Museum Musings

A Fond FUN Farewell

Sathvik.jpgThe Fernbank Ultimate Naturalist program, also known as the FUN volunteer program, provides and an opportunity for youth ages 13-17 to gain hands-on experience in a museum setting.

The Fernbank FUN program runs June through May and includes 80 to 90 students. FUN volunteers support Fernbank’s educational efforts through a variety of projects, including interacting with guests at special “Discovery Carts” stationed throughout the Museum, providing event support at family adventure days and more. 

Fernbank educators provide training, support and guidance to FUN volunteers. Currently leading the program is Education Program Manager–Earth Science, Kaden Borseth.

“Whether they volunteer for one year or 5+ years, every FUN volunteer makes a difference in the lives of guests and helps inspire a greater appreciation of natural history,” said Borseth.

Several volunteers enjoy the experience so much, they elect to continue the program until such time they age out—usually upon graduating high school.

“It’s bittersweet. We are sad to have to say goodbye, but also happy to see them moving on to great things,” said Borseth.

One of those bittersweet movements happened in May, as Fernbank said farewell to one of our long-time volunteers, Sathvik (pictured). In his own words, this is what the FUN program meant to him:

Thank you for four great years in the FUN program. I am graduating high school and moving on to The Johns Hopkins University, where I hope to study pre-med and major in Global Health Studies. I would like to eventually receive an MD and an MPH. I will definitely come by to visit Fernbank during summers and school vacations; my sister is starting the FUN program this summer. Thanks again for teaching me not only about science but also about how to speak to people and carry on conversations. The skills I learned through FUN have been very invaluable.

Thank you Sathvik. And thank you to all of our incredible FUN volunteers—past, present and future.

Information on the 2015-2016 program will be available on our website in February. Until then, please say “Hello” to our summer FUN team the next time you visit the Museum!

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

Written by Fernbank Museum at 08:55

Special Summer Ticket Giveaway


Whale Watch 1.jpgDid you have a whale of a time in
Whales: Giants of the Deep? Did you take advantage of the special "Fernbank Whale Watch" photo opp? If so, that photo could win you TWO FREE IMAX® tickets! 

We want to see your “Fernbank Whale Watch” photos. And, just for sharing your pictures, you will automatically be entered to win 2 free IMAX® tickets.

It’s simple to share:

Need inspiration? Check out our #FernbankWhales gallery.  

Check out 97 Days of Play for more summer fun ideas! 

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing

 

Written by Fernbank Museum at 16:03

Adventures in DIRT! A Return to Summer Camp

Fernbank's offiical blog started with a post I wrote after joining one of Fernbank’s first mock digs during summer camp. That was (ahem) a few years ago, so I decided it was time to re-visit the dig pit and live vicariously through our young, energetic and very excited campers. 

First, it was time to fuel up for our adventure. Campers enjoyed a picnic lunch in the Museum’s Great Hall, under the watchful eyes of the world’s largest dinosaurs.

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Please don’t feed the dinosaurs.

I decided to head to the dig pit early to take photos before the flurry of activity started. Much to my chagrin, as the campers arrived, I heard one of them ask (referring to me) “Is she a fossil.” I didn’t take it personally. (Note: look into stronger face cream.)

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My reaction to being confused with a fossil.

Before we dug in to the day’s adventure, Kaden Borseth, Fernbank’s Education Program Manager–Earth Science, gave a quick overview. He explained what the campers would be looking for, the tools they’d be using, as well as the best method for recovering the fossils they found. When it comes to paleontology (and archaeology), gentle is the key! You don’t want to damage your discovery.

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A quick “how to.”

And then we began! Not with a starting pistol, but with an exited flurry of little hands grasping tools and shifting dirt. It wasn’t long before the first declaration of “I FOUND something.” It would not be last.

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Campers worked in teams.

Excited voices called out items as they found them. Eggs, legs, ribs and more. As each piece was uncovered (after a celebratory wave to show the others), they were carefully cleaned off and set aside.

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But these weren’t just random pieces, like a really cool (and a bit dirty) puzzle, the pieces formed a dinosaur!

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Almost done!

It was great to be a kid again, even if just for a couple of hours.

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Adventures in dirt!

This unique activity was developed by Fernbank educators and is one of many engaging programs offered by the Museum. And while mock digs aren’t currently offered to the public, you can take advantage of a variety of drop-in programs offered throughout the summer. Activities include chemistry demonstrations, animal encounters and more. Look for the “Today at Fernbank” sign when you arrive for details.

Click here to see more photos from today's dig.  

—Deanna Smith, Director of Marketing 

Written by Fernbank Museum at 17:01

A Neighborhood Nestwatch Experience

This summer, Fernbank has the opportunity to begin working with the Smithsonian Institution’s Neighborhood Nestwatch program.  This citizen science project is geared to connect bird enthusiasts with actual researchers to gather scientific data related to bird habits and population patterns. Recently, Christine Bean (VP of Education) and I had the opportunity to learn firsthand how the program works, as Chris’ yard has become one of the research sites, along with her next-door-neighbor.

As an educator with a passion for animals and scientific research, I was intrigued to learn more about how the program actually works at the study sites and was not disappointed. The Nestwatch scientist, Alie, began by observing the area and surveying which bird species were present. Then, we helped setup mist nets and a sort of “field command station”. Throughout the few hours we monitored the nets, we caught a handful of birds, which were banded, measured, recorded and released. We also caught a few species that are not currently targeted in the study, so they were released unharmed.

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“It was the first time I’d held a bird—Alie taught me how to hold it so it would be gently yet firmly supported. I was struck by the warmth of this tiny creature, and its strong heartbeat,” Christine Bean

Having a propensity for working hands-on with animals, I was thrilled about the opportunity to help manage the birds through the process and aid in recording their measurements. The birds banded included a Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinal and 2 Chickadees. Chris and her neighbor will continue to observe these animals year after year and report their data directly to the Smithsonian Institution.

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Cardinal with “pacifier”

During the experience, one of the most entertaining parts was learning about the different behaviors of each bird species. We learned that Cardinals and Tufted Titmouse are two species that “announce” their frustrations throughout the banding process and that cardinals have the most powerful bites of the 8 targeted species for this study. While the Cardinal was in the process of measurement and banding, Alie offered a twig to pacify the bird and it worked! 

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I couldn’t believe how quickly and efficiently Alie was able to work with the birds, recording their data and going through several steps before releasing them back into the neighborhood. She held the bird in one hand, using the other to write, shuffle through data sheets and measure tail and tarsus lengths. The birds were also weighed, sexed and evaluated for body fat content. Alie’s compassion for these animals was also evident from her gentle and comforting manner, all while explaining the process and answering questions from us. Overall, the experience was incredibly rewarding, as we learned about the birds and the research process and had the opportunity to actually be a part of this scientific study!

Learn more about Neighborhood Nestwatch and find out how YOUR backyard can be involved.

—Lynn Anders, Animal Programs Coordinator

Written by Fernbank Museum at 10:26

Celebrate Easter and Passover by Visiting Jerusalem

403x403-Jerusalem.jpgDue to popular demand, the captivating giant screen film Jerusalem, presented by National Geographic Entertainment, has been extended through the Easter and Passover holidays at Fernbank’s IMAX® Theatre.

Jerusalem immerses audiences in a spectacular cinematic journey—soaring high above the Holy Land and plunging deep into the vibrant Old City—so they can experience as never before the iconic sites cherished by billions.

Special screenings of Jerusalem will be offered in Fernbank’s IMAX® Theatre Fridays at 7pm and Sundays at 5pm through April 27. IMAX tickets are $13 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, $11 for children 12 and younger, and $8 for museum members.

These special screenings will likely sell out. Advance purchase is highly recommended online or by calling 404.929.6400. 

 

Written by Fernbank Museum at 14:07
Welcome to the official blog of Fernbank Museum of Natural History. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!

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