Art Crafting, Book Review, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Zoological Society, Great Lakes Science Center, Museums, STEM Resources, STEM toys

S.T.E.A.M. Themed Easter Basket Gifts

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.

Also, be sure to measure the size of your Easter basket and compare it to the items listed below to ensure proper fit. All items would fit in a large size Easter basket.

With Easter (and probably many birthday parties) quickly approaching, you might be left wondering, what to get for your kids. Here’s a list to help those looking for S.T.E.A.M. themed (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) gifts that could fit inside of an Easter basket.

Memberships to Local Museums, Centers and Parks: My kids love going to the local Zoo, Science Center, History Museum, MetroParks, Aquarium, etc. These would be perfect gifts to explore and appreciate S.T.E.A.M. Membership cards or registration forms fit perfectly inside an Easter basket.

Paid S.T.E.A.M. Classes / Courses / Camps: Check around at your local centers for classes and courses that allow your child to explore and appreciate S.T.E.A.M. You could add a pamphlet or certificate to their basket indicating their enrollment. In Northeast Ohio some great places to look for S.T.E.A.M. activities, events and camps would be Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Lake MetroParks, Geauga Park District, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Akron Art Museum, Fine Arts Association, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning and Art House, Inc.. Also, check out the 2019 Northeast Ohio Summer Camp Guide provided by Northeast Ohio Family Fun or the 2019 Summer Camp Guide provided by Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine.

Make a Tinker Basket: Fill a basket with all kinds of items that kids can create with like pipe cleaners, buttons, pom pom’s, glue, tape, card stock, crayons (check out these fun confetti crayons!), colored pencils, markers, popsicle sticks, clay, play-doh, ribbon, ruler, scissors, feathers, stickers, stencils, stamps and stamp pads, yarn, fake flowers, cardboard pieces (from all those deliveries you get at your door), glitter, etc.

Membership to Mail Delivery Activities or Magazines that specialize in STEAM:

We hold two memberships through Kiwi Co. They ship age appropriate hands on science and art projects each month. My girls love them! Click here to get 60% off your first crate!

(Disclaimer: I earn $10 off a future order for every Kiwi Co. crate ordered through my link above.)

Other subscription ideas to check out include: ToucanBox, Highlights for Children Magazine, National Geographic for Kids, National Geographic for Little Kids, Muse Magazine, Ranger Rick, Ranger Rick Jr. and Ask.

(Disclaimer: I have not personally reviewed all of the subscriptions above but I have researched the reviews of others, so please be sure to complete your own research before purchase to ensure they are appropriate for your child. My children have personally enjoyed Highlights and National Geographic.)

My Recommended S.T.E.A.M. Toys: Check out my list below as well as my Complete List of STEM Buy for Kids Under 12 that I posted right before Christmas for additional ideas.

The Original Buddha Board: Relaxing Water Drawing, Painting & Writing Board with Bamboo Brush & StandKids can paint with water to create an image. The image dries and then they can paint again. My kids love this so much, I had to purchase two of them. It’s great for learning how to use a brush, it keeps messes down, it’s great for fine motor skill development and creativity.

Dicfeos Shatterproof 3.5X Magnifying Glass for Reading and Hobbies, 75mm Non-Scratch Glass Lens, Thickened Rubbery Frame, 4.3oz Lightweight, Perfect for Seniors & KidsMagnifying glasses will always be on my top list of favorite gifts for kids. My children bring them outside on warmer days and examine nature – fallen leaves, flowers, grass, tree nuts, bark, insects, etc. They also uses it inside, for example, to examine clothes, books, toys and the floor. They pretend to be a detectives too. We’ve pretended to be underwater divers looking for “treasure” with it also. If you get one of these, watch your child’s imagination take over.

Jiusion 40 to 1000x Magnification Endoscope, 8 LED USB 2.0 Digital Microscope, Mini Camera with OTG Adapter and Metal Stand, Compatible with Mac Window 7 8 10 Android Linux – If you already have a magnifying glass for your child, I recommend this miniature microscope that is easy to transport and hooks up for your phone so your child can view items up-close. It’s fun for adults too. Don’t forget the carrying case for protection too.

Bee-Bot (AA Battery Powered with Batteries Included)Bee-Bot’s are robot’s designed to introduce the concepts of coding and problem solving to young children. Children use the arrows to code the robot to move and turn, then press GO and they watch it move. Children and adults can set up obstacle courses and allow kids to determine how to code the Bee-Bot. We do not have one of these at home, but we’ve played with them at our local science center and love them. A similar toy that we have at home is the Code-a-Pillar.

Awesome Science Experiments for Kids: 100+ Fun STEM / STEAM Projects and Why They WorkThis book is filled with many easy to do home science experiments. We received this book as a gift for my daughter’s birthday and we’ve tried out many of the experiments. The experiments are easy to follow, use common household items and give great explanations to the science behind the experiment for kids and adults to understand easily.

Learning Resources LER2779 Jumbo Eyedroppers, Set of 6 with StandThese eyedroppers are fun for use in the bath tub. We’ve also used them for our home science experiments. They are great for fine motor skill development and when pretending to be a scientist!

Melissa & Doug Scratch Art Box of Rainbow Mini Notes, Arts & Crafts, Wooden Stylus, 125 Count, 3.75” H x 3.75” W x 1.75” L – These scratch pads are fun for children, help with motor skills and are fun for adults too.

Play-Doh Party Bag Dough, 15 Count (Assorted Colors) – Play-Doh is a great tactile toy that allows for endless hours of exploration, design and creativity. I picked this party pack because the size of the play-doh containers are definitely small enough to fit into an Easter basket.

Bug Viewer Box – Bug Jar for Children – Plastic Transparent Insect Catcher Kit with 3X Magnifying Lens, 2.5 x 3.1 x 2.5 Inches, Red and GreenIf you children enjoy being outside and exploring, a bug viewer magnifying jar may be perfect for them to explore nature more closely. This jar is transparent and the lid has a magnifying lens for closer viewing.

Summer Gardening Tools – What is better in Spring time than getting outside and working in the garden. My children LOVE working in our garden. They love digging for worms and planting seeds and plants. Gardening is an excellent way to teach your children and immerse them in nature.

STEM Careers, STEM Resources

Meet Dr. Sean, Pediatric Anesthesiologist

Does your child say that they would like to be a doctor someday? The careers in the medical field are endless, as there are so many types of specialty fields. Recently, I interviewed a close friend, Dr. Sean, who is a Pediatric Anesthesiologist.

Pediatric Anesthesiologist, Dr. Sean

There are many types of physicians. Dr. Sean works in pediatrics as an anesthesiologist. A doctor who works in pediatrics, may see anyone that is age 21 or younger. They may also see patients with special needs beyond that age as well. They provide medical care for infants, children and adolescents. An anesthesiologist is a doctor that specializes in medicines that need to be administered to keep a patient comfortable during procedures that would likely cause intolerable pain.

Here’s a glimpse into Dr. Sean’s profession as a Pediatric Anesthesiologist:

Q: What kind of physician are you and how would you describe your profession?

A: I’m currently a pediatric anesthesiologist, as well as an attending on our acute pain and regional anesthesia service. I provide anesthesia care for pediatric patients undergoing procedures or surgeries in which they need to be asleep for. Ultimately my job is to give children the best naps of their lives.

Q: In your own words, how would you describe your job to a child?

A: My job is to keep you asleep, comfortable, and safe during your procedure. I’ll be watching you the entire time, while you nap. 

Q: Growing up, what was / were your favorite subject(s) and why?

A: My favorite subjects were always math and science because they came easy to me. Also, I found the information extremely interesting and was able to ask many questions in search of answers. 

Q: How and why did you choose to be a doctor and specifically, why did you choose to specialize in anesthesiology?  Do you have a specific memory or event that happened in your life that helped you choose your career path?

A: There was no single moment when I realized I wanted to be a doctor, it was a slow evolution over time with my interests and the idea of helping people. Ultimately I chose anesthesiology because I enjoyed the physiology and pharmacology aspects. Many think anesthesiologists do not like patient contact but I disagree. It’s extremely challenging to gain the trust of patients (and their parents), within minutes of meeting me. Patient’s do not get to choose me, like they do their surgeon. Therefore, I must work hard to make them comfortable.Q

Q: What did you study in college? Do you feel that your studies in college are helpful to you in your career now?  How or why?  Did you have a favorite class and why?

A: I received my bachelors of science in zoology from Miami University. At that time, Miami did not offer a basic biology degree, so this was the next best thing. Their rationale was it made you competitive for medical school because it was a “different” major. Afterwards, I attended medical school at the University of Cincinnati

Overall my studies helped me to get where I am today. All of the classes were valuable as they provided a foundation for medical school. My favorite classes were actually the humanities where I learned more about society and people. These classes continue to help me today when interacting with patients. 

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the most important attributes or characteristics that a doctor and / or more specifically an anesthesiologist, must have to be successful?

A: I think the most important attribute is the ability to listen. Medicine is challenging due to time constraints and production pressure. Ultimately, the patient doesn’t care where you went to medical school or trained, they care how compassionate you are when you are with them. 

Q: What is or has been the most rewarding part of your job?

A: Everyday, I enjoy being able to interact with children to calm their fears and to safely deliver them back to their parents when the operation is over. 


Q: What is or has been the most challenging part of your job?

A: In pediatrics I have two “customers”, the patient and their parents. Figuring out how to manage both groups expectations can be challenging. 

Q: What was the most fascinating part of your medical school experience? 

A: Working in the cadaver lab and actually being able to touch and learn about every part of the body. To know someone gave up their body for my learning is remarkable. 

Q: What is one of your most fun, exciting or even embarrassing memories in your profession that has happened to you?

A: My favorite part is being able to play at work on a daily basis just to make a child smile.

Q: What would be your advice to a child that has aspirations to become a doctor someday?

A: You will miss out on a lot of fun experiences your other friends will have, but ultimately it’s worth it. Work hard but still have fun along the way. 

Q: What would your advice be to parents and educators to encourage children that are interested in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines? 

A: A great doctor is always questioning things and ideas. Foster this in your children. 

Thank you so much to Dr. Sean for allowing me to interview him for my blog!

Readers, please let me know what you think of these STEM career interviews and 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.

Animals, Experiments, Germs, Great Things about Space, STEM Resources, TV Shows

My Current Top 7 Favorite Kid and Family Friendly STEM Shows

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.


Here’s a list of my favorite educational STEM shows that I watch or have watched with my kids (in no particular order):

Brainchild on NetFlix: This NetFlix original series is incredibly educational and addicting to watch with my children because it makes science relatable.  It was launched in 2018 and it is currently in it’s first season. Each episode covers various scientific topics like Space, Forces, Thinking, Oceans, Germs, etc.  It stars Sahana Srinivasan, Alie Ward and Ben Seidman.  I hope that it gets approved for a second season! They also have free resources on their website for teachers!

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Hey, 90s kids, do you remember this guy?  This show made science cool with its crafty scientific humor and its easy and fun to understand experiments and real life examples of science in action. You can find some episodes on NetFlix, purchase episodes on Amazon or search YouTube.

Image from Amazon.com

The Magic School Bus:  Mrs. Frizzle is still cool with kids these days.  You can get these from the library, order the series on Amazon or watch some episodes on NetFlix. To order from Amazon, click here.

Sid the Science Kid on PBS:  The main character, Sid, is incredibly inquisitive about the world around him and explores, with his classmates, why things work the way that they do.  It introduces the very basic principles of science to a young child in a comedic and educational way.  You can catch episodes on PBS or on the PBS app.

Curious George on PBS: While these episodes aren’t all extremely scientific, what I personally love about them is the lesson they teach about being curious and experimenting in a big open world just like a scientist.  I feel and have seen in my own children that being exposed to that type of thinking as a young child develops and improves their creativity, critical thinking, cognitive and problem solving skills which are all essential skills in STEM fields.

Crickey! It’s the Irwins on the Animal Planet:  This show was just renewed for it’s second season.  If you used to watch The Crocodile Hunter with Steve Irwin, you’ll love the families new series on Animal Planet.  The Irwin Family carries on his legacy for animal conservation and public education.  His wife, Terri, and their children, Bindi and Robert, run the Australia Zoo which cares for over 1200 animals.  These episodes have extraordinary educational video of zoologists and veterinarians in action as they care for these animals at the zoo and their conservation efforts worldwide.  Check your local TV listings for viewing schedule.

Wild Kratts on PBS: Chris and Martin Kratt created this live action and animation show that educates children on biology, zoology and ecology. Each episode has some sort of plot with a villain or a problem that needs to be solved. As the episode progresses, it educates children about wild life.

What favorites would you add to this list? Let me know on my social media pages, in the comments to this blog post or at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

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Engineer, STEM Careers, STEM Resources

STEM Careers: Chemical and Materials Engineer Gabi

This is a photo of Gabi at one of the Paint Shops!

Have you ever wondered what an engineer is or what they do?

Meet my friend and former co-worker, Gabi Patrick.  She is a Chemical and Materials Engineer and works as a New Material Technology Project Manager at Toyota Motor North America.  

I recently interviewed her for my blog. Here’s a glimpse into her engineering profession in the automotive industry.

Q: When and how did you become interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)? Do you have a specific memory or event that happened in your life that helped you choose your career path?

A: I have this vivid memory of me asking my Mom about empty space (air). I kept asking my Mom: “Mom, what is this?” <while making circular motions with my hands in the bathroom>. She couldn’t understand what I meant. I think of that question often… and how far it has gotten me. 

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

A: I loved math, physics and chemistry. Math to me was like a puzzle to be solved. Physics was more like a hands on game, and chemistry was magic!

Q: In your own words, how would you describe engineering to a child?

A: Engineering is like a big puzzle with nuts, bolts, legos, rubber bands, and a pinch of pixie dust!

Q: What did you study in college and how / why did you choose it/them? 

A: Chemical Engineering & Materials Engineering

When I was in elementary school, my aunt who worked in the polymers industry brought me a bag of plastic pellets. I was fascinated by them, so I decided to follow chemicals the rest of my middle school and high school years. Finally, when it was time to decide a major, I decided on Chemical Engineering. Once I was deep in my college years, I took a class on materials (metals, ceramics and plastics) and decided to focus on materials for my graduate degree, specifically ceramic coatings.

Q: Are your college studies helpful to you in your career now?  How or why?

A: Absolutely. College studies are the backbone to my career and the understanding of my daily responsibilities.  Some days are more technical than others, some days we think about costs, other days we really think about efficiency, or productivity, but without understanding the science behind it, it would be really difficult to get my job done. 

Q: What roles / job titles have you had in the engineering profession and how would you describe them?

A: Storm water engineer: I analyzed how much rain we got and decided the best ways to avoid flooding around the city. Paint Process Engineer: I managed a very long process that coated a vehicle with a rust proof paint. Materials Engineer: I tested new paints to make sure they were the same color by changing how they were applied.  New Materials Technology Project Manager: I collaborate with designers, production engineers and suppliers on the material development before it goes on the vehicle. 

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

A: Patience, haha… Focus, be a good listener, learn something new every single day, take constructive criticism, and have fun!

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

A: I get to work with people who have one goal: make the best cars in the world. My job has taught me patience, perseverance, humility, and respect. 

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

A: Learning to accept mistakes and acknowledging failures.  

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

A: My most embarrassing moment, and funny, has been the day I broke a stress toy at work. I had just had a difficult conversation with a superior and became really upset. My coworker handed me a very special stress toy donkey and I broke it in half. Sorry Larry! I’ll buy you a new one. 

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

A: Make it fun. Expose kids to different sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, math, etc.). Use daily, living examples, because in the end, we engineers work on daily living problems. Teach them how to think and solve, instead of ‘copy and repeat’. Focus on project-based learning, ask them to research, go look and understand. 

Q: In conclusion, what else would you like to add for parents reading this?

A: Don’t force a child into liking something specific. Expose them at a young age to all subjects but teach them how to think and solve problems. This is essential for any career, life problem, and eventually success… and please, have fun at it!

If you would like to connect with Gabi, you can find her on LinkedIn under her full name, Gabriela Patrick.

Did you enjoy this interview? Did it give you a better understanding of engineering? Does it help you with teaching your child? Would you like to see more like it?

Let me know at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com or commenting on my social media sites.

Engineer, STEM Resources

It’s time to celebrate National Engineer’s Week or E-Week!

If you aren’t an engineer, you probably wouldn’t know that the 3rd week in February every year is known as “E-Week” or National Engineers Week. The celebration of E-Week began in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers. The purpose is to raise awareness to the contributions to society that engineers make.

FUN FACT: Did you know that George Washington was considered the countries first engineer for his survey work? His birthday is February 22 and E-Week is also that same week.

The National Engineers Week Foundation formed DiscoverE in 1990 to engage engineering volunteers to participate in K-12 programs and partly as a response to a government survey that showed a future shortage of engineering talent. They provide various educational resources to the community for engineering outreach. You can check them out at www.discovere.org.

So, what is an engineer? Many people have trouble defining engineering because it is such a diverse career field! Engineers design, problem solve, improve, fix, research, inspect, etc. to make the world better (think of words like efficiency & optimization).

Most don’t sit at work solving math problems all day. They often work in teams to make the world that we live in better. Engineers are needed in almost every industry. Engineers must have excellent problem solving and critical thinking skills because they use their knowledge, skills and experiences to solve complex problems.

To get some ideas as to what an engineer does, I decided to share my experiences in engineering. I have worked in both automotive and medical industries.

In automotive, I was a Material Quality Engineer and Corrosion Field Quality Engineer.

In my Material Quality Engineer role, I ensured that the raw materials (like paint, adhesives, sealers and raw plastic pellets used to make things like bumpers or instrument panels) supplied to the automotive facilities met design and quality requirements from suppliers. I audited suppliers manufacturing facilities and quality systems, I issued quality standards, developed quality test methods, tested and evaluated test results in a lab and performed analysis with highly technical equipment to determine why a material failed.

Simply, I made sure materials from our suppliers worked in manufacturing and met customer requirements.

As a Corrosion Field Quality Engineer, I evaluated customer complaints and the corrosion on vehicles in the field using data analysis and performing surveys on customer vehicles at dealerships. I worked on teams to solve very complex design and manufacturing flaws to prevent early corrosion on vehicles.

Simply, I looked for rusty parts on cars to determine if they got rusty too early.

When I worked in the medical field, I was a Supplier Quality Engineer. In that role, I ensured that the parts supplied met design requirements. I audited suppliers quality systems and also evaluated parts that did not meet design requirements to determine if they could be remade to meet the requirements. I also was audited by other agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on my work to create a safe and quality product for public use.

Simply, I made sure that parts from suppliers were safe to use in our final medical device.

In all of those roles, I often times worked in teams, I wrote reports and I had to think creatively, quickly and methodically. My complex experiences in math and science (notice I said complex experiences not necessarily that I was good at all math and all science) helped give me the confidence and ability to think creatively when solving various problems that needed to be solved.

I plan to introduce more engineers and also share additional resources that may help you understand engineering and how to introduce it to your child(ren).

If you know an engineer, take the time this week to talk to them about what they do. Ask them about how they became interested in their chosen field and what they enjoy about their job. Also, tell them thank you for their contributions to our society. And most importantly, encourage your child to learn more about engineering with you. Tell your child’s school about National Engineers Week and ask if they have plans to celebrate it with your child’s class and how. Encourage them to check out the DiscoverE website above.

To all of my fellow engineering family and friends, thank you so much for all that you do.

And to my Dad who is an engineer and helped me find my path to engineering, thank you for encouraging me and always believing in me.

Happy National Engineers Week!

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The featured image above was provided by the DiscoverE Organization.

Book Review, Math and Numbers, STEM Resources

Reading ‘STEMs’ Learning – Danica McKellar Book Review

DISCLAIMER: I am an Amazon Associate and may earn from qualifying purchases made from the links in this post at no additional cost to you.

Image result for winnie cooper
Photo courtesy The Wall Street Journal

Who remembers Winnie Cooper from the show ‘The Wonder Years’? The actress, known as Danica McKellar, is now (among other roles) an acclaimed mathematics author. She received her bachelors degree in mathematics at UCLA and is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) advocate.

In an interview with USA Today, Ms. McKellar stated that, “I was a total STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) kid from the time I was born. I can’t ever remember a time that I didn’t want to not only learn, but be challenged. I think that’s why I love math; it challenges my brain.”

In many of her books it seems that she specifically targets young girls as her audience. In interviews I’ve read, she said she didn’t feel she ‘looked the part’ of a typical math student and wants to change that perception for the future generations.

We personally own three of her math picture books in our home – all I will review below. Again, I’ll suggest either to BUY IT, BORROW IT or SKIP IT.

GOODNIGHT, NUMBERS – BUY IT!

This book is a New York Times Best Seller and it is probably my favorite of the three that we have. Most of the reading in our house happens at bedtime, so this book naturally fits in with the bedtime theme. This book is intended for toddlers and preschoolers.

The rhymes in this book are appealing and unique. The story follows a toddler and adult through various areas of the home counting and getting ready for bed. There a multiple examples in the illustrations on each page of the represented number and the lessons are also relatable to everyday situations like, there are 7 days in a whole week.

At the end of the book, there is a letter from the author to parents. She provides other great ideas and examples of easy ways to introduce counting and numbers to young children and suggestions on how to read the book to your child. We read this book so often, that I would recommend buying it for your preschooler or soon to be preschooler. You won’t be disappointed.

TEN MAGIC BUTTERFLIES BUY IT!

If you have a child that loves fairies and enchanted stories, this picture book is perfect. First off, the illustrations in this book are beautiful. Again, McKellar sneaks in counting, addition and subtraction in an innovative and fun way to keep your child’s attention with rhymes and images. This is also a great bedtime book, as it ends with ‘sleep tight’!

This book is a wonderful introduction to math because it starts with low numbers (only up to ten). My daughter learned all the various combinations of numbers that add up to 10 and she’s pretty good for her age at completing simple math problems. She also views math as fun! I credit books like this for that! This book is a definite buy in my opinion, especially for young girls.

BATHTIME MATHTIMEBUY IT OR BORROW IT!

I struggled with my suggestion to buy or borrow this book. While I like the innovative spirit of this book, I personally enjoyed the first two stories above more than this one. BUT, if you have a child with a short attention span, I do think that this book would be better choice than the first two above. It is a very short book.

This book is based on a young boy in the bath tub and all the ways in which the family counts during his bath time ritual. It’s illustrations include actual math calculations which help your child get familiar with them. My suggestion would be to borrow this book first, then make a decision on if it is worth the purchase for your child.

Have you read or own any of these books? What are you thoughts and opinions of these stories?

Did you know that Danica McKellar was a math author? What other Danica McKellar math books do you own? Would you recommend them?

Do you have any other books you’d like me to review? Let me know at momgineeringthefuture@gmail.com.

As always, all opinions are 100% my own. Check out my other STEM book reviews here!

Cincinnati Museum Center, Dinosaurs, Experiments, Holiday, Museums, Nature, STEM Resources

The Cincinnati Museum Center has re-opened!

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An inside look of the front of the Cincinnati Museum Center.

When I walked inside the newly preserved Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC, previously Union Terminal), the dome inside literally took my breath away. I grew up in this city. I walked through these doors NUMOROUS times in my lifetime but I had never seen it look this beautiful.

After more than two years of the main building being closed to the public for historical restoration and preservation, it recently reopened (in November 2018) and I got my first glimpse inside over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The CMC houses the Museum of Natural History and Science, the Cincinnati History Museum, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX theater, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, as well as numerous other special exhibits.

Historical Significance

Every city has at least one old building that serves some historical, architectural and engineering significance to its city. This building is one of those for Cincinnati. Union Terminal was built and dedicated in 1933. It was opened as a train station to unite all the railroads to one location in Cincinnati. It is still the largest half dome structure in the western hemisphere and if you walk inside, your breath will be taken away at its beauty. It has absolutely stunning art deco architectural design, which includes several original large glass tile mosaics by Winold Reiss (seen in the photos below), which were carefully and intricately cleaned to bring out the marvelous details in the pieces.

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Checking out an old style 1930s telephone booth.

The amount of architecture and engineering used to build and restore this building over its 85 years is just phenomenal. Our family spent so much time just exploring and marveling at the building itself – its engineering design and layout as well as it’s art deco style.

It was almost demolished many times, in fact, (unfortunately) its concourse was demolished years ago.

Historical Restoration and Reopening

The restoration was a $225 million project that was primarily funded by local tax payers over the course of a 5 year levy and additional funding was provided by federal and state historical tax credits as well as a capital grant from the state of Ohio. It was completed on budget.

Personal Connection

Grandpa WWII
Photo of my Grandfather from serving in WWII.

This particular building also has many personal connections to me and my family. My great grandfather worked on the railroads and took my grandmother to the station many times as a young girl. My grandfather walked through the doors as young teen to head off to fight in the Air Force in WWII and also returned to this station after the war. (I couldn’t help but imagine myself in his shoes as a young soldier walking through the doors to and from a war that is still marked as the biggest event in human history.)

One of my uncles helped preserve the beautiful glass tile mosaics that were moved from the demolished concourse to the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Airport. My parents came to the terminal for field trips as children when it was still a train station, converted to a science center, a shopping plaza and then took my brother and I to the Cincinnati Museum Center once it opened in the 1990s. I made many trips there as a child to view the exhibits and OMNIMAX films with my family and for school field trips. I also used to go downtown every year as a child to see the Duke Energy Holiday Train display which is now in the museum for Holiday Junction. This display has been part of Cincinnati since 1946!

This place holds a special place in my heart with countless happy memories from childhood and its historical connection to my family.

The Museum of Natural History and Science: Newly Opened Dinosaur Hall

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The signs above the entrance to the Museum of Natural History and Science at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

The Museum of Natural History and Science reopened with a new Dinosaur Hall. It is located to the right of the main doors as you walk into the Museum Center. (It still has the original sign a top the doors indicating the location for incoming taxis and motor coaches!) As we walked through the doors, we were greeted by 6 ginormous dinosaur specimens!

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Standing next to a dinosaur leg.

My three year old daughter was absolutely amazed by their size. She (and I) gained a better appreciation for paleontologists and the scientific work that they perform. We loved using the microscopes to look at some of the prehistoric pieces up close. The special effects inside the hall were so fun! It made it feel like we were truly walking among the dinosaurs in the museum!

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Interactive globe

This exciting interactive globe allows guests to see how the Earth transformed from prehistoric ages until now! There is a tiny star on it that represents Cincinnati. Did you know that Cincinnati was located on a coast at one time?

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Virtual reality experience

While we were there, I decided to test out the Jurassic Flight Virtual Reality Experience where I was transformed into a Pterodactyl and glided across prehistoric landscapes. It was SO much fun and a little ptero-ffying at times!! This part of the exhibit is an extra cost to visitors (it cost $6 for me as a non-member) and you must be at least 58 inches tall. It was worth it! Afterwards, I pointed out to my daughter that virtual reality systems are made by many different scientists!

The Cincinnati History Museum: Re-imagined Public Landing

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The main entrance of the Cincinnati History Museum also still has the original Union Terminal signs on top the doors indicating the location for outgoing taxis and motor coaches!

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Queen of the West boat we boarded.

The Cincinnati History Museum has reopened with one of it’s original exhibits – the reimagined Public Landing. Public Landing is a recreation of 1850s Cincinnati Public Landing. We walked along the city cobbled streets, visited several makeshift shops and storefronts including an old style photography studio where we were able to take a family photo.

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1850 Cincinnati

We walked across the gang plank aboard the “Queen of the West”. Inside we learned about how steam boats pushed across the Ohio river, what it was like to be a guest on the boat and how the boat business affected the local Cincinnati economy at that time.

Holiday Junction

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Lego Wonderland

Another exhibit, Holiday Junction, which is open for the holidays was a really fun place for the kids to go and explore.

We first walked through the new William L. Mallory, Sr. exhibition gallery which currently has a winter wonderland LEGO gallery on display. My three year old particularly loved the Disney themed LEGO displays and my one year old loved the LEGO train that ran through the middle of the exhibit hall.

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My daughter almost quite literally walked through a winter wonderland, watched Thomas and friends train layout, built a snowman under the Northern Lights and rode a toddler sized train. To build the snowman, my girls were able to select various snowman pieces (eyes, various fruits / vegetables for noses, hats, scarf, mouth, coal buttons, etc.) and they magnetically connected them to the life sized snowman.

Below you will see the two snowmen they created… The first snowman they made was pretty fun and goofy. They loved sticking eyes all over the snowman to make him look silly and finished off his look with a banana on his head!!

We probably spent 20 minutes in this area alone because they were having so much fun! This really brought out their creative side and they had a small lesson in magnetism (which I plan to cover as a future topic)! The magnetic pieces only ‘stuck’ to certain areas of the snowman, so we had a great talk about why that was happening.

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Next, we viewed the Duke Energy Holiday Trains. Upon entering, this space has a dramatic birds eye view of the entire space (which is ginormous!). My photo doesn’t even do it justice!

There are literally hundreds of trains flying around on tracks through a historic layout of Cincinnati. There are also trains in display cases along the walls for guests to view up close. This area was a dream for my three year old who is completely mesmerized by trains right now. She was so excited to name the parts of the trains that she recognized and loved telling us when one was zipping down the track nearby!

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My daughters also loved being able to “make their own storybook”. Children are able to select magnetic words and photos and place them on a giant storybook to make their own story.

Again, this was wonderful for building creativity and learning a bit more about magnetism.

The Duke Energy Children’s Museum

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By the time we reached the Children’s Museum, we were tired. Although we didn’t check out this space for long, we have spent hours here in past visits. It definitely receives my STEM stamp of approval and my kids thumbs up for fun!

Kids can learn about complex machines in Energy Zone, experiment with water, play pretend careers in several areas (veterinary, mechanic, etc.), climb and explore the wilderness, practice being a dentist and explore a giant set of teeth, etc. They also have a nature trading post where kids can bring in objects they’ve found outside and explain what they’ve learned about it for points. Those points can be used to select some type of scientific item for them to take home like a magnifying glass, rocks, etc.

Lunch at the Museum

We ate lunch at the museum and we were highly impressed by the cleanliness and the delicious, healthy and allergy friendly food options! If you are gluten free or have nut allergy, they definitely have you covered!

This was the lunch I shared with my husband – turkey avocado sandwich (optional gluten free bread) with tater tots! It was served on a real ceramic plate too. And my daughters had macaroni and cheese with goldfish crackers and applesauce.

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The photo on the left is the dining room we ate in. It was so clean and well staffed. It had beautiful art deco design and murals on the walls. Very 1930s style for sure.

The museum is reimagining the exhibit spaces and experiences for guests and reopening the new permanent exhibits and galleries in phases. We viewed all of the new permanent exhibits and galleries that were available at the time of our visit.

We are greatly looking forward to the next phases opening up at the museum and can not wait to return!

Please follow the Cincinnati Museum Center @cincymuseum on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to stay up-to-date on the latest news and permanent exhibits being opened to the public.

Additional Areas Explored

I posted additional photos from the museum that we checked out in the bottom of this post – the Rookwood Ice Cream Parlor, a Newsreel theater, more dining rooms, bulletin board, waiting area, STEM classrooms and more photos of the dome and outside. There is so much more to explore in this building than what we were able to see during our visit. We can’t wait to get back to explore more!

You can get more information on it’s history and restoration from this documentary recently broadcast by Cincinnati’s local WCPO news station.

DISCLAIMER: I received 4 complimentary passes to the Cincinnati Museum Holiday Junction, Museum of Natural History and Science, the Cincinnati History Museum and the Duke Energy Children’s Museum on the day of our visit. I was asked to help promote the updates we enjoyed at the museum on my social media pages and my blog. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

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