Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Biology Bootcamp 2019

This July we held a Biology Bootcamp at the museum for 2nd-5th graders! The camp was a week long and we did it for 3 different weeks with 3 groups of kids. The kids were able to participate in lots of activities and have many hands-on experiences to learn all about different kinds of animals and plants! Each day had a different focus and we wrapped up our week with a trip to the zoo. We had a great time!!

The first day of Biology Bootcamp was a blast! Our focus on Monday was reptiles, amphibians, and birds. Our day started with some getting to know you activities, followed by a run down of the day, and the week.

We brought out a live frog and a lizard, and discussed as groups and as a class some of their similarities and differences, to help us establish what makes a reptile a reptile, and what makes an amphibian an amphibian. After this, we played games to test our knowledge, and then spent time focusing on turtles, lizards, snakes, frogs, and salamanders. We played games with M&Ms to learn about sea turtles, talked about salamander regeneration with a mad lib, looked at some frogs with amazing ability to camouflage, and even put a little bit of elmers glue on our hands to mimic a snake shedding its skin! On top of all that, we even got to see a live turtle, lizard, snake, frog, and even a salamander. We visited the museum’s wet collection, where we have a variety of reptiles and amphibians stored for research and study. 

After lunch, we began our discussion of birds! We talked about different characteristics birds share, and talked about different types of birds and what makes them so unique. We practiced bird watching with some our museums own exotic mounts, and had the students sketch pictures. We got a tour of the museum’s bird collection, where we store a wide variety of birds for research. Both the wet collection and bird collection require special permission to see and can't be seen by regular museum guests, so our kids got a behind the stage pass to be there! It was awesome. We made recycled birdhouses, and then the day was over.

It was such a fun day! The students got to know each other, laughed and learned about different animals, and even discussed ways we can help conserve some really amazing parts of nature.

On the second day of Biology Bootcamp we started the day by learning about mammals! We talked about what makes a mammal a mammal and played a matching game to learn about the different habitats mammals can live in. We then did a pelt activity where we felt and studied different mammal pelts and tried to guess which mammal each one belonged to. After that, we learned about some interesting features certain mammals have, such as marine mammals using blubber to keep warm. To demonstrate this we put our hands in “blubber bags” that were lined with shortening and then put our hands in ice water, one with the blubber bag and one without. The hand in the blubber bag stayed a lot warmer! We learned about echolocation next, which is what bats use to hunt. They emit soundwaves and can tell the location of an object based on how those soundwaves are reflected. We went outside and played a type of tag game to better understand how it works! Two blindfolded kids would make the sound their teams had decided on and would listen for their teammates to echo it back so they could find them. To wrap up our mammal section we did a scavenger hunt throughout the museum that gave us clues to help us guess what mammal we were supposed to find. We found the smallest mammal in the museum (the Preble’s shrew), the only flying mammal (the bat), a mammal with an excellent sense of smell that hibernates (the grizzly bear), and many more!

We then had the awesome opportunity to tour another one of the museum’s collections, the mammal collection. We saw some skulls, pelts, and many cabinets full of mammals that the public doesn’t usually get to see!  

That afternoon we switched topics and learned about fish. We talked about what makes a fish a fish and learned about the different body shapes fish can have. We did a fishing booth activity where the kids caught paper fish with their yardstick fishing pole and had to figure out which body shape it had and put it in the correct group. We also learned about the different fins a fish has and their functions by playing “pin the fin on the fish”! To cement everything we learned about fish body parts and shapes, each group was then given the task to create their own fish. Every member of the group was given a part of the fish to build which they would then put together. We saw some very creative and clever fish! To finish off day 2, we did some stations to learn about how different fish eat. Fish with superior mouths eat food off the surface of the water. To imitate this we ate donuts dangling from strings without using our hands! Fish with inferior mouths eat things along the ocean floor, and for this we put vaseline on our noses and raced to see who could get the most cotton balls from one bowl to another! We used straws to see how many M&Ms we could get into a cup to demonstrate how jawless fish eat, and finally, we held spoons in our mouths to scoop up objects and raced to transfer them from one table to another to see how fish with elongated mouths eat. It was a fun day! 

On our third day of Biology Bootcamp we learned about plants! We started off by talking about what makes plants different from everything else and the different parts they have. Each kid received their own plant, and were able to dissect it and put each part in the correct box on their paper. Next we learned about leaf types. First we discussed the different shapes, margins, and venation that leaves have, and then played Leaf Type Bingo to help bring together all the information they learned. Each child had a bingo sheet, and ran around outside, and once they found the right leaf, they made a leaf rubbing on their bingo paper. After leaves, we talked about flowers. The kids learned about the different flower parts and functions by dissecting a lily. Once they understood the parts of a flower, we discussed pollination. They learned that pollination occurs when the pollen from one flower gets stuck to the pistil of a different flower usually by an animal. After talking about pollination, we played a matching game where we matched the animal to the correct flower it pollinates. The last part of plant reproduction we talked about was fruit. The kids learned that fruits come from flowers. We looked at several pictures of fruit and then the flower that it came from. We showed pictures of grapes and raspberries, and had the kids draw what they thought the flowers looked like while they snacked on grapes and raspberries. When the kids finished eating their fruit, we went for a walk around campus to try and identify trees using a Dichotomous Key. We looked at the leaves of the tree, and by using the knowledge they learned earlier in the morning, the kids were able to identify the trees. After looking at five trees, we headed back to the museum for lunch.


On Thursday, we studied the differences between insects and other invertebrates. Using microscopes, models, and a live tarantula and cockroach, we examined the characteristics of these invertebrates. We then focused on ants, learning about how they communicate through smell instead of sound, playing a fun silent relay race Easter egg hunt to demonstrate. Next we studied bees and other pollinators, and each student decorated their own bee hotel to bring home. There will be a lot of happy bees in months to come. Finally, after visiting the Bean Museum's collection of almost 2 million insects and other invertebrate specimens, we went on a field trip to Bicentennial Park to catch our very own insects that we sketched, labeled, and released. The day was finished with a popsicle and a short play on the playground.

The final day of Biology Bootcamp was spent at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City! The kids had a great time seeing all the animals, including many they had learned about throughout the week. We even got to see an incredible bird show. All in all Biology Bootcamp was a great success! We learned a lot about the living things on our amazing planet and we had a lot of fun in the process!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Junior Naturalist Summer Camp

This past June, thirteen kids were able to join us for our first and only week of Junior Naturalists camp. These budding scientists had a great time learning a little about wildlife biology and how our museum works behind the scenes.

The first day was spent collecting specimens. Our campers learned techniques for catching and collecting plants and insects. They were instructed to look for five different insect species and four different plant species at each of the sites we visited, including Aspen Grove, Lower Hobble Creek, and the Provo Airport runoff zone. The campers took to this with great enthusiasm, and most exceeded this requirement. They caught a wide range of invertebrate specimens, such as butterflies, moths, bees, earwigs, spiders, millipedes, beetles, and flies. They certainly proved that there are many interesting and unique plants and animals that live under our very noses, and all we have to do to enjoy them is look.

The second day was spent back at the museum. This was certainly welcome as it meant we didn’t have to brave the harsh summer sun again, but it also meant that we got to explore the little-seen collections of our museum, experiencing tens of thousands of vertebrates, hundreds of thousands of plants, and the insect collection exceeding a million specimens that we house here. Campers also learned how to process and display their own specimens, pinning their insects with labels, and pressing their plants to be artfully displayed.

Finally, the last day here at the museum was after a one-day hiatus during which campers did some research on the specimens they had collected. After preparing some wonderful tri-fold displays with lots of color and information, they got to try their hand at teaching museum guests about the cool organisms that they had gathered and displayed. You could really see the pride and excitement many of them felt about sharing their collections, and certainly some of these kids have a bright future in teaching or public speaking.

All in all, Junior Naturalists camp left us feeling sad that we only were able to spend one week with these amazing kids. We were able to learn so much in such a short amount of time, and we were able to get some experiences here at the museum that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. We are looking forward to next year!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Critter Camp (Week 3) - Air

During our final week of Critter Camp, we looked to the skies as we learned about air critters! 

Our first day was spent at the museum learning about all the exciting creatures that navigate the air. Our friend, Belle the tarantula, helped us discuss ballooning in spiders and caterpillars--although she is too big, we learned that many other spiders can float through the air  on strands of silk.

Next, with the help of nature videos, we travelled to Indonesia to watch flying snakes and Draco lizards glide between the treetops. The Critter Camp explorers put gliding into practice with helicoptering maple seeds and their very own paper airplanes.

Finally, we learned about animals that use true flight to move. The campers learned about echolocation with a special game of Bat Tag, had an up-close look at exoskeletons and wings by examining insect specimens under a microscope, and handled real bird wings and feathers. All of us practiced flapping our “wings” to see if we could move as fast as flying animals--crow wingbeats weren’t so hard to keep up with, but hummingbirds and house flies were faster than any of us!

Our second day was spent exploring nature! We went to Hobble Creek where we saw dozens of air critters including birds, butterflies, and dragonflies. Our next stop was a trail near the Provo Airport Dike, where we found even more animals and even some floating seeds. Although it wasn’t a plant or animal, we were also excited to be there just in time to watch an airplane taking off. 

After our hikes, the campers used a spotting scope to catch a glimpse of an osprey nest, and then played the rest of their wiggles out at Bicentennial Park. 

Our day ended with a special surprise! The Raptor Rehabilitation Center visited with several birds of prey and gave a great presentation. The campers were even able to touch a live owl! We are so grateful to the Raptor Center for teaching us all about their amazing birds.

We were sad to say goodbye to all our campers, but had a blast this year! Thanks so much to everyone who helped and to all the participating campers and their families. We can’t wait for next summer!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Critter Camp (Week 2) - Water

During the second week of Critter Camp, we had old and new faces come to the Bean Museum to learn about water animals. First, we talked about how water covers the majority of the earth, and how there is fresh and saltwater ecosystems. We started with saltwater and colored pictures of fish while we learned the different parts that they have. Next, we watched a video to see how fish swim and did a fish dance around classroom! We also learned about deep sea fish and how some of them use their light to lure prey. We played red light green light with a flashlight to help teach the kids about angler fish. After fish, we learned about sharks and stingrays. We used paper plates, googly eyes, and crayons to make our own stingrays! The kids had so much fun creating and coloring their paper plate rays.

Next we learned about sea creatures without bones. We talked about octopuses, jellyfish, and learned how hermit crabs leave their shell to find a bigger one! We also talked about sea mammals and how their blubber keeps them warm in the cold oceans. We went outside and did an activity to learn more about blubber. The kids put baggies over their hands and then put them in a bowl filled with ice. After they felt how cold the ice was, they put their hands in again, but this time they put their hands in a baggie filled with shortening and they couldn’t feel the cold anymore! We can’t forget about the sea turtles! We learned how sea turtles come to land to lay their eggs and once the eggs hatch, the baby sea turtles crawl to the ocean. We went outside for this activity and the kids looked for baby sea turtles at the bottom of some bedding. Once they found their sea turtle, they ran through an obstacle course of crabs to make it to the ocean. 

Lastly, we learned about freshwater animals. We talked about how places like lakes, ponds, and rivers are called wetlands. One freshwater animal we talked about were turtles. We learned the different parts of their shells and how their webbed feet help them swim in the water. We even brought out one of our live turtles so the kids could see the different parts up close. Next we talked about how almost all water animals have webbed feet. We went outside for an activity to help us better understand this concept. We had the kids try to move ping pong balls floating in a pool filled with water with just their fingers. After a few attempts, we told the kids to put baggies on their hands and try again. They were able to move the ping pong balls much more easily! For our last activity, we combined all the things we learned and went on a water animal scavenger hunt around the museum. Once the kids found the correct animal, they received a sticker!

Thursday was our field trip day, and the kids came to the Bean Museum ready for an adventure! Our first stop was at a wetland area near Heber City. We walked along a boardwalk while we looked for water animals. We saw Red-Winged Black Birds, lots of ducks, and even an Osprey! We also saw other water animals like dragonflies and fish. On our way back to the vans, one of the kids noticed a bird nest and it had baby chicks inside! Once we got back to the vans, we ate our snack, and headed back to the museum for a bathroom break and to fill up our water bottles. Our second location was the BYU botany pond. Each child received a baggie with chopped grapes to feed the ducks. We saw many turtles and some female ducks who had chicks following them around! It was a great end to our water week of Critter Camp.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Critter Camp (Week 1) - Land Animals

The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum kicked off the start of summer the first week of June with Critter Camp. Kindergartners and first graders came to the museum to learn about the many different animals that live on our planet. The first week of Critter Camp, we learned about land animals. The kids learned how different land animals eat, move, and use their senses to survive through games and activities.

For our first round of activities, the kids learned the different ways land animals can eat their food. The different eating strategies include scavenging and digging for food, scooping up food with a beak, sucking up food, and catching food with a sticky tongue! To imitate and get a better understanding of these eating strategies the kids scavenged for sticker animals in paper bedding, sucked up M&M’s with straws and moved them into a cup, picked up chickpeas with tweezers, and caught paper flies with sticky hands!

For the second round of activities, the kids learned about the different senses land animals use to survive in their environments. These senses included touch, sound, sight, and smell. To learn about these different senses, we felt inside mystery boxes using our sense of touch to discover what was inside, listened to different animal sounds, compared pictures of how humans see things to how animals see things and met a live lizard, snake, and tarantula to learn about the different ways land animals can smell.

Finally, to end our first day of Critter Camp we learned about the different ways land animals move. As a group, we slithered like snakes, galloped liked horses, climbed like monkeys, waddled like penguins, and hopped like kangaroos. To master these different movements each child took a turn acting out a movement while everyone else had to guess what animal they were moving like. The kids went home with lots of new knowledge about land animals and the fun prizes they earned throughout the day. 

On the second day of Critter Camp- land edition, we went exploring! The kids were troopers as we hiked up Rock Canyon and Big Springs Trail in Provo, in search of land animals. While hiking we were able to find a deer, a squirrel, and lots of different insects. Jonas, one of our amazing educators also found a snake that we were all able to look at! When we discovered a new animal the kids were able to draw and color our findings in their own field guides! We returned home tired but happy with the discoveries we had made!

Friday, May 31, 2019

The First Annual Bean Museum Bio-blitz

The Bean Museum's director, Dr. Duke Rogers wanted to get museum team members out in the field to get hands-on experience collecting specimens for the Museum's research collections. We had a good group of full-time, part-time, and student employees attend all or part of this field trip. We spent 4 days collecting in Huntington Canyon and the San Rafael Swell in Emery County, Utah.

Below are the written experiences of the student educators who were able to participate:

Dr. Michael Whiting (Curator of Entomology), Joseph?, Dr. Duke Rogers (Curator of Mammalogy), Dr. Shawn Clark (Entomology Collections Manager), Jennica Baldridge (educator), Holly Gibson (educator), Lindsey Rees (educator),
Dr. Robert Johnson (Herbarium Collections Manager)

Educators Emily Stowers and Brie Hardy with Dr. Duke Rogers

Brie Hardy:
Our trip to Huntington Reservoir was a blast and an amazing learning experience! Dr. Rogers taught us about the value of museum collections. Specimens from the field can provide invaluable data about the organisms in nature, and have even helped scientists to discover new species. I loved participating in collection of a wide variety of species—bats, rodents, insects, and plants. The collection managers and curators from the Bean Museum know so much about the wildlife in Utah. It was great to see them in action and to gain a little more knowledge for myself!

Emily Stowers (educator), Lindsey Rees (educator), Dr. Janene Auger, Brie Hardy (educator)

Dr. Robert Johnson with Joseph DeTemple

Lindsey Rees: First of all, HUGE thank you to all the museum staff that put this together for us. Having the opportunity to be a part of collecting with the museum's curators and experts was a one-of-a-kind experience that I don't think I'll ever forget. Being out in nature surrounded by experts was like having a library of knowledge surrounding me, so that whenever I had any question about wildlife, there was an expert with a beautiful response. It's how I'd imagine it would be like to hang out with David Attenborough. I loved learning how specimens are collected and studied, from small mammals to bugs to plants to birds.

Dr. Shawn Clark with Lindsey Rees, Jennica Baldridge, and Holly Gibson
The bug collecting part still occasionally gave me the "heebeejeebees," which is ironic because I'm okay holding a tarantula for work every day but little beetles can still on occasion make me nervous, which I eventually got over until the Entomologist with us asked me if I touched one of the beetles we found, after which I replied no, and he then said "Good. It would've given you a bad blister." I don't know much, but now I know which beetles to avoid. Easily one of my favorite parts of collecting bats. SO COOL. The Mammalogist on site had this little machine that allows you to detect sonar from bats and even tell which direction it's coming from- if it was an app I could download, I would've downloaded it yesterday. Seriously so much fun.

On a more random note, we stopped by a Canyon Wall that has preserved Native American paintings from before-Christ times, and while I have no idea what any of the paintings meant, it was spiritual in its own way, and even brought tears to my eyes. All surrounded by incredible wildflowers and complete silence, as it's so isolated from everything.

Anyway, all in all, I learned a lot and loved the hands-on experience. As a college student, I spend a lot of time in classrooms and at the museum I spend a lot of time surrounded by mounts. I love both of these things immensely, but nothing really compares to getting to learn outside. Real passion for nature comes from spending time quality time in it, and I look forward to more experiences like this in the future.

Dr. Leigh Johnson (Curator of the Herbarium)
Emily Stowers: The bio-blitz campout was a super cool, eye-opening experience for me. I've been camping a lot in my lifetime but never with a botanist, entomologist, and mammalogist. On the bioblitz I was able to see lots of super cool animals up close like bats, chipmunks, beetles, and even a lizard! It was way fun to find these things, but what was even more fascinating to me was learning how the animals we caught would contribute to science and the research done at the museum. Working alongside our museum's curators we collected many different species of insects, rodents, and plants! I was able to learn a lot about the things we collected such as how the role they play in their habitat, how they came to be in Utah, and how they would be used for research. I am very grateful that the museum allowed me to attend this super cool trip!

Lindsey Rees & Holly Gibson (educators) with Dr. Duke Rogers
Jennica Baldridge: As an educator at the Bean Museum, we don't typically have a lot of contact with the curators of the collections and are not super familiar with their methods or research. The first beneficial aspect of this trip was that I felt like I got to know many of the other employees of the museum. Even in the few days since we've gotten back, I have seen several of them throughout the museum and have been able to stop and talk with them instead of having no idea who they are. Also, it was very educational as previously I had only a vague idea how collecting specimens for research was actually done. By going on this camping trip, I got to see first hand how this process works and actually participate myself. It was amazing to have so many educated people together. I felt like no matter what question I had, whether it be about plants, birds, mammals, insects, or just nature in general, there was always someone right there I could ask who would know the answer. Overall, it was an amazing experience that I feel like has better prepared me to educate patrons on how the museum and it's collections work together.

Jake Burgoyne, Dr. Leigh Johnson, Dr. Duke Rogers, and Jennica Baldridge (educator)
Holly Gibson: The bio blitz was an awesome opportunity to have some hands on experience in the field. I really enjoyed learning how specimens are collected and prepared for study and other uses. We caught live mammals, studied different species of birds, used a net to capture bugs, etc. One of my favorite parts was catching bats. We set up a net over some water once it was dusk and several bats flew in. We got to have a close look at them as Dr. Rogers took them out of the net and taught us about them. All in all it was a great experience getting to be out in nature where it all happens, and I know experiences in the wild help us to be better museum educators. Can't wait for next time!

Jennica Baldridge, Holly Gibson, Dr. Robert Johnson, Dr. Michael Whiting, and Lindsey Rees

Friday, May 10, 2019

Bean Museum Summer Camps 2019

With summer just around the corner, the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum is proud to
announce the return of its four popular summer camp programs: Critter Camp, Junior
Naturalists, BYU Museums Camp, and Biology Boot Camp. Each camp provides an
interactive learning environment for a variety of ages, and focuses on different aspects of
the natural world and the sciences that study them. Information about each camp is listed

Critter Camp is a program geared towards youth in kindergarten and first grade. The camp
meets for three weeks in June on Tuesdays from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM, and Thursdays from
12:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Thursdays include a field trip! Each week focuses on different
critters: the critters of the land, the critters of the water, and the critters of the air. You may sign
up for only one week, or all three weeks depending on availability.
Week 1 of Critter Camp runs June 4 & 6, where children will learn about land critters.
Week 2 of Critter Camp runs June 11 & 13, where children will learn about water critters.
Week 3 of Critter Camp runs June 18 & 20, where children learn about air critters.
In past years, camp participants learned how animals navigate their environment with their
senses through interactive activities and games, visited outdoor sites like Cascade Springs,
met live animals, and created animal crafts.
The cost for each child per week is $50. Reservations for Critter Camp can be made here.

Junior Naturalists is a partnership camp with the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum and
Thanksgiving Point Institute. This program is 4th and 5th grade aged youth, and runs from
June 24-28. The camp runs from 9:00 AM-3:00 PM from Monday through Friday. Participants
learn exactly what it takes to be a scientist out in the natural world. Throughout the week,
the participants spend time at the Bean Life Science Museum and Thanksgiving Point as they
learn to collect, record, prepare, and identify various plant and insect species, as well as share
their scientific findings with the public.
To view the cost of the program and make reservations, click here.

The BYU Museums Camp is intended for youth ages 11-15. This program has two
opportunities for sign ups. The first runs from June 10-13 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. The
second runs from June 17-20 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. Lunch and snacks are provided for
this camp. The BYU Museum Camp takes youth that are interested in museums and their
corresponding careers, archaeology, anthropology, biology, art, and paleontology through the
various BYU museums found on campus. Throughout the week, they will learn through
activities and presentations about curation, collecting and research, education and outreach,
as well as other aspects of the museums. Activities include viewing live animal shows, working
on design and building challenges, helping paleontologists in their lab, and curating displays.
The cost is $159 and reservations can be made here.

Biology Boot Camp is a program geared towards youth in 2nd through 5th grade. The
camp meets for three weeks in July. Unlike Critter Camp, each week will cover the same
material, which means a child only needs to attend one week to experience the full camp.
It runs Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.  Field trips are included on
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, which includes a trip to Hogle Zoo! Throughout the week,
participants will learn about the different groups of living things that make up our world,
including plants, insects, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and fish. The youth will learn
through games, activities, projects, and even special behind the scenes tours of the museum’s
research collections.
Week 1 of Biology Boot Camp runs from July 8-12.
Week 2 of Biology Boot Camp runs from July 15- 19.
Week 3 of Biology Boot Camp runs from July 29- August 2.
The cost of the camp is $150 a person and reservations can be made here.

We are very excited to host and educate the youth that come to our camps this summer. Many
adventures await them! For more information about the camps, please visit our website at
mlbean.byu.edu. Act fast! Spots are filling up quickly!
If you would like more information about all of our upcoming events and programs, subscribe to our mailing list here.