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Posted 01/06/03, by Susan Knapp
Cooperation between the museum and the College is not new. Below are examples in which they've joined to offer science education to the community.
Four schools in the Upper Valley currently participate in Environmental Detectives, a middle school science curriculum developed by staff at the Montshire Museum and faculty researchers at Dartmouth, with several local teachers. In addition to helping teachers create hands-on lab experiments, the program takes students into the field to gather data to help them understand the connections between local habitats, wildlife and soil chemistry. The outreach project is part of a National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences grant to study how toxic metals (like arsenic, mercury and lead) move through the environment and how they affect human health. Josh Hamilton, Director of Dartmouth's Center for Environmental Health Sciences and a Montshire board member, and Carol Folt, Dartmouth Professor of Biological Sciences, are the principal investigators. Mary Lou Guerinot, a Dartmouth Professor of Biological Sciences whose research focuses on metal transport in plants, also participates in Environmental Detectives with funding from the Plant Genome Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Each summer, Dick Birnie, Dartmouth Professor of Earth Sciences, teaches a one-day Montshire seminar on local geology. Birnie has also consulted on developing special exhibits, and he administers a NASA New Hampshire Space Grant that supports public astronomy programming at Dartmouth and at the Montshire.
The currently traveling exhibition "The Friendly Arctic," which appeared at the Montshire in 2002, features journals and photographs of famed explorer, scientist and Dartmouth lecturer Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879–1962). The exhibition was organized by the Stefansson Arctic Institute in Iceland and Philip Cronenwett, Special Collections Librarian at Dartmouth. The Arctic Institute owns many of Stefansson's photographs, journals and artifacts.
Dartmouth students, during their 2001 sophomore summer, participated in "Discovery Days" at the Montshire by developing interactive science activities for museum visitors. The students designed activities to explain current Dartmouth research initiatives. For example, one student led a program on encryption by teaching the basics of code making, and another student demonstrated how a periscope works by creating an activity on light reflection, refraction and diffraction.
Ursula Gibson, Professor at Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering, often brings her students to the Montshire for a public activity called "Take Apart Day." During this program, museum visitors are encouraged to take apart and examine everyday items, like toasters and fax machines, to see how they work.
A few years ago, the Montshire Museum and Dartmouth developed Science Horizons, a program that brought 80 girl scouts from the Manchester, N.H., Swiftwater Girl Scouts Council to the museum for three weekends of intensive science instruction. Funded by an NSF grant to the Montshire, the program included 16 Dartmouth Women in Science Project (WISP) student interns, who helped lead experiments for the girl scouts. The students also hosted the girl scouts at Dartmouth where they toured various laboratories.
- by Sue Knapp
Science education gets a boost. Dartmouth and Montshire Museum team up, maximizing shared love of science
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