Museums, STEM Resources, STEM toys, TV Shows

Strong Museum of Play in Rochester New York

“…can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?”

After 30 plus years, I can FINALLY answer that question. The address is 1 Manhattan Square Dr, Rochester, NY 14607 which is the home of the Strong Museum of Play.

What a fun place! I am SO glad that we chose to make the stop on the way home to Cleveland from the Finger Lakes in New York! This place was fun for the kids and us as adults! The message from this place was clear… PLAYING is LEARNING. This is a beautiful message for all parents and children. If it’s fun, we learn more.

The highlight of this trip for the kids was taking a stroll down Sesame Street. Sesame Street is one of my all time favorite young child educational programs. Both of my children have learned so much from watching it – numbers, letters, emotional / social growth and also how fun it is to explore and learn. All important early attributes for confidence and success in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects.

Another area that was really fun was Wegman’s grocery store. Each child gets to push a cart or carry a basket through a replica of Wegman’s grocery store and select a limited number of items for check out. They actually check out at the register (look at the receipt below!), then return the items to their respective locations.

The History Place was a fun place to explore. Kids can have pretend tea parties with teddy bears (make food in the old style kitchens), play in a historical looking school house and check out the type of transportation that students used to get to school ‘back in the day’.

Reading Adventureland is a giant play ground where you can step inside common childhood stories like Bernstein Bears, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Three Billy Goats Gruff, many princess fairy tales, wizard stories, Dr. Suess stories, pirate stories, etc. The kids could explore the Bernstein Bears home town, create their own wizards wand and crown, become a giant and play in a pirates sandpit to name just a few. Books are scattered through out for reading if your child opts to read some of the stories. This area was also easily a favorite!

This museum is HUGE! If you plan to go, be sure to block off at least one whole day to be able to check out everything. We did not get the opportunity to see everything during our trip but we saw plenty to make us want to get in a return trip someday! Ohio (CLE especially – since we live so close…), check this place out!!!!

Animals

Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York

We took a short family trip to the Finger Lakes in New York. During our visit, we had some cold, windy weather so one of the days we decided to take an adventure away from the lake. We took advantage of our Cleveland MetroParks Zoo reciprocal membership and went to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. We were so glad we made the trip!

This was a GREAT zoo. It was the perfect place to visit with small children because it isn’t too big or too small. It was also felt very clean and updated! My children enjoyed riding in the wagon that resembled a Safari jeep. It was only $7 for the whole day and it was well worth it (see image above).

There is an indoor aquarium, nocturnal exhibits, reptile exhibits, bird house and several other exhibits inside that we took advantage of. The aquarium is home to several marine life like octopus, starfish and other fish. The aquarium tanks were kept very clean which allowed us to enjoy the beautiful collection of marine life.

In the reptile area, it was fun seeing the snakes and iguana as well as other animals held in the exhibit. The bird house is a very large space, home to several large and small birds. My youngest daughter specifically loved the ducks. My kids enjoyed searching for the animals in the nocturnal exhibit – the porcupine came right up to the glass and stood up to look out as us. Other exhibits indoors held lemurs, various monkeys, otters and an absolutely beautiful leopard which was literally inches away from us.

Outdoors, the exhibits were also very clean for the animals and absolutely beautiful. It was relatively easy for my children to spot the animals without much help. The majority of the exhibits allow guests to get up close and personal with the animals so it is easy to spot them.

I personally learned quite a bit about Tigers’s at their exhibit during our visit. There are very few left in the wild and the sad reasons that they are disappearing and almost extinct. We need to do more a society to save these beautiful animals. See some the information about the tigers below.

They are currently reconstructing their elephant exhibit. Once complete, it will serve as a gigantic resort for the elephants. The zoo added several beautiful viewing balconies to allow guests to get as close as possible within a save distance from the elephants.

We ate lunch at the zoo Jungle Cafe and we felt the selections were great and prices were reasonable. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo but all prepared food is nut allergen free.

Towards the end, we were able to feed the ducks for 50 cents. My girls LOVED watching the ducks swim towards them and quack for food. When we turned in our wagon at the end of the day, I saw the staff immediately begin cleaning the wagon – what a wonderful sense that the staff take great care and pride in not only the cleanliness of the zoo but also in the items that enrich their guests experiences.

We would definitely recommend this zoo to anyone that visits this area. It was only a 40 minute drive for us from the lake house we were staying at in the Finger Lakes. Zoo’s are great places for children to learn about animals, view them up-close and appreciate them.

Have you visited this zoo? What zoo’s are your favorites? Let me know at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

Art Crafting, Inexpensive and Versatile, Math and Numbers, STEM Resources, Tips and Tricks

Finger Counting Math Sheets

My preschooler LOVES math.  She is learning and understanding simple addition and subtraction.  I found this simple math project years ago and I loved it because it also incorporates a little bit of art and crafting, which my child also LOVES.  I do not know the official name for this project because I no longer have the source (it was stored to my memory for years), but I am calling them “Finger Counting Math Sheets”.

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These Finger Counting Math Sheets can be used for practicing addition and subtraction with simple numbers.  As you can see above, both my preschooler and I made one.  Mine was used as a model when making the hands and gluing them and also for how to write the numbers / equations correctly since she is just learning how to write them herself.  I did not write the solution to the problems until after my child solved them.

For simplicity, we focused on numbers that add up to 10 using numbers 1 through 9.  I wanted my child to recognize patterns in the equations I selected, which she did end up finding.

In our project, there were two patterns, (a) the same numbers added together, regardless of their order have the same result (for example, 9+1 = 10 and 1+9 = 10) and (b) many different numbers when added together can give the same result (all of the equations equaled 10).

Here’s the step by step on how we made one, if you are interested in making one yourself below are the supplies required and the steps we followed:

Supplies:

Two different colors of paper (1 large enough to trace hands on & 1 large enough to glue hands and write math equations on), a glue stick and a writing instrument (we used a marker).

Instructions:

  1. Trace your hands and cut them out.  (For a preschooler, this is a great task for improving hand-eye coordination and motor skills.  My child chose to color the fingers.)
  2. Glue the palm of the hands near the top of the second piece of paper.  It’s okay if the fingers and thumbs hang off the paper.
  3. Fold the fingers and thumbs down at the lowest joint.  (Technically speaking, this would be the joint between the metacarpals and phalanges on your hand.)
  4. Write down the addition or subtraction problems on paper. (Or you can let your child do this, like I did.  You will notice that the 9 was written backwards on my child’s sheet.  This is normal for a young child.  I still recommend encouraging your child to try on their own even if they don’t get it exactly right.) 
  5. Work with your child using the paper fingers on each hand to solve the problems.  For example, if the problem is 9+1, first have your child lift 9 fingers, then have your child add 1 more finger and count all the fingers that are opened  After your child gets the right answer, have your child write down the answer on the sheet.
  6. Continue with each math problem until completed or if your child loses interest.

Most importantly, remember that this is meant to be a fun activity.  If your child seems uninterested or frustrated, praise them for what they accomplished, take a break and try again another time. Some children are not ready for certain concepts or may need more breaks in between.

If you try this out with your young child, send me a note on how it went on my social media pages, at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com or comment below.

Disclaimer: This project was not my original idea.  Unfortunately, I can not re-locate the source of this idea.  If I do come across it in the future, I will add it to this post.  

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Animals, Great Lakes Science Center, Movies, Museums, Nature, STEM Resources

Backyard Wilderness at the Great Lakes Science Center Helps Us See What We Are All Missing

To celebrate the end of the school year, we took my four year old daughter and some friends to see the movie ‘Backyard Wilderness‘ which is currently playing at the Great Lakes Science Center‘s Cleveland Clinic DOME theater in Cleveland, Ohio.

We loved the imagery and education provided in this film. Nature is very unexpected and often ‘spur of the moment’ so we were all completely blown away by the images that the creators caught on film. It left us wondering, how they were able to be at the right place at the right time for filming.

From the spotted salamanders emerging from their burrows in the spring and making their long dangerous journey to the streams, to the (literally) free-falling wood ducklings, this movie will leave you and your children well educated, excited and entertained. My four year old and her friend could not hide their excitement or laughter during many parts of this movie.

This movie is for ALL AGES. We all walked away with a new found appreciation for the wildlife that surrounds us. Your whole family will be more curious and observant of your own backyards, neighborhoods and surrounding park systems over the next four seasons.

While you are there, don’t forget to check out their special exhibit Vroom! A Car Adventure while you are there! In case you missed it, check out my review of their exhibit here!

Let me know if you have seen the movie and what you liked most at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com or on my social media accounts.

Book Review, STEM Careers, STEM Resources

Reading STEM’s Learning: “Her STEM Career” and “How She Discovered Engineering” Book Reviews

DISCLAIMER: I am also an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.  I was asked by the author, Diane Propsner, to review her books and so I received a FREE copy of Her STEM Career: Adventures of 51 Remarkable Women ( which I donated to a local school in my area) as well as a FREE proof copy of How She Discovered Engineering.

The author of the books Her STEM Career and How She Discovered Engineering, Diane Propsner, reached out and asked me to review her STEM books.  Both of her books were written for middle school girls to further their interest in the STEM careers.  She personally became interested in STEM careers in middle school.

Although they were written with that age group in mind, even older girls and women would be delighted with these books.  As someone in the 30+ club, I enjoyed them both so much!

Both books are interesting, engaging, educational, exciting and empowering.  Her STEM Career, in particular, incorporates a wonderful variety of STEM careers – such as careers in engineering, healthcare, research, business and software.  Each woman’s story is personable, impressive and the stories behind their successful career paths are commendable.   How She Discovered Engineering introduces eight additional female engineers and how they became interested in engineering as well as their career paths and where they are today. This book serves as a wonderful first mentor to the girl that may want to discover an engineering career path.

These books would be a wonderful addition to a school STEM library as a resource for students interested in STEM fields and teachers that are teaching STEM subjects.

Let me know what you think of these books after you check them out at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com or on my social media accounts!

STEM Careers, STEM Resources

Meet Dr. Sunita Mathew, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. To honor it, I was very fortunate to a interview Dr. Sunita Mathew who is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist.

A Psychiatrist is a specialized physician within the medical field that diagnoses, prevents and treats mental illnesses. Dr. Mathew specializes in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, which generally focuses on children, adolescents and their families.

In our interview, Dr. Mathew provided some interesting insight into her career, career path and her thoughts on the stigmas that still exist surrounding mental health. See our interview below:

Q: How would you describe your medical specialty to a child?

A: I’m a “thinking” type of doctor. I help people who have problems with their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

Q: What field(s) of psychiatry do you specialize in? How would you briefly describe it to a child?  What kinds of conditions do you treat?

A: I specialize in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. I help kids who have difficulty controlling their emotions or behaviors. I commonly treat depression, anxiety, impulse control disorders, attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder and learning disorders.

Q: How would you describe a ‘mental illness’ ?

A: Mental illness can be an expression of a common emotion that becomes extreme or significant enough to impact or disrupt one’s quality of life. 

Q: How would you describe the differences between a psychologist and psychiatrist to a child? 

A: A psychologist is a trained professional that can diagnose various emotional and behavioral disorders and treat with specific targeted therapy. A psychiatrist is a trained medical doctor that can diagnose and treat mental illnesses with the option of prescribing medication interventions. The two fields often work together for the best outcomes. 

Q: How and why did you choose psychiatry as your chosen field?  Do you have a specific memory or event that happened in your life that helped you choose your career path? 

A: I started developing an interest in Psychology and how the human mind works in college. In medical school, I had my first exposure to Psychiatry with my required clinical rotations. I just happened by chance to be placed on a rotation that had a lot of exposure to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry along with Adult Psychiatry.  In addition to working with the pediatric population, I enjoyed working with the nurses and psychiatrists that chose to dedicate their careers to work with children.  Once I was exposed to this specialty, I tried to keep an open mind as I rotated in other specialties but I always came back to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry as my first choice. 

Q: Growing up, what were your favorite subject(s)? 

A: Math, Psychology, Sociology,  and Anthropology.

Q: What did you study in college and how / why did you choose it/them?  What made you decide to pursue medical school?

A: In college, I was pretty sure I wanted to go to medical school, so I took all the core pre-med course requirements like Chemistry, Physics and Biology. I majored in Psychology and Sociology because I found the subjects very interesting. Both Psychology and Psychiatry were careers that I had considered in college. I decided to pursue medical school because I felt that there were some disorders that could benefit from medication interventions and I wanted to have that option when treating. 

Q: Do you feel that your studies in college are helpful to you in your career now?  How or why? 

A: Yes. I feel that my varied studies gave me a unique perspective. My science background helps me approach a case with analytical and critical thinking and my background in psychology and sociology has given me perspective on human behavior. 

Q: When and how did you become interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)? 

A: Around middle school is when I started getting interested in doing science experiments and lab reports. In high school, I really enjoyed competing in science fairs. 

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the most important attributes or characteristics that a psychiatrist must have to be successful? 

A: Being non-judgmental, open-minded, empathetic, patient, attentive, and good listening skills are all good attributes to have as a psychiatrist. Sometimes a lot can be said non verbally. 

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your career? 

A: When I see treatment significantly improve my patients’ lives. 

Q: What has been the most challenging part of your career?

A: Hearing some of the bad stuff children have gone through. I have met some children who have gone through some unimaginable circumstances in such a short period of their life. That’s hard to process and take home with you.

Q: What is one of your most fun, exciting or even embarrassing memories in your career? 

A: When the kids make me laugh! Sometimes finding humor in a stressful situation can make all the difference.

Q: What would your advice be to parents and educators to help their children build confidence and interest in the STEM?  

A: Don’t limit your kids if they have an interest, even if you think they might not be able to grasp it.  Give them the tools to grasp it. 

Q: What do you wish others knew about your profession that is commonly misunderstood?

A: I feel there is a great deal of people still out there that don’t know the difference between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist or therapist. We all have important roles in mental health, but they are different. 

Image credit: www.nami.org

Because May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I asked Dr. Mathews some more specific questions regarding her opinions on some topics still surrounding mental health:

Q: What is the biggest stigma around mental health, that you wish would go away in society and what would be your response to it?  How can we get rid of this stigma? 

A: I feel that a big stigma that prevents people from getting help is the fear of being judged or treated differently.  I think when more and more people, particularly in the public eye, share their stories about mental illness it normalizes it and lessens the stigma. 

Q: How would you suggest parents explain “Mental Health” to their children? 

A: I usually tell my patients that there is mental health and physical health. Sometimes you need to treat your mental health just like you would if you had high blood pressure or diabetes or a broken leg. There is no shame in mental illness, it is not your fault or anything you did. 

Q: If someone reading this blog thinks that they, a friend or family member may be struggling with a mental illness, what should / can they do?  What should their first step be? 

A: Talking it over with their primary care physician can be a good first step. Also, calling their insurance’s behavior/mental health line might be helpful in navigating the system and figuring out where to start. If it’s an emergency where safety is an imminent concern then calling 911 or getting them to the nearest ER is where you need to go. 

Image credit: www.nami.org

Q: If you had to ‘prescribe’ one thing to society to help all of us with our mental health or thoughts around mental health, what would it be? 

A: Everybody is going through something at some point in their life, being kind and non-judgmental can go a long way in their recovery. 

Thank you so much to Dr. Mathew for your time and allowing me to interview you for my blog.

Thank you to one of my avid supporters and readers of my blog (you know who you are!) for helping me get in contact with Dr. Mathew. She is truly impressive.

I hope that you enjoyed this STEM career interview. If you have a specific profession in mind that you would like to learn more about! You can leave me a note here, on my social media pages or email me at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

As with some of the other images in this post, the featured image at the top is credited to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Cincinnati Museum Center, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Great Lakes Science Center, Museums, STEM Resources

Museum Week Wrap Up

Last week, I shared some of my top favorite STEM Education Museums and Centers across Ohio. Here’s what I shared on my Facebook and Instagram accounts in case you missed it!

National Museum of the United States Air Force: Located just outside of Dayton, Ohio.

The museum is located just outside Dayton, Ohio at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base. This museum has the oldest and largest military aviation collections in the world. It’s pretty incredible. I personally loved being able to view the World War II collection to see the types of planes that my Grandfather flew in during the war. I also loved seeing some of the former Air Force One planes. Very unique and incredible collection. And it’s FREE admission!!!! Go check it out!

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal: Located in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.

The museum is located in downtown Cincinnati and is a one stop for everything science, history and architecture. It just completed an entire remodel last Fall. This is truly one of my favorite buildings in Ohio.

Inside you will find the newly renovated and designed Museum of Natural History, the Cincinnati History Museum, the newly opened Neil Armstrong Space Exploration Gallery, the Omnimax theater and the Holocaust and Humanity Center and the local children’s museum, not to mention numerous special exhibits throughout the year.

The art deco design of the building itself is a wonder in itself that’s worth exploring. If you haven’t been there, it’s time to make a trip and check it out. While you’re in Cincinnati, taste some local favorites like Graeters ice cream located inside the museum! If you make it there during Christmas time, check out the incredible train display!

COSI: Located in Columbus, Ohio

The museum is located in Columbus, Ohio. It is likely if you’ve been to Columbus, you’ve been there too. It is very well known throughout the state.

They have wonderful science demonstrations and incredible changing exhibits that are mostly designed in house at the museum. We personally love the little kidspace (pictured). My kids have spent over two hours here.  It’s a great one tank trip from Cleveland and Cincinnati. If you’ve been there, what are some of your favorite memories?

Cleveland Museum of Natural History: Located in Cleveland, Ohio

I love the Wildlife Center and Woods Garden at this museum. In this area, you can view 5 diverse ecosystems found in Ohio, along with the animals that are found there. Each animal was found as part of rescue and rehabilitation efforts and none of them are able to be released back into the wild so they call the museum habitats their home. Along the paths you’ll find surprising built in play areas for kids to explore.

We also love the Planetarium and Observatory. They offer wonderful and educational kids shows on space and the cosmos.

Inside the museum some of our favorites are the Earth quake demo and the gems collections as well as, Balto. If you haven’t been there, consider checking it out the next time you are in Cleveland.

The Great Lakes Science Center: Located in Cleveland, Ohio.

It’s one of my favorite Cleveland, Ohio museums and it is located right on Lake Erie.

They offer the BEST STEM Education programs and exhibits that I’ve found in this area. My space loving 4 year old loves the Nasa Glenn visitor center. We also love the entire second floor with tons of fun experiments for kids and adults alike, as well as the children’s area.

Their exhibits are top notch! We’ve seen Trains, Grossology and now Vroom! We walked away with a wealth of knowledge everytime.

We always find great quality experiments and learning opportunities like the one above that we saw recently to explain matter.

The Cleveland community is fortunate to have such a wonderful resource in this area. Check them out on your next trip to Cleveland. You won’t leave disappointed, but likely a bit more curious!

What are you waiting for? Go check them out! Where should I go next?