Soup’s On!

LizaBy: Liza Blair
Arts Manager


Any opportunity to cook with your child is a good opportunity. This is a principle I believe and one we put to practice every week at the Museum.

One meal I enjoy having kids make is soup. It’s fast, easy, and comforting. This recipe for potato, leek, and seasonal green soup is one of my top picks.

I created this recipe for Creative Discovery Museum’s cooking class in Culinary Corner. Like all the recipes we use in Culinary Corner, this one focuses on using seasonal vegetables to prepare a quick and delicious family meal. It is a great recipe for introducing seasonal foods and beginning a dialogue about plants and how they grow. Which foods grow in which season? What’s the difference between a flower bud and a stalk vegetable? Why do some foods grow above ground while others grow several inches below ground?

It’s also a great recipe to use with children of all ages and can be modified based on specific needs. When we make this soup during the Kitchen Lesson, children enjoy cutting the potatoes, slicing the leeks, tearing the greens, and blending all vegetables into the soup.

The recipe uses three basic staples of fall cooking: potatoes, leeks, and leafy greens. Add a little seasoning, and together these ingredients make a wonderful, hearty soup that will keep you and your family warm on any chilly fall night.

Potato, Leek and Green Soup

potato soup

What You Need:

5 Yukon potatoes
1 leek
1 bunch bok choy, turnip greens, or kale
1 tablespoon butter
1.5 cups milk (add more if needed)
Dash of nutmeg
Olive Oil

Boil potatoes until tender. Once tender, drain water and keep potatoes in pot. In a different pan, heat olive oil on medium  heat. Add leek, greens, and nutmeg and saute until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add to potatoes, along with butter, salt, pepper, and milk. Use an immersion blender or potato masher on potato mixture to blend into puree. Add more milk to reach desired consistency. Keep warm until ready to serve.

7 Things You Might Not Know about Creative Discovery Museum

annual-report-coverBy Lynda LeVan
Director of External Affairs

Here are some uncommon things about the Museum you don’t know and may not have guessed. For the full story of what goes on at Creative Discovery Museum, check out our 2015 annual report on our website.  Continue reading →

From Creative Discovery Museum to NASA

raewynRaewyn Duvall was in the Museum Apprentice Program (MAP) at Creative Discovery Museum for six years and has now landed her dream job working with robots for the Mars mission for NASA.  We asked her about her new job and her experiences as a MAP.

Can you describe the work you’ve been doing with NASA?

My official position is a Pathways intern for SwampWorks, NASA’s research division at Kennedy Space Center that primarily works in robotics.  I am the Computer Engineer for the team and am currently working on Red Rover, a platform robot used for testing systems that may be used on future robots on actual missions.  Our current big project that we’re doing testing for is Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot (RASSOR), an excavator robot that is slated to go to Mars to help set up resources for manned missions in the future.  It will collect Mars dirt for things such as extracting water and making material that could be used by a 3D printer we are also developing.  Basically I get to do a lot of fun new research with robots all day.

What’s a typical day like?

A typical day at NASA involves coming into the lab around 8 AM to start work – email and generic administrative tasks first. Then I program and play with robots until around noon.  There are also a number of staff meetings, at least one a week to update the branch on how all the projects are coming along, and then other meetings with mentors and supervisors to make sure our individual project is on track. As an intern, I also get to go on a lot of tours – for example, next week I get to see Orion, the next manned module for going to Mars, and the week after I’ll be touring the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), one of the largest buildings by volume in the world where they assemble the rockets before launch.

What do you hope to do in the future? What would be your dream job be like?

This is my dream job!  Now, the only thing that could be better is if I actually got into the Astronaut program and was able to go to space! There are two ways to be an astronaut: through the military or through education/research. So I have actually have a plan of getting a couple of Masters and maybe a PhD.  After my first Masters, I’ll start applying to be an astronaut every time applications open up. My more realistic goal from here, though, is probably management; it would be really cool to be a project manager and be in charge of a project from start to finish.

What sparked your interest that led to study computer science?

I actually got into computer science because my sister and dad were in some computer science and I loved the logic behind it when I actually started programming in high school. My teacher, Jill Pala at GPS, really got me excited about programming to where I wanted to pursue it in college. Admittedly, it was my backup in college because I knew I liked it but really wanted to do Mechanical Engineering.  Now that I’ve taken Mechanical and Electrical Engineering classes, as well as a lot of math classes (just a few classes shy of a double major), I realized that I love all of engineering, so I’m actually going to grad school starting this fall for MSc in Robotics from the University of Plymouth (UoP) in England, then starting next spring an MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and hopefully after that going into Mechanical Engineering and maybe even some Aerospace Engineering. There’s going to be a lot of school in my future, but luckily the program I’m in right now lets me go between school and NASA every other semester or so.

What is your favorite memory from your time as a MAP?

I was a MAP for 6 years and have so many memories from it. Honestly, I loved the people I worked with and how much a family CDM was. It was the most inclusive and supportive area of my life during middle and high school and I’m still best friends with some of my fellow MAPs today. Everyone had fun together everyday at work and that really made me realize that the one thing I value most in a job is the group with whom I’m working.

How did being in the MAP program help prepare you for this internship and college?

The MAP program really taught me how to open up to people I don’t know. I used to be very shy, but on the floor you have to learn how to interact with guests and when you’re a Level 3 MAP, you have to be able to help with training and being a mentor to the new MAPs. Because of the social interactions required throughout my time at the museum, I learned to be extroverted, which helped in creating strong points of contact with my mentors over the years and ultimately networking successfully.

Randy Jestice (Youth Programs Manager) was really the main instigator of my transformation throughout the MAP program. He brought me on knowing that I’d have to come out of my shell to succeed at CDM and he was always there for advice and support throughout all of middle and high school. He also helped me create a solid foundation for my career using his experiences in the professional world by teaching me everything from how to create a polished resume to how to improve my technique in interviews. Randy’s insights into how I could be better prepared for the real world were invaluable to my success.

Get Ready for School at the Zoo

Girl-with-sheepsby Emily Lemons

A visit to the zoo is a wonderful opportunity to learn about animals from all over the world, but did you know it could also help your child get ready for kindergarten in a fun and meaningful context?  We are fortunate to have the Chattanooga Zoo in our community and as a partner in our kindergarten readiness program, Countdown to Kindergarten. While the ideas in this post are written specifically with the Chattanooga Zoo in mind, many of the ideas and activities can apply to many other places you might visit Continue reading →

Summer Pasta Salads


By Liza Blair
Arts Manager

Pasta salad is one of the perfect summer time foods. Quick to make and packed with lots of flavor, their versatility is one of the reasons why I love this dish. Cooked pasta tossed with sauté vegetables, some good cheese, a little salt and pepper, and a quick drizzle of olive oil is my idea of summer comfort food. Continue reading →

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