The Boston ICO’s trip to the Harvard Museum of Natural History on Saturday, January 26, 2013 was this volunteer’s first ICO trip, but it definitely won’t be my last.
In spite of a slight fender bender on the way from St. Peter’s Teen Center (that was more time-consuming than frightening), the St. Peter’s crew arrived at the museum in good spirits. Eleven middle school students, led by staff member Christine, as well as ICO leaders Cassie and Rucker, met up with the three volunteers, Geoff, Craig, and Larisa (myself) in the front lobby. We split up into small groups to explore the museum.
There was so much to see, and not quite enough time. It was hard to decide where to start: in the Evolution Theater? Rocks, minerals and meteorites? Great Mammal Hall? Or perhaps with the Dinosaurs!? Our group went first to the Glass Flowers exhibit, where an enormous selection of plants have been crafted out of glass for the purposes of scientific learning – and our awe. The kids in our small group were particularly excited when they saw the glass blooms and leaves of the cashew tree, which they recognized as native to their homeland of Cape Verde.
Another highlight for our small group was being given the opportunity (by a museum volunteer) to hold and examine the skulls of a moose, black bear, and wolf, among others. When the whole group met together in the Vertebrate Paleontology exhibit we were all amazed by the skeleton of a bus-length creature that was 130 MILLION YEARS old!
After the museum visit, we took a walk to see other parts of the university, including the main Science Center building and Harvard Yard – where as many students before them have done, the kids all rubbed the left foot on the statue of John Harvard for good luck. It was wintry cold, so the handwarmer packets that Rucker had handed out earlier were not only an object of fascination, but kept fingers (and in one case, toes) warm.
We enjoyed a late lunch at a pizza place in Cambridge called Lamole, and after circled up for a group closing in which everyone shared their favorite part of the day. Finally, the kids (with adults) made their way briskly back through Harvard Yard in anticipation of the warmth of the St. Peter’s van. What a great day!