Junior Naturalist Adventure begins this month

Hello fellow natural history fans and followers!

Who’s ready for our Junior Naturalist Adventure? This exciting new activity will launch at the Museum on Saturday, August 27th, during Science Saturday. As Education Programs Manager, I am always looking for ways to increase the interactivity of our exhibits and create fun, hands-on experiences for our guests. When we think of natural history museums, ‘interactive’ and ‘hands-on’ are not always the first words that come to mind. So, how can we fix that?

I remember visiting natural history museums as a kid; wandering wide-eyed through cavernous, dusty exhibit halls and staring in awe at animals as they stared back with their unmoving, marble gaze. I remember listening to the echoes of footsteps as they bounced around otherwise quiet rooms, and I remember the sense of awe and wonder I felt as I imagined the plants and animals coming to life. This sense of wonder is one that I still feel when I walk past the museum’s exhibits, like the resting mountain lion or the tall standing grizzly bear. And while I credit my enduring love for science and nature to those early museum field trips, the thing I remember most clearly about those visits is the oft-repeated phrase found on signs or heard mumbled by museum docents; “Please Don’t Touch.”

Of course this wasn’t always the case. Certain exhibits encouraged visitors to feel a cut-out of fur, or press a button to hear the call of an elk. Other exhibits asked guests to stand next to something and compare it to their height, or place their hand in the imprint of an animal’s paw. Those moments of interactivity and the exhibits without the “do not touch” signs are the ones that stuck with me the most.

With these sorts of memories in mind, and inspired by a similar activity at the California Academy of Sciences, we’ve developed Junior Naturalist Adventure, a program that takes museum guests on an interactive adventure through the museum with a pack of science tools, completing activities and experiments along the way. The program aims to engage kids ages 7-13, and will be available free-of-charge to all guests upon admission to the Museum.

If you’d like to learn more about the program or embark on your own Junior Naturalist Adventure, join us for the program’s debut during the August 27th Science Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to kicking off Junior Naturalist Adventure, we will also learn about rocks and minerals with the Carmel Valley Gem and Mineral Society (geode cutting, make-your-own crystal, agate necklaces, and more).

I hope to see you all there!