Dialogue Blog: Camp Favorites

by Katy Creagh, School Programs Developer, and Eric Todd, Gallery Programming Manager

041113_katy_ericKATY: Eric, I am so excited! My job has changed and I am now the Indiana State Museum Summer Camp Director. Now, I know you have a special place in your heart for Summer Camps, so I thought it might be fun to discuss our Top 5 favorite things about camp.

ERIC: If there are two things I love, they are camp and lists. So sure, I’ll play along. 

KATY: Great, I’ll go first.  At number five, I have recess. You get to spend time outside playing games and enjoying the summer weather. It has all the perks of recess when you were in elementary school.

ERIC: You may have just stolen one of mine, but that is fine. My fifth favorite thing about summer camp is the free camp t-shirt. Every time I get one, that’s one more day before I have to do laundry.

KATY: Are you sure it’s just one more day? For number four, I went with looking for fossils. That includes microfossils in Diggin’ Indiana and Exploring Nature Camps and then sifting dirt in Paleontology II. It’s something I’ve never experienced before coming to the museum, and it’s fun to think that I’m doing the same work that REAL scientists and paleontologists do.

ERIC: That is cool, I agree. My number four is making things. You might call them crafts, but it’s really more than that. By summer’s end my desk is always filled with awesome new decorations that also serve as reminders of the fun I had.

KATY: Perfect transition, my number three is also crafty—weaving. You get to try weaving in two different camps (Indiana Artists and History Alive!) and make my favorite, “mug rugs.”

ERIC: I would normally give you a hard time about “mug rugs,” but I do have one at my desk that I use daily. My number three choice is a repeat of one of yours, but you’ll notice I placed it a bit higher on my list. Recess, lunch break and snack time. I have so much fun in those moments! I loved recess as a kid, but now I really appreciate it. And, if my boss is reading this, Susan — what are your thoughts on instituting museum recess?

KATY: I’d vote “yes” for that one. Alright, now we’re getting down to the big ones. At number two on my list, I have all things crafting. See how high it is on my list compared to yours? From the end of the week presentations to making a mosaic in Diggin’ Indiana camp … I love all the projects and crafts we get to make.  

ERIC: I am shocked that is not your number one, frankly, especially with the new Indiana Fashion Runway Camp which I imagine will let you craft around the clock. My number two is behind-the-scenes tours. As you know, even as museum employees we don’t have access to everything in the museum, but during camp, we get to go places and see things that most visitors — and staff — never see.

KATY: Nice choice. But now the big one. My number one favorite thing about summer camp at the Indiana State Museum is … the campers! Spending time with old friends and making new ones — I get to play games and learn new things about Indiana and don’t have to sit at my desk all day … I get to hang out with cool people all day which is way better.

ERIC: Great minds think alike — my number one choice is also the people. I always meet the coolest people in summer camp. From wildlife experts (with their animals) to Abraham Lincoln himself, you never know who you’ll see stopping by an Indiana State Museum camp. Oh, and the campers and counselors are pretty cool, too!

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On Expedition at the Indiana State Museum

By Krystle Buschner, Science & Technology Interpretation Specialist

A new program titled Expedition! is premiering at the Indiana State Museum this Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21.  It is a game similar to Oregon Trail, but slightly different. Expedition teams will be traveling through 19th century Indiana to complete scientific objectives (even “hunt” with rubber band rifles!) or their team will face consequences. 

In anticipation of Expedition!, the education staff decided to go on their own expedition … through the Indiana State Museum:

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During the Expedition! program, leaders will explore a cave and uncover fossils, identify three rocks or minerals, find a new discovery, identify three types of soil found in Indiana, and encounter a Native American tribe. We hope to see all expedition leaders on April 20 and 21!

The Naturalist’s Lab needs you!

by Karine Huys, Coordinator of Volunteer Services

Coral reefs and crochet, photomicrography, and animal noises! It’s an exciting time to be a volunteer in the R.B. Annis Naturalist’s Lab here at the Indiana State Museum.

Just outside the door in the Ancient Seas gallery The Indiana Reef has opened. A coral reef in landlocked Indiana? Absolutely! Volunteer crocheters from across Indiana have created all aspects of a real coral reef. The Lab volunteers can answer questions about the reef, talk to people about the fossilized remains of the real coral reefs that used to be in Indiana or just enjoy the view through the large glass wall.

A new videomicroscope has been installed in the Naturalist’s Lab! With this microscope guests (and volunteers) can capture images of items at the microscopic level and then e-mail the images to their home e-mail. I was just downstairs explaining the process to today’s volunteer and we captured a microscopic view of the fossilized coral! 

Of course, guests can still mimic animal calls and replay them over the loudspeaker, try to figure out the difference between mastodont tusk and bone, and all the other great things always going on. And lots of volunteers have been reporting great interaction with guests visiting Indianapolis from different countries.

Join us as a Naturalist’s Lab volunteer — find the crab in the Reef, take a microscopic picture of your hand and make new friends … what more could you want?! More information about volunteering is available on the museum webpage at indianamuseum.org/volunteer.

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Do you like puzzles?

by Elizabeth M. Scott, Natural History and Archaeology Preparator at the Indiana State Museum

When archaeologists and paleontologists excavate bones, sometimes they are found in several pieces or are so fragile that they break into pieces during excavation or processing. So, how are these finds identified, tracked and pieced back together? Why bother to mend bones back together? What do we learn from this process? It’s a giant 3-D puzzle!

Let’s follow a group of bones from the Bothwell mastodont site, a site in northern Indiana that yielded material representing seven individual mastodonts.

Pieces of jaw oriented and laid out prior to mending.

Paleontologists in the field found a group of bones. The characteristics of the bones and the presence of teeth led scientists to identify this clustering to be a jaw. They gave this grouping of bones a field identification number and marked its location on the excavation’s site map. Back at the museum, the material was washed, dried, catalogued and consolidated (saturated with a resin for preservation). After this, the preparator —me! — began the process of mending the material back together.

Many things can make it difficult to piece a bone back together. Material can be damaged or lost at the time of the animal’s death; or as the carcass deteriorates, pieces may be moved during a site’s development over time; damage can happen during excavation or laboratory processing. Also, non-fossilized bone material acts similar to wood in that it can warp and distort as it takes in and gives off moisture. This can dramatically affect the bone’s shape and preservation during a site’s formation, excavation and laboratory processing.

During the mending process, there are several ways to deal with distortion and lost or damaged fragments. The piece may be placed at an angle during mending, and there’s the addition of fill material to replace missing pieces and to strengthen weak areas. This takes a complementary blending of biology knowledge and art skill.

This fully mended jaw contains 80 pieces.

But why bother with mending these bone fragments? Well, mending bone fragments is important for several reasons. First, it can assist in better specimen identification. One group of small fragments originally listed simply as “vertebra?” can now more accurately be identified as “third or fourth cervical vertebra.” Second, it can reveal better biological information. Only after mending was it possible to determine that one of the five jaws recovered from the site was from a fully mature older adult. Third, it means fewer fragments to track in storage. The jaw in our example is now one large item and not 80 individual ones. Finally, it can give us clues about site formation processes and the relationships between different bones and individuals found across the site. The jaw in our example was constructed of fragments from two different areas of the site.

Check out this video from the Bothwell site.

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What is it?!?

by Sarah Boutwell, Museum Store Sales Associate

Check out this unbelievable creature! Does it remind you of something from the Kevin Bacon movie Tremors

Fossils of this unidentified species were found in a cave in Quilpie, Australia. Several experts have examined this “worm-like” creature and its young ones, but have yet to determine the species. Some of the fossils we sell at our store are from the same cave and are thought to be sponges that inhabited the same living space. What’s truly amazing about these fossils is that they are filled with opal! When held under light, you can see the beautiful colors of the opal shining through the rust colored rock exterior.

The Indiana Store at the Indiana State Museum now has an entire wall dedicated to fossils, rocks and minerals! Many of them are from Indiana and the surrounding states, but we also have some of the rarest fossils in the world. Come check out these fossils and more at the Indiana Store today!

And don’t forget to mark you calendar for GeoFest on Oct. 22, 23 and 24!

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