From the World of Parks and Recreation
By Doug Comer
Averaging over 500 people a weekend, the Family Days draws folks from all over the area as well as some people from out of state. The free exhibit which opened early February continues till the end of March and Director Mike Book feels that we still have not reached the pinnacle in regards to attendance.
“We have guests sign a ledger book that asks for their name and the amount of people in the party. We do this in order to get an accurate count of how many attend the exhibit. Most importantly, we want to know where they live so that we can get information to their county on what we do and how our enrichment program could be advantageous to the schools,” said Book.
And it is true as we have every school day booked for kids in Harrison County. Our focus on meeting the requirements laid out by the State Board is a must as it makes our program much more attractive to the Board of Education in Harrison County. The enrichment is a great opportunity to get away from the desks and chalkboard and learn about an era that attracts all children at some point in time. One teacher approached me and mentioned how books can give information about how dinosaurs lived and thrived during their period but, having a hands-on and visual connection with this program far outweighs books.
With our full-scale fossils, which are replicas taken from molds of real fossils, and the many pieces of fossils that we have at the exhibit, all people will have a better knowledge of what is offered at our facility, which, many have claimed that it equates to the exhibits that you see in Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. as Book explains.
“When I hear the word ‘fake’ mentioned when discussing the pieces we have here, it is displeasing to me. People who provide us with replicas actually handled the real fossils and make casts from the molds. The weight of the fossils would be too heavy for the supports and just the value and preservation needs to be protected as well. And we have plenty of real fossil pieces that we allow kids and families to handle. Some are millions of years old while others from the Ice Age era reach around 30,000 years of age.”
Our night and weekend staff, who have a broad knowledge of the exhibit, walk around and talk to guests about the many items on display and tells a little history about what they are looking at and we have pushed things into the technological age with QR codes that will give additional information about the dinosaurs.
“We have been creeping into the era where smart phones can be an asset to our exhibit. We created some QR codes for those who have the application; they can simply scan the code and read about some additional information about our pieces. It is a simply one click and it directs you to a link that takes you to various sites. Yes, it’s a good step and another additive to our program,” said Book.
The hours of operation for this free exhibit are Thursdays and Fridays from 4-8 and weekends from 12-6 pm. Please contact the HCPR at 304-423-7800 for more information