Collection Corner: Education & Museums

Over the past two months, we have had several class groups in to tour the museum. Some have traveled as far as Camp Crook and others include Baker and several grades from our own Ekalaka Elementaryand high schools. For Archaeology Month, we featured our atlatl teaching collection, where students were able to use the spear thrower to hunt a mammoth and a saber-toothed cat.

This month, we had the fourth grade in from Ekalaka to tour the Lambert Room and handle the Maiasaura bones from our mobile science lab. Other groups participated in craft activities, making T. rex cardboard figures, handprint dinosaurs, and sorting dinosaurs from non-dinosaurs. We also had demonstrations about Taxidermy from Jenn Hall.

I’ve talked about MAIA before, but to refresh, this is our joint project with the Museum of the Rockies and Ekalaka Public Schools. The project was piloted in Sharon Carroll’s math classroom last year and Chioko Hammell helped construct the science lab portion of the project.

This year, MAIA (short for Math and Agriculture In Action) went on the road to rural schools in Montana. To date, it has traveled over 1,300 miles and been used by 325 students in grades K-12.

While these statistics are a testament to the vast distances and small communities of the last best state, they also tell a story of opportunity, in which these students have been able to interact with dinosaur material and connect lessons of growth and development with modern day knowledge of agriculture and hunting.

Teaching collections like the atlatl bundle and mobile trunks like MAIA are gaining in popularity as museum outreach tools. It’s no wonder, since these programs enable museums to reach beyond their walls and bring their collections to people who may not be able to make the trek to the museum itself.

Other outreach tools like Skype in the Classroom and Fieldtrip Zoom are popular tools to engage students from across the nation, and something that we at the CCM will consider using in the future.

It is important to consider these distance programs as inspiration to seek further knowledge – not a replacement for going to the museum itself. Each one gives a taste of the larger institution. As we often remind our visitors, there’s more than just dinosaurs at the CCM. We have the Tooke Bucking Horse collection, Paleoindian artifacts, and the veterans display just to name a few.

However, by their characterization as collections you can touch and interact with, they provide a tactile representation of the past. How might have Paleoindian nations hunted for food? We know what we’ve read in books, but now let’s try using an atlatl. How do we know how dinosaurs may have behaved in life? We look at modern animals today for clues.

At the Carter County Museum, it is part of our mission to increase and diffuse knowledge and appreciation of history, art and science. To that end, we will be developing more educational programs and teaching collections.

This summer, in addition to the 5th Annual Dino Shindig (July 29th and 30), we will have community field days with our fossil crew and a new display of animal skulls specifically for science classes. During the Days of 85, we’ll do an extended atlatl training after the parade and a competition for prizes. Teachers, consider a visit to the museum for your classes in the 2017/18 school year.

In the meantime, mark your calendars for the Geological Society Meeting on Thursday, June 1 at 7pm. We’ll be introducing the new members of our Fossil Field Crew and have a talk on fossil cradles by Hillary Mclean, our Paleo Lab Manager. Visit the museum for our new display on rocks and minerals and stay tuned for a full summer of activities at the CCM!

Posted in News.