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He holds a Bachelor of Fun Arts (no kidding) from Ringling Brothers Clown College, and he describes himself as a physical comedian, scientist and, most important, a bubble entertainer for anybody between the ages of 5 and 95. Next week, Casey Carle will do a three-day gig at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. More information and another effervescent photo are on the jump page.

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It’s time for some warm thoughts. This Sunday, the New York Hall of Science will host the Mamas Summer Countdown, a two-generation, information-and-fun extravaganza with opportunities for parents to start planning for June, July and August with local day and sleepaway camps, summer classes, vacation possibilities and more. Exhibitors include GoGo SqueezNew York CosmosQueens ZooOasis CampsSamuel Field YThe American Camp AssociationThe Kiddie Academy of Whitestone/Flushing, and Usdan Center. On the other hand, children will be able to make puppets, get their faces painted, do crafts and enjoy other activities. More than 1,500 people attended last year’s event, and organizers are expecting even more this Sunday.

Details: The Mamas Summer Countdown, New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Corona, February 22nd, 10 am to 2 pm, free with museum admission — $15/$12 for children (2-17), students, and seniors (62+)/free for children under age 2.

Bonus details: Mozart and Beethoven, The Con Brio Ensemble presents Magic Flute, Archduke Trio, and other master works, The Church-in-the-Gardens, 50 Ascan Avenue, Forest Hills Gardens, February 22nd, 4:30 pm, $12.

Photo by the New York Hall of Science

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Guinness World Records 2014 declared last year’s model to be the largest in the world with 152 houses, 65 trees, five train cars, four cable cars, and an underground candy subway station. This year’s GingerBread Lane is even more impressive, weighing more than 5,000 pounds and stretching up more than seven feet in some spots. It contains only edible ingredients — gingerbread, icing, and candy — and creator/chef Jon Lovitch drafted, designed, planned, built, baked, decorated and made it by hand. Check out this exhibit’s busy schedule at the New York Hall of Science on the jump page.

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Nothing says “welcome” like fluorescent orange and pink. For the next year, visitors to the New York Hall of Science will walk into Scattered Light, a dazzling installation consisting of 528 25-feet-long strands of non-adhesive flagging tape. In tune with the museum’s philosophy of teaching science through hands-on activities, this exhibit takes advantage of the front rotunda’s circular shape, which allows for multiple views of the patterns and color shifting. The piece, which also uses paperclips and metal rods, plays with space, light, color and perception, and changes as sunlight moves around the building. The creator, Richard Esterle, is an artist and architect who also invented math toys such as the Nobbly Wobbly ball.  

Details: Scattered Light, New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Corona/Flushing Meadows Corona Park, runs through September 13th, 2015.

Bonus details: An opening for Scattered Light is set for October 22nd, 5 pm to 8 pm, at the museum. The evening is inspired by the Celebration of Mind Festival, which honors the memory of science and mathematics writer Martin Gardner. It will feature magicians, music, and activities that puzzle, raise mathematical concepts, and tease ideas of perception. Free with admission.

Photos: New York Hall of Science

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Excuse the pun, but this really is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth. This weekend the New York Hall of Science will host its fifth annual Maker Faire, which has been described as “the ultimate geek fest,” but is actually a family-friendly celebration of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. More than 750 makers — including tech enthusiasts, crafters, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubbers, and artists  — will be at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park venue, showing off their DIY creations and hands-on activities. Expect everything from personal drones to humanoid robots that can take blood pressure and dispense medications. Cupcake cars, Swap-O-Rama-Rama, and smart lamps are possible.

More photos and a partial list of inventions that will be on display after the jump.

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Welcome to the new terms of engagement. Science museums have always offered hands-on exhibits and participatory programs, but now the New York Hall of Science is putting visitors in the driver’s seat and giving them the keys. With the newly launched Design Lab, attendees think, build, test, and refine their ideas, putting creative design and engineering to work. Located on the lower level of the Central Pavilion, the Design Lab is a permanent exhibition consisting of five visually and thematically distinct activity areas. Visitors use common, everyday materials to learn that expertise comes from experimentation, critical thinking, and collaboration. Here are the five activity areas:

  • Backstage, where visitors devise solutions to performance-based activities. During this first summer, visitors will make jointed shadow puppets out of index cards, fasteners, sticks and tape.
  • Sandbox (above), where museum-goers build large structures out of such materials as wooden dowels and rubber bands.
  • Studio (below), where visitors build small, tabletop structures and add their own creations to a collaborative project. This summer’s activity challenges participants to build structures from cardboard, circuits and pipe cleaners that would make their city a happier place.
  • Treehouse, a split-level area for experiments and activities requiring a vertical drop. The first activity in this space gets museum-goers to use pulleys, zip lines and other items to create a method to move objects between the two levels.
  • Maker Space, which actually opened in 2012, lets visitors use tools that convert design ideas into prototypes.

Details: Design Lab, New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Summer hours are Monday – Friday, 10:30 am – 4:30 pm; Saturday, 11 am – 5:30 pm; and Sunday, 10:30 am – 5:30 pm. Free with admission. Camp and school groups can reserve sessions for a fee at 718-699-0301.

Photos: NYSCI

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This is the real Mother of all Demos! This Sunday, the New York Hall of Science will host an annual event that is part marketplace, part county fair, part parenting exhibit and 100 percent unique. The Mamas Expo brings together local resources, businesses, educators, caretakers, performers, and of course, youngsters for a day of information, networking, and fun. This is the place to gain insight into schools, new products, services, and ways to improve the overall parenting experience. Imagine being able to learn about family financial planning, baby massage techniques and sleeping philosophies on the same day and under the same roof.

Details: Mamas Expo, New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Corona, May 4th, 10 am to 4 pm, $13-$45/free for children under 2.

Photos: Mamas Expo

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“From the World’s Fair to the World’s Park.” Expect to hear this new slogan a lot over the next six months as part of a dual effort to rebrand Flushing Meadows Corona Park and celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the World’s Fairs that took place there. Yesterday, Maspeth-based Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey, who chairs the NY State Assembly’s Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sports Committee, announced a $100,000 grant to the Queens Tourism Council to help it promote local World’s Fair commemorative events over the next six months. Cultural institutions such as the Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre and New York Hall of Science are planning special activities related to these anniversaries, and NYC Parks is ready to host a World’s Fair Festival on May 18.  (Click here to see all the events.) Borough President Melinda Katz is also involved, co-chairing the World’s Fair Anniversary Committee with Assemblymember Markey and spearheading an effort to promote the Flushing green space as the “World’s Park.” These two elected officials will join other Queens leaders near the NY State Pavilion on April 22 to mark the exact 50th anniversary of the opening ceremonies for the 1964 World’s Fair. The rumor is that they will sing the National Anthem.

Editor’s Note: There was a pleasant surprise at yesterday’s Queens Tourism Council meeting at Queens Theatre. Mookie Wilson, a former Mets centerfielder who starred in the 1986 Worlds Series, passed by while taking a walk through Flushing Meadows Corona Park. He joined the photo and is seen standing, second from extreme left. Assemblywoman Markey is standing in the exact middle.

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It’s time to party like it’s 1939… or 1964. Queens is the only county in the U.S. to host two World’s Fairs, and both historic events are celebrating major anniversaries this year (the fiftieth and seventy-fifth, respectively). On April 30, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated the first one in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which had just been created from a large tidal marsh and garbage dump. The air conditioner made its debut, as did color photographs, fluorescent lamps, nylon and pencil sharpeners. Early television sets and a futurist GM car were the rage as was a diner, which was relocated and is still open for business as the White Manna in Jersey City, NJ. Meanwhile Goldie Hawn, a teenager who had just moved from Maryland to NYC to pursue a career in showbiz, was discovered as a chorus line dancer at the Texas pavilion during the 1964 World’s Fair. The Ford Mustang, Unisphere and Belgian waffle (above) all owe part of their fame to this fair, which actually ran for two, six-month seasons in 1964 and 1965 and attracted more than 51 million people. Corona resident Louis Armstrong (arriving at the scene below) played his trumpet, and various countries and regions promoted their good sides. Wisconsin had a pavilion exhibiting the planet’s largest chunk of cheese, while Miami displayed a parrot jungle, and Hawaii operated the Five Volcanoes restaurant.

On March 22nd, this year’s first World’s Fair-related commemorative event will take place when the Greater Astoria Historical Society screens The World of Tomorrow, a film on the 1939 Fair. Then, over the next six months, the  New York Hall of Science, Noguchi Museum, Parks Department, Queens Botanical Garden, Queens Center, Queens Historical Society, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre, The Port Authority of NY & NJ and other local entities, such as the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, will hold exhibits, plays, concerts and even a beer festival to commemorate.

Details: Click here for a full list of events, times and locations.

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It’s time for the Muppets to meet the Makers. The New York City public school system will be on vacation next week, but parents don’t need to worry about finding fun, educational and enriching activities during the down time… if they stay in Queens. On February 17th, the New York Hall of Science will kick off Engineering Week with a day of activities and tables run by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Each following day will cover a different engineering concept—from nano to mechanical, accompanied by activities and challenges to put those ideas into practice. The Tuesday focus will be on chemical engineering with a Make Polymer Slime activity. Wednesday will be for nanoengineering, Thursday will go to mechanical engineering with a chance to build rockets, and Friday will feature biology with Zoob inventor Michael Joaquin Grey. Meanwhile over in Astoria, the Museum of the Moving Image will screen 1970s episodes of The Muppet Show. Carol Burnett, Steve Martin and Rita Moreno join Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and the Swedish Chef during this series, which will show three episodes a day for the week.

Details: Engineering Week, New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, February 17 through February 21st, times vary, $11 for adults/$8 for children 17 and under.

Details: The Muppet Show, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, February 17th through February 21st, daily at 1 pm, free with admission ($12 adults / $9 seniors and students / $6 children 3–12 / free for Museum members).