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Founded in 1957 by John Eleuthere du
Pont, the Delaware Museum of Natural History is a private, non-profit corporation in
Wilmington, Delaware. Their mission is to investigate nature and science, preserve
and interpret their collections, conduct scientific research, and inspire people of all
ages to a lifetime of exploration and discovery. Through this mission, they strive to
achieve their purpose, which is to help develop a caring society that respects and
values our planet. The Museum is an indoor and outdoor experience where visitors
may appreciate an African watering hole, gaze up to a giant squid, encounter a
jaguar face-to-face, and marvel at the diversity of shells from around the globe.
Gallery highlights also include the only permanent dinosaur collection in Delaware,
a simulated coral reef, and a Science in Action paleontology lab. Throughout the year
the Museum also hosts several special exhibits on national tour. Over the past three
years, through a series of surveys, stakeholder interviews and group discussions,
many people helped inform the museum on how we can be more in tune with the
evolving needs of our community. An exciting new vision emerged: to break down
the barriers that limit typical natural history museums and place our guests at the
center of the metamorphosis. To this end, we are asking participants in the
DISCovery Workshop to help with this metamorphosis by developing Citizen
Science activities to be conducted on their grounds and produce art work to
promote interest in preserving their biodiverse ecosystem and distinctive Delaware
habitats: the woods and hills of New Castle County, the salt marshes of Kent County,
and the sandy beaches and the Great Cypress Swamp of Sussex County.
In addition to having an opportunity to see some of the incredible collections of the
Delaware Museum of Natural History and its current plans for a major remodeling, we
will learn about a series of activities that they have developed for pre-school children,
elementary school students, and middle-school students to explore along their “STEAM
Trail.” Some things like identifying scat from multiple species are appropriate for any
age, but we would like you to help us develop other activities that might be more
appropriate for your high-school students, and to think about what you would emphasize
if you built a STEAM trail on your own school grounds.
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Halsey Spruance, who had been public relations director at the Brandywine
Conservancy for 10 years, began work as executive director of the Delaware Museum
of Natural History in December 2007. Under his guidance, the museum, whose displays
are anchored in prehistory, has already begun its leap into the future. Spruance’s
professional journey literally began with a single step: through the front door of the
National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C. He graduated from the
University of Delaware as an English major, completed the Publications Specialist
program at George Washington University, and earned a master’s degree in
communications from American University. He had a long career at the National
Geographic Society before returning to Delaware. His journey through NGS took him
from working in the records library to photo editorial assistant with Traveler magazine,
did public relations for the entire society, and finally, became a spokesman for the whole
National Geographic. His responsibilities included managing media and public awareness
for the book division, World children’s magazine, Traveler, and the society’s natural
history museum (Explorers Hall).
Jill Karlson is the Director of Public Programming
at the Delaware Museum of Natural History. She
has been the creator and developer of the DMNH
STEAM Trail and is chiefly responsible for
educational programming at the Museum. She
oversees the Museum's Education Division as well
as the Exhibits and Communications Departments.
Previously, she was the curator of education at the
Brandywine Zoo for 17 years. She has a BS from
Palm Beach Atlantic University and an MA from
the College of William and Mary in Virgina.
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