The scientist carefully lifted a long, straggly tentacle out of his bucket and asked if anyone wanted to hold a giant squid (Architeuthis kirkii). As we eagerly touched the tentacle, we were surprised to feel sharp rings of teeth on its suckers. This was just one of the many fascinating things we saw at the Milstein Science Series’ Incredible Oceans at the the American Museum of Natural History!
With its phenomenal collections and ongoing scientific research, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is one of our family’s favorite destinations. We’re always excited to find new and different experiences like the Milstein Science Series, which is a special afternoon program for all museum visitors “to interact with scientists, discover amazing creatures, and celebrate science.”
Even before we went in to the event, there was a station with enthusiastic high school students showing off abalone shells; a preserved, inflated porcupine fish; and the skull of a dolphin. A second station involved hands on experiments about giving off heat underwater and the challenges fish face in keeping buoyant in the water.
Then inside the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, there were several stations set up under the blue whale featuring crafts, scientists, and amazing specimens from the AMNH’s collection. Our 9-year-old was eager to make her own tardigrade (probably the toughest animal on earth) out of Model Magic after seeing the AMNH’s new exhibit, Life at the Limits: Stories of Amazing Species, as well as fold her own origami Mola mola (ocean sunfish). She also got free temporary tattoos of an axolotl, a tardigrade, a giant anteater, and a blob fish from musician Michael Hearst who writes and performs songs about unusual animals.
Scientists at the event had all sorts of specimens such as the aptly named giant isopod (which looked like a basketball-sized pill bug), deep-sea tubeworms, sawfish, a ray, hammerhead sharks, and the biggest crab and lobster I have ever seen. One station featured tiny creatures we saw with microscopes including single celled organisms taken from Turtle Pond in Central Park and even the nearly indestructible tardigrades.
A zoologist had a live animal presentation with a falcon, a ring-tailed lemur, a porcupine, and a hornbill bird to show the special adaptations they have evolved to live in their specific environments. Then two marine biologists presented on the camouflaging capabilities of octopuses (she explained that “octopuses” or “octopodes” are the correct plural form and not “octopi”) and the unusual Mola mola, giant ocean sunfish.
We had such a great time that we’re looking forward to the next one on May 3rd which focuses on Sea Turtles!
- Skills: Visual acuity (observing small details), fine motor, curiosity
- Preparation: Not really any – just come eager to explore and ready to ask questions!
- Cost: Included with your museum admission. The suggested general admission is $22 for adults and $12.50 for children ages 2-12. Family memberships start at $140 per year. Our public library has a Museum Pass program so library patrons can go for free.
- Time & Energy: It’s an hour drive from our house. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and clothes! The Milstein Science Series is a special annual event that is free with admission. The 2nd part, on Sea Turtles, is on Sunday May 3rd from 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the museum’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.
- Contact Info: This science series has it’s own web page (http://www.amnh.org/learn-teach/adults/milstein-science-series)