Tuesday, March 31, 2020

2020 Tomb Raider Date Night

On March 7, 2020 approximately 30 couples gathered in the Bean Life Science Museum for Tomb Raider’s date night. The mission was simple enough: retrieve the jewel encrusted skull of Monte L. Bean for Madam Duvalt. After eating a delicious meal and being briefed on the dangers of the mission guests were ready to begin the mission. This particular group was quite brave and enthusiastic in the face of danger. Guests were asked to maneuver through the museum completing various riddles from our cast members, remaining wary of the shadow guards who would strike when thunder would sound throughout the museum. 

Guests made use of strategy and pure speed to evade the shadow guards’ cold grasp. In order to receive a map piece guests had to shoot the shadow guards in the nautical themed shooting gallery ran by the Ship Captain and her First Mate, overcome their fears as they went through the Mystic’s blind folded maze through some of the exotic animals from her past, and cautiously move through Cleopold’s laser course, among others challenges in the museum.

The last map piece is always the most elusive! Guests would have to really face their fears by facing the shadow guards themselves in order to truly succeed, even though it would be risky and dangerous. In the end, one couple was victorious over the rest, and Madam Duvalt finally had her prized skull at last.  

Sarah Robinson, museum educator

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

2020 Night at the Museums

Last Friday, BYU’s seventh annual Night at the Museums event brought over 1,000 visitors to the Bean Museum!

Guests had a blast participating in the Vertebrate Variety Program, taking pictures at our photo booth, getting a hands-on experience with specimens from Utah’s native animal species, and snacking on “mini Cougar tails”—maple bar donuts—after exploring the exhibits. They also participated in the Night at the Museums scavenger hunt, where each of the five museums awarded a sticker to guests who could solve their riddle.

Congratulations to anyone who figured out all five clues and won a water bottle!

If you weren’t able to join us, here’s a chance to see if you can solve the Bean Museum’s riddle. The answer is below the picture!

I’m silent but deadly, and move in the night.
To mice I’m not friendly; I kill and take flight.

lʍo :ɹǝʍsu∀

Brie Hardy, educator

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Winter 2020 Birding with Merrill Webb

Before the sun even rose, patrons gathered with birding expert, Merrill Webb, in the parking lot of the Bean Museum. Rising before the sun was key to see the species we were hoping to spot: Bald Eagles. Our nation's symbol can be seen in Utah during the winter when the eagles fly south from Alaska and Canada to roost. The best viewing time for these rapturous raptors is during the month of February.

Driving out to Palmyra, Utah, the group stopped at a known roosting site, and immediately spotted a subadult Bald Eagle in it’s nest. These hunters leave their nests at sunrise to begin hunting, and we were able to watch this one take off in search of food. Three other eagles were spotted in the area, flying, or occasionally landing in the trees.

Continuing the drive, several different bird species were spotted from the vans, including American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, European Starlings, Black-billed Magpies, and Great-tailed Grackles. Pulling up by the airport, several Northern Flickers were spotted, and a tree full of the gorgeous red-bellied American Robins.

The next spot that was chosen was the shores of Utah lake. Right away, there were many different species of birds all around us. Red-winged Blackbirds flitted about in the trees; Grebes and Coots swam around in the water; and Canada Geese, Mallards, and an American Wigeon called out to each other from every direction. Excitingly, a Great Blue Heron rested directly across from us, about 15 yards away. Once everyone got out to see him, he flew a little further back, but we were still able to capture him in our scopes, binoculars, and cameras.

Moving down the shore, we found a cluster of gulls resting on the ice. We were told that if they have yellow legs, they were Ring-billed Gulls, and if they had pink legs, they were Herring Gulls. After examining all the legs of the birds, one sharp eyed birder was able to spot a single Herring Gull out of dozens of Ring-billed Gulls.

Moving along the lake, we were able to spot more gulls, more Canada Geese and Mallards, a Green-winged Teal, and five more Bald Eagles. Everyone was very excited to see more of the birds we had originally set out to look for, and we stayed watching them until it got too cold to stand it.

Finally, we took a short detour by the new Provo High to try and see some new species, and were able to spot some Song Sparrows and one Northern Harrier, before we headed back to the museum, everyone feeling excited about a morning well spent.

Birds Seen:
Bald Eagle
European Starling
Black-billed Magpie
American Kestrel
Red-tailed Hawk
Great-tailed Grackle
Ring-billed Gull
Northern Flicker
Canada Geese
American Robin
Red-winged Blackbird
Great Blue Heron
American Coot
Pied-billed Grebe
American Wigeon
Herring Gull
Green-winged Teal
Song Sparrow

Northern Harrier

Maren Hatch, educator

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

2019 Clue Date Night

This past Saturday (Nov 9th), dozens of couples joined us for dinner at the museum at the invitation of Mr. Bean himself. There they met some or Mr. Bean’s close friends and colleagues: none other than Mrs. Peacock, Mrs. White, Colonel Mustard, Mr. Green. and Miss Scarlett.

However, it wasn’t long before guests realized that something was not right. The evening’s host never showed. Their worst suspicions were confirmed when the Head Maid and Butler announced that Mr. Bean… was dead!

Suspects included the six characters they had met over dinner, so each couple set out to determine who it could have been. Was it the unemotional Professor? Or easily annoyed Miss Peacock? Or even good-hearted Mr. Green?

The possible murder weapons were displayed for the couples to examine. They included a hippo tusk, porcupine quill, scorpion, and even a viper!

Each weapon, room, and character offered riddles to be solved, that would eventually lead them to discover how, where, and by whom Mr. Bean had been murdered. The characters, though distraught, were able to help the detectives solve the riddles and gather evidence.

While the couples tried to solve the mystery, the Head Maid and Butler collected the suspects’ fingerprints as evidence.

Finally, one couple solved all the riddles and gathered enough evidence to solve the mystery! Few were surprised to learn that it was Mrs. White in the Hall with the Scorpion! 

Everyone was relieved that the mystery was solved- except maybe Mrs. White. We are grateful to all the couples that joined us for an enjoyable Date Night! Don’t forget to check our website for information on all our fun events!

Alyssa Istook, museum educator

Friday, November 1, 2019

Family Halloween Night 2019

On Monday, October 28th, the Monte L. Bean Museum welcomed people of all ages to come to participate in a Halloween family night. Young children, teenagers, and adults alike donned their Halloween best to enjoy a variety of activities and crafts. At the front doors, each guest was given a bingo sheet filled with things to do/find around the museum. These included finding various animals such as a bat, a wolf, and a leopard; finding pumpkins and skulls hidden in the exhibits; taking a picture at the photo booth; visiting the curiosity cart; doing the Halloween craft; taking a picture with a favorite animal; and watching the spooky live animal show. When they crossed off three items in a row on their bingo sheet, guests made their way to the top floor to spin the prize wheel for a chance to win a water bottle, bag, chapstick, pen, reusable straw, or their choice of one of our many biocards!

At the photo booth, guests had the opportunity to get their picture taken with one of our items from the education collection! They filled out a form so they could get their pictures sent to them as a reminder of the fun night they had.

The Halloween curiosity cart was a hit with its array of spooky animals and other specimens. Guests were able to participate in hands-on learning about owls, ravens, vampire bats, spiders, and more.

Guests could then venture to the craft room and use their creativity to turn a black paper bag into a Halloween animal or monster.

One of the most thrilling parts of the night was the spooky live animal show! The audience was thoroughly entertained by a combination of amazing spooky animal facts and humor. Guests learned about animals such as the vampire bat and the horror frog and got to meet our less horrible pacman frog. They also met our fearsome/adorable bearded dragon, Mushu, and learned about many of the peculiar creatures that reside in the depths of the sea. They learned that a lot of animals that are conventionally scary are actually quite harmless and there’s nothing to be afraid of...even when a live tarantula gets loose in the auditorium!!

Overall, Halloween night was a success! A fun time was had by all, museum educators included. A night at the Bean Museum was a great way to kick off everyone’s Halloween celebrations. Until next year!

Holly Gibson, museum educator

Monday, October 14, 2019

Wild Edibles with Tom Smith

The Wild Edibles Nature Experienceship was a huge success! Tom Smith delivered his plethora of knowledge about the plants of Utah throughout the class and there was a lot to take in. We began the day in the JFSB in a classroom made specifically for the teaching and learning of culinary skills. Tom began by explaining some native Utah gems that he personally used throughout the year. The biggest hit and most versatile was acorn flour. The group got to taste homemade acorn flour cookies with chocolate chips and pine nuts, which were incredible! He also talked about some essential oils that he makes from sagebrush and pine trees by distilling them and creating a paste for easy application.

Afterward we hit the grounds of BYU to discover some edible plants on campus! We explored around the Thomas L. Martin Building, Carl F. Eyring Science Center and the Life Sciences Building. It was very exciting and tasty, we tried all kinds of needles, berries, flowers and leaves! It was the perfect atmosphere to absorb all of Tom’s interesting facts and ask as many questions as you would like.

After our excursion, and with the little space left in our bellies, we arrived back in the kitchen to cook some of the very plants we saw on campus! We feasted upon elderberry nectar on ice cream and cheesecake and a yummy purslane root casserole (something you could use to replace green beans at Thanksgiving!). Tom also introduced us to a little bit of his background in the Alaskan fishing industry and dished out some salmon cream cheese dip and cooked salmon seasoned with juniper! Lastly we got creative and munched on acorn crackers, raw cacao nibs, mint jelly and sumac tea (a personal favorite).

Everyone had pen and paper ready throughout the whole event, Tom was full of knowledge for these hungry, passionate, nature enthusiasts. Our group ranged from elementary aged to adults and there was something for everyone. The best part was everyone was surrounded by others who had a strong interest in the culinary and medicinal use of plants, so there were lots of ideas shared around the room. With Tom’s approachable nature and dry humor, the atmosphere was the perfect place to embark on your desire to become more in touch with the world around you or to propel you forward with new ideas and tips to apply to your established practice. We could not have done it without Tom and we had a great time with all of those that participated!

Lexi Chamberlain, museum educator

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Insects with Shawn Clark

This past Saturday, a group of excited insect lovers gathered at the museum to learn from insect expert and Bean Museum collections manager, Shawn Clark. All week there had been thunderstorms predicted for that morning but luckily, we ended up with no rain, and instead had some cooler weather and a beautifully cloudy sky. 

After spending a little time getting to know each other and discussing why insects are important to ecosystems and the biodiversity of our planet, we all loaded into a van and headed down to Hobble Creek. Once we arrived, Dr. Clark brought out all his insect collecting equipment and taught us how to use various methods to collect insects both on land and in the water.

After the quick demonstration, participants were able to pick whichever method they preferred and went off to see what they could find! Luckily, Dr. Clark was always nearby to help identify species and provide various information about what we were collecting.

After a while, Dr. Clark gave us another demonstration on how to collect water insects. We even caught a fish! Although, unlike the insects we collected, we quickly photographed the fish and then put it back in the water.

Overall, we had a pretty successful day of collecting. Our group of primarily high school students and their parents were most excited to find a couple praying mantises and some dragonfly larvae.

Participants of this Nature Experienceship also had the unique opportunity to preserve the insects they found so that they can later be added to our research collections. These specimens gathered by our participants on this trip will be used by many scientists from around the country for years to come.

After we had all had our fill of collecting, we loaded back into the vans and made our way to the museum so that we could take a tour of the entomology collection of the museum that these specimens would be added to! Participants could ask to see any kind of insect they wanted and Dr. Clark immediately knew where to find it (even among the thousands of specimens housed in our collection). We looked at various beetles, horseflies, and tarantulas (even though tarantulas are arachnids and not insects). One of our high school participants even happened to be one of Dr. Clark’s volunteers who works in the collections, and she showed the rest of us her favorite butterflies in the collection.

Overall, we had a great day and want to thank Shawn Clark for taking the time to teach us all about insects and how they are collected and used for research!

Jennica Baldridge, museum educator