Discovery at Home: Water Turtles

Meet our water turtles!

Here are some water turtle facts:

– The many species of water turtle can be recognized by webbed feet and flat shells.
– These physical traits are adaptations to help turtles live and move in the water.
– As cold-blooded reptiles, water turtles must find warmth from external sources, such as the sun or a heat lamp.
– There are many types of water turtles at Discovery Center, such as red-eared sliders and river cooters.
– Similar species of turtle can be found in the Murfree Spring wetlands.

Discovery at Home: Exploring Animals Around Us

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What can you notice about the animals around you?

Have you ever watched animals closely? By noticing what is the same and different between animals, you can learn about them. Like a scientist, you and your grown-up partner can write down what you notice about animals. This is called making observations.

What to do:

  • Find an animal with your partner. Remember that bugs, birds, and your pets are all animals.

  • Sit and watch the animal. How many legs does the animal have? What is covering the animal’s body? What is it doing?

  • People are animals too! Compare the animal you observed to your partner.

Two things that are the same about the animal and my partner are…

Two things that are different about the animal and my partner are…

We call the things animals do their behavior. Did your animal have any behaviors similar to your partner’s?

Other things that we noticed about the animal we found…


El descubrimiento en la casa: Explorar Los Animales En El Mundo

Qué notas sobre los animales que ves?

¿Alguna vez has observado muy atentamente a los animales? Los científicos notan las similitudes y diferencias entre los animales y de esa manera aprenden sobre ellos. Al igual que los científicos, tú y tu compañero(a) pueden observar cosas sobre los animales y anotar lo que observaron. A esto se le conoce como “hacer observaciones”.

Qué hacer:

  • Sal con tu compañero y encuentra un animal. Recuerda que los insectos y pájaros también son animales. Si no puedes encontrar un animalito afuera, puedes usar tu mascota, ¡si tienes una!

  • Siéntate y observa al animalito. Anota lo que observes sobre su cuerpo. Por ejemplo, ¿cuántas patas tiene?¿Que cubre su cuerpo?

  • ¡Una persona también es un animale! Compara el animal que observaste con tu compañero(a).

Al observar al animal nos dimos cuenta que…

Dos cosas similares entre el animal que encontramos y una persona son…

Dos cosas diferentes entre el animal que encontramos y una persona son…

A las cosas que hacen los animales les llamamos “comportamiento”. ¿Demostró tu animalito algún comportamiento parecido al tuyo?

¿Qué otra cosa observaste sobre el animal que encontraste?

Discovery at Home: Waffles the Rabbit

Meet Waffles!

Waffles is our domestic house rabbit. Domestic rabbits can live 8-12 years. A rabbit’s diet consists of a steady supply of hay, with snacks like carrots as a treat. Waffles’s favorite treat is a handful of Cheerios.

Rabbit facts:

  • A male rabbit is known as a buck, while a female is called a doe. The baby rabbits are collectively known as a litter. The teeth of a rabbit are very strong and they never stop growing. There are currently 45 known breeds of rabbits.
  • Rabbits not only can and do pass gas, but they need to! While this may sound humorous, it’s no laughing matter for rabbits, as this gas build-up is extremely painful and can become fatal very quickly unless properly released, sometimes requiring medical intervention.
  • Rabbits and hares beat this problem with a special kind of digestion called hindgut fermentation. In short, they eat their own poop and digest it a second time. Bunnies actually make two different kinds of droppings: little black round ones and softer black ones known as cecotropes that are eaten.
  • Rabbits lick for affection, not for salt. Licking means “I love you, I trust you.” Lunging may occur when you reach into your rabbit’s cage to clean, give food, or to take your rabbit out – a sign of disapproval.

Discovery at Home: Rubber Bands

What can you do with a rubber band?

Rubber bands are thick or thin, long or short, tan or more colorful. They are made of rubber. Find as many rubber bands around your home as you can. Thicknesses, lengths and purposes vary. How many ways can you think of to use a rubber band? The uses are endless!

Be A Scientist!

Scientists start by noticing things. Hold a rubber band in your hand. What do you notice about it? What color is it? What does it feel like? Does it smell? How does one rubber band compare to another?

What do you wonder? Perhaps:

  • Is a wide rubber band easier or harder to stretch than a narrow one?
  • Is a longer rubber band of the same thickness more or less stretchy than a smaller one?
  • Which rubber band shoots the furthest?
  • Does a rubber band float or sink?
  • How is a rubber band made? Where does the rubber come from?
  • How is a balloon like a rubber band?


  • Design a test to see which rubber bands are stretchy’est, or go the farthest. Does the width of a rubber band affect how far it goes?
  • What happens when you put a rubber band in water?
  • Have partners pull on different rubber bands. When stretched, do different rubber bands sound different?

Rubber Band Guitar Fun for Children & Adults

Combine rubber bands and empty containers to create a family rubber band band! What works best? How did the size of the containers or the material they were made of affect the sound?

Can you change the pitch (which is how high or low sound is)?

Exploring, playing with the materials, and asking questions are what being curious is all about! As you explore, you might ask your child:

  1. What are you noticing? How might you describe what you see? What could you try? How could you test that? What would happen if….?
  2. When they describe what they want to do next, ask them first to predict – what do you think might happen? Try it!
  3. The questions are endless.
  4. Hint for Adults: Don’t interrupt the exploration with information or expertise. Just keep asking questions.
  5. Extend your experimentation by asking more questions! Explorations are endless!
  6. Join in and have fun!!

Background Information

Rubber comes from rubber trees (Hevea Brasiliensis tree)! It starts as a liquid substance called latex that is found under the bark. They are native to rainforests in the Amazon region of South America. Rubber trees grow in low-altitude moist forests, wetlands, riparian zones, forest gaps, and disturbed areas. Rubber trees are not native species to Thailand, but they are now the largest producer in the world of natural rubber having developed rubber tree plantations.

As you stretch the rubber bands, you will notice that you can change its pitch. The pitch of a sound is related to how fast something vibrates. When something vibrates slowly, it has a low pitch or low frequency. When it vibrates quickly, it has a high pitch or high frequency.

Want more information? Check out these two kid-friendly sites that describe where rubber comes from: – Maddie Moate – Kayla’s Travel Channel for Kids


Discovery at Home: Stanley the Ferret

Meet Lord Stanley, our domestic ferret!

In our latest installment of Discovery at Home, we’re exploring domestic ferrets, which are closely related to the Black Foot Ferret of North America.

Here are some ferret facts:
– Ferrets are carnivores, which means they eat meat.
– Here at Discovery Center, we feed Stanley cat food.
– Ferrets are playful creatures and their long bodies are perfect for burrowing in small areas.
– In the wild, they inhabit dens of other animals.

Share you ferret facts and questions in the comments!

Discovery at Home: Exploring Milk

What is in Milk?

Milk comes in many forms. It is available as a liquid or powder, and is sold in bottles, boxes, or cans. Milk may come from cow, grains, nuts or vegetables. Do you drink milk? What kind?

Milk contains different amounts of sugar, proteins, and fat (skim, 1%, 2%, whole, half-and-half, heavy cream….). Compare the ingredients of these 5 kinds of cow’s milk. What do you notice?

If you have milk in your house, what kinds do you have? How is it the same or different from these? Do you have milk that is not from a cow? Soymilk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, pea milk, goat milk? (Tell us what you find at our Facebook page where we’ve posted a link to this activity: There are many reasons to choose what type of milk to drink. Why do you drink the milk you do?

Be a Scientist!

Scientists start by noticing things. What do you notice about what is in these different milks? What can you learn from the nutritional facts? Which ones have more fat? Less fat? Notice the serving sizes – are they all the same? If not, how do you compare one kind of milk to another? Taste, health, allergies, ethics – thinking about the many reasons people might choose a specific kind of milk.

Milk Fat Fun for Children & Adults

Here is a fun experiment to do with milk that will get you and your child(ren) exploring, and asking a lot of questions. Exploring, playing with the materials, and asking questions are what being curious is all about!

You will need milk, water, food coloring and dish soap. A cotton swab would be useful if available. (Hint: use milk with some fat content.)

1. Put some water in a rounded saucer and some milk in a second saucer.
2. Place 2-4 drops of food coloring in each. What do you notice?
3. Dip the cotton swab (or the tip of your finger) in dish soap and then gently touch the water in the center. What do you notice? Does anything happen? Then do the same with the milk. What do you notice?

4. Keep exploring. You might ask your child:

a. What are you noticing? How might you describe what you see? What could you try? How could you test that? What would happen if….?
b. When they describe what they want to do next, ask them first to predict – what do you think might happen if you add more soap? Try it!
c. The questions are endless. What do you think might happen if you add more soap? What will happen if it sits? What if it is mixed? How many times can you add soap and still get an explosion of color?
d. Hint for Adults: Don’t interrupt the exploration with information or expertise. Just keep asking questions.
e. Extend your experimentation by comparing the explosions of color using different kinds of milk or types of soap. The explorations are endless!

Background Information

While mostly water, milk also contains proteins and varying amounts of fats. If the milk you used had fat in it, you probably saw the food coloring stay as a drop until the soap was added (Step #2). And then – an explosion of color! The food coloring in just the water probably spread out some but did not change even when soap was added (Step #3). The addition of soap to the milk solution resulted in parts of the fat in the milk and parts of the soap particles (molecules) separating, interacting, combining, twisting, and moving. The more fat, the more movement. Once the pieces of soap and fat are all combined, the movement slows down. However, keep trying – sometimes more soap can lead to yet another explosion of color.

Want more information? Check out these sites:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

These are challenging times for all of us, but the Discovery Center is here to help you and your family have fun and keep learning while we contend with school closures and social distancing.

Going forward we’ll be offering Discovery at Home – Resources for Home Learning & Play! You can find details at We are sharing resources for home learning and play, including activities, videos and favorite staff-picked links. Our goal is to continue engaging curious minds to fuel the future, so be sure to stay connected via social media, especially our Facebook page and blog.

We’re so grateful for the community that has been a part of Discovery Center for so many years. Remember that we’re all in this together, and we will do everything we can to continue engaging curious minds to fuel the future!


UPDATED 3/24/20, 6:30 p.m. CDT

Discovery Center extends closure through April

As our community continues efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Discovery Center has made the difficult decision to remain closed to the public through at least April. During that time, all events and programs are effectively canceled or postponed.

The decision reflects guidance from public health officials who recommend an extended period of closures to help slow the spread of the disease. Staying at home remains the most helpful way to prevent exposure and avoid overwhelming our healthcare system.

Although our facility is closed, we are here to help you and your family have fun and keep learning from home via our Discovery at Home – Resources for Home Learning & Play, available at These resources include activities, videos and favorite staff-picked links. Our goal is to continue engaging curious minds to fuel the future!

We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation as it evolves. If there are any changes to our operations, we will keep the public informed at

As we contend with this extended closure, we want to express our deep appreciation for the many members and supporters who have made it possible for us to continue limited operations. Your support is vital to our mission. It funds continued care for the exhibits and animals that call the Discovery Center home. In addition, we are grateful for front line health care workers, truck drivers, grocery store clerks, and many others who are continuing to provide essential services.

For those who are able, we ask that you consider these additional ways to support Discovery Center during this challenging time:

  • Make a donation to support the museum while we are closed. Visit to donate.
  • If you’re already shopping on Amazon or at your local Kroger, Target, Publix and more, these companies will give back to the museum at no cost to you.
    • Amazon: Shop using this link
    • Kroger: Register your Kroger plus card at Our account number is PU532 and this registration must be renewed annually.
    • If you shop at Target or Publix the Planet Fundraiser app allows you to donate 2-3% of your total to the Discovery Center simply by taking a picture of your receipt. Download the app today and allow Target and Publix to give the donation on what you buy!

Stay informed about COVID-19 by visiting or by calling the COVID-19 Public Information Number: 877-857-2945 (Available 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. CST Daily).



EXPIRED UPDATE – 3/13/20, 5:15 p.m. CDT:

The Tennessee Department of Health (TNDH) has confirmed a positive test result for a case of COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Rutherford County. Out of an abundance of caution and to assist with our community’s mitigation efforts, the Discovery Center has made the decision to close temporarily beginning Monday, March 16.

We anticipate remaining closed for two weeks, through Friday, March 27, but will continue to evaluate the situation and post updates as they’re available. During that time, all events and programs are effectively cancelled, which include but are not limited to:

  • March 18 – Homeschool Lab
  • March 20 – Parents’ Night Out
  • All previously scheduled field studies, birthday parties, facility rentals, mobile education, etc.

During the closure, we will undergo a deep cleaning of our facility.

The outdoor areas adjacent to the Discovery Center, including the Murfree Spring wetlands which is managed by the City of Murfreesboro, will remain open.

We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation as it evolves in Tennessee, and if any other changes to our operations become necessary, we will keep the public informed at

To contact a member of our staff regarding this closure, please email Staff will be available for phone calls beginning Monday, March 16, at (615) 890-2300.




The Discovery Center is committed to providing a safe and welcoming space for children and families.

We are following the recommendations of federal, state and local health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Tennessee Department of Health. With that in mind, we have taken the following steps for the health and safety of our visitors and the larger community:

  • Increasing the frequency of disinfecting hands-on elements of our exhibits and public spaces, including door handles, railings, countertops and other high-touch areas.
  • Highlighting signage within the museum that encourages visitors to wash their hands or use any of the hand sanitizer stations located throughout the facility.
  • Ensuring that any staff who feel ill should stay home, and establishing an internal communication plan for when staff resources must be shifted to cover employees on sick leave.
  • Encouraging our visitors to be mindful of our efforts to prevent the spread of respiratory disease (including the flu), which may mean social distancing or opting to visit on another day, if they are showing symptoms of illness.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation, including decisions by local health and school officials, in order to make informed decisions regarding our operations.

In the meantime, here’s what you can do to keep yourself and your family healthy:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Stay informed by visiting or by calling the COVID-19 Public Information Number: 877-857-2945 (Available 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. CST Daily).

Third annual STEAM Festival brings science to life across Tennessee

Variety of events and activities for all ages, Oct. 11-20

MURFREESBORO, Tenn., Sept. 25, 2019—Science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) will come to life at more than 100 events across the state during the 3rd annual Tennessee STEAM Festival, taking place Oct. 11‑20, 2019.

The Festival was founded by the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring and incorporates events at a wide range of museums, schools, community centers and other attractions. A complete listing of activities and locations is available at

“The Tennessee STEAM Festival continues to grow with an ever-expanding reach across our great state, providing Tennesseans exciting new ways to engage with science, technology, engineering, art and math,” said Discovery Center CEO Tara MacDougall. “The Festival is focused on promoting lifelong learning and on helping citizens better understand the world around them.

“We’re very appreciative of our sponsors and partners who have stepped up to support this critical endeavor at locations across the state. This Festival wouldn’t be possible without them,” MacDougall said.

Signature events during the Tennessee STEAM Festival include:

  • Storybook Science at the Discovery Center, Murfreesboro
  • Charlotte’s Web Activity and Movie Night at MTSU, Murfreesboro
  • Nashville Symphony Orchestra at Plaza Mariachi, Nashville
  • STEAM Carnival at West Town Mall, Knoxville
  • EarthCache Day at Discovery Park of America, Union City
  • Craft Fair STEAM Tent at Audubon Park, Memphis
  • Science in the Circus at Patterson Park Community Center, Murfreesboro
  • …and much more!

Major participating organizations include:

  • Discovery Center, Murfreesboro
  • Adventure Science Center, Nashville
  • Children’s Museum of Memphis
  • Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville
  • Customs House Museum, Clarksville
  • Discovery Park of America, Union City
  • Fisk University, Nashville
  • Frist Art Museum, Nashville
  • Hands-On Discovery Center, Johnson City
  • Memphis Botanic Garden
  • Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro
  • The Muse, Knoxville
  • Pink Palace, Memphis
  • Reelfoot Lake State Park, Tiptonville
  • Tennessee Craft Week
  • Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville
  • Vanderbilt University, Nashville

While most of the Festival’s events are free and open to the public, some are subject to admission charges and space limitations.

Connect with the Tennessee STEAM Festival on Facebook @STEAMFestival or on Twitter @STEAMFest.

Sponsored by Franke, the Tennessee Section of the American Chemical Society, FedEx, Dr. and Mrs. Scott Corlew, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, Atmos Energy, Rutherford County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and CedarStone Bank, in partnership with Science Festival Alliance, Science Alliance of Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Craft Week and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

About the Discovery Center

The Discovery Center at Murfree Spring is a hands-on, environmental, cultural and educational museum located in the heart of Middle Tennessee. More than 120,000 children and families visit annually, exploring exhibits and participating in programs that promote STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts & math) education. Adjacent to the Center is the protected Murfree Spring wetlands, a natural habitat for a variety of fish, amphibians and birds. Located at 502 S.E. Broad Street in Murfreesboro, TN, the Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit or call (615) 890-2300.

Engaging Curious Minds to Fuel the Future.

# # #


Jeff Krinks, Discovery Center
jkrinks [at]

Fall Break Camp Is Right Around The Corner

It’s the middle of September, have you finalized your fall break plans? If not, we’ve got some great options for your Kindergarten – 4th grade kiddos. Set for October 1 – 5, fall break camp is a week of hands-on, interactive exploration. This year’s theme is meteorology and we’re pretty confident that Mother Nature will provide us with plenty of real-life examples between now and then. Rather than registering for the full camp at once, fall break sign ups can be made for individual days. Here’s a breakdown of our lesson plans:

  • Monday, A Day in the Clouds: Thunderbolts and lightning….very, very exciting! We’re exploring the water cycle and making pet clouds to take home.
  • Tuesday, Be a Meteorologist: Channel your inner Lelan Statom or Jim Cantore as you learn about the instruments meteorologists use and become a TV meteorologist for the afternoon.
  • Wednesday, Sun and Moon: Learn about the ways the sun and moon affect our daily weather despite being so far from Earth.
  • Thursday, Wind: There’s no doubt a summer breeze makes us feel fine, but we’re talking about the tools humans use to harness the power of wind.
  • Friday, Storms: We’re taking a look at the outspoken side of weather and learning about storm patterns that happen here at home and even taking a look at storms in space.

Registration for fall break camp is now open. Camp runs daily from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, but extended care is offered from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm for an additional $5 per day. The daily registration rate for non-members is $40 and members are $35. To reserve your spot today, click here.

The Search Is On

Even though we’ve still got a few strong months of 2018 left in the tank, our strategic sights are officially set on 2019. While Tara is working on an official review of the Advisory Board to determine which industries and skill sets are already represented, we’d like your help too. Aptly named the Advisory Board, this group is responsible for providing subject matter expertise and professional guidance to the Discovery Center with respect to exhibits, operations, programs, and community impact. The Advisory Board meets quarterly at the Discovery Center for a status update from staff and plan for upcoming projects. Additionally, some members may be asked to serve on a committee or leadership team, such as the STEAM Festival’s leadership council. In addition to volunteer service, we ask that Advisory Board members serve as advocates for Discovery Center’s mission and programs. This can be achieved by sharing our social media posts and telling your networks about our upcoming exhibits and events. If you know someone or have a colleague that would make a great addition to our Advisory Board, please send their contact information and a short bio to Hayley Richey at