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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Giant hanging coccolithophore runs amok in museum!

Written by Peggy Fisherkeller, curator of geology at the Indiana State Museum

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Coccolithophores are marine planktonic organisms that secrete calcareous plates, called coccoliths, around a single cell. They are so tiny they are best viewed with a scanning electron microscope (an SEM). That’s one of the reasons that a large red version hanging from the ceiling in the Great Hall of the Indiana State Museum was so amusing to me. Another reason for my amusement? I had a fair amount of certainty the artist didn’t know he was creating a pretty good replica of an obscure micro-organism. But that’s the great thing about art – we interpret different meanings based on our personal experiences.

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