Taking a Prehistoric Journey by Touch

March’s FAST Saturday will involve taking a journey through prehistory with our hands at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Blind kids participating will be putting their hands on actual fossil bones as well as plaster cast replicas – it might even mean holding fossilized dinosaur poop.

I said it’s fossilized!

it’s all coming about thanks to the presence of Cat Sartin as a guest researcher at the Nature & Science Museum this winter. Sartin, a doctoral candidate in paleontology at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, has worked with the National Federation of the Blind’s Jernigan Institute in its STEM-X programs, providing hands-on learning about evolution and paleontology to blind youth.

Museums have traditionally kept artifacts such as fossils and skeletons just out of reach of patrons, if not behind glass, meaning that blind visitors could enjoy a long walk through cool galleries, but not much more.

As museums like the Denver Museum of Nature & Science work to become more interactive at the same time reach new patrons, Sartin has some unique things to offer.

It started with her collection of fossilized shells, which her boyfriend, who was blind, found fascinating. They showed some of these to other blind friends in Baltimore, where the NFB’s National Center for the Blind is located, and before long Sartin was teaching a paleontology unit at STEM-X.

“I love to teach,” Sartin said of her STEM-X experience. “You can tell someone that a T-Rex is two stories high, or three buses long, but it’s another thing to really get a feel for the difference in size between dinosaurs and humans.”

Part of Saturday’s activities will include “touch stations” which are permanently part of the museum’s “Prehistoric Journey exhibit. Students will also work on assembling skeletons and comparing a dinosaur femur to a human’s.

That’s part of Sartin’s specialty – functional anatomy.

Here are Saturday’s key stats:

RSVP

Let Brent Batron know if you’re coming by Thursday, March 12. Family members are welcome. You can also contact Dan Burke with questions.

Time

Saturday, March 14, 2015
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – we meet at the entrance at 9:45 a.m.

Place

Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Blvd.
Denver

Meal

Not Provided
Please bring a sack lunch – there’ll be a half-hour break to eat!

Dan Burke

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