Let’s Have a Ball!

The last few months we’ve been talking all about simple activity ideas, using our favorite things, books, blocks, and balls. Today we’re going to wrap up these simple activities by focusing on balls!

Balls have dynamics all their own:  they bounce, roll when pushed, soar when thrown, move unassisted down a ramp and come to a complete stop.  Because of this the dynamics of moving balls can help your child learn principles of physics and cause and effect.

Here’s some fun activities to try at home:

Quite the Catch: Using a variety of balls, try the following activities:

Drop the ball, let it bounce and then catch it.

Throw the ball into the air and catch it.

See how high you can throw the ball and still catch it.

Throw the ball into the air and see how many times you can clap your hands before you catch it.

Throw the ball against the wall and catch it.

Throw the ball back and forth with a friend.

Home Bowling: Using empty water or soda bottles, set up a small group of at least five bottles. Standing a few feet away, have your child roll a ball to the bottles and see how many he can know down. Make it a game with other people!

Balls in the Air: Hold the corners of a small blanket with your child to create a parachute. Place balls on the blanket and throw them up, trying to catch them on the blanket. Try different sized balls to add variation.

The Rhyming Ball Game: First have everyone sit in a circle. Hold a ball and say a word then roll it to the next person. The person who receives the ball then says a word that rhymes with your word. See how many words the circle can come up with, before picking a new word and starting again.

When you’re at Discovery Gateway next, be sure to have a ball in the Beehive exhibit in the Garden, the Magnet Wall in the STEAM Studio, the New Move It exhibit, and more!


Early Childhood Connections: STEM Learning Through Play

There’s a new term in education that you’ve most likely heard a lot about – STEM. What is STEM anyway? It sounds very scientific, and a little intimidating.

To put it simply, STEM is an acronym that stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. STEM is also a philosophy, a new way of thinking about how we can help our children integrate knowledge across disciplines. It is a way of encouraging children to think in a more connected and holistic way.

The question is, at what age should we begin introducing this philosophy to our children? The answer is simple … children are naturally curious. They are born into the world engaged and ready to learn. We, as parents and educators, can support and encourage that innate sense of discovery and curiosity of the living world by allowing children to investigate and encourage them to ask questions, lots of questions. Another way is to allow your child to play with open-ended materials, and as they play ask plenty of “why” and “what do you think will happen if …” questions. This gets your child thinking and problem solving – both critical skills needed to succeed in life.

A great example of STEM learning is through wooden blocks. When children play with blocks, they’re learning about social science whenever two or more children play together. Geometry and early math skills are discovered as two triangle blocks are put together to create a square. Engineering concepts are explored as children construct a house or tower. Finally, simple technology is uncovered as a cylinder block is put underneath a flat bock to create an inclined plane that can move blocks from one level to another.

The term STEM can be a little scary at first, but keep in mind that children are more competent in math and science than we, as adults, think. Encourage curiosity and discovery, and expose your children to a wide range of experiences. When you do this, you are engaging children in STEM learning through play.

Tammy M Spicer, MAEd | Assistant Director of Operations

While Children are on Summer Vacation, Utah Teachers Receive Training from Discovery Gateway’s Outreach Science Educators.

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This week, the Discovery Gateway Outreach Science Educators facilitated yet another successful Teacher Professional Development workshop in St. George. The three-hour workshop, titled: Chain Reaction, provides teachers with tips and tricks for teaching the matter unit. Participates came from as far away as Alpine Utah! Here are a few rave reviews:

“Great demo. Excited about the supplies. Thank you!” Jonathan Edie George Washington Academy

“This is one of the best teacher development(s) I have ever been to. Tons of ideas for my class” A. Bradburg, Santa Clara Elementary

“Nicely done” Marci Abboud George Washington Academy

“This was great. Thank you!” Jenna Berry Snow Springs Elementary, Alpine

“Wonderful! Thank you!” Stacy Larson, Arrowhead Elementary

“Loved it!” Susan Goodman Arrowhead Elementary

“Great Job!” Kengie Gass George Washington Academy

Our next Chain Reaction will be held September 26, stay tuned!




Discovery Gateway is teaming up with community organizations to bring you summer fun and learning! Delve into STEM; explore science & inventors with NHMU; uncover the art, science & fun found in the world with The Leonardo; illuminate what it means to reduce reuse and recycle with UMOCA.

Register today!

Summer Camps are listed in order by date below.


INVENTORS WORKSHOP| 2nd & 3rd grade

In Partnership with the Natural History Museum of Utah

June 23rd – 27th

8:30 am – 4:30 pm




It’s all about the creative process, inventors, and inventions this week. While at Discovery Gateway each morning we’ll get ready to participate in messy science. We’ll experiment with Instant Worms, create rockets, participate in Operation Egg Drop, and lots more. At NHMU each afternoon we’ll investigate inventors and invention that helped shape our world from the use of solar power to perfecting a kite design. Drop campers off at Discovery Gateway by 8:30 am and pick up at NHMU by 4:30 pm. Transportation between sites will be provided by NHMU


DEVELOPMENT LAB| 4th & 5th Grade

In Partnership with the Natural History Museum of Utah

June 23rd – 27th

8:30 am – 4:30 pm



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Join us as we explore the science, inventors and the inventions that have helped shape our world. We will tinker with ideas, build prototypes, and deconstruct gadgets and toys. We’ll use the leftover components to construct our very own contraptions. Campers will also explore a variety of messy science as they work with a wide range of materials that will be use to inspire design.

Drop campers off at NHMU by 8:30 am and pick up at Discovery Gateway by 4:30 pm. Transportation between sites will be provided by NHMU




Sponsored by Chevron

July 21st – 25th  

8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Members: $185.00 Nonmembers: $200.00



Explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as it pertains to energy, engineering, architecture and the environment. Get ready to build bridges, design buildings, observe ecosystems, and power up your day!



In Partnership with The Leonardo

July 28th – August 1st

8:30 am – 4:30 pm




Artist or scientist? Paintbrush or microscope? Now you don’t have to decide!

Get the best of both worlds as The Leonardo teams up with Discovery Gateway in a summer camp dedicated to uncovering the art, science, and fun found in the world around us. Whether it’s the ocean floor or outer space, no ground (or air) will go uncovered!

Drop-Off Location: 8:30 am Discovery Gateway

Pick-UP Location: 4:30 pm The Leonardo



In Partnership with UMOCA| 2nd – 5th  Grade

August 4th – 8th 

8 am – 4 pm

Members: $185.00 Nonmembers: $200.00



During this camp, discover ways that art and science illuminate what it means to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  Starting at Discovery Gateway, use your imagination to transform trash into treasure. Create unique works of art with unusual materials and unearth the essential reasons why we recycle through science experiments and hands-on projects.  Then, head to the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art to explore recycled materials in art, gain inspiration from the outdoors, and use the fundamentals of art as a springboard for creating a functional outdoor sculpture in UMOCA’s gardens.

Children will travel to UMOCA with Discovery Gateway educators via TRAX.

Drop-off Location: Discovery Gateway

Pick-up Location: UMOCA

ISEE Outreach Education: Summer School at Jackson Elementary


By: Nicole Anderson

During the summertime things are a bit quiet in the ISEE Outreach Science Education Department at Discovery Gateway: The Children’s Museum of Utah. At least that’s how it was last year. This year it is a whole different story. This year, our Outreach Science Education Team, Lauren Fletcher, Phillip Evans, Laura England, and Nicole Anderson under the direction of our CEO, Maria Farrington have decided to adopt Jackson Elementary School in Salt Lake City. The plan is to work together and spread the word that science is fun!

In preparation for the summer school program the education team created a new curriculum that is educational, fun, and adaptable to all grades K-6.  The curriculum ranges from a focus on habitat changes, physics, the universe, and wetlands. The summer school program runs for five weeks and began last Monday, June 10th with the team presenting a lesson in science about the adaptation and survival of animals that live in different habitats.

Different animals have adapted to certain habitats throughout the world. In order to help the students understand the meaning of adaptation they were to use their imagination to create and draw an animal. They were given six small papers with each one having a different characteristic of an animal such as a nose, tail, feet, eyes, a covering such as feathers or fur, and their habitat in which they call home.


For example the nose could have been one that was long and skinny, short and fat, slits for nostrils, or perhaps gills.  The students were presented these same types of characteristics in each area. Webbed feet, long tails, insects, mammals, and fish that all lived in the desert or had feathers on their bodies.

As the children laughed and drew their animal the team taught them about where these animals may live, how they keep warm or cool, and whether or not they could swim or fly (or maybe even both.) We saw some of the craziest, wild animal creations and then we surprised the students and explained how learning about different habitats is part of science.

The students learned that science can be fun! They asked if we were coming back the next day and although we were saddened that we couldn’t go every day, we are thrilled to present our new curriculum to the students every Monday for the next four weeks. We can’t wait to see what next week brings as Phillp Evans presents his lesson on Physics as he hopes to have the force be with you.

Stay tuned for another week of science adventures!