Monthly Archives: February 2013

Puppet Hats

puppet hats 003 My artist friend just told me her school kids are making giant puppet heads for the spring parade in their town. Awesome!

This reminded me of the puppet hats we made for the Pittsfield 4th of July Parade with the local 4-H kids a few years back. Farm animals marching down the street! Yeah.

I didn’t get any photos because I was on the parade committee directing traffic. But here is how we made them!

painting puppet hatspainted puppet hatspatriotic cowpatriotic duckparade 2011 001 parade 2011 003

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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Uncategorized


Glowing Scorpion

scorpion specimen 1This is one of my NatureCurio specimens. It is a mature female Empire Scorpion, Pandinus imperator. She lived for about 12 years. That is a long time for a scorpion. She had lots of offspring during that time. One of her progeny is on display right now at the museum.

scorpion specimen framed url

This species of scorpion is not poisonous. It is black with a red telson (stinger).

Something interesting happens to scorpions when they are held under ultraviotet (black) light. They glow. Scientist don’t really know why. But it is cool.
blue scorpion

What is the cause of fluorescence?

All matter, everything we can touch and feel, is made up of atoms. The atoms have a center called a nucleus made up of subatomic particles called neutrons (that have no charge) and protons (that have a positive charge). The electrons (with a negative charged) spin in the cloud around them.

The cloud is made up of orbitals or shells, these are paths the electrons travel in. Each orbital corresponds to a particular energy level of the electron, or the force that holds them in place as they travel around and around the center.

When energy from ultraviolet (UV) light hits the electrons it causes them to jump up to the next orbital leaving a gap. At the same time an electron from the higher level drops down to fill that gap giving off a definite amount of energy in the form of visible light, that we can see. This definite amount is called a ‘quanta’ which is also called a photon. This happens very fast with lots of electrons moving back and forth the same time some absorb energy and move up and some lose energy and drop down, to our eyes it’s a constant glow. Depending on the amount of energy given off different colors and intensities, or brightness can be seen.

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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Uncategorized


We are going to build a Wigwam!

wigwam frame

Growing up I spent a lot of time in the woods playing with my friends. One of our favorite things to do was build forts. I was rather good at building forts.
Last month I was at the Berkshire Museum with one of my childhood friends. We were reminiscing about the the glow in the dark mineral room, the awesome gift shop, the historical room.We then walked into one of the galleries and there was one of the best exhibits yet–it was a wigwam: inside the museum. How cool is that?

My friends says. I want one of these in my back yard. She walks around it. Looks at me and says, “We can build one of these.” I had to agree. Last summer I built a 31 foot whale. I can do this.

side yard 004So this spring we will be taking this unused plot of land next to my house, clearing all the saplings mostly these are invasive plants, smoothing out the ground and putting up a wigwam.

It will be a a formidable challenge, but I think we are up for it. And I think if I have a ‘wigwam raising‘ party it will be even more fun. So stay tuned. The invitations will be going out in the spring and YOU are invited!

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Posted by on February 17, 2013 in Camps, Children's Art & Science Classes, Uncategorized


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Dreaming about the Water Cycle

Here is one of the short skits about water the elementary school kids have been working on for the past month or so. This project is a collaboration with the Berkshire Environmental Action Team, Dr. Augie’s and the Taconic Foundations Berkshire Environmental Endowment Fund. These students designed and made their own puppets, directed their show and here they are performing as the puppeteers. Nice work Emma and Ashley!!

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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Art, Camps, Children's Art & Science Classes, Puppets


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The Man Behind the Special Effects

Eugene MamutToday we went on a field trip to Animagic Museum in Lee, MA.

What a trip! The museum showcases visual effects talent and there is surprisingly quite a few of folks working on movies and creating special effects for theme parks, commercials and Hollywood here in the Berkshires. They just keep a low profile.  light show

After a whorl wind tour of the high tech toys in the front of the museum, the black curtains were drawn and we stepped inside to a dark room where a dazzling display of lights, props and glowing special effects surrounded us at every turn.

One by one we were ushered into a small back room to see mice and spiders running frantically down the blades of a ceiling fan.

making the matrixWhen the lights went on we were treated to a presentation of all kinds of movie special effects, like how the bullet scene for the Matrix was made. (Hint, they did it with over a thousand cameras.)

We were shown real models of the cities in the movie Judge Dredd.
close up Judge Dredd prop

It wasn’t all high tech though. Eugene Mamut, academy award winning special effects engineer as well as the museum’s curator showed us his computer. It used binary code, was made of wood and nails and only had 7 bits, but it worked like a charm. No photo here, you have to go see it yourself.

Also you should go just to see the Academy Award up close and personal. Eugene’s story is inspiring. And his talented wife Irina Borisova, she has a story all its own that is equally inspiring. More on her later.
Eugenes Academy award

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Posted by on February 14, 2013 in Children's Art & Science Classes, Uncategorized


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Art and Science of Glass

While out in CA I hung out with glass artists and their knowledge of science and physics was not surprising since they had to manipulate hot molten glass into the shapes they designed. But what is glass? And how do they make it do what they want it to?

Here is a video from the MIT PSC Outreach database explaining it all. Its interesting. Its pithy. There is a science to this art and its pretty sophisticated.

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Posted by on February 12, 2013 in Art, Uncategorized


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Isabella’s Science Birthday Party

dissecting flowersWe had a scientist party today at Dr. Augie’s! Isabella is the youngest science fan I know. So of course her double digit party had to be all about science. Happy Birthday Isabella!

scientist boy

There were little scientists everywhere dissecting flowers, making bug necklaces, pouring solutions.

And yes, there had to be some cockroach racing. One, two, three, go!! I think number 7 won every time.

cockroach racing

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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Children's Art & Science Classes, Uncategorized


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