LAWRENCE — The KU Natural History Museum kicks off expanded programs for families, scouts, KU students, home-school groups and adults starting this weekend with an event dedicated to celebrating Kansas wildlife, plants and fossils.
From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, the museum will welcome the public to create seed mosaics and examine sunflower specimens to determine which one is the official state flower. Museum staff will share collection examples of Kansas reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Children can look for Kansas fossils and learn to identify them. Westar Energy's Green Team will be at the museum with activities about wind energy.
Art is an option at the event as well. Visitors can learn about Kansas rock art in the Great Plains region. The Spencer Museum of Art will offer activities to explore what makes a prairie an ecosystem.
“Discovery Days have lots of hands-on activities for all ages,” said Eleanor Gardner, the museum’s outreach and engagement coordinator. “Starting in 2018, we will offer these events periodically on Sundays and also on some weekdays when Lawrence Public Schools are closed.”
In addition to Discovery Days, the museum has begun to offer monthly Extraordinary Animals events, which feature specimens from museum collections. The museum plans to expand the programs to include live reptiles and insects as well.
For KU students, the museum will launch Collections Up Close, a monthly series in the Kansas Union during lunchtime that will introduce KU students and staff to examples from the museum collections, including insects, fossil mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Staff will also work with university instructors to offer behind-the-scenes tours and other special programs for students.
The museum’s popular Science on Tap series, long held at Free State Brewing Company eight times per year, will expand to Kansas City’s Bier Station in 2018. The first talk, “400 Million Years on Six Legs,” with Professor Michael Engel, will start the series Feb. 27.
“We also were aware of requests for programs for specific groups such as scouts, birthday parties and home-school groups, so we have created hands-on education programs for these audiences as well,” Gardner said.
Special ticketed programs such as Winter Table: An Evening of Herpetology, set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28, and Stand Up for Science, a fundraising event for the museum planned for 6:30 p.m. April 13, round out the museum’s new programs.
Full details of spring programs are available at biodiversity.ku.edu.
Photo: Eleanor Gardner, museum outreach and engagement coordinator at the KU Natural History Museum, offers a fossil activity to schoolchildren at the Douglas County Water Festival in September 2017.