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

Monday, September 23, 2019

Birding with Merrill Webb at Antelope Island

Our group of eager birdwatchers arrived at the Bean Museum bright and early Saturday morning, many with binoculars in hand! Birding expert Merrill Webb helped us test our spotting scope with an excellent view of the morning’s harvest moon before we piled into vans and headed to Antelope Island.

The morning was a bit chilly, but that didn’t stop us from getting out to look for birds as soon as we arrived at the park entrance. We sighted several species including House Sparrows, Lesser Goldfinches, and flying in the distance, a small flock of White-faced Ibises.

The Antelope Island Causeway offered some excellent spots where we could pull off and view waterfowl and shorebirds, and on the drier side of the causeway, we spotted one of the group favorites—a Peregrine Falcon perched on a rock. When we turned our attention back to the water, Mr. Webb taught us to identify American Avocets in their black-and-white non-breeding plumage, and showed how to distinguish them from the similarly colored Black-necked Stilt.

As we observed a large flock of avocets and stilts, all the birds suddenly took to the sky! To our surprise, they weren’t startled by the falcon we’d spotted earlier, but by this strange “bird”:

Once the paragliders came through, the birds cleared out pretty quickly. It was beautiful to watch the shorebirds flying off along the surface of the water, but we had to move farther down to find them again! 

As we drove along the causeway, we spotted more unique species, including Canada Geese, Northern Shovelers, and at least two species of seagull. Mr. Webb showed us how to recognize a small shorebird called a phalarope by its characteristic feeding behavior of spinning in circles as it swims (this video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is an excellent example: We also watched this spotted sandpiper bobbing his tail as he foraged along the rocks.

Inland on Antelope Island, we were ecstatic to find three Burrowing Owls! We had a fantastic view through our spotting scope—we could see every detail of their bright yellow eyes as they watched us right back. 

We found another owl species roosting in a hay barn, recognizable by the familiar ear-like tufts that give them the name Great Horned Owl. 

And with that, we wrapped up the trip having sighted at least 30 unique species of birds as a group! Many thanks to Merrill Webb for leading us on our birding adventure! 


Our species sighted list:
Canada Goose Northern Shoveler Eared Grebe American White Pelican White-faced Ibis American Kestrel Peregrine Falcon Semipalmated Plover Killdeer Black-necked Stilt American Avocet Willet Spotted Sandpiper Wilson’s Phalarope Northern Phalarope Franklin’s Gull Ring-billed Gull California Gull Rock Pigeon Mourning Dove Eurasian Collared Dove Great Horned Owl Burrowing Owl Say’s Phoebe Black-billed Magpie American Crow Common Raven Cliff Swallow Barn Swallow European Starling Lesser Goldfinch House Sparrow

Brie Hardy, museum educator