Tuesday, September 14, 2010

2010 Great Lake Erie Boat Float

The Great Lake Erie Boat Float is a unique event meant to promote awareness of the impact of plastic on our environment. The Future Scientists competed in this event, making a boat out of recyclable materials that the students collected combined with junk from the Museum.

Here's the team proudly standing in front of our boat: the S.S. F.S.

Other competing boats are pictured below. People got really creative with their junk!

Before sailing, the Future Scientists make some last minute tweaks to the boat. The PVC frame was created from a discarded cart. The plastic seats are human forms from old Health exhibits. The pontoons were filled with plastic bottles, wrapped up with discarded banners. The base of the boat was made with plastic bottles covered with printed foam board used for past exhibits.


Here's the field of competition. 

Future Scientists come back first!

Raising the boat's dual mast heads in victory.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Digging up the Curator's Yard

Been a long time since the last blog, but we're back!

The Future Scientists teamed up with the Student Naturalists to visit Dr. Joe Keiper, CMNH's Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, at his house. Why? To dig up a white-tailed deer and pygmy hippo buried in his yard. This was a truly unique experience - if nothing else to work with the pygmy hippo's remains, a truly endangered animal. Read more about the pygmy hippo at the animal diversity web.

Dr. Keiper had the brainchild to bury these animals in his yard two years ago when the Zoo's pygmy hippo passed away, figuring he could let nature clean up the bones for him, and adding a memorable experience for students who get to excavate the bones for the museum's collections. Such is the thinking of a man who studies how maggots decompose dead bodies. Those fortunate enough to know Dr. Keiper can ask for a thrilling recount of how he brought the dripping, bloody 400 pound animal back to his house with unknowing Sheriff in tow.

Anyway, after two years, the animal bodies should have been adequately decomposed, and Dr. Linda Spurlock, CMNH's Director of Human Health and Anatomy graciously offered to show the students careful archaeological technique in excavating the bones.

Dr. Spurlock gets down and dirty.
The Future Scientists use the shake screen to make sure small bones (and missing jewelery) are not missed.
As layers of earth are removed, the students come across a skull! The skull looks happy.
Skull successfully extracted. White-tailed deer.
Wheel-barrel of deer bones.

Well, after two years, the bodies likely would have all decomposed. That is, unless you left them in a plastic bag. Like Dr. Keiper did. But hey, if you were digging a hole all by yourself to bury 500 pounds of stinky dead animal, what would you have done?!

Meat still clinging to the bones. We'll save that for next year.
Hippo skull successfully extracted. Nice and clean - good job, Nature!
The hole was reburied and concrete blocks were piled on top to prevent coyotes or other scavengers from dragging away the precious bones. Students will check out the scene again next year to hopefully extract the bones for the museum's collections.

Monday, August 3, 2009

First Ever!

The Future Scientists discovered this skink at the Grand River Terraces (museum property) in Ashtabula County. Upon reviewing its identification with the museum's Vertebrate Zoology department, it was discovered that this was the first ever five-lined skink documented on the property! The pictures below can be used as photo vouchers to confirm the identity of this species at that location.
Maggie takes one for the team.
This skink had recently lost its tail and is regenerating a new one.

At first, this superficially appeared to be a broad-headed skink given its robust body and head, however its species range is more towards the Southern part of Ohio. Outside of species ranges, other more meticulous identifying characteristics could be used to confirm this to be a five-line skink, such as counting superior labial scales (number of scales above the lip) - five-lined skinks have four superior labial scales and broad-headed skinks have five labial scales. So if you are a herpetologist, you could be wrangling a venomous viper one minute, and counting lip scales the next. The excitement never stops!

Random pictures

Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer Mudpuppies

CMNH Curator of Vertebrate Zoology Dr. Tim Matson and his interns spent a morning with the Future Scientists showing how they did their mudpuppy studies. One factor that they are tracking is the effect of lampricides (to get rid of non-native lampreys) on these aquatic salamanders.
Seining for salamanders.
Checking the haul.
Dr. Matson shows off a large crayfish.
Mudpuppy! The Future Scientists were extremely fortunate to witness the only adult that was found the whole day.
Mudpuppy in a tube. A science tube.
Injecting a tracking marker into the mudpuppy. Hence the science tube.
One nest of mudpuppy larvae was also found. Here you can see the yolk sac on the ventral side of one of the salamander babies.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fossil Fish!

This summer the CMNH Paleontology team made some nice discoveries of fossil armored fish that Cleveland is famous for. The Future Scientists had brilliant luck and good timing to be able to check out the finds and even help chip out some of the pieces.
The Future Scientists march across river with gear (rock hammers, goggles, and sandwiches).
Scopin' out the cliff
Can you find the fossil?
How about here?
CMNH Paleontologist and team leader David Chapman explains the difference between hard dusty things that are rocks and hard dusty things that are bone.
Cutting stuff out of the cliff! Jad eats a sandwich.
Here is a large piece of what turned out to be a Dunkleosteus, one of Cleveland's famous armored fish. Field marks have been placed on the bone for orientation. These pieces will take several weeks to clean. More bone is still in the rock waiting to be harvested.

Click here to learn more about Dunkleosteus on the Cleveland Museum of Natural History website!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Follow the leader

The Future Scientists did more water quality sampling near the Grand River Terraces in Ashtabula County. This is a site that has not been surveyed in years due to difficulty of terrain. However, FS courageously braved the challenging landscape, reaching the designated testing location to do a fine job of collecting data. On the way back, some of the students chose to take the low road rather than the high road.
Note to future Future Scientists: follow the path that Jeff takes if you'd like to keep your underwear dry.