Idaho Museum of Natural history debuts new evolution exhibit

Kid-centered grand opening includes freebies, food truck, raffles and more

By Sarah Glenn

POCATELLO – Kids of all ages are invited to the Idaho Museum of Natural History Saturday for an exhibit grand opening extravaganza.

The new exhibit, “Evolving Idaho,” explores how evolution has shaped the diversity of Idaho’s plants and animals, showcasing some of their adaptations to Idaho’s environment through interactive modules.

“I am hoping that people come away with a greater understanding of what evolution really is and how the process really works,” said Rick Williams, curator of botany for the Idaho Museum of Natural History.

The exhibit includes modules on both macro and micro evolution, discussing evolution on both the cellular level and the species level. All 20 sections of the exhibit were created in-house and are the results of research by Idaho State University professors.

“It is sort of a primer on evolution,” Williams said. “What are the five things that we would really like people to understand about evolution and how it works.”

The modules show evolution occurring in Idaho residents’ own backyards. The exhibit aims to educate all ages about evolution and ecosystems using the museum’s new touch table. Other modules include a microscopic look at the legs of a snake and an option to take “selfies” with giant DNA strands.

While the exhibit on its own is probably better geared towards middle school students and older, Williams said, the researchers and other staff will be on hand Saturday to host hands-on learning modules with younger children. Live animals will join the event to show first-hand how evolution works on a grand scale.

To herald in the grand opening Saturday, the museum will also offer swag bags for the first 30 visitors, “balloon pops” with prizes inside, raffles, educational activities, food from Big Mama’s Food Truck and desserts available for purchase from Bob’s Polar Express.

The balloon pop raffle includes three levels and each has increasingly valuable prizes inside the balloons. Participants will be able to buy a balloon that could contain a certificate for a prize inside donated by local businesses. Balloon pops are $1 per child balloon, $5 per adult balloon and $10 per mega balloon. Child balloons include prizes such as Papa Murphy’s Pizza gift certificates, vouchers to Deleta and Ross Park Swimming Pool vouchers. The mega balloons will hold vouchers for massages, pedicures and a dinner at the Chalk Horse.

Proceeds from the balloon pops will fund the museum’s next traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution, “Titanoboa: Monster Snake,” opening March 2016.

Participants at the grand opening can also enter a raffle to win the “Art of Natural History,” a weeklong partial-day camp for children that is filled with projects such as fish printing, fossil making, beading and nature journaling. Raffle tickets are $1 per ticket or $5 for six tickets. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit the the museum’s educational programming and will provide means to update educational supplies.

The Museum is located on the campus of Idaho State University, east of the intersection of 5th Avenue and Dillon Streets in ISU Building 12. Metered parking is available along the northwest edge of the General Parking Lot 01, accessed at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Dillon Street. Meters are marked for Museum Patrons.

Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for Idaho State University students, and $1 for children K-12th grade. For more information on this exhibit and its grand opening, visit www.imnh.isu.edu.

Source: BioLogos, a think tank that aims to combine science and faith.

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