Bubble Fiesta!

Hand_bubble_1.jpg

On May 4th we’re hosting a Bubble Fiesta in our backyard, the Science and Art Park, featuring hands-on bubble creation stations!

 It may look like play - and trust us, you’re in for gallons of bubbly fun - but these stations encourage inquiry-based learning by integrating science, engineering, and math.

 Last month, Dr. Karen Uhlenbeck, a professor emerita at The University of Texas at Austin, was the first woman to win one of the top prizes in mathematics for her discovery of a phenomenon called “bubbling.”

 "Bubbles entice for their seeming simplicity, which approaches the existential,”  said Dr. Uhlenbeck, a professor emerita at The University of Texas at Austin.


Join us on May 4 from 11am-2pm, to experience enticing, existential bubbles at our bubble creation stations:

  • BYOBW - Build Your Own Bubble Wand - Become a bubble engineer and design your own, unique bubble wands!

  • Bubble Formulas  - Concoct a bubble solution using chemistry principles, and learn what makes the biggest, best bubbles!

  • Multi-Dimensional Bubbles - Math concepts really pop when you construct geometric shapes to make multi-dimensional bubbles you'll have to see to believe!

  • Giant Bubbles - Even the bubbles are bigger in Texas!

ezgif.com-optimize.gif

And the exploration doesn’t stop with bubbles! The Science and Art Park is home to exhibits that will challenge you, thrill you, and entertain you all day long:

  • Visually stunning and interactive, you control our 30-foot-tall Colossal Robotic Hand.

  • At the Fossil Dig, you use real excavation tools to unearth hidden dinosaurs and more.

  • Experience our over-the-top Rube Goldberg-esque labyrinth, the Incredible Ball Machine.

  • Take on the Giant Lever for a challenging game of tug-o-war.

  • Don’t miss our gentle giants, three African Spurred Tortoises named Speedy, Tortilla, and Miss Jiff.

We really hope you pop by! (Sorry, couldn’t help ourselves.)

 Science Mill admission includes everything mentioned above, plus over 50 hands-on interactive exhibits (and a 3D movie!) throughout the historic mill.

 We are open from 10am-4pm on Saturday, May 4, with Bubble Fiesta activities from 11am-2pm.




Another STEM-tastic year of Homeschool Days!

Another STEM-tastic year of Homeschool Days is coming to a close! We are already prepping for the 2019-2020 school year (registration for the STEM Scholar Program is open!), but thought we’d take a moment to celebrate all we learned this past year.

The 2018-19 school year is wrapping up with a focus on careers in Coding for May. Jennie Kam from Cisco will speak about cybersecurity, and Cisco employees will be on hand for a special game of Pitching Packets. The game demonstrates how networks function, and what kinds of things can make them better or slow them down. Students will also examine binary code (while making cool bracelets!), and program our robot, Botley.

 The Science Mill’s inaugural group of STEM Scholars graduates on May 9, too! Read more about this unique program, and register for 2019-2020 STEM Scholars now!

Create a Butterfly Destination

920x920.jpg

After a record wildflower bloom this year, Texas is now expecting unusually high numbers of monarch butterflies. This is the perfect year to plant that butterfly garden you’ve always wanted.

 Monarch butterflies travel through central Texas two times every year, on their way to Mexico for the winter and again when they return to Canada for the summer. On the Texas A&M website, Craig Wilson, director of the USDA Future Scientists Program, notes that the migrating monarch population has increased by 144 percent in the past year. He is estimating that we could see 300 million monarchs pass through the state, and that’s encouraging after several years of declining numbers.

 In an article from the Monarch Watch blog, Chip Taylor outlines some of the factors that influence monarch population sizes. Thanks to a healthy winter in Mexico with low mortality rates, and good weather over Texas and Oklahoma during the March-May migration time, numbers are projected to increase at the highest rate in several years.

 “Some consider this year to be a throwback monarch migration, potentially with trees covered in monarchs,” said Lisa Keys, Science Mill Animal and Plant Care Technician. “I've already seen more butterflies out in the garden this year compared to previous years, which is really exciting."

 Attracting monarchs and other pollinators requires the right kinds of plants. Central Texans can expect to see the monarchs anywhere there are milkweed plants, a monarch favorite. Our home state boasts large swaths of milkweed. The butterflies lay their eggs under the leaves, and feed off of the plants. 

butterfly_garden.jpg

When planning the Science Mill’s brand new butterfly garden in our Science & Art Park, we learned that not all milkweed is good for monarchs. It’s important to get native plants that are in sync with with our local seasons. This goes for other varieties of plants in your garden, too. Encouraging healthy pollination locally can have a global impact.

 “Butterflies are not only fun to watch, but they serve a critical purpose as well,” said Zac Zamora, Science Mill Creative Director. “Butterflies and other pollinators, including bees, moths, birds, and bats pollinate over 75% of the world’s flowering plants.”

 To attract pollinators, our Science Mill garden includes these plant varieties, all available at local nurseries (listed by how much sun they need, from full sun to shade preferred):

plant_id_1.jpg

Once your garden is in, you can be part of this year’s historical monarch migration by reporting sightings and following their journey to Canada on the Journey North website.

You can check out our Butterfly Garden at the Science Mill! We would love to see pictures of your visit to the Science Mill’s butterfly garden and of your own garden. Share them on social media and tag the Science Mill! You can find us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

First Time Visitor Q&A

q_a_2.gif

Q: I've never been to Johnson City or the Science Mill before, where are you and how much time should I allow for my visit?

A: Johnson City is conveniently located on 290, an easy drive from Austin, San Antonio, and Hill Country locations! Need directions? Click here!

Once you're here, allow at least two hours to explore the Science Mill (though you could easily spend much more time experiencing all of our hands-on, minds-on exhibits!).

Q: Do you have food?

A: Lady Bird Lane Cafe is located on site, and the food is fantastic! Hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-2:30pm, and Sunday, Noon-2:30pm

Q: What time is the 3D movie?

A: Check here for times. Please note: times are subject to change, so confirm at the front desk when you arrive. 

Q: Can I see what kinds of exhibits you have before I visit?

A: You bet! Visit our website for a look at all our our incredible exhibits. Many of them are designed and fabricated on site, making for a completely unique experience!

Q: What if my child falls in love with the Science Mill when we visit, and wants to have their next birthday party at your museum?

A: We feel pretty confident that your kids will fall in love, and we would be honored to celebrate their birthdays! Here's the information about parties.

Q: I know it's still March, but I'm already thinking about summer plans. Do you have camps?

A: Yes, we do! Registration for summer camp is open now.

We also have a free Science Outside program that just started. There are still a few spaces left!

Q: Speaking of summer, I know a lot of people. Do you offer group rates?

We are booking summer group visits right now! Bring your scout troop, church group, neighbors, extended family, play group, or camp group (10 or more people qualifies for the group rate).