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Interdisciplinary Workshop 6: STEAM Trails

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Halsey Spruance, Jill Karlson, Jon Manon, Seth Hunt, and John Jungck

​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.

​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.

​The Delaware Museum of Natural History provides the map at left and further details which can be found in the following link: http://www.delmnh.org/outdoors2/.  

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Interdisciplinary Workshop 6: STEAM Trails
  • Interdisciplinary Science Learning Laboratories
  • 221 Academy Street, Suite 402
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-6400
  • isll-info@udel.edu
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