Fernbank Museum brings fun lessons for children

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The Fernbank Museum of Natural History is ready to provide a number of educational opportunities for children in the new year.

The first new temporary exhibit for the new year will be A Secret World Inside You. Fernbank Public Relations Specialist Kayla Rumpfeldt told The Champion the exhibit is from the American Museum of Natural History, and will use videos, larger-than-life models, and interactive games to investigate the cutting-edge science of the human microbiome and to offer a new perspective on human health. It begins Feb. 10.

In the meantime, museum-goers can experience a variety of permanent exhibits. Wildwoods and the Fernbank Forest offer 75 acres of outdoor area to be explored with activities spread throughout. Nature Stories (for young children) and Adventure Outpost (for preteens) include immersive interactive exhibits.

Special trailside experiences, including a sensory wall, animal tracks and tree molds help visitors experience nature up close. There are also educator-led nature walks through a variety of native plants, flowers and wildlife.
According to Rumpfelt, Wildwoods was installed in 2016 on top of the existing, unaltered landscape outside the museum and designed to be as non-intrusive as possible to keep the grounds as close to true nature as can be.

Through Wildwoods, explorers can access the Fernbank Forest—65 acres of mature mixed forest that has one of the few remnants of original forest vegetation in the Georgia Piedmont. Self-guided tours are welcome through the two miles of trails snaking through a canopy of trees that measures more than 16 stories above the ground. Educator-guided tours are offered one or two times a month.

Inside the museum is NatureQuest, an interactive permanent exhibit that includes a multi-level clubhouse, hands-on activities and live animal displays. According to Rumpfelt, activities such as a virtual waterfall and an interactive red oak tree are designed to give students a true-to-life nature experience without having to go outside.

A Walk Through Time In Georgia allows visitors to explore the natural history of Georgia through lifelike historic recreations of geographic regions. Highlights include a dinosaur gallery, a giant sloth, a cave, and the sights and sounds of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Reflections of Culture helps museum-goers learn how people around the world communicate information about themselves through forms of personal adornment. It includes a collection of photographs, costumes, jewelry, footwear, headdresses and masks.

According to the Fernbank website, other permanent exhibits include Sensing Nature—an interactive, sensory-based exhibit aimed at young children. It includes lasers, mirrors, water and sounds designed to demonstrate the role senses play in interpreting the environment.

World of Shells includes a variety of shells collected from the Georgia coast and explains how shell material is formed, the numerous ways animals use their shells and the life processes of shelled animals.

And inside the museum’s Great Hall is Giants of the Mesozoic, including life-size fossil-cast recreations of dinosaurs. This exhibit includes fossils of Argentinosaurus, Giganotosaurus, Pterodaustro and Anhanguera for visitors to enjoy.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History is open daily. Tickets can be purchased from the website, fernbankmuseum.org.

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