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Museum offers Family Discovery Programs this summer

By Victoria Advocate
June 14, 2014 at 1:14 a.m.

Isabel Van Dyke, Museum of the Coastal Bend curator of Education and Public Programs.

The Museum of the Coastal Bend would like to introduce you to some long-ago neighbors - creatures who called Texas home thousands of years ago.

The Museum's Family Discovery Programs encourage parents and children to discover new things about themselves and the world around them. Among those discoveries will be woolly mammoths, elephant-like animals with 15-foot tusks that became extinct about 4,000 years ago.

"During the summer months, many students will forget what they learned from the previous school year," said Sue Prudhomme, VC's director of cultural affairs and the museum. "Parents can reinforce and stimulate their child's learning with fun and interactive science activities at Victoria College's Museum of the Coastal Bend."

Programs will be held throughout the day on select Saturdays during the summer months. They are open to the public with pay-what-you-want admission.

The Family Discovery Program kicks off June 21 with Extinct Texas Animals, where visitors can get to know the creatures that roamed the land more than 11,000 years ago. Animals such as mammoths, saber-tooth cats and giant sloths lived here during the Pleistocene, the period of ice ages, human beings and huge mammals.

The Pleistocene ended about 11,500 years ago, but at the museum event, visitors can get a glimpse of some of the animals that disappeared.

Activities run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with hands-on displays like:

Mammoth hunting - The earliest Texans shared this land with mammoths and mastodons, which stood up to 14 feet tall. Visitors are invited to use an atlatl, an ancient spear-thrower, to attempt to hit a life-size mammoth target.

Skull art - Make crayon rubbings of skulls from animals that lived in Pleistocene, such as the saber-tooth cat, dire wolf and giant sloth.

Tree of life - Biologists group animals together into different families. Sort out the pieces of the family tree to show how some extinct Texas animals are related to modern-day creatures.

"Unlike dinosaurs, these are animals that our human ancestors interacted with," said Isabel Van Dyke, the museum's curator of Education and Public Programs. "Many of them are strange versions of animals that we know today - things like 10-foot-long armadillos. We want to give people a picture of the kind of creatures that they would have met in Texas 12,000 years ago."

Other Family Discovery Program activities scheduled this summer are Moon Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 19, which celebrates the 45th anniversary of the moon landing and Texas' role in space exploration.

Also planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 9 is Household History, an event giving visitors a chance to try their hat at the tools of everyday life from the past.

For more information, contact Sue Prudhomme at 361-582-2436 or stop by the museum, 2200 E. Red River St., on the Victoria College campus.

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