The Nature of Discovery

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When the Academy of Natural Sciences opened its doors 200 years ago, they were open only to scientists and the occasional V.I.P. President Thomas Jefferson, for example.

Over the decades, officials have realized the value of opening the amazing collections to the general public, so everyone may understand the intricacies of life on Earth.

Jefferson donated his collection of fossils to the Academy.

John James Audubon's birds are there, as are the plant specimens Lewis and Clark collected during their history-making journey. But Academy scientists never stop collecting.

The institution houses more than 18 million specimens, and while experts are always interested in finding something new, they also collect the same species over and over again.

By carefully preserving and cataloguing each, they may observe how species change over time and note why. And because the process is carried out with painstaking care, specimens often answer questions which didn't exist when they were collected.

"The Nature of Discovery" pays tribute to the Academy's extraordinary mission and vision. It's serious science, but presented in a way even elementary school children can understand.

Scientists are often on hand to answer questions or demonstrate what they do.

There are interactive features to maintain interest and highlight important lessons.

Because the emphasis will change monthly, it may take more than one visit to take everything in.

You might even want to consider a membership and the frequent visits that would facilitate.

The Academy, recently affiliated with Drexel University, is open weekdays from 10:00am to 4:00pm, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00am to 5:00pm.

For more information, phone 215-2999-1000, or online Academy of Natural Sciences.

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