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Teachers Bring the Museum to Class In-School Programs  

What could be better for schools than bringing the museum into the classroom with expert teachers to share the excitement? Thousand of children in Western Pennsylvania classrooms have that experience each year, when volunteers from the In-School Programs show up with museum materials to tell kids about such things as Dinosaurs, African Mammals, North American Indians, Egypt, and Polar World.

People who love to share information and know how to do it--many of them retired teachers--make up the volunteer corps.  They are trained to be part of any classroom unit at any grade level from kindergarten through 8th grade.  Pre-visit materials are sent to the school before the visit so teachers can prepare their classes.  Unlike large assembly programs, these In-School Programs are tailored for hands-on presentation in classrooms for groups from 10 to 25 students.

A $30 fee per class covers costs, and funding support is available. Schools on a tight budget sometimes have Parent-Teachers Associations help out with financial support, and individual teachers who know how good these visits are have even paid by personal check.  A new Early Learner's Program for 2001 will focus on topics such as Fossil Fun and Funky Features (using life-like puppets to explain such things as an elephant's big ears and long trunk, or a cheetah's spots and fast speed). The fee for this program is $75, and funding support is also available.

For more information call Sue McJunkin at 622-3235, or e-mail  mcjunkins@carnegiemuseums.org.

Africa: One Continent, Many Worlds

February 14 - May 15, 2001

In Africa: One Continent, Many Worlds, Pittsburgh hosts the one exhibit that gives the truest sense of Africa's cultural, geographical, political, and social diversity.  This traveling version of the outstanding African collection at the Chicago Field Museum explores the continent through historical and contemporary perspectives, with hands-on activities and multi-media presentations. 

The national tour is sponsored by Ford Motor Company and Time Magazine, and in Pittsburgh the large exhibit will occupy both the Natural History Museum's front gallery and the rear Changing Exhibits Gallery.

This exhibit gives an expansive view of Africa.  Opening with a contemporary citiscape of urban life in Dakar, Senegal's cosmopolitan capital on the Atlantic coast, the show orients people to basic facts about the continent: its countries, cities, languages, religions, and geography.  Community and Family Life leads to Art and Society, which features the nkondi theater, showing among other things how nail figures were used to resolve conflicts as far back as the 1700s. In the Ecology section, visitors stand face-to-face with giants of the savanna, like the giraffe, hippopotamus, and a robotic rhinoceros, and video displays of research on gorillas.  In Commerce, the visitor can try to draw from a well enough water for a family and their animals, and see how nomads such as the Taureg merchants crisscrossed the 3.5 million square-mile Sahara to reach the metropolitan trading cities.  Diaspora examines Africa's relationships with the Americas, and the dispersal of African peoples from Canada to the Argentine.

Enjoying  Africa:  Activities and-special events

Enjoy Africa with especially designed tours for children and adults, classes for children, of adult lectures-- all focusing on various aspects the exhibit.  In addition, there will be a series of family programs held on weekends that will feature local performers such as Temujin The StoryTeller; IMHOTEP, an African Drum Core; The African American Music Institute’s  Young Male Chorus; Norma Barnes, Contemporary Dancer; and Fade to Black performing Tripping the Light. To discover the wide variety of exciting programming visit our web site at http://www.clpgh.org/cmnh/doe/index.html

Running on Two Legs--the Oldest Bipedal Reptile              

Some reptiles have been running for their lives (and to catch prey) ever since they mastered the technique of rising up on their hind two legs and scooting away faster than their  lumbering four-footed neighbors. 

The oldest bipedal reptile ever discovered in the fossil record is a 290 million-year old skeleton found in central Germany in 1993, when curator David Berman of vertebrate paleontology and his colleagues excavated an abandoned, fossil-rich stone quarry.  Berman called it Eudibamus cursoris  because it is the "original" (Greek eu-),  used "two legs" (Greek- dibamous), and a "runner" (Latin--cursoris).  He and his fellow scientists reported their find in the November 3, 2000 issue of the journal Science, and thus added to the list of the museum's distinguished research into the earliest forms of animal life. 

The skeleton of the roughly 30 centimeter-long Eudibamus shows that it had an upright stance just like the dinosaurs that followed 60-70 million years later.  Its long feet (60% of the trunk length) and hind limbs (134% of trunk length) made it a fast runner, and its teeth show that it was a plant eater, or herbivore.

The years between a scientific discovery such as this and its publication for the scientific community are spent analyzing and verifying the evidence.  Teamwork is typical in paleontology, and Berman and his fellow scientists have been excavating the Bromacker site since 1993.  The team includes Stuart Sumida, a biologist from California State University; Thomas Martens, a paleontologist with the Museum der natur Gotha near the quarry in Germany; Robert Reisz , a biologist, and Diane Scott,  preparator and illustrator--both from the University of Toronto at Mississauga, Ontario; and  Amy Henrici, preparator with Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Martens actually studied the vertebrate paleontology collection in Pittsburgh in 1993 under the museum's well-known International Visiting Scientist program. For many years this program created a world-wide network of field and research associates who had professional ties to the museum as a scientific resource.





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