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Young scientists invited to 'Hatch the Past' at Natural History Museum

staff report • Apr 4, 2013 at 8:40 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Children have a chance to learn about science, visit exhibits, have fun completing hands-on activities, and earn a souvenir patch during “Hatching the Past” Patch Programs at the East Tennessee State University and General Shale Brick Natural History Museum and Visitor Center at the Gray Fossil Site.

These activities allow young scientists to explore exhibit concepts through unique experiments and experiences. Any child can attend, and all activities are based on age groups.

“The ‘Hatching the Past’ Patch Programs are a great way to introduce children to the environment in which dinosaurs lived, the way they defended themselves, and the way they cared for their young,” said Sarah Mullersman, education coordinator at the museum. “We also introduce children to the field of paleontology and teach them about fossils. While these programs are very educational, they are also a lot of fun.”

“Hatching the Past” Patch Programs will be held on the following Saturdays: April 6 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., for fourth- and fifth-graders; May 4 from 10 to 11:30 a.m., for pre-kindergartners and kindergartners, and from 2 to 3:30 p.m., for first- through third-graders; and May 18 from 10 to 11:30 a.m., for first- through third-graders, and from and 2 to 3:30 p.m., for fourth- and fifth-graders.

All age groups will tour the “Hatching the Past” exhibit with a Patch Program instructor.

Pre-K and kindergarten-aged children will explore “Dino Defense.” They will create a dinosaur with many defenses to protect against predators like T-Rex. During the “Dinosaurs of a Feather” activity, kids will learn about paleontologists discovering more and more feathered dinosaurs, create their own feathered dinosaurs, and describe how those feathers were used.

First- through third-graders will participate in “Fossil Formation Games.” Because baby dinosaurs found inside the eggs are rare, kids will play a game to find out why some ancient animals were preserved as fossils, and some were not. They will also have fun doing the “Egg Smash Experiment.” Scientists know some dinosaurs sat over their eggs — but how did the eggs stand the weight? Participants will test the strength of chicken eggs to find out how much weight they can take.

Fourth- and fifth-graders will learn about famous dinosaur nest sites found in the western United States and find out what can be inferred about dinosaur behavior from the bones and shells alone in “Egg Nest.” These students will also participate in the “Egg Smash Experiment.”

Patch Programs are $15 and include all activity materials, museum admission, and a keepsake patch.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information or special assistance for those with disabilities, call (866) 202-6223.

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