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Mirror Maze exhibit at the Franklin Institute explores numbers in nature

Explore math patterns in nature at the Mirror Maze exhibit  

The Franklin Institute has a new educational exhibit that is worth exploring this summer—Mirror Maze, an interactive exhibit that introduces patterns and how math surrounds us everywhere. The highlight of the exhibit is a 1,700 square foot maze of mirrors that will challenge you and your children to reach the exit.

We learned that patterns are the result of nature’s forces and processes. From the rings of Saturn to sunflower seeds, patterns are present everywhere in nature. #partner    

My kids both enjoy math, so numbers in nature was of interest to them. They learned of math patterns present—the spiral of seashell, ridges of mountains, and the Universe’s structure. Understanding patterns reveals why our bodies and buildings, for example, are shaped the way they are and why they function as they do.

The exhibit explores fractal patterns that are rough, irregular and jagged. The kids and their friend were curious to learn about this. As a tree grows, each branch divides into smaller limbs. Observing a mountain’s jagged peaks reveals each peak is like the whole range, just smaller. Fractal patterns reveal the simplicity that lies beneath the complexity of nature. Fascinating!   

The kids were intrigued by the interactive displays, especially “musical reflection” where they could hear symmetry and “playing with proportion” where they plucked long and short strings to hear that one sounds twice as high as the other.

I found it interesting to look at the branching pattern in your eye. By looking through an eyepiece, tiny dots that are red blood cells at the back of your eye are visible. When you blink, spidery black lines appear, shadows of capillaries that bring blood to your eye lens.  

A Mirror Maze runs through September 4th, so plan your visit this summer! https://www.fi.edu/exhibit/mirror-maze-numbers-nature

The 2017 Philly Flower Show Celebrated Holland’s Tulips and Dutch Wonders

Every March, I aim to visit the Philly Flower Show held at the city’s convention center. The PA Horticultural Society brings a new creative theme to the show yearly. The 2017 theme was Holland: Flowering the World.

The kids and I hit the show on Friday, which was St. Patrick’s Day, accompanied by my parents who were visiting for the weekend. Thanks to the PA Horticultural Society for the press pass to tour this lovely event.

The show celebrated tulips and introduced visitors to bulbs and blends of colors from Dutch and worldwide horticulturists. There were 30,000 tulips in the entrance garden alone! The entrance had three large windmills along with lights that played music throughout the show. Above this garden, more than 6,000 flowers hung from a canopy. Breathtaking!    

Also on display were tulip fields and Dutch symbols including windmills, wooden shoes, quirky bicycles and canals.  

One the highlights of the show was the Ecodome, a 3,500-square-foot exhibit shaped like an igloo which held the Netherlands’ green technologies. The walk-in dome was a floor to ceiling showcase of the future of Dutch horticulture. A fortunate addition for PHS, the Ecodome was a springboard to discussions about sustainability, climate change, the environment and agriculture. 

The Gardener’s Studio is the gathering spot for gardeners seeking new ways to improve their craft. Every year, national gardening experts, authors, and horticultural pros offer their insight at the flower show. About 100 people participated as speakers, where audience members were able to ask specific questions.  

Last week’s event was a priceless chance to witness natural beauty, floral design and vibrant colors with my parents and children. The Philly Flower Show never ceases to amaze me. If you are within driving distance to Philly, it’s worth a trip in the Spring. Next year’s theme is Wonders of Water.        

The Franklin Institute’s Jurassic World is the closest you will get to living dinosaurs

Last week, we explored The Franklin Institute’s JURASSIC WORLD: THE EXHIBITION. The kids were off from school one day, so they were excited to get closer to dinosaurs than they ever have before! #partner

Based on the blockbuster movie, the Exhibition immerses visitors of all ages in scenes inspired by the film. Our tour group included eighth grade students from a local school. We watched the park come to life and traveled to Isla Nublar as a VIP guest to Jurassic World.

Walking into the park, the towering Brachiosaurus was a sight to behold. We got face-to-face with a Velociraptor, and witnessed the vicious dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus rex (see below), which roamed North America.  

In Jurassic World, scientists were able to extract dinosaur DNA from an ancient mosquito and clone a dinosaur. How did they know they had dinosaur blood? Every person on earth has distinct genes that identify their species.

Why are dinosaurs now extinct? You will learn that dinosaurs likely went extinct 65 million years ago because of the impact of an asteroid. By hitting the earth, an asteroid would cause 60 to 70 percent of life on earth to go extinct. Most scientists believe that dust thrown up by the meteor’s impact blocked out the sun, causing plants to die and changing the global temperature for months or years.

Students can create a modern dinosaur that has evolutionary features they think a dinosaur would have needed to survive the last great extinction.

Use promo code JWMOMB* to receive $5.00 off up to 4 adult, daytime tickets to Jurassic World. To redeem the code, contact us 215-448-1200 or visit fi.edu.

*$5 off Daytime Adult Admission tickets to Jurassic World.  Limit 4 tickets per person.  Includes General Admission to The Franklin Institute. Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. Upgrades available on-site for IMAX and 3D Theater. Redeemable online, over the phone or at the Ticketing Desk. Processing fees apply when ordering tickets in advance. Excludes holidays.

Jurassic World runs through April 23, 2017. https://www.fi.edu/exhibit/jurassic-world-exhibition

Image: The Franklin Institute

A recap of A Child Grows’ First Annual Philadelphia Baby & Family Expo

Last weekend, we attended A Child Grows’ First Annual Philadelphia Baby & Family Expo in Center City. I was excited about this as I was a media sponsor; A Child Grows has run a successful Brooklyn Expo since 2012.

I ran a Family Pass giveaway on this blog, and my friend won the pass. She brought her daughter to the expo, and met me so our kids could play together.

Primp & Play and Music Monkey Jungle were co-sponsors of The Playroom. Primp & Play offered kid manicures and hands-on crafts. My girls were happy to make their own lip balm there. Music Monkey Jungle sang and danced for the crowd of children. Who knew they could play Taylor Swift upon request?

A Child Grows lined up a stellar list of speakers. I sat in on Wills, Trusts & Guardians 101 with Steven M. Zelinger, Esq. He asked: Did you know there are five Crucial Legal Documents every parent needs? No parent wants to think about death but you have to as a responsible person. Maybe you purchased life insurance, but with that, you thought you were done. Zelinger told the audience there’s more to protecting your family.

I also listened to Your Top Three Parenting Stressors Solved with Child & Family Coaching with Brandi Davis, ACC, a certified Parenting Coach, Parent Educator, and Author of O.K. I’m A Parent Now What? Brandi was just named Best of Philly’s Best Modern-Day Parenting Guru.

Davis told the crowd that being a parent comes with many stressors; some can be solved, and some just come with the territory. Being a parent is tough but there is no need to feel exhausted, spent and drained every day. Davis delved into how to lighten your load and squish those top three stressors:

My Discipline Isn’t Working; Now All I Do Is YELL!
I’m Getting Attitude, Fighting and Negotiations At Every Turn
I Can’t Get A Second For Myself

Jill Spivack, co-author of The Sleepeasy Solution, founder of Sleepy Planet Parenting and Star of hit Bravo show, There Goes the Motherhood, gave the keynote address.

Jill Spivack, LCSW is a licensed family therapist and pediatric sleep consultant who earned her master’s degree at the University of Southern California and completed a post-graduate fellowship as a psychotherapist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

I am past the baby and toddler sleep challenges, so I did not stay too long at this panel. I did not attend the afternoon panels, which were geared toward mothers of babies. Instead, I walked the expo floor and spoke to the media sponsors. We got a chance to get our hair curled by Concihairge and then take photos in front of a gorgeous floral design by Nicol Floral Designs.

From the expo, I gleaned two interview ideas and subjects I will cover for an education site. I am always looking for new interview ideas, and this was the perfect place to find them.

A Child Grows offered a wealth of insight and resources for parents, especially for mothers with babies or toddlers. I’ll be back next year for sure, and will bring the kids along so they can have fun too.

My review of the Robot Revolution exhibit at the Franklin Institute

Last weekend, we attended Opening Day to Robot Revolution at the Franklin Institute, a new exhibit supported by Google.org and The Boeing Company. Robots are changing how we live, work and play. They are poised to become a visible and vital part of our daily lives.

A neighbor and her son accompanied us, and we set off for a learning experience.

I was intrigued to witness some innovative robots that are meeting human needs. From self-driving cars to surgical assistance, from scientific research to search and rescue missions—robots are here to help improve our lives. Robot Revolution offers 40 cutting-edge robots curated from innovative global robotics companies and universities, more than half of which can be interacted with or operated. #partner

Social robots show emotions. Researchers have analyzed how humans express their emotions and use these cues to program robots that simulate human emotions.

We met a robot that held our gaze. ROBOTIS-OP first has to recognize that you have a face. It sees you through its onboard camera; its software analyzes visual data to determine if the pattern formed by your eyes and mouth is a face. When visual criteria are met, the robot meets and follows your gaze. (See photo below.) Pretty cool, right?

Police and military use the Recon Scout Throwbot XT to explore dangerous environments before sending in their teams. This rugged, remotely-operated micro-robot travels through cluttered indoor environments and over dirt, sand and rocks. Once deployed, the robot sends video of its surroundings back to its human operators so they can identify threats.

Here are some highlights of the exhibit:

• Play Tic Tac Toe
My kids enjoyed playing tic tac toe against Baxter, an industrial robot that can battle up to two guests at a game of tic-tac-toe as he showcases his agility and task versatility.

• Make a Face!
We could smile, frown, or be silly with EMYS, a robot from Poland that uses a facial action coding system to mimic facial expressions and human emotions with its head and eyes.

• Watch A Soccer Bot Match
A must see–soccer ‘bots go head to head without any human input in a competition. See what team of robots wins in this fun game of autonomy.

The kids had the most fun when they got the chance to build their own code to move a robot forward, backward, left or right. Robots only do what they have been programmed to do. The Planning for Action area offers kids the chance to advance to a higher level once they master their current programming. We found this to be the most engrossing area of the exhibit.

Use promo code MBROBOT* to receive $5.00 off up to 4 adult, daytime tickets to Robot Revolution. To redeem the code, contact us 215-448-1200 or visit fi.edu.

*$5 off Daytime Adult Admission tickets to Robot Revolution. Limit 4 tickets per person. Includes General Admission to The Franklin Institute. Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. Upgrades available on-site for IMAX and 3D Theater. Redeemable online, over the phone or at the Ticketing Desk. Processing fees apply when ordering tickets in advance. Excludes holidays. Valid through 12/31/16.

Robot Revolution runs through April 2, 2017. Plan your visit today! https://www.fi.edu/exhibit/robot-revolution

Giveaway for a Premium Family Pass to the First Annual Philadelphia Baby & Family Expo

Did you get your tickets to @achildgrows 1st annual #PhillyBabyFamilyExpo October 16, 2016?

We are happy to be a media partner for A Child Grows’ First Annual Philadelphia Baby & Family Expo in Center City. The expo will welcome new, expectant and seasoned parents and kiddos!

Exhibitors will showcase products and services covering all phases of life, whether you’re a new or experienced parent!

The First Annual Philadelphia Baby & Family Expo℠ will connect top local and national service providers with savvy expectant, new and experienced parents. This family-friendly event will showcase invaluable resources and products in an exciting and convenient location in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia.

The expo will have seminars, demos, crafts and awesome playroom happenings throughout the day. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to hear the amazing details as we get closer to the event!

We are giving away a Premium Family Pass to the expo (valued at $150). Enter your contact info below for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Science Behind Pixar exhibit encourages child curiosity in STEAM

A few weeks ago, my kids were off from school so I took them to check out The Science Behind Pixar at the Franklin Institute. It was the perfect activity to do on a non-school day. We were curious to learn how the Pixar wizards use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to create their films.

The exhibition consists of eight sections to give both children and adults a “behind the scenes” look into the production pipeline used at Pixar daily. You get the chance to create your own short animations, light a scene starring Dory and learn how Disney characters are built from wireframes to finished animation.

What I found most fascinating was the opportunity to learn about the jobs filmmakers do every day and how they tackle problems. It was an enlightening demonstration of how creativity and imagination is involved in the STEAM concepts essential to the filmmaking process.

A few sections of the exhibit:

Modeling: Artists create sketches and clay sculptures called maquettes to design each character. A digital modeler creates a virtual 3D model of the character, sometimes digitally scanning the maquette. The created model is a virtual digital wireframe of points and edges that connect them.

Rigging: Riggers create rigs for models. Rigs specify the relationships between body parts so that bending a knee will raise the foot, but not move the hands. We learned that a rig defines a sequence of reactions. For example, when a hand clenches, muscles in the arm flex and the skin draws tight.

My kids enjoyed selecting a rig to define arm motion and using a rig to create expressions.

Sets and cameras: The setting of each scene and the way each image is framed convey the context, story, and emotion. Set designers build virtual environments from the ground up. Camera artists use virtual cameras to shape what is on screen. They select the composition, camera movement, and lens type to support the film.

We explored how cameras frame a scene. We selected a camera (focus distance and field of view) and used the cameras to tell a story. The order of a camera selection affects the feel of a scene.

Lighting: Light enhances the emotional feel of each scene. Pixar’s lighting designers define virtual lights in the computer. The color, position, and intensity of each light needs to be programmed to achieve the desired artistic effect.

We had fun adjusting virtual lights to change the feel of a scene.

My kids enjoyed coming face-to-face with re-creations of Pixar film characters like Buzz Lightyear, Dory, Mike and Sulley, and WALL-E. Before leaving the exhibit, don’t forget to take a selfie with Buzz Lightyear or Wall-E (#ScienceOfPixar).

If you would like to purchase tickets to The Science Behind Pixar, use discount promo code MBPIXAR* to receive $5.00 off up to 4 adult, daytime tickets to The Science Behind Pixar. #partner

Disclaimer “*$5 off Daytime Adult Admission tickets to The Science Behind Pixar. Limit 4 tickets per person. Includes General Admission to The Franklin Institute. Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. Upgrades available on-site for IMAX and 3D Theater. Redeemable online or over the phone. Processing fees apply when ordering tickets in advance. Excludes holidays. Valid through 8/28/16”

Kids will love The Lost Egypt exhibit at the Franklin Institute

A few weeks ago, it was my daughter’s eighth birthday party. Family was here that weekend from out of town—it was the perfect time for us to all check out the new exhibit Lost Egypt at the Franklin Institute.

I was excited to have the opportunity to review this exhibit as my second grader loves science as a subject and both of my kids had been to the Franklin on summer camp trips and remembered the visits.

We walked into the exhibit and the kids immediately ran over to the replica of a life-size camel (see photo below) and climbed into the camel’s saddle for a photo.

From there we moved on to an interactive pottery puzzle, where my Kindergartner enjoyed piecing together the pottery, similar to how archaeologists reconstruct an object from broken pieces.

We learned that Egyptians worshipped a large number of gods and goddesses, and that each one was connected to an element of nature or human activity. Most of what we know about Egyptians comes from their tombs and burials. They believed that life continued after death, so they placed food, drink, clothing and other items in their tombs, where they were preserved for thousands of years. Fascinating!

My youngest was interested in learning about the different ceramic types—pot stand, bowl, etc. On a computer, my second grader explored items to pack for an archaeological dig. Fun!

Entering the dig area was pretty cool. Modeled after an archaeological field site in Egypt, this area explores the tools, techniques and technologies used at the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders site on the Giza Plateau. Stories from the archaeologists focus on life in the field, discoveries, and artifacts. Visitors are encouraged to find a site, identify material remains, and engage in scientific inquiry about the lives of the Pyramid Builders.

We learned that over 100 pyramids were built in Egypt; the biggest ones could take more than 20 years to complete. We enjoyed reviewing the steps to build a pyramid, with diagrams.

Most fascinating perhaps was viewing “Annie” the anonymous mummy and learning the history. A teenage girl’s body was found floating in the Nile; more than 2,000 years later, a researcher examined the mummy, discovering clues about her life and death. “Annie” was presented in an atmosphere of respect, and the kids were curious about her story from a scientific perspective.

The Lost Egypt runs through August 28th, so plan your visit today! https://www.fi.edu/lost-egypt

2X ABC’s “Shark Tank” alum Rebecca Rescate to share her philosophy of entrepreneurship on Monday, October 19th

ENTREPRENEUR WORKS PRESENTS: REBECCA RESCATE – 2X ABC’s “SHARK TANK” ALUM REBECCA RESCATE TO SHARE HER JOURNEY AND PHILOSOPHY OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 19TH

Presented by Entrepreneur Works & International House Philadelphia (IHP), with Sponsorship from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

For those who dream of finding a better balance by becoming an entrepreneur – or of pitching their business to the right investor, and getting their name out to millions of Americans overnight – Entrepreneur Works is presenting two-time ABC’s “Shark Tank” alum Rebecca Rescate speaking with aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs about her journey and philosophy of business ownership and work-life balance. A Bucks County-based mom of three, Ms. Rescate’s companies include CitiKitty and HoodiePillow – both of which she pitched to the “Sharks” – and her latest product, Top-Down Planner. The conversation will take place on Monday, October 19th, 2015 at International House Philadelphia (3701 Chestnut Street) from 7-9 PM. The event is open to the public, but advance registration is required ($20 general admission; $15 for students; free for International House members and residents).

The Entrepreneur Works Presents series features master entrepreneurs in a variety of fields speaking about their experiences starting a business and offering guidance to aspiring small business owners. After launching in July 2014 with renowned director and choreographer Debbie Allen on how to sustain a career in the arts, the Entrepreneur Works Presents series continues with serial entrepreneur Rebecca Rescate. This installment of the Entrepreneur Works Presents speaker series is sponsored by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, of which Ms. Rescate is an alumna.

Rebecca Rescate

Rebecca Rescate is a two-time alum of ABC’s “Shark Tank”, a serial entrepreneur, and a Bucks County-based mom of three. Ms. Rescate has started multiple companies since 2005, including CitiKitty, HoodiePillow, and her latest product, Top-Down Planner, a “success strategy tool that helps you painlessly organize your time and plan to reach any goal you have.” For more information on Ms. Rescate, please visit http://www.rebeccarescate.com/.

Entrepreneur Works

Entrepreneur Works is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating pathways of opportunity for hundreds of talented yet underserved Philadelphia-area entrepreneurs each year, with a focus on serving low-to-moderate income, minority, immigrant and women entrepreneurs. Our clients start and grow small businesses, create jobs for themselves and their neighbors, and strengthen the local economy. Since 1998 we’ve served over 4,300 clients, advanced more than 415 loans, and invested $1.4M into neighborhood businesses. Visit www.myentrepreneurworks.org to learn more.

International House Philadelphia

The Intercultural Leadership Series at International House Philadelphia is an ongoing project involving lectures, symposiums and live performances. The events aim at fostering discussion and offering insight on the competencies, behaviors and specific skills needed to be an effective leader in an intercultural environment. International House, http://ihousephilly.org/, provides a unique experience that encourages mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among all people. We house students and scholars from more than 75 countries around the world, including the U.S., at our award-winning facility in University City and we broaden the horizons of our residents and the Greater Philadelphia community by offering high-quality arts and cultural programs.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses helps entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital and business support services. In the Philadelphia region, the Community College of Philadelphia offers this educational experience to three cohorts of entrepreneurs each year. Rebecca Rescate is an alumna of 10,000 Small Businesses, and Goldman Sachs is a proud sponsor of Entrepreneur Works Presents: Rebecca Rescate. Learn more at www.ccp.edu/10KSB and https://www.10ksbapply.com/.