I held a 150 million year old dinosaur vertebra!!!! 😀 This rare opportunity came about because of Dr Adrian Loo’s idea of a Night at the Museum held at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research for kids.
I was roped in to help when I visited him and Dr Abigayle Ng at the Openlab@RI one day, very impromptu-ly. But I’m glad I immediately agreed else I would never have gotten the chance!
The museum is currently trying to raise funds to bring 3 sets of dinosaur bones, suspected to be a family, over to be housed in the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum which is slated to be open in 3-4 years’ time. We need about 10 million dollars more to be raised by the end of this month!! Definitely have a long way to go, but Dr Tan Swee Hee, who’s in-charge of the dinosaurs, is hopeful that we will be able to claim those dinos as ours! While we were at the museum prepping, he gave us a short intro about these dinosaurs, that he personally saw in their home ground in Wyoming!
So anyway, back to Night at the Museum, it was a fairly low-key event, opened to Dr Loo’s friends mostly, as we wanted to do a test run and check out the response first. Which was great! We had 21 kids participating, along with their parents, on 2 Sept.
First up, we had Dr Zeehan and Kok Oi Yee, both of whom very kindly agreed to help bring the kids on a little tour around the dry collection. The kids got to look at tapir skulls, tiger skin, hornbills and owls collected by scientists from many years ago stored in the really cool compactus!
Next part of the programme was a show and tell of the different groups of animals, with teaching specimens that the kids were able to touch. Apart from these teaching specimens, the kids are not allowed to touch specimens at all in the museum, as they have been treated with arsenic.
These kids are really brilliant and knowledgeable, unlike the usual crowd I handle in the Zoo! They were mostly aware of animals like the Malayan Colugo (aka Flying Lemur), Pangolin (aka Scaly Anteater), Flying Squirrel, Monitor lizards, tortoises, Barn owls etc. I regaled them with some stories as well, trying to incorporate some conservation message into the show and tell, which was mainly supposed to introduce to them the diversity of animals. Some of the endings weren’t too child-friendly though, and I had a rather shocked reaction from the parents present! Will try to tell my story in a more PG manner in the future!
We also showed them some marine invertebrates, before Dr Joelle Lai came to give them a surprise with a live specimen – a Robber Crab (aka Coconut Crab) all the way from Christmas Island! The largest land arthropod, the kids were all excited and clamouring for a closer look, before Dr Lai had to retire the crab.
No photos here cos I forgot to take some
After that was activity time! After listening to us for so long, the kids finally got to move around and stretch their legs. We had earlier placed little paper monkeys around the museum gallery scattered around 2 general locations – the “urban” area, and the “forest” area. The children were to search for these little monkeys and come up with a “bar chart” showing the distribution of monkeys.
Naturally, there were more monkeys in the “forest”, and Dr Loo took the opportunity to impress upon the kids the perils of feeding macaques and how wild animals are able to provide for themselves without human intervention.
And finally, the most exciting part of the night’s programme — the dinosaurs! Dr Ng introduced the dinosaurs, named “Apollo”, “Prince” and “Twinky” to the kids, how the museum wants to bring them over, and also gave each kid the chance to touch a real dinosaur bone!
Thus the programme came to end on a high note, with the children all hyped up and excited! Really hope the dinosaurs can come to Singapore, cos even though they’re not “native”, they are awe-inspiring creatures that encourage people to find out more about natural history and that is certainly something that we need!
More photos here: