Science Discovery Center Offers Events for Students, Vistors
The collection in Frostburg State University’s Science Discovery Center in Compton Science Center is a great free resource available to all students and visitors to campus. The center works in collaboration with the CCIT planetarium to educate students about a world they otherwise cannot experience. Dr. Susan Snow, the center’s amicable curator, only acquired the job in the summer of 2013. The museum itself has no clear mission statement as of yet, but Dr. Snow wishes for the use of the center to be multidisciplinary. She explained, “Many don’t know how awesome this is… I want to spark interest and show they’re not just animals in a room—they all have stories, lives, [and] adventures. It’s a great educational and research resource.”
The shows and events currently going on can be described in an almost “seminar” fashion. Dr. Snow is attempting to make the recent shows more creative and less of a lecture atmosphere. These events are “relative to varying classes,” Dr. Snow explained, “and I want to interact with these ideas in a less formal setting.” She also wishes to form a focus group to find alternative education experiences, and she is “certainly happy to entertain creative ideas that people may have.”
She believes the center to be an educational opportunity not only for Frostburg students but children K-12 as well. Biology and zoology are not the only majors Dr. Snow wishes to work with—all departments could learn from this experience, “because there’s so much to share”. She has already invited other disciplines, such as Parks & Recreation and many art classes.
Dr. Snow explained that the exhibits in the center were collected by Dr. Joseph Cavallaro, who hunted the displayed animals. This man led an impressive life even before embarking on his safari with an accompanying biologist. Dr. Cavallaro’s interest laid heavily in finding out about the lifestyles of the animals he hunted, attempting to find how animals lived and what habits they had. “There isn’t very much research for many of the animals; it’s incredibly difficult to find information on them,” Dr. Snow clarified. She went on to say, “We started with the Cavallaro collection and we want to honor it and him.” After retiring, Dr. Cavallaro donated his collection to FSU, and he still occasionally visits the campus. As of now, the center is mostly “hands-off”, but Dr. Snow believes they have a need for experiential learning and “we are in transition to make that happen.”
Scheduled programs typically run for a month; Dr. Snow explained that turnout is variable and that she rarely sees recurring attendees. “One week we had 22 students, and last week there were only two,” she laughed. However, the center does rotate topics. The current one is Nocturnal Animals, but soon that will change to Yearly Animal Changes and an upcoming event called Winter and Christmas Animals will follow. Dr. Snow also commented: “On December 10th at 12 pm our student intern will be giving a presentation regarding the research she has done comparing lions and wolves in Africa and North America. From the work I have seen it will be quite an interesting discussion about these two key top predators.”
“Science Sundays” are free and located in the Compton Science Center. They are held every Sunday at 5 p.m.