Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Shark Week Wrap Up

Shark Week has come and gone here at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre and what a busy week it was! With Dino Day Camp, new displays and activities run by CFDC staff, we are quite tired out but happy with the results of the week!

Shark Week kicked off with a Beach Blast at the Morden Beach. There was a small turn out, as it was also Harvest Festival weekend in Winkler, but those who came out had some fun! There was crafts, face painting and a chance to dig for real shark teeth! We also hosted a sandcastle contest, and it was quite hard to choose from all the great entries. Overall, we had three winners, who each received a free family admission to the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre.

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Our delicious shark fin waffles!
On Monday we had our first Waffle Breakfast! We served close to 50 people and received almost $150 in donations. Thank you to everyone who came out and made this event such a success!

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Even Bruce got a chance to eat some waffles!
Photo courtesy of Chris Sumner (@coleco55 on twitter).  
To end off the week, we held a free Movie Night in the Museum! We had a double feature, showing "Finding Nemo" and then "Sharknado". While the attendance was not as high as we had hoped, those who came out enjoyed the movies and the free popcorn and drinks we served up. We hope to show more movies here at the CFDC in the future, so keep an eye out for that!

Dino Day Camp's Shark Week was by far the busiest week of the summer! Between the morning and afternoon sessions, there was about 25 kids registered in Day Camp everyday. Between crafts, games and snacks for the kids, everyone who came had a blast and our Day Camp coordinators are looking forward to wrapping up camp this week.

And of course throughout the museum we had special displays out specifically for Shark Week. These included a couple timelines of the evolution of sharks, as well as a display of the different kinds of sharks we find in modern waters. We also set up a display of some very well preserved shark vertebra, as well as a modern Tiger Shark jaw! The highlight of our displays for Shark Week was definitely our Squalicorax display!

This particular shark has been in our collection since the 1970's, but after taking a closer look at it and calling in a researcher to study it, it has revealed some surprising evidence. This Squalicorax is the largest and most complete specimen... in the world! We at the CFDC are obviously quite excited about this fact, and put it out for public viewing for one week; Shark Week! Hopefully you got a chance to check it out before it goes back into our collection room, and if you did not you can always book a VIP museum tour to get a closer look at it, and all the other wonders in our collection room.

Overall it was a highly successful week for the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre. We had over 400 visitors throughout the week, not including those who attended Day Camp, or the special events throughout the week. Thank you to everyone who came out, and for your special interest in sharks!

Summer is winding down but Corn and Apple is coming up so there's some special deals and events to keep your eyes out for!

Thanks for making Shark Week a "Fin-tastic" week!

Paige Ready

Museum Assistant

Friday, August 01, 2014

Hanging out with Dino Day Camp!

Today I had a nice sit down with our Dino Day Camp coordinators, Maddy Jamieson and Rebecca Pedneault, to chat about how Dino Day Camp has gone this summer!

For those of you who don't know, Dino Day Camp is a summer program that the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre runs from July to August. Monday through Thursday, the youth program coordinators work hard to provide activities, education and fun to the kids who have signed up, or dropped in. Each week has a different theme, and different activities that go along with it.

Maddy, Rebecca and I all sat down to chat a bit about camp, its highlights and its challenges.

Maddy and Rebecca both agreed that their favourite week (so far) this summer has been Pirate Week! They chose Pirate Week because they felt that they had prepared a variety of activities and crafts that kept everyone engaged and entertained. It also helped that there was a fair number of kids enrolled in the camp that week. "Having more kids allows us to play more games, do more crafts and it's also great for the kids. They get to meet new friends and it keeps them from getting bored."

As I have said, Dino Day Camp staff plan and run multiple activities for the kids. From making crafts, to giving museum tours, they make sure the days are action packed. When asked what their favourite thing to do was, both Maddy and Rebecca agreed that giving museum tours topped the list. Maddy, who is in fact in her second year of Education at Lakehead University says, "I really enjoy the education aspect of it; teaching kids about the different marine reptiles, showing them the different fossils in the collection room, I really enjoy that." Rebecca, who is in her fourth year of biology (focusing on botany) at the University of Winnipeg also agreed that she enjoys the learning and education part of the camp.

Obviously when dealing with children under the age of 10, there will be challenges. Whether it's a behavioral problem, or simply trying to find a craft that will take more than 5 minutes to complete, it is up to our Day Camp leaders to figure out a way to over come these challenges. Both Maddy and Rebecca agree that the biggest challenges they have faced are trying to figure out a way to keep everyone entertained and engaged, while also structuring a functional Day Camp. They appear to be doing something right, as they often get 5 stars on their end of week reviews!

Rebecca returned to Dino Day Camp for a second year this summer, as she help run it last year as well. This is Maddy's first year with Dino Day Camp, but has enjoyed it thoroughly. The pair make a great team!

August is the last month for Dino Day Camp, and the weeks are filling up fast. Coming up this week is Gold Rush, after that is the very popular Shark Week, and to finish off the summer we have Croc Attack! Maddy and Rebecca both want parents to know that while drop ins are welcome, it is best to sign your child up prior to the week to ensure that you get a spot. They would also like to point out that Shark Week is filling up VERY QUICKLY but that Gold Rush and Croc Attack are both great weeks that have lots of space.

Dino Day Camp costs either $20 per day or $60 for the week. Click here to check out our schedule for the rest of the month, but please note that the days for Shark Week and Gold Rush have been switched. Give us a call at the CFDC at (204) 822-3406 to book your spot!

And a special thanks to Maddy Jamieson and Rebecca Pedneault for taking the time to help me out with this blog!

Paige Ready

Museum Assistant

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Bruce!

Our big Bruce is officially 80 000 040 years old!

Guests from all over the world came to visit Bruce on Saturday, July 26th for his special day, and the staff at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre couldn't have been happier with the turnout!

The day kicked off at 10, with multiple families coming in to check out the activities early. Outside we had chalk drawings, face painting and a water balloon toss for the kids. Inside the museum, there was lots of opportunities to make some crafts, and play some fun games!

At 12, everyone gathered in Bruce's room to sing "Happy Birthday" and cut the cake. We also awarded Bruce his medal for being the largest mosasaur on display in the world! After singing to Bruce and putting on his party hat, guests were served cake, and sent to a refreshments room to enjoy some chips and pop donated by Giant Tiger.

Kids were able to enjoy multiple games that CFDC staff had set up for the day. These games included; Pin the Tail on Bruce, Duck-Duck-Bruce, and Feed Bruce! After lunch, there was a chance for kids to take a swing at some piñatas, and swing they did!
One of our guests taking his shot at the piñata! 

The aftermath..
And of course throughout the day there was a photo booth, where we got many pictures of families (and staff) enjoying themselves!

Myself (right) and a CFDC volunteer getting silly in the booth!
Overall, it was a great day had by all, with over 130 visitors coming to see the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre. CFDC staff have already started planning our next event: SHARK WEEK!

Shark Week is kicking off on Saturday, August 9 with a Beach Blast at the Morden Beach. There will be lots of activities running from 10-4 for kids to enjoy, so be sure to check out that!

Next up is a Waffle Breakfast being served at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre, which will be a "by donation" event. Waffles will be served from 8-10 in the morning, and then will be back up from 11:30-1:30 for an early lunch. If you're just wanting to enjoy the waffles, there is no need to pay the entrance fee. However if you'd like to enter the gallery (and I encourage you to check it out!) regular admission rates will apply.

And finally to end the week, the CFDC will be hosting a FREE movie night on Friday, August 15. Doors will open at 6 and "Finding Nemo" is playing at 7. At 9, the second movie, "Sharknado", will be shown. "Finding Nemo" is rated G and "Sharknado" is unrated, but not suitable for children under the age of 14.

And of course throughout the week stop in to check out the museum. We will have new exhibits, displays and fun facts all in a shark theme, so it should be a fun week!

We hope that you come to check out these events, we would love to have you! It's a great chance to have fun and #DiscoverFossils!

Paige Ready

Museum Assistant

Friday, July 18, 2014

Busy Times at the CFDC

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre staff has been quite busy with tours, meetings and planning lately!

Dig Tour season is in full swing and our field techs are eager to get out into the field! A typical dig tour will begin with a VIP tour of our museum and collection room, and then it's out to the field! Guests will be taken to one of our private dig sites where they will hunt for fossils, clean up the fossil bed, and enjoy the sun in the beautiful Manitoba escarpment. There is also the chance to become the weekly Paleostar! Paleostar is a recognition of outstanding work done by visitors in the field. It typically is awarded when a customer finds an impressive fossil, such as a shark tooth, fish vertebra or maybe even some pieces of mosasaur! Paleostar can be awarded to a single person or even an entire family! If you're interested in booking a tour click this link for more information.

We've had some very important visitors at the CFDC this past week, starting off with the Manitoba Geological Survey's Jim Bamburak. Jim came out this week to do a presentation on the geological layers of the Pembina Valley. He then took the field staff on a field trip throughout the escarpment to get an up close and personal look at the different layers. It was a great opportunity to learn about the Pembina Valley, as well as broadening our geological understanding.

Dr. Kevin Campbell, a professor at the University of Manitoba and a contributor and member of the CFDC generously donated a tuft of real 43,000 year old woolly mammoth hair! This hair comes from a Siberian mammoth that was found this past year, and it had most of its skin and hair still intact! We are excited to add this new fossil to our display of mammoth tusk and blood by the end of summer.

Real mammoth hair!
We also had the privilege of having Ron Lemieux and Colin Ferguson join us for an afternoon of digging for fossils! Ron is the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection for Manitoba, and Colin is the CEO for Travel Manitoba. They and their families got a chance to enter the field for a dig tour, as well as a VIP Tour. It was a good time had by all and we hope they visit again in the future.

Everyone checking out the dig site!
Lastly, CFDC staff have been preparing the museum for Bruce's Birthday! Bruce is turning the ripe old age of 80 000 040 years old, and to celebrate, we're throwing him a huge party. For regular admission prices, you and your family can enjoy a full day of activities and games right here at the museum! Free cake and other party refreshments will be served at noon, so be sure to stop in for that. We hope to see you here next Saturday, the 26th!

Paige Ready
Museum Assistant

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Field Tech

Field techs; we are the ones who may give you a tour, work the booth at a festival or actually dig up fossils in the field. But what exactly do we do at a typical day at the museum? You're about to find out!

A field tech's day begins right here at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre. We start our day at 9 am, and we prep the museum for any visitors that may come that day. This includes cleaning bathrooms, cleaning the glass in the displays cases, and planning any programming for tours if they are booked. After all the cleaning is done, we are given time to work on upcoming projects. Currently, staff is working hard to put together Bruce's Birthday on July 26! This event will include many activities, crafts and snacks, and must be coordinated and ran by the museum staff. There are other projects to work on as well, such as creating new displays, cataloguing in our collection room, or (in my case) updating the latest blog.

Around noon, we will pack up and head out to the field to do some digging! The past few weeks, the field techs have been working on creating a new pathway at one of our dig sites. We are doing this so we can expand the fossil bed, and search for more fossils! To accomplish this, the field techs have been shovelling and pick axing for days. It is definitely a good work out! After this is over, we begin work on uncovering the fossils at the site. This means brushing and picking away in the hot sun for hours at a time. It's hard work, but so rewarding!

Every day is different for a CFDC field tech. One day we may be giving a tour to a family, and the next we could be face painting at a festival. Every day brings something new and exciting and that's why I enjoy my job as a field tech so much.

Paige Ready
Museum Assistant

Field Techs working to make a pathway at the site
Aaron Kilmury, King of the Dirt Pile. 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Theory vs Scientific Theory

Often at the CFDC, we get a lot of questions regarding what exactly a "theory" is. It appears that there is a lot of misunderstanding, and misinformation about this topic, so this post is going to address just that; the incorrect use of a word.

A theory and a scientific theory are two different things. A theory (defined by oxforddictionaries.com) is "A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained". In other words, a theory is a thought or an idea, surrounding something or someone. An example of this would be this theory about "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (seriously, it's pretty cool!). 

Now to define scientific theory. Defined by livescience.com, "A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing". Basically, scientific theory is a way of explaining something in science that is widely accepted as fact due to the research, testing and data backing it up. An example of a widely accepted scientific theory is gravity. 

"When used in non-scientific context, the word 'theory' implies that something is unproven or speculative" (livescience.com). The misuse of the word creates a fair amount of confusion for those who are not familiar with it. And this is exactly the problem we at the CFDC are trying to address. 

Another question that is asked at the CFDC is what exactly constitutes "scientific testing". It is actually called the Scientific Method and is fairly simple to understand and accomplish. The scientific method is "A method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses"(oxforddictionaries.com). Scientific method can be broken down to this; form a hypotheses, and test it out. If it works, test it again, if it doesn't, refine your hypotheses and repeat the steps.

It is through this process that we pass the simple theory, and arrive at the scientific theory. 

Click here for more misused words in science and over here to learn more about the scientific theory! 

Make sure to visit the CFDC to #discoverfossils

Paige Ready
Museum Assistant

Monday, June 30, 2014

What's New at the CFDC?

Even if you have visited before, it's always worth checking out what's new at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre. We've recently added a new exhibit to our collection, showcasing some of our more recent finds that have been kicking around in our collection room! In this display you can catch a glimpse of some Mosasaur vertebrae and ribs. There's also a chance to get a close look at some leg bones of a bird called Hesperornis, a flightless bird that swam with the marine reptiles in the Cretaceous era. There's also some Xiphactinus and Enchodus teeth, two fish that swam in the Western Interior Seaway. And last but definitely not least, there is a chunk of a squid pen, the only part of the squid to fossilize.

Aaron Kilmury, one of our field techs, has been hard at work on an extinction display that is sure to knock your socks off! This display has been revamped from an older display that had since been retired. Aaron has breathed new life into it, and we're hoping it will be on display for the public in July!

Here at the museum, we often get asked if we are still finding fossils in this area, and the answer is a strong yes! Field techs and volunteers alike have been hard at work on uncovering more mosasaur! This has been a great site for the CFDC, as it was found at the same site as our Xiphactinus from 2010. It always amazes me what can be found here in the Pembina Valley, right under our feet!

As usual, among the larger finds we still find several small fossils and micro-fossils at our dig sites. Typically we find remainders of fish vertebrae, or shell imprints left in the shale. This year, our goals are to find more shark teeth, and to find a more complete Hesperornis fossil! Fingers crossed that this is the year!

We've also got some big events coming up so get your calenders ready!

Kicking off the summer, you can find the CFDC crew at the Morden Beach Blast on July 1st! There'll be some information regarding Dino Day Camp there, as well as some face painting for the kids! Hope to see you there!

Next up is Bruce the Mosasaur's birthday party on July 26! Bruce is turning the ripe old age of 80 000 040 years old and to celebrate, the CFDC is throwing him a celebration. With regular admission to the museum, (Click here to view admissions) guests will have a chance to enjoy some birthday cake, as well as take advantage of the many activities staff will be running during the day.

Later in August is the CFDC's second annual Shark Week! Stop in to the museum to learn more about the ancient creatures that swam in Cretaceous Manitoba, and enjoy some of the activities that will be offered as well. If you have some kids who just can't get enough of sharks, sign them up for our Dino Day Camp version of Shark Week! Kids will have a chance to learn about sharks and have fun at the same time! Spots are limited so book early!

Hoping to see you soon!

Paige Ready
Museum Assistant