New Jersey State Museum

Division of the NJ Department of State
Chris Christie, Governor
Kim Guadagno, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State
Anthony Gardner, Executive Director


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Super Science Saturday is almost here!

It's time to start thinking of springtime and sciences!  The New Jersey State Museum's largest single day event, Super Science Saturday, will be held on May 3, 2014 at the Museum.  Mark your calendar to attend this educational, entertaining and fun science event! 

Beginning at 10:00 am and continuing until 4:00 pm, the Museum will offer a fascinating array of Planetarium shows, Live Theater programs, continuous demonstrations and hands-on activities. 
General admission is free; there is a cost for Planetarium shows. 

The Planetarium will offer six different programs throughout the day with a discounted ticket price of $5 person.  Ticket sales begin at 10:30 am and continue until tickets for all shows have been sold.  So, arrive early to get tickets for these exciting shows: 
§  11am - Sesame Street's One World, One Sky children  ages 2-6 with adults
§  Noon – Laser Kid Power  general audiences
§  1pm – Earth, Moon & Sun general audiences
§  2pm – Laser Kid Power  general audiences
§  3pm – Stars! general audiences
§  4pm – Laser Kid Power  general audiences

  The Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton will present observations of the daytime sky using their telescopes.

Engaging Exhibits
NANO
Imagine and discover a world you can’t see!
April 20, 2014 to August 17, 2014
This 400-square foot traveling exhibition was created by the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Network) with support from the National Science Foundation. The exhibit includes hands-on, interactive stations that invite exploration of nano phenomena and real world applications and implications. This exhibit is made possible by the Princeton Center for Complex Materials in partnership with the Princeton Public Library and the NJ State Museum.
For more information, visit www.whatisnano.org  

Drawn to Dinosaurs: Hadrosaurus foulkii
March 22, 2014
As the world’s first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton, its discovery in Haddonfield, NJ caught the world by storm – it revolutionized the science and helped propel southern New Jersey to the “center” of the paleontological world. The exhibit features a 25 foot long cast of Hadrosaurus foulkii plus a life-size, hand-drawn life-like illustration on a chalk board. The role of paleo-artists and the study of nature in the development of modern theories of dinosaur anatomy, behavior and more is examined.

Innovation Lab and Learning Center
Be sure to explore the NEW Innovation Lab and see the latest fossil finds excavated by the working scientists on staff at NJSM.  The lab will be staffed by fossil preparators, researchers and educators who are happy to answer questions and show off their latest projects. Next door is the Innovation Learning Center, with hands-on workshops throughout the day.
·         11:30 am NANO
Think small, no, REALLY small! Explore the world of Nano Technology and learn about how it is used in things we see every day.  Materials can have different properties at the nano scale and nanoscience involves research to discover these new properties and behaviors.  Participate in Nano experiments to learn more about this science.

  • 12:30 Art and Science of Patina with Grounds For Sculpture
Join staff from Grounds For Sculpture for a fun workshop combing art and science! Learn about how different chemical reactions make artistic effects on metal artwork, and then try it for yourself! Participants will make their own metal sculptures which will be exposed to a natural, non-toxic, chemical reaction to create a colorful effect called patina.  Suitable for all ages; younger artists will need assistance of an adult companion.
 
  • 1:30 Art and Science of Patina with Grounds For Sculpture
Join staff from Grounds For Sculpture for a fun workshop combing art and science! Learn about how different chemical reactions make artistic effects on metal artwork, and then try it for yourself! Participants will make their own metal sculptures which will be exposed to a natural, non-toxic, chemical reaction to create a colorful effect called patina.  Suitable for all ages; younger artists will need assistance of an adult companion. 

  • 2:30 Drawn to Dinosaurs: Paleo Art
Join Paleo artist Jason Poole and see up close and personal, how a paleontological artist reconstructs a Dinosaur from the bones up. Kids are welcome to draw along as the artist works and explains the process.

MORE Workshops!
In our Lower Level Classroom be sure to make time for:
  • 11:00 Backyard Tweets preschool science
Young scientists launch their studies by investigating the world around them-beginning in their own backyard! Using specimens from the Museum’s natural history collection, children will learn how New Jersey’s wildlife communicates through sound, body language, scent, and color. This hands-on, interactive program features object based learning techniques as well as music, dance, imaginative play, and American Sign Language. Each child will have the opportunity to create a musical instrument that imitates one of New Jersey’s endangered species!

  • 12:00 Polymers
Children will explore the properties of polymers by experimenting in a fun, goopy hands-on workshop!  Explore chemical reactions and get your hands messy with a nontoxic substance made of glue, water, and borax soap. It's a fascinating workshop that explores the science of atoms, chemical reactions and behavior of matter.  At the conclusion of the experiment, children are invited to explore their artistic side by creating a sculpture out of their newly formed creation.

  • 2:00 Backyard Tweets preschool science
Young scientists launch their studies by investigating the world around them-beginning in their own backyard! Using specimens from the Museum’s natural history collection, children will learn how New Jersey’s wildlife communicates through sound, body language, scent, and color. This hands-on, interactive program features object based learning techniques as well as music, dance, imaginative play, and American Sign Language. Each child will have the opportunity to create a musical instrument that imitates one of New Jersey’s endangered species!

  • 3:00 Polymers
Children will explore the properties of polymers by experimenting in a fun, goopy hands-on workshop!  Explore chemical reactions and get your hands messy with a nontoxic substance made of glue, water, and borax soap. It's a fascinating workshop that explores the science of atoms, chemical reactions and behavior of matter.  At the conclusion of the experiment, children are invited to explore their artistic side by creating a sculpture out of their newly formed creation.
Spark some fun:
·         Don’t miss Jump With Jill the Rock Star Nutritionist in our Auditorium at 11:30 am.
·         Grab your Passport to Science and collect your stamps while navigating a scavenger hunt through the event.
·         Be sure to visit TeamMaker on the lawn to explore physics and earth science through games and challenges. Fun for the whole family!
·         Get groovin’ with Radio Disney! Music, trivia, prizes!
As always, over 30 science, technology, engineering and educational groups from around the region will be on hand with continuous demonstrations and hands-on activities. Here are just a few of the booths:
·         NJ Audubon Society
·         Aerospace is IT
·         Robodyssey Systems
·         American Chemical Society
·         Dr. Dinosaur
·         Jenkinson’s Aquarium
·         The Old Barracks
·         Grounds for Sculpture
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or at the Museum's blog – njstatemuseum.blogspot.com to learn more.  We look forward to seeing you for a day of science fun on Saturday, May 3rd, 2014
Super Science Saturday is sponsored in part by the Friends of the New Jersey State Museum.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An Ancient Family Reunion of Sorts

As you may know by now, Hadrosaurus foulkii, the world's first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton, was recently returned to it's home state of New Jersey in our new exhibit, "Drawn to Dinosaurs: Hadrosaurus foulkii".  It's a great exhibit, but we wanted to add a little something to it to highlight some other great finds.  


Joe Camburn using a rock saw to aid
in the excavation of "Harry Hadrosaur" in 2011. 
In the 2000's, our good friends and colleagues, Joe and Sandy Camburn, discovered some dinosaur bones near the top of a ridge in the northern Wyoming desert.  They named the specimen "Harryt he Hadrosaur."  In 2011, our paleontological field crew (which you can be a part of), including the Camburns, revisited the site and excavated two huge blocks of heavy iron-rich concretion - "Harry's" tomb.  We weren't sure what we had, but based on a few hints, we new we at least had portions of the skull of a large hadrosaurid, or duck-billed dinosaur.  Those jackets have been with our friends in the Dinosaur Hall preparation laboratory at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University for the last couple of years.   They've done a magnificent job, but they're finally done and it turns out there was much more left of that critter that we originally thought, and most of it is in great shape!

We now know the fossils were from Edmontsaurus anneectens.  This species is another duck-billed dinosaur, and a close relative of H. foulkii - one main difference being that E. annectens was MUCH bigger.  They grew to be up to 40 feet long, weighing several tons.  The fossils that have now been liberated from their concretionary prison include a majority of the skull, the lower jaws, 2 vertebrae, scapula (shoulder boned), and a humerus (upper arm bone).  Come by the newly re-opened NH Hall soon to see both H. foulkii and its close relative, E. annectens.  And for an adventure of a lifetime, consider joining us on a real dinosaur hunting adventure in Montana and Wyoming.

Illustration by Jason C. Poole.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Another Remarkable Discovery. This time, it's a baby mastodon!

2014 already has been quite an eventful and successful year for the New Jersey State Museum, and especially the Bureau of Natural History.  New exhibits, updated exhibits, new lab facilities and public spaces, new education programs, events, and last but not least, extraordinary research discoveries and announcements.  

We've talked at length about the amazing giant Cretaceous sea turtle bone that made an appearance in National Geographic, but another amazing discovery was the Harbour Mastodon - a very young juvenile mastodon skull that was found and donated to the Museum in 2013.      

Left lateral view of a juvenile mastodon skull.
Illustration by Janet Anderson.  

Dave Parris, Curator of Natural History, along with colleagues, is presenting the skull to the scientific community at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Northeastern Section, in Lancaster, PA this week.  Among their discoveries-within-the-discovery is that this very young mastodon (Mammut americanum), which was between 1 and 2 years old, probably died from a disease which was affecting the brain - perhaps even tuberculosis.  Its simply amazing what you can learn from ancient animals just from a few parts of their skeletons!

If you'd like to see this remarkable specimen, come by the Museum's first floor Natural History exhibition, Natural History Highlights.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Once-In-A-Lifetime Discovery

A career in paleontology virtually guarantees a lifetime of exciting, amazing discoveries.  Every time you find a fossil, in fact, you're seeing something no one else on Earth has ever seen before. Sometimes, however, you're make a discovery so incredible - so logic-defying - that even months later, it is simply difficult to believe your own words as you try to relay the story to others.

That's exactly what we've been experiencing around the Bureau of Natural History lately.  The NJ State Museum's paleontologists, lead as always by Curator Dave Parris, along with our friends and colleagues at the Academy of Natural History of Drexel University, made a discovery recently that still leaves us in disbelief - truly a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.  




Here's the short version:  In 1849, a large portion of a huge, fossil sea turtle upper arm bone was found in southern New Jersey and described by famous paleontologist, Louis Agassiz, who named the creature Atlantochelys mortoni.    Ever since then, that bone has sat in the collections of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (now of Drexel University), and in the more than 160 years since, no one has ever found a single other bone that belongs to this same turtle.  Until now . . .





In 2012, while searching the creeks in central New Jersey, avocational paleontologist Greg Harpel found a large bone, which he brought to the NJ State Museum.  Long story short . . . that new bone is the other part of the SAME BONE.  Not just another part of the same animal, but of the SAME BONE.  This is astounding and completely unprecedented!

Instead of writing endlessly here about all of the reasons why this discovery is both incredible and scientifically important, we'll just let the volumes that are sure to be published about it shortly do the talking for us. There is no doubt that you'll be reading about this story in multiple other venues, including a blurb in National Geographic!



We'll do our best to update this post with links to new stories about the discovery, so keep checking back often.


Illustration courtesy of Jason Poole.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A big announcement!

The New Jersey State Museum and Planetarium is proud to make a big announcement - one that is many years in the making.  After being closed for far too long, the doors to the Natural History Hall are finally set to re-open!

Although the renovation of the Natural History Hall is not complete, there are several new components that we think our visitors will love.  First, we've already mentioned the new exhibition, "Drawn to Dinosaurs: Hadrosaurus foulkii" (opening this Friday!).  This great exhibit about the world's first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton (discovered in New Jersey!) finally brings dinosaurs back to the State Museum! 

The brand new Innovation Lab and Learning Center.
What we haven't yet mentioned are the two new structures within the NH Hall.  Together they are the Innovation Lab and Learning Center.  








The Innovation Learning Center.
The Innovation Learning Center is a versatile educational space that soon will be outfitted with all of the technological teaching tools you'd expect from a modern instructional space and meeting room.  Kids and adults from across the region will use this space for a vast array of educational programs from all of the Museum's four bureaus. We've already hosted our Backyard Tweets program in the Learning Center and everyone loved it.

The Innovation Learning Center.


Innovation Lab.
The Innovation Lab is a brand new scientific research space outfitted primarily to be a fossil preparation laboratory.  This is where the Museum's paleontologists and Natural History volunteers will be preparing and cleaning fossils collected from across New Jersey and from our field expeditions in Montana and Wyoming.  We've already begun working on a wonderful 66 million year old turtle collected last year in Montana, and some ~375 million year old sea scorpion fossils collected from Wyoming.  Although prep work can be a tedious and lengthy process, it is also fascinating. The lab windows can be opened to allow our paleontologists and volunteers to interact with visitors, answer questions, and explain what it is we're doing.  
Brittany preparing fossil turtle
bones  in the new Innovation Lab.

Natural History's newest volunteer, Brittany, gluing fossil
turtle bones in the new Innovation Lab.


















We're very excited about our new additions, both of which will (and already have) significantly enhanced our capabilities to improve and expand our educational and programmatic offerings, as well as our research and scientific endeavors.  We hope you'll stop by soon to enjoy the dinosaur exhibit, see our new classroom, and to check on our progress in the prep lab!  Both of these spaces, along with the exhibition "Drawn to Dinosaurs: Hadrosaurus foulkii," will finally be opening to the public on Friday, March 21, 2014.