An Explainer in Crow Canyon

For her summer project, Explainer Jade Johnson wanted to get involved in an archaeology project. But finding a cliff dwelling to excavate—that’s a little hard to do in Queens.

So Jade set out for Colorado’s Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in the Mesa Verde region, home to ancestral Pueblo Indians. Sometimes referred to as the Anasazi, the ancient Pueblo people are best known for the dwellings they built high along cliff walls.

Jade learned about ancient Pueblo history and helped with basic archaeological fieldwork, including excavating and cataloging artifacts. Much of the fieldwork took place at the Dillard Site, Crow Canyon’s current excavation, with visits to the Mesa Verde National Park, a U.S. National Park—created to protect the Pueblo cliff dwellings.

Jade documented her experience with a blog post and web video.

“It is amazing to see what was built in the canyons considering how difficult it must have been to carry materials in and out of them everyday,” said Jade, referring to the Mesa Verde region where she conducted research. “Places like this are rare and I hope I can visit again someday.”

“This not cookie...this BOOKIE!”– Cookie Monster

A research center connected with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, has partnered with NYSCI to study differences in learning between e-books and traditional print books.

Researchers from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop arrived at NYSCI yesterday to conduct the first day of their research with young visitors in Preschool Place. Studies will also be conducted on Friday and Saturday.

The research focuses on science books for children ages 3-5 and uses both traditional print and iPad platforms. The NYSCI-based studies comprise the first piece of a three-part R&D project driven by the following questions:

  • How does the co-reading experience differ on print and electronic platforms?
  • What implications do these differences have for science learning?
  • How can e-books be designed to maximize parent-child interactions?

The research at NYSCI examines the design of print and electronic science books. Design elements that are found to support parent-child interactions and child comprehension will be used in prototypes for the second phase of the study. The third and phase consists of the creation of an e-book maximizing parent-child engagement.

The collaboration between NYSCI and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center is undertaken by NYSCI’s Sara Lee Schupf Family Center for Play, Science, and Technology Learning (SciPlay). SciPlay was launched last September to build a national center of expertise in play-based learning. SciPlay researchers investigate how people of all ages can learn science, technology, engineering and math through play.

Collaborations with researchers such as those at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center play an important part of how SciPlay studies how to transform play into lifelong science learning.

More than 30 parent-child pairs will be recruited to participate in the first phase of this project. Cookies will not be provided.

NYSCI is proud to announce the launch of A resource for teachers to collaborate on ideas and share their skills in science education. View the latest lessons plans posted by NYSCI and TeachEngineering and start uploading your teaching strategies by joining the TryScience community!


Teachers TryScience builds on the original, launched in 1999 as a portal for interactivity with more than 400 science and technology centers worldwide. offers activities, experiments and resources for field trips and classroom science learning.

Making and Education

Photo: Andrew Kelly

On September 17, more than 300 people packed into NYSCI’s auditorium to hear a panel of experts discuss the impact that “making” can have on education and innovation. The panel, called “Making, Education, and Innovation,” was held on the first day of World Maker Faire, a festival celebrating invention, creativity and the do-it-yourself movement.

Margaret Honey, NYSCI’s president and CEO, participated in the panel as an expert on children’s education. Margaret explained that NYSCI works to

“create experiences, particularly for young people, that are inspirational and, like Maker Faire, are catalytic and transformative … Places like science centers or children’s museums or other kinds of community-based organizations are also really important hubs for community activity because we’re less of a barrier and more of a resource that engages.”

Other panel experts included Tom Kalil, deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine, co-founder of O’Reilly Media, and creator of Maker Faire; and Francisco D’Souza, CEO and president of Cognizant.

The entire panel discussion can be viewed online here.

Photo: Andrew Kelly

Blow, Blow, Thou Maker Wind


At this year’s World Maker Faire, event organizers and Faire-goers alike will be hoping for warm days with sunny skies. But one Maker will be cheering on the wind.

Karl Szilagi, NYSCI exhibit technician, will be presenting his project, Listen to the Wind at this year’s Faire. Comprised of 30 kites of various sizes attached to one main line, Listen to the Wind showcases the sound a kite string makes when it’s under tension. The sound created by the kites will be amplified and transmitted to a pair of headphones, which will be available to Faire-goers. Karl hopes that his project inspires people to think more deeply about the seemingly simple act of flying a kite:

“I would like visitors to take away from the experience an understanding of how the humming of a kite string can reveal powerful forces at work that are often inaudible and otherwise invisible.”

Karl became interested in kites in the late 1980s after seeing several people flying kites high in the air in Central Park. He then started creating his own kites and has since built approximately 1,500 kites, although this is his first kite involving sound. 

So what exactly does a kite sound like? Find Karl at World Maker Faire to find out!

VHOS Does the Conference Circuit


This week at the International Society for Technology in Education
(ISTE) annual conference in Philadelphia, a team of NYSCI Explainers and Interns presented the Virtual Hall of Science (VHOS) at the student showcase. VHOS is a virtual science center curated by NYSCI’s Instructors, Explainers and collaborating middle school students from our neighboring schools.   


Explainers Valeria Aucapina and Charisse Sanchez and Interns Lauren Shum and Alexious Ross presented their VHOS exhibits to educators and technology professionals whose companies make and sell technology for educational purposes.  

Teachers from the United States, Mexico, China and Japan expressed interest in learning more about VHOS and are eager to connect with NYSCI in this new medium. We are already planning our presentation for next year’s ISTE conference in San Diego. 

Congratulations to Valeria, Charisse, Lauren and Alexious. Their great work is already being recognized. Lauren’s VHOS exhibit on renewable energy, earned her an invitation to mentor high school students in a technology program at Rutgers University. And the entire team was invited to attend the Science Online conference in North Carolina this coming January. 

We are now accepting entries for the 2nd Annual World Maker Faire New York, September 17 and 18, 2011 at the New York Hall of Science. We look forward to reviewing your application.

Key Points: World Maker Faire New York: September 17 and 18, 2011.

Entry Open Date: June 1, 2011. Please enter early so we can reserve space for your exhibit.

Entry Close Date: August 20, 2011 **Extended**

NYSCI Explainers as Designers Project

For the past few weeks, NYSCI Explainers have been learning how to design and pitch a mobile application that would support one of the exhibits on the museum floor. On Tuesday, the four groups presented their app ideas to the President of NYSCI, Margaret Honey, and senior exhibit staff, of which one group was to be selected to get their app professionally developed and placed on the market. Congratulations to the “BioHatchers” group who won the competition!

Last week, we travelled together with our families to the New York Hall of Science, in Queens, where Charles and Ray Eames’s Mathematica exhibit, originally created for IBM in the 1960s, is on permanent display. It’s a masterpiece of lo-fi installation design, not a screen to be found, just clear, hands-on exhibits that illustrate concepts with creativity and without pandering. 

The day after our visit, my daughter wanted to return.

Fido, What Are You Thinking?

Animals are a part of our daily lives. Whether you wake up to see your dog holding his leash in his mouth, hear birds chirping outside your window, or have a squirrel steal a bite of your food when you’re not looking, you share your space with animals. But do animals think, or are they governed only by instinct? 

A new exhibition exploring this question is currently being developed by a team of experts headed by NYSCI’s science interpretation consultant, Martin Weiss. Dr. Weiss helped create the NYSCI traveling exhibitions Charlie and Kiwi’s Evolutionary Adventure and Molecules & Health … The Shape of Science. Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the new animal cognition exhibition, titled Wild Minds – What Animals Really Think, will premiere at NYSCI and the Staten Island Zoo in October. It will then tour the country with stops planned in Oregon, California, Indiana and Ohio.

Creating Wild Minds has been a large undertaking, involving many people and institutions. The project’s development team includes Diana Reiss from Hunter College’s Department of Psychology, who is best known for her work on mirror self-recognition among dolphins and elephants; and John Fraser, a conservation psychologist and educator currently serving as Director of the Institute for Learning Innovation’s New York office. Partner institutions include the Staten Island Zoo, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Oregon Zoo, the California Science Center, Santa Barbara Zoo, Science Central, Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, COSI (Center of Science and Industry), and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Programming planned for Wild Minds will include NYSCI-style hands-on, do-it-yourself activities that you can try with animals in and around your home. What do you think your pet will think of that?

"I have long admired NYSCI’s imaginative approach to science teaching, so I am delighted to be working with them on this project," said Kevin Parker, Global Head of Deutsche Bank’s Asset Management division and a member of Deutsche Bank’s Group Executive Committee. “I have complete confidence that they will develop a curriculum that will effectively engage and educate New York children about climate change. Action to fight global warming begins with public awareness, and awareness starts with education. Teaching the next generation about this issue is ultimately, therefore, the surest way of conquering such a vast and complex problem. We cannot start too soon.”