From airplanes and history to art and Native American culture, the topics museums showcase across the U.S. could keep a family busy, while learning, all summer long. Kids are like sponges, taking in knowledge as fast as they can, and the nation’s museums and interactive learning centers are perfect ways to teach our youth and have fun.
According to the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), approximately 850 million visits are made annually to American museums. That’s more than the attendance for all major league sporting events and theme parks combined (483 million in 2011).
“Museums tell important stories by collecting, preserving, researching and interpreting objects, living specimens and historical records,” says the AAM’s website. “Museums help communities better understand and appreciate cultural diversity.”
For kids who love animals, zoos and aquariums are ideal options for boys and girls to learn about different species and ecosystems, and enjoy a fun, up-close look at the Animal Kingdom. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums website is a great resource for parents and caregivers to learn what zoos are doing around the country to help teach kids in a family-friendly environment.
Just this summer, Tiki the Giraffe turned 25 at the Oakland Zoo in California, the Indianapolis Zoo opened a new, state-of the-art orangutan center in Indiana, and tiny red panda cubs were born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Get out and see what the country’s zoos have to offer in 2014.
From outdoor water parks to a sprinkler in the backyard, getting wet in the summer sun guarantees a refreshing activity option for kids in the summertime. Going back to the idea that children are sponges, they can learn to swim with lessons at public pools and through youth swim clubs. They can perfect their back strokes in the country’s host of lakes, swimming holes, and rivers. Just remember, safety first, so wear a portable flotation device (PFD), also known as a life jacket, or water wings and flotation devices as needed.
Of course being outdoors in the sun, no matter what the activity, requires proper sun shading and protection to prevent sun damage and melanoma. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a significant part of a person’s lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18.
WHO suggests these sun protection tips:
- Limit time in the midday sun. The sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If possible, limit sun exposure during these hours.
- Watch for the UV index. This helps in planning outdoor activities to prevent overexposure to the sun’s rays when the UV Index predicts exposure levels of moderate or above.
- Use shade wisely. Seek shade when UV rays are the most intense. Shade structures such as trees, umbrellas or canopies don’t always offer complete sun protection. Remember the shadow rule: “Watch your shadow – Short shadow, seek shade!”
- Wear protective clothing. A hat with a wide brim offers good sun protection for eyes, ears, face, and back of the neck. Sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UV-A and UV-B protection greatly reduce eye damage from sun exposure. Tightly woven, loose-fitting clothes provide additional protection from the sun.
- Use sunscreen. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15+ liberally and re-apply every two hours, or after working, swimming, playing or exercising outdoors.