrative and parent support for field trip excursions to the Science Mill. These TEKS-aligned activities provide teachers with ideas of what can be done at our exhibits and demonstrate classroom correlations in the form of warm-ups, reviews, or even as a project-based learning endeavor.

These Exhibit Interaction Guides provide teachers a framework for structure during their trip which can be curtailed to specific curriculum goals and gives chaperones an excellent way to interact with students during the field trip. These components could be used as an additional educational component during the travel time for your trip, keeping the kids engaged all day.  The goal of the guides is to provide support to teachers and help bridge the gap between an informal science field trip and classroom learning, ultimately providing a relevant connection to STEM classroom content learning. After the pilot program - and your feedback! - we aim to have one booklet per reporting category by each grade level K-8, with more extensive content guides for high school students.

We are eager to get these activities in your hands and as always will continue to research and develop learning experiences that enhance classroom learning and real world relevancy. To request a digital version of the Exhibit Interaction Guides, please email Amber Middlebrook at amber.middlebrook@sciencemill.org. Thank you for your support of the Science Mill!

LIMITED field trips are available for April and May- BOOK NOW!

Learning Lab Highlight: Oh My! Cross Curricular Technology Integration

“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer …because it teaches you how to think.” - Steve Jobs

Are you looking for a way to integrate technology into your classroom learning??

At the Science Mill we recognize the importance of learning coding languages in educational settings. “Whether you’re trying to make a lot of money or whether you just want to change the world, computer programming is an incredibly empowering skill to learn,” (Hadi, the creator of code.org). The struggle for all educators then becomes how can I incorporate programming and technology into my day without taking away from my instructional minutes? We have a solution to your problem - our Oh My Ozobots Learning Lab!!

In this 45 minute lab, students work in pairs to complete a series of challenges with their tiny (and cute!) ozobot which incorporates approachable coding and programming concepts in a cross-curricular fashion. Combining student interest, classroom curriculum, and coding and programming creates a robust learning experience that highlights the relevancy of technology that allows students to envision how they could use this technology in future endeavors.

First, students use critical thinking and observation skills to figure out how their ozobot “reads” code.  Next, they learn how to program their ozobot in colorful fashion.  Using markers, pairs create a series of color-coded moves for their ozobot to read and follow. Students select a challenge for their teams and are asked to create a map for the bot to follow. Pairs are asked to have their ozobot explore a food web, tell a picture story, travel a map, create a timeline and code the ‘bot to walk the course of events, or create their own adventure!

If you‘d like to continue this technological journey in your classroom, the ozobots are for sale in our gift shop in the main lobby. This approachable teaching tool can be used to add a layer of technology to your student’s classroom experience!

Book your field trip experience and add an Ozobots Learning Lab now.

Science Mill at Central Texas MiniCAST

Come visit Science Mill staff at the upcoming Central Texas MiniCast! Stop by our booth to find out how to get the most out of your field trip experience or attend our session, Learning Lab: Zipping Towards STEM Careers, which will be held during the second session from 10:30am to 11:20am.

If you are searching for a new way to authentically get your kids interested in STEM, this is the session for you! During this lab, teachers will experience one of our most popular Learning Lab activities, Zip Away! Create a gondola for your zipline and engineer a braking mechanism to keep your ping pong ball passenger safe! Use the engineering design process to solve challenges, re-imagine, and improve your zipline and gondola design on this 4 second journey. As part of the experience, teachers will be provided the time to connect their learning to classroom content and STEM careers.  This class will stand as an example of how to get the most out of any field trip or lab experience. The Science Mill’s mission is to ignite the curiosity, creativity and problem-solving potential of future generations of learners and allow them to imagine themselves as STEM professionals through immersive, real world challenges.

Central Texas MiniCAST

Date: Saturday, January 28th, 2017

Location: San Marcos High School

Address: 2601 E. McCarty Ln, San Marcos, TX 78666

Time: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm