This weekend, visitors to campus can pick up a spear, peer through binoculars or learn to preserve a plant.
Those are just some of the attractions on offer Saturday (Feb. 10) for the 13th annual free and family-friendly Biodiversity Museum Day, when 10 campus organizations open their doors to showcase various aspects of the natural world, big and small.
Each collection has its own hours, available below.
Spears, plants, raptors and more
Visit the Anthropology Museum’s collections to learn how our ancestors made stone tools, and test your skills at throwing a spear.
“Learn about prehistoric art from caves in France by making your own block print of the animal images,” said Tabatha Yang, chair and co-founder of the event. “Then take a tour of our museum collections, and our biological anthropology and archaeology labs.”
The Arboretum and Public Garden will have binoculars and hand lenses available for a habitat scavenger hunt, and will hold “meet your garden neighbor” quizzes to teach attendees how to select plants that support wildlife.
The Center for Plant Diversity will hold plant pressing and mounting demonstrations. Attendees can also see flowers under a microscope, learn about plants used for making tea, and tour collection rooms.
The California Raptor Center will be worth a trek south of I-80, as glove-trained ambassador raptors will be out with their handlers throughout the day, and raptors who can’t be released can also be seen.
“Visitors will have the opportunity to see multiple native raptor species up close and talk to our experts,” Yang said. “We are happy to answer questions about birds of prey.”
The center’s small on-site museum will also be open with taxidermy specimens and interactive raptor-related activities.
Hidden gems: Think small
“This is the one day the Phaff Yeast Collection and the Nematode Collection are showcased to the general public,” organizers say online. “They also have some of the smallest, but mightiest organisms.”
Visitors to the Phaff Yeast Culture Collection might use more senses than any others this weekend: They can see and smell yeast, taste samples of the kombucha and vegemite the organisms make possible, and hear from students and employees of the teaching winery and brewery. The Phaff collection boasts more than 1,500 species of yeast, and visitors can examine some under microscopes.
The Nematode Collection will showcase preserved examples of garden plants and crops that are often infected by nematodes.
“We also plan to have live C. elegans to watch how they move through the environment,” Yang said. “Come talk to experts in the field and see why worms are cool and you will receive a cool magic worm to take home as well.”
Another small attraction won’t appear on any map: Crocheted triceratops created by third-year animal biology major Jakob Lopez will be hidden around campus near the participating museums and collections. Read more on the Bug Squad blog.
Recommendations by age group
Organizers present answers online to a few commonly asked questions about which sights might be best for certain age groups:
For toddlers: “The Arboretum is outside and a great space for young visitors to explore. The Raptor Center is also outside and has live birds to observe. The Bohart has live insects to pet and the Botanical Conservatory has plants everywhere, but their greenhouses have narrow aisles. Holding or carrying your toddler through the greenhouses is an enjoyable way to take in that collection.”
For teens: “Anthropology is open into the afternoon, and they have flint knapping [shaping] and atlatl [spear] throwing. The Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology is also a favorite as they deal with birds, mammals, fish and reptiles and amphibians. The Botanical Conservatory also has a great carnivorous plant collection.”
For all ages: “While all of them are [crowd pleasers], one can never go wrong with fossils at Paleontology and the pressed plants at the Center for Plant Diversity.”
Hours and locations
The 10 participating museums and collections are:
- Anthropology Museum, 328 Young Hall and grounds, open from noon to 4 p.m.
- Arboretum and Public Garden, Habitat Gardens in the Environmental GATEway, adjacent to the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Room 1124 and main hall of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Botanical Conservatory, the greenhouses along Kleiber Hall Drive, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- California Raptor Center, 1340 Equine Lane, off Old Davis Road, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Center for Plant Diversity, Katherine Esau Science Hall off Kleiber Hall Drive, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Nematode Collection (part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology), Katherine Esau Science Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive, 10 am. To 2 p.m.
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Room 1394, Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Paleontology Collection, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 1309 Earth and Physical Sciences Building, 434 LaRue Road, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Robert Mondavi Institute Brewery and Food Processing facility, Old Davis Road, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Kathy Keatley Garvey contributed to this report.
Cody Kitaura is the editor of Dateline UC Davis and can be reached by email or at 530-752-1932.