Raven Hill Discovery Center - Museum

As you can see, it was a rather interesting (the word eclectic comes to mind) group of greeters which caught my eye (and camera's focus) upon entering the Museum.  I started with these basic images because, as you will observe in the next several pictures, the sheer volume of items to look at and learn something about is quite overwhelming initially. 




After being introduced, and taking a few initial pictures, Cheri Leach (RHDC founder) cautioned me not to get too close to the magnet table (above two pictures) with my digital camera.  In fact, the caution sign mentions credit cards, debit cards, ATM cards, driver's licenses, pacemakers, hearing aids, insulin pumps, some metal pins, analog watches, video cameras, digital cameras, computer discs, palm pilots, game boys, iPods, and Blackberries should all be kept at least three feet away.  That is one powerful magnetic field.  Ever observant with the fine memory that I have, no more than ten minutes later, Doug had to holler across the room to remind me as I was inadvertently wandering closer to the table.    




Under the heading "Museum" the RHDC website offers, "To visit Raven Hill is to immerse oneself in a world of discovery by trying and touching. Visitors may manipulate prisms in a laser beam, climb inside a kaleidoscope, weave on a loom, ride a generator bike to turn on lights, play traditional games like Caroms and Skittles, build sculptures, arches, and towers on a huge magnet table, or play a variety of musical instruments including drums and a marimba. Collections of old-fashioned tools, shells, furs, skulls, and rocks round out the exhibits at Raven Hill and make it interesting for the young and the young at heart. 

At Raven Hill Discovery Center, there is something for all ages. Little ones are fascinated by marble rolls, vortexes and old telephones. Older children and adults like the games, most especially the Rollway where the challenge is to create a ramp to slow the ball down without stopping it. A slow run can get the builder/s a small prize or even a T-shirt if the run is longer than 30 seconds. Thereís also a gyrocycle to experience gyroscopic precession, if you can understand and follow some simple instructions." 

"The Periodic Room houses a twenty-foot Periodic Table of the Elements with the ores as they come from the earth and products containing specific elements. The noble gases are electrified and light up in their characteristic colors. Artistic interpretations of the Earth's geologic history is the other major exhibit in the Periodic Room. Local artists used their myriad talents to show how the Earth might have looked at various periods in prehistory. Various media are represented, including ceramics, metal, glass, felting, acrylic, watercolor and pencil. The exhibit also includes prehistoric puppets and a puppet theater for the younger set." 

The below photos are from the Periodic Room mentioned in the above quote.  The two skulls caught my eye (fifth row down on the right).  The larger represents an extinct Cave Bear and the other a modern bear.  After exiting the Periodic Room, on our way to the Live Animal area, we paused for a moment at the kaleidoscope ó and in the kaleidoscope. 






Under the heading "Animals" (again from the RHDC website) we find the following quote.  "Raven Hill is home to a number of exotic animals used to teach children of all ages, not to fear, but to respect snakes, lizards, turtles, and spiders. All animals are orphans, donated to Raven Hill because people canít take care of them or donít want them anymore. Children and adults alike can look, pet or hold to fit individual comfort levels. Raven Hill is a place where knowledge of all aspects of science and its integral place in history and art is shared with anyone who is willing to listen and ask questions. 

Visitors are able to observe and compare primitive and modern snakes, land and water turtles, vertebrates and invertebrates. They learn about the natural habits and habitats of the exotic animals common to the pet trade industry. No Michigan animals are found in Raven Hillís Animal Room. Native Michigan animals are protected by Michigan laws and at Raven Hill Discovery Center, they are found only outside in their natural habitats. 

Raven Hill Discovery Centerís Animal Room also contains a variety of preserved animals and animal parts, including dried sponges, corals, mollusks, crabs and porcupine fish; python skins; horse, deer and peccary skulls; dog skeletons; and taxidermied marlins, sharks, hawks, owls, beavers and squirrels." 

The turtles seem to me to be the obvious stars in the animal room.  Although the piranha has a charm all its own (until you see its teeth), and the corn snake is bright and colorful.  We were however told of a couple of shark attacks since the arrival of the Hammerhead Shark.  Apparently even a taxidermied shark can cause injury with a slip-up in its handling. 






The woman demonstrating how to get a very large turtle back into its box without wrenching your back, and also functioning in the role of snake handler in the above pictures, is Cheri Leach (the following text is quoted from the RHDC website).  "Cheri Leach is founder, CEO and Director of Programming at Raven Hill Discovery Center. She has a major in biology and a minor in chemistry from Albion College in Albion, Michigan. She earned a Masters in Science Education through the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1991 she was a National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) Exemplary Facilities Award winner. Also, in 1991, Cheri was an American Association of University Women Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow. She currently teaches graduate classes for teachers through Central Michigan University's Off Campus Programs, as well as professional development classes and student classes at Raven Hill and through the Centerís Outreach programs. A science teacher since 1968 and a science workshop presenter since 1987, Cheri collaborates closely with Tim Leach, her husband and Director of Exhibits and Facilities at Raven Hill Discovery Center. Tim has a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Albion College with a major in biology and a minor in geology. Both Cheri and Tim work as mentors to youngsters, adults and teachers interested in sciences and arts and the many connections science and art have to history and to all the other aspects of our lives -- past, present and future." 



After we left the animal area, I looked around here and there taking a few final pictures.  Beyond the knowledge about the items themselves, there seems to be an interesting tale about how each of the items came to be at Raven Hill.  If you are blessed with the opportunity to meet Cheri Leach, do not forget to ask about such stories.  As an example, the totem which caught my eye by the exit is not just something picked up along the way.  It was made for Raven Hill with the symbols representing stories of this place.  The raven and the turtle, for instance, will become obvious upon closer examination.  The Museum wrapped up my Saturday visit at RHDC, but as mentioned on page one, I came back briefly on Sunday to complete my all too short tour.  So, your tour in these pages has one more stop before completion.  And, prior to even doing that, I thought it would be nice to spend our last moment on this page ó with a look into infinity. 



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