Preamble: Educational Resource
The Radford University Museum of the Earth Sciences, as a component of the College of Science and Technology, will serve as an educational resource for earth science-related themes to the university, to the local K-12 communities, and to the public at large.
Subject Matter Focus: The Physical Earth
By encompassing the earth science-related fields of geology, meteorology, oceanography, planetary astronomy and physical anthropology, the museum will use an interdisciplinary approach to foster an appreciation of the earth. In doing so, it will seek to demonstrate the interconnectivity of these varied disciplines and to foster an appreciation of the importance of a broad-based educational experience.
Primary Objective: Teaching Museum
The Radford University Museum of the Earth Sciences will be a teaching museum. It recognizes that a critical component of learning about the physical earth is to have the visual and tactile access to actual specimens that only a museum allows. The orientation of all of its activities will be to enhance the learning experience through a range of self-guided and mentor-guided activities. Self-guided activities will include physical exhibits and the use of kiosk computer-based activities within the museum, and web-based electronic exhibits that can be viewed anywhere.
Exhibits will be designed to pose scientific questions that are answered using scientific methodology through the examination of a wide range of evidence collected by scientists. Exhibits will serve as supplemental laboratory exercises for general education and upper-level courses within the university. Exhibits will also serve as learning resources for K-12 science classes. To these ends the museum will work with faculty and teachers to develop appropriate supplemental teaching aids, including mentor-guided hands-on exercises.
Assistance in the creation of exhibits and the curation of specimens are an important component of the educational experience for students that enhance their employment opportunities at other museums. To this end, students will be provided opportunities through independent study courses to participate as assistant curators in the museum. As faculty create new exhibits, they will be encouraged to engage students in these activities.
Secondary Objective: A Radford University Science Alliance
The presence of the Museum of the Earth Sciences (geology), the RU Planetarium (chemistry-physics), and the greenhouse (biology) in the Reed-Curie science buildings will serve as an attractive draw and outstanding educational resource for the public. The Radord University science departments make themselves available during open house days and foster special “Science Days” for K-12 classes.
Third Objective: A Destination for Leisurely Intellectual Pursuits
People read books, attend concerts, and visit art museums, planetariums, zoos, and natural history museums. These leisure activities bring new dimensions to, and add to the quality of, our lives. The Museum of the Earth Sciences will serve as one of those “special” places to visit.
Collections: Enhancing the Educational Experience
The Museum will seek to acquire through donations, purchases, and field collections a broad representation of rock, mineral, and fossil specimens necessary to create outstanding teaching-oriented exhibits. Although an emphasis for acquisition will be specimens from the vicinity of Virginia, specimens from throughout the world will also be acquired if they will serve to enhance the educational experience of the museum.
Although the museum is not intended as a comprehensive repository of research collections, all specimens will be curated and cataloged in a professional manner.
The Radford University Museum of the Earth Sciences is not envisioned as a static, dust-gathering collection of rocks and other geological specimens. Rather, it is envisioned as a dynamic functioning center of quality exhibits with outreach and in-reach programs at all levels of learning and as a fascinating place in which to spend one’s time.