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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Turtle Bay Natural History Museum, Redding, California, USA

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Turtle Bay Natural History Museum, Redding, California, USA
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Registered: December 2015
City/Town/Province: Redding
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I am a highschool student at University Preparatory school in Redding CA. I have been a member of the Boy Scouts of America for eight years, attaining the rank of Eagle. I have been a volunteer at Turtle Bay Natural History Museum for six years. I have also been a beekeeper for four years.

Turtle Bay is a natural history museum that is central to Redding’s culture. It is one of the few operating museums in the town, and provides an educational center for people of all ages. The exhibits cover topics ranging from ecology and biology to history and engineering. It is a large building located next to the Sundial Bridge, built along the banks of the Sacramento River. The museum has a variety of exhibits, but one of the most interesting ones is a live beehive within the museum that has viewing panel built into the side for visitors.

My project augments the existing exhibit with a computer system to provide interactive educational material and, eventually, an arduino powered sensor system to capture and display hive parameters, providing a deeper insight into its operations. The project includes the building of a kiosk terminal and the placement of a CCTV camera which allows visitors to see the outside entrance to the hive, a key element normally inaccessible to the public.

The goal of this project is to transform the current exhibit, a clear paneled beehive accompanied by a few simple informational panels, into a complex educational experience. It will document the biology and history of both wild and domesticated bees and provide a deeper interaction with the living hive. I want to promote the understanding of the hive in order to rouse awareness for the plight of the bee population as a whole. The project is comprised of a kiosk terminal and a CCTV camera which will allow visitors to see the hive entrance, a key element normally inaccessible to the public with the current exhibit layout. My end goal is to fully tap the potential of the living hive within the museum. I hope to benefit my community by raising awareness of an issue that plagues the nation. The destruction of the honeybee is a threat to both the environment and to our economy. The loss of one of the most prolific pollinators in both agriculture and in the wild would be devastating.

To date, I have designed the kiosk and purchased the electronic hardware necessary to complete it. The software for the kiosk consists of a Powerpoint with hyperlinks that guide the visitor through the system in a manner similar to a wiki with graphs that illustrate spreadsheets which log data gathered from the hive itself. I designed all of the graphics from scratch, and I sourced colors for the design from existing exhibits. I am in the process of cutting the reclaimed lumber, taken from the remodeled visitor center of the museum, to construct the kiosk. We should have the display ready for the public within two months. I have already invested 127 hours into my project, but I expect that it will take another 50 hours to complete. I plan to add the sensor system this summer after the kiosk has already been installed.

Why did I decide to pursue this project? I have been aware of the problems that plague agricultural and natural beehives as a part of my experience as a beekeeper. I was taught by my mother, the original beekeeper in the family, and through my own research how to recognize potential problems in the hive ranging from parasites to the presence of bacterial infection. I also became aware, through reading, of the current status of the honeybee; they are primarily threatened by the weakening of their population through massive die-offs and the threat of the nationwide invasion of Africanized “killer” bees spreading westward and northward from their point of origin in the southeast. I want to raise public awareness about these issues and to positively influence the direction that the bee population is heading.

As a volunteer at Turtle Bay, I understand that the museum provides an excellent opportunity to access the public and to provide education in the natural sciences. I had already volunteered there for several years, building a working relationship with the staff and the upper managment. I also completed my Eagle Scout project at Turtle Bay, a general housing unit for animals which allowed Turtle Bay to expand their offering. I knew how to organize these types of projects and Turtle Bay knew that they could rely on me to complete a high quality project independently. I proposed my project to the board and was given approval. I have since been working closely with the museum staff who have been giving me feedback on my project.

This project has afforded me the chance to acquire an understanding of both long term development and the art of an engaging presentation. My previous projects have all been utilitarian, my work as a volunteer personal, but I had yet to design something robust enough to withstand continued usage by the public over time and independent enough to not need human supervision. In short, this has been a tremendous challenge, but I feel that I have managed to build a museum grade presentation that will be useful to the public for years to come.

I can’t wait to see it in action, and I hope to be able to put it all together in a few months.

Note about the image: The translucent cabinet is the physical kiosk that I
designed. The panel is displayed is a slide from the PowerPoint system that I made, and is the same size as the screen that will be installed in the kiosk. The wooden and yellow cabinet behind that, is the existing beehive exhibit. The yellow area is the clear panel which provides a view into the hive, the base of the cabinet contai
Date: December 31, 2015 Views: 7006 File size: 15.3kb, 548.4kb : 1045 x 999
Hours Volunteered: 50
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18
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