I’ve been working on the railroad…

Whether you want to learn about the thermodynamics of a steam engine, or understand the mechanics of the Walschaerts valve gear, New Hope Valley Railway is the place to be this Sunday. Of course, you can just ignore the science, and ride the choo choo for pure enjoyment.



Untitled (New Hope Valley Railway) by abbyladybug, used under the CC BY_NC license.

Twinkle, twinkle little star…

As part of NC Science Fest, several astronomers’ groups are offering stargazing opportunities to the general public. The weather should clear up just in time for sunset tonight, and viewing conditions should be moderately good.

There are two good viewing areas outside the light pollution of downtown: Ebenezer Church Rec Area by Jordan Lake and Annie Louise Wilkerson MD Nature Preserve in North Raleigh. The event in North Raleigh starts at 8pm. Jordan Lake has less light pollution, but only starts at 9pm.


47:366 by justageek, used under the CC BY-NC-ND license.

Night at the (Science) Museum (2/23/2013)

So your good friend at the office bragged about that they are going the Marbles sleepover, and how it is oh-so-sad that you didn’t secure tickets in time? (Registration closed Wednesday.) Don’t despair, Daddy Weekly to the rescue: The Museum of Life and Science has a sleepover too this weekend!

And while spending the night at Marbles in your favorite exhibit is a special treat (the money machine would be cool, or build your own big brick house for the night), going to the less familiar museum in Durham may be enticing as well. They do have a neat program, with multiple light-out times, and special activities before bedtime. Tickets are $35 (kids under 3 free), and that includes dinner and breakfast.

Canada Science and Technology Museum by cstmweb, used under the CC BY-NC-ND license

Canada Science and Technology Museum by cstmweb, used under the CC BY-NC-ND license. Spending the night sleeping next to a giant steam engine? Another good reason for having kids!

Darwin Day (2/16/2013)

A high of 48 and a chance of rain means the weather is perfect for a visit to the museum. The Science Museum is hosting Darwin Day this Saturday, with a variety of presentations and a large number of displays from various area schools and universities. Some if sounds more geared towards adults, but then there is certainly something for the younger generation (Earthworm Race? Caterpillar Experiment?) as well. Plus, at 1:30 and 2:30, there are two Meet the Animals presentations.

Darwin Day, Sat 2/16, 8a-5p, NC Museum of Natural Sciences

Charles Darwin in 1881

Charles Darwin 1880 by Elliott & Fry [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Farfetched – Mad Science at the Gregg Museum (Feb 2013)

gregg at NCSU_squareThe Gregg Museum, located on the second floor of the NSCU Talley Student Center opened an excellen exhibition last week, featuring “Mad Science, Fringe Architecture and Visionary Engineering“. Some quirky sculptures and many excellent 2D pieces that cross over the boundaries of drafting and illustrating are impressive, both for the seasoned engineer and the budding apprentice. References to Tesla underscore the geek cred (this is NCSU after all), but the show is just as interesting from an artistic perspective.

Bear in mind, this is a big boy/big girl museum, full of objects that look very inviting to touch and play with; but you can’t, so holding hands recommended. Make sure to turn on the only kinetic sculpture you’re allowed to interact with. It is in the foyer next to the receptionist, and my son fondly named the piece “chicken bonkety-bonk”. You’ll see why when you go…

Farfetched: Mad Science, Fringe Architecture and Visionary Engineering. Gregg Museum at NCSU, Jan-17 through Apr-26. Free and open to the public.

Science Olympiad at Marbles (1/19/2013)

The weekend weather will be clear, but bitter-cold, so what better to do that a visit to Marbles. This Saturday, Marbles is hosting another Science Olympiad with fun activities like building bridges (out of pasta) or rockets (out of paper). Science Olympiad is  a hands-on activity for the entire family, put together by http://www.sciencenc.com, a non-profit with the aim to attract students to STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math).

Marbles, already a good place to geek out, will be even better this Saturday; the event takes place from 1-4p.

Science Olympiad by Art Jessen, used under the CC BY-NC license

Science Olympiad by Art Jessen, used under the CC BY-NC license



Marbles Kids Museum (8/4/2012)

I would be surprised if anyone reading the Daddy Weekly hasn’t yet been to Marbles. So this is not to ‘present something new’, but to talk a little bit about Marbles and perhaps mention some of the lesser known corners of this large building.

First off, Marbles is changing from time to time. A relatively new exhibit is the corner one level above the gift shop, with a focus on health and sports; a similar topic was there before, but it was all redone a few months ago and is called Power2Play. The newest exhibit to open is “BB&T Toddlers Hollow“, a forest-themes exhibit for kids under 3. (We’ll check that out soon.)

Have you found the pirate ship? It is one of my favorite exhibits, and tucked away in the very back of the ground floor.
How about the garden? Exit behind the pirate ship to find nature and fresh air.

Did you know about First Friday Kids Camp? Drop off your pre-registered, potty-trained, well-behaved preschool or elementary school kid, and enjoy First Friday or just a night off. (Although I have to say, my son enjoys tagging along to various galleries just as much.) $20 for 3 hours is good deal; both for the parents and for Marbles.

Are you a member? For families visiting frequently, it does pay. A family of four (4x$5) will have paid for the annual membership ($100) after just five visits.

So what’s not to like about Marbles? It can get crowded. And while exhibits change, it is largely static. The corporate sponsorships are a tad too dominant, in my view. But these are details, given that Marbles is an excellent indoors playground.

Pirate Ship by chrisdaniel, used under the CC BY-NC-SA license.

2nd Annual Family Science Olympiad (7/28/2012)

I’ve added some tips to get away from the 100 degree weather in previous posts, with one recommendation notably absent: Marbles. Marbles is cool, in many ways; cool things to do, and of course cool enough even in the heat of summer.

This Saturday, for all those who didn’t quite make it to London, they are hosting a Family Science Olympiad where you can prove your science skills in direct use for what I would call “competitive crafts projects”. (Drop an egg without breaking it; launch rockets; …) This designed to be completed as a family team, so you’ll have a good bonding opportunity over shared problem solving and shared success – or the lack thereof!

Marbles Kids Museum; 1pm-4pm; free (with admission)

Science Olympiad by Art Jessen, used under the CC BY-NC license

Grand Opening of the Nature Research Center (4/21/2012)

Finishing touch on the Daily Planet Theater of the Nature Research Center

If you’ve been in downtown Raleigh lately, you’ve surely seen the construction of the Nature Research Center. the new wing of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. (Some views Before, During, and After). I had the privilege of participating in a behind-the-scenes-tour (#instawalk) last week with David Kroll (the museum’s Director of Science Communications), and I have to say: If you’re raising kids in Raleigh you will spend a lot of time at this place in coming years. The Nature Research Center is Continue reading

NC Science Festival (4/13-4/29 2012)

The annual North Carolina Science Festival starts today. Make sure to visit at least one of their events. The website has an event calendar, and you can narrow down results by date, county, topic, etc. The UNC Science Expo and the grand opening of the new Nature Research Center in Raleigh will be the regional highlights.