All About Animals!

Post written by Alexa Leinaweaver, Live Animal Husbandry Coordinator.

All About Animals!

Saturday, Dec. 15, animals are taking over all of Fort Collins Museum of Discovery! Come to the museum and learn more about all of these amazing creatures at Museum Takeover: Animals. 

 

What do we mean when we are talking about animals?

What do you picture when you hear the word “animal”? Some people think of living things that move, but that are separate from human beings. Some imagine the specific kind of animal they know best, such as a pet.

“Animal” actually refers to a large family of living things that are related to each other and share similar characteristics – including humans. We are still discovering new species of animals in the world, so we don’t know exactly how many there are. However, scientists estimate there are around 1.2 million different kinds of animals!

All animals are multicellular; have to eat food of some kind rather than generating it themselves; breathe oxygen; and are able to move themselves around (motile). Animals are generally bilaterally symmetrical, and most animals have specialized tissue, or organs, in their bodies.

 

How scientists differentiate between different kinds of animals:

There’s a lot of variety in kinds of animals in the world. Scientists have come up with many different ways to distinguish one species from another. Some of these techniques include: What does the animal look like (size, color, number of legs, etc.)? Where does it live (on land or in water)? What does it eat? What kind of structures or organs does it have in its body? Try and think of some other ways you could tell different animals apart.

 

Of the estimated 1.2 million different species, 80% of them are arthropods! This group includes spiders and insects. There are also approximately 32,000 different kinds of fishes. Mammals, which we may think of first when we hear “animal,” have some 6,000 different kinds. Humans, dogs, and cats are all mammals.

You may have heard about the difference between vertebrate and invertebrate animals. Vertebrates (like humans) have an internal skeleton, whereas invertebrates do not. Many invertebrates have what is called an exoskeleton, and they have a rigid shell on their outside that has to be shed as the animal grows. Some animals (like jellyfish) have no skeletal structure at all!

Animals have several different ways of obtaining food, and scientists can classify animals by how they eat. Predators kill and eat a prey species – imagine a wolf pack hunting and eating an elk. Parasites feed on their prey species without killing it. Herbivores (animals that eat only plant matter) are actually defined as a parasite. Imagine an elk eating grass, or a tick sucking blood from that elk: both are parasites. Finally there are detritivores, who eat bits of decomposing organic matter. Many insects, such as roaches or millipedes, will eat this way.

 

Extreme animals:

  • Biggest (by weight): Blue whale
  • Tallest: giraffe
  • Longest: Bootlace worm
  • Fastest: Peregrine falcon
  • Most poisonous: Poison dart frog
  • Most venomous: Box jellyfish
  • Best vision: Bald eagle
  • Able to see the most colors: Mantis shrimp
  • Most Deadly (non-human): Mosquitos

 

Animals at the museum:

The museum has several animals on display in the Animal Experience, but they all come from just two families: Arthropods (insects, arachnids, etc.) and Chordates (amphibians, reptiles, mammals, etc.).  Take a moment to compare the different kinds of animals we have. How do they move differently? Do they have an internal skeleton or an exoskeleton? Each of our animals requires different kinds of food, as some are predators, some are parasites, and some are detritivores. See if you can guess which is which! What else do you observe about the FCMOD animals?

Animals in your own life:

Take some time to appreciate the animals you see every day! If you have a pet, take good care of them and show them some love. Come to the museum and see our more unusual critters, and sign up for one of our animal programs. Or, take a walk outside and enjoy spotting some animals in the wild.

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Time Travel: 1950s – 1980s

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing & Design Assistant. 

Time Travel: 1950s – 1980s

Have you ever wanted to travel back in time? In our latest blog we travel back to the historic decades of Fort Collins. We will start in 1910 and travel up to 1980. Join us as we scavenge the local history of our town.

 

1950s: Reformation

The need for reform in Fort Collins’ city government had been a local topic since the late 1940s. Voter reluctance to change the structure of the local government led city officials to move the city toward a more efficient system by using special powers, as with the placement of Guy Palmes as city manager in 1949. This movement necessitated a revision to the city charter. To this end the local chapter of the National League of Women Voters, formed in 1951, supported an analysis of the government, an updated charter, and voter education to convince the public. The effort was rewarded when, on October 5, 1954, a new city charter was adopted by special election.

Under the council-manager form of government, the City Manager was given administration of the city. He was hired and fired by the city council, attended council meetings, but had no vote. The mayor was chosen by the council, did not have the discretionary powers a mayor in the council-mayor form had, and authority for decision-making resided in the council.

In 1952 the local streetcar system became the last such operation in Colorado to end its services. The trolley had been costing the city money for several years and the cars were not in good condition. The establishment of an independent bus company in Fort Collins in June 1951 made the loss easier for local commuters. However, Bussard Bus Company’s Fort Collins operation did not match the trolley’s longevity. It ended its services in December, 1955.

 

1960s: Migration

The 1960s were turbulent years in Fort Collins. National unrest over the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement was reflected locally, especially on the Colorado State University campus. These crises combined with amazing growth in the city’s size and population, made the 1960s an unsettled period in Fort Collins history.

Rapidly increasing enrollment led to a building boom on the CSU campus. 7,304 students were enrolled at the University during the 1962-63 academic year. The figure grew to 15,361 in the 1968-69 year and plans were made to provide facilities for 25,000 students in the 1970s. Three new structures were built during the 1960s: Morgan Library, Moby Gym, and Hughes Stadium. In 1968, CSU became a member of the Western Athletic Conference and dedicated the new 30,000-seat Hughes Stadium to legendary coach Harry Hughes.

The social consciousness of the 1960s found expression through a variety of organizations and activities. One of these was the Peace Corps, which began with a feasibility study conducted at CSU in 1960. Maurice Albertson, an engineering professor who directed the University’s international programs office, was responsible for obtaining the grant for the study. By 1966, over 15,000 Peace Corps volunteer workers were scattered throughout the world.

 

1970s: Designing tomorrow

Campus unrest over civil rights issues and the Vietnam War continued at CSU in the 1970s. The alleged racist practices of Brigham Young University were a relatively volatile issue. While CSU’s administration refused to cancel a basketball game with BYU in January 1970, it did reluctantly allow a peaceful demonstration prior to the game. The demonstration proceeded as planned with no problems. However, during halftime, a group of predominantly black protesters rushed onto the floor of Moby Gym, fists held high in the “Black Power” salute. The protesters were slow to leave the floor and Fort Collins police were called on to clear the area. A student protest on a less serious matter occurred in April 1975. University administrators were reluctant to allow a Rolling Stones concert at Hughes Stadium that summer. The protest was relatively small, and the band was allowed to play. Traffic jams and discarded beer cans were the only adverse consequences.

The growth of Fort Collins between 1950 and 1970 completely changed the city. A new organization was founded in 1970 to help Fort Collins residents cope with rapid changes and to develop comprehensive long-range planning. Under Mayor Karl Carson’s initiative, a committee called “Planned Development for Quality” (PDQ), was formed. The name was later changed to “Designing Tomorrow Today” or “DT squared.”

“Design tomorrow today.”

In October 1970, DT reported projections up to the year 2000 concerning housing, transportation, education, employment, utilities, recreation, and social services. Task forces developed plans for public facilities and projects. On January 4, 1973, DT included: A new City Library; the Lincoln Community Center; Poudre River Parkway; land use planning and growth control; Transfort and Care-a-Van transportation systems; new parks; federally subsidized low income housing projects; sewer lines to Alta Vista and Andersonville; and restoration of the Avery House.

A popular park developed during the 1970s was the Lee Martinez Park, bordering the south bank of the Poudre River, west of the College Avenue bridge. The park was named after Librado “Lee” Martinez, a Fort Collins resident from 1906 until his death in 1970. Martinez was very active in community affairs. Shopping malls appeared in Fort Collins in the 1970s. The malls changed the face of the city and ended the downtown area’s dominance retail business. The major malls built during the decade were Foothills Fashion Mall, University Mall, and The Square, all off South College Avenue.

 

1980s: Growth

City planning continued as a major concern of the city of Fort Collins in the 1980s. Unincorporated border areas were a special problem. These areas often developed in ways inconsistent with standards established by the City, which created problems when these areas were annexed. To obtain some control over this development and avoid inefficient urban sprawl, the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland, joined by Larimer County, instituted the Urban Growth Area Plan in 1980. This plan designated a growth area boundary to accommodate expected development, provided guidelines for development within the boundary, established zoning regulations for development in the growth area, and contained an agreement which assured that land would be annexed by the appropriate adjacent city.

The development and restoration of downtown Fort Collins, a consideration begun in the 1970s, continued in the 1980s. In March 1981, voters created the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), made up of downtown property owners. Its board included one city council member. Their initial concerns were for parking and the undergrounding of utilities. The DDA supported projects with money from a five-mill tax levy in the DDA district and from tax revenue generated by new development. Projects the DDA has completed or supported included the parking garage on Mountain Avenue near Old Town and Old Town Square on Linden. Mitchell and Company of Denver revealed plans in 1981 for turning Old Town into a viable business district. 200,000 square feet of business space was included in the project, which sought to preserve historic buildings and build new structures compatible with them.

Increased growth was blamed, in part, for a two-thirds increase in felony crimes in Fort Collins between 1978 and 1981. One crime in Fort Collins that received worldwide attention in 1981 was the conviction of Eugene A. Tafoya for third-degree assault and conspiracy to commit third-degree assault. He had been charged with first-degree attempted murder and conspiracy. Investigators suspected that Tafoya had been hired by a former CIA agent to kill Faisal A. Zagallai, a Libyan dissident who had been critical of Mohammar Khadafy. However, there was not enough evidence to connect Tafoya with the agent.

 

To discover more about the decades and history of Fort Collins check out Fort Collins History Connection, the online collaboration between FCMoD and the Poudre River Public Library District: history.fcgov.com.

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The Last Straw

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing & Design Assistant. 

The Last Straw

Deer Fort Collins Museum,
I love your museum I have fun every time I come here. My favorate part is lifting the piano. But it makes me sad that you are wasting plastic straws on the exibit where you feel the vibrashons threw your teeth.” – Quinn, age 7

Quinn, this blog post is for you!

The History

That’s the last (plastic) straw! As an article in The Coloradoan illustrated, Fort Collins restaurants are joining a national movement to replace plastic straws with paper straws. Some restaurants are getting rid of single-use plastic all together. Others are no longer carrying straws or offering them unless requested. The Museum Café recently swapped out plastic straws in favor of biodegradable ones, expanding their list of compostable items to include plates, cups, and silverwares as paper products.

The Why

Plastic straws do not decompose in landfills, and they are likely to end up in the rivers and contribute to the environmental problem on beaches and in the oceans. In an effort to address this issue, many Fort Collins restaurants and companies are ditching the plastic straw.

The Response

Our exhibits manager, Ben Griswold, had the honor of responding to Quinn. The vision of the museum is to inspire inquisitive thinkers and encourage responsible stewardship of the future. Quinn shared his thoughts with us and we wanted to take them very seriously. Quinn has – and will continue to – make a difference in the world.

 

Closer to home, the museum’s exhibit “Sound Bites” is now working with wax paper instead of plastic straws to make “green” exhibits the norm.

 

So where do the compostable straws end up? Biodegradable waste generates several tons of compost that can be used as a soil amendment in gardens and elsewhere.

 

Will you join Quinn and the museum as we strive to be sustainable?

Sustainability is a core value at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. Throughout the museum, we talk about stewardship – of self, community, and environment; how our small actions impact the world around us in ways both large and small.

Below are some steps that you can take to recycle in your home to be sustainable. #AmericaRecyclesDay #BeRecycled

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Volunteer Spotlight: Rawan J.

Volunteer Spotlight: Interview with Rawan J. by Laurel Drasner, Volunteer Coordinator

Position at FCMoD: Public Programs/ Special Events and Tot Spot Gallery Hosting

When you started volunteering here: I started at FCMoD in November 2017.

Hobbies/Interests: I enjoy playing my violin, going on hikes, listening to podcasts, and playing with my cat and dog.

Hometown: I’m from Dallas, Texas.

Current/previous occupation: I am currently working as a Medical Scribe and Assistant at a Neurology Clinic. I graduated with a B.A. in Music and was a Pre-Med, so I am currently applying to medical schools. I am interested in either pediatrics or academia to become a medical school professor. I am keeping my options open!

Favorite book: My favorite book is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Favorite vacation memory: My favorite vacation memory was at my grandma’s house in Akka, Israel when my cousin and I found a dove with a broken wing. We were able to foster it and get it the help it needed, so that was neat! My grandmother taught me the word for “bird” in Arabic and I never forgot it!

One thing you want people to know about you: I love meeting new people and learning about what makes everyone unique so if there is anything you would like to know about me, come and introduce yourself!

Favorite thing about volunteering at FCMoD: I like being able to interact with different age groups here at the museum. I also love seeing what kids can teach me and discovering what they are passionate and excited about. The museum creates an excellent space for learning and exploring.

Thank you for all you do for FCMoD, Rawan!

 

Interested in volunteering? Learn more here.

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The Founding Mother of Fort Collins

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing & Design Assistant.

On September 8th, 2018 we will celebrate Elizabeth “Auntie” Stone’s birthday at her cabin.

Who is this woman who danced the night away, cooked for her neighbors, and who co-operated the first flour mill?

She is Fort Collins’ very own Elizabeth “Auntie” Stone, the “Founding Mother of Fort Collins.”

Elizabeth “Auntie” Stone

In 1862, Elizabeth Stone and her husband Lewis Stone traveled from Minnesota to Denver, Colorado in a covered wagon pulled by milk cows. In 1864 they moved to the frontier post that eventually grew into the Fort Collins we know today. There they built a log cabin to serve as both their private residence and an officers’ mess. In 1867 Auntie converted the officers’ mess into a public hotel.

The Stone Cabin

Elizabeth, in her sixties at the time, cooked meals and baked goodies for the officers. Since she was so kind and hospitable, the soldiers of the post came to call her “Auntie” Stone, since she was like family to them. Elizabeth was the first non-native woman to permanently locate in Fort Collins. The community often referred to her as “dear old lady.” She was well-liked, and her cabin served as the first school house in Fort Collins.

The First School House

The Fort of Fort Collins was decommissioned in 1867, but that’s when Elizabeth hit her peak as a businesswoman. With her business partner Henry Clay Peterson, she started Lindell Mills, the town’s first flour mill. She and Peterson also started and the first brick factory in Fort Collins.

Lindell Flour Mills

She was again in the hotel business. Auntie first ran the Pioneer Hotel out of her cabin, and then bought the Blake House hotel in 1873. She also ran the Cottage House, a small hotel made from bricks from her factory, until age 80, when her daughter Theodosia Van Brunt arrived to take over.

Blake House

Auntie Stone was a woman of energy. In 1882, for her 81st birthday, townspeople and four generations of the Stone family held a dance in her honor at the Masonic Hall. Everyone thought she would tire and turn in early. Instead, she cooked breakfast for everyone the next morning at 5:00 am, without any sleep.

“Auntie was a woman of the people.” 

Painting of Fort Collins in the 1880s created by local artist Frank Miller in 1945

When she passed away in 1895, at age 94, the firehouse tower bell tolled 94 times in honor of each year of her life. The Auntie Stone cabin is cited as the oldest building in Fort Collins. After her death, women’s societies in Fort Collins preserved her home as the first home in Fort Collins. Her cabin has survived three moves—it now sits at the Heritage Courtyard on Mathews Street in Library Park.

Present-day Elizabeth “Auntie” Stone Cabin

Auntie Stone was beloved in her own time, and still is today. It is theorized that Elizabeth Street is named in her memory. Auntie Stone Street is also named in her honor. There is a restaurant inside Fort Fun called Auntie Stone’s Kitchen that follows the example of her fabulous hospitality. She’s inspired living history interpreters, educational programs in her cabin, and even an Auntie Stone doll.

Auntie Stone influenced the movement for women’s rights, the production of flour, and she transformed the community through her kindness and hospitality. We are excited to celebrate her memory. Let’s keep the party going that Auntie started on her 81st birthday. Ain’t no party like an Auntie Stone party! Join us on September 8th to celebrate Auntie Stone’s 217th birthday in her very own historic cabin. Learn the Virginia Reel dance, decorate your own brick (after all, Auntie Stone owned the first brick kiln in Fort Collins!), and, of course, eat some birthday cake! We’ll have our two other historic cabins and our 1905 schoolhouse open for exploration, too!

Sources:

Photos from the Archive
https://history.fcgov.com/explore/stone

Auntie Stone’s Kitchen

 

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Tree City USA

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing & Design Assistant.

Did you know that Fort Collins is an Arbor Foundation’s Tree City USA? And that we have been a Tree City USA for over 40 years?

What is Tree City USA?

The Tree City USA program has been greening cities in America since 1976. The Tree City USA program has the potential to positively transform how communities see themselves. The Tree City USA program recognizes cities for basic tree care efforts and activities they are doing to keep their residents safe, increase their community’s livability, and build community spirit. Healthy trees “advertise” a healthy community, and the Tree City USA program helps a community display that it values improving its trees on behalf of its residents.

How did we become a Tree City USA?

To certify as a Tree City USA a city needs to meet these four standards within a calendar year:

Standard 1 requires that a city have a tree committee or urban forestry department.  For many cities, the tree committee is a sub-committee of an existing commission. The formation of a tree board often stems from a group of citizens. Standard one identifies the people, or department, who are responsible for the policies and procedures related to a city’s publicly owned trees, such as those along roadways and in parks. Involving residents and business owners creates wide awareness of what trees do for the community and provides broad support for better tree care. The Forestry staff of Fort Collins maintains more than 40,000 city property trees.

Standard 2 requires that a city have a tree care ordinance. No city needs to regulate tree care or tree removal off private property to meet this Standard. The tree board or forestry department has responsibility for public tree care (as reflected in Standard 1).

Standard 3 requires a $2 per capita expenditure on tree care and an annual urban forestry plan. This Standard is all about keeping records and being accountable to a cities residents. It is a way of showing how your city proactively manages it trees for the safety of its residents and beauty of the city. This expenditure goal doesn’t need to be a line item in a city’s budget. Volunteer time, contracted services for tree care and removal can also be included, as can the costs of leaf pick up and tree-related software purchase.

Standard 4 requires an Arbor Day observation and proclamation. Your city does not have to do this on National Arbor Day, but any time during the calendar year. Citizens join to celebrate the benefits of community trees and the work accomplished to plant and maintain them.

Why be a Tree City USA?

Tree City USA is a nationwide movement that provides communities with direction, assistance, and national recognition for their community. It doesn’t relate to federal funding for state urban forestry efforts. State foresters are not paid by the Arbor Day Foundation to administer the program, but we do so because we see a lot of value in the simple urban forestry framework the Tree City USA program provides.

Fort Collins is proud to have been a Tree City USA for over 40 years.

 

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” -Warren Buffett

 

 

CSU Arboretum

Adding to Fort Collins as Tree City USA is the CSU Arboretum. The arboretum at CSU has the largest collections of woody plants in Fort Collins with over 1,100 different taxa represented. In 2017, 79 different woody plants were donated from 8 different nurseries arboreta, USDA, and other state experiment stations. Most plants are labeled with scientific and common names listed on it. In the southeast corner of the arboretum, a Plant Select® demonstration garden is planted. In this planting current and future woody and herbaceous Plant Select® endorsements, introductions or original plants are planted. Plant Select® is a joint plant introduction program between Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and the Green Industry of Colorado.

 

Celebrate Fort Collins being Tree City USA at the museum! Join us for Museum Takeover: Tremendous Trees on September 15th.

 

Sources:

www.fcgov.com/forestry/

landscapeplants.agsci.colostate.edu/arboretum/

www.arborday.org/PROGRAMS/treecityusa/treecities.cfm?chosenstate=Colorado

 

Photo courtesy of Visit Fort Collins Colorados’ Website: www.visitftcollins.com/csu

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Tomorrow’s Robot Pop Stars, and Today’s Elementary Students

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over 65% of today’s elementary school students will have jobs that do not yet exist. Wow! These same young students will also be the first humans to set foot on Mars, based on NASA’s mission schedule. It is exciting to dream about the major technological and societal changes coming in our lifetimes.

And if today’s students will have jobs that do not yet exist, what about the jobs that currently exist? What about the jobs that you, or I, hold right now?

Scholars at the University of Oxford recently surveyed 352 of the world’s leading researchers in artificial intelligence (AI), to learn when AI employees would become better—and less expensive—than human employees in many job fields.

In the next 10 years, according to these researchers, AI employees will surpass human employees in:

 

* translating languages (by 2024)

* writing high school essays (by 2026)

* driving trucks (by 2027)

* generating a Top 40 pop song (by 2027)

 

It will take less than 5 years for AIs to outperform humans in Angry Birds (by 2018) or the World Series of Poker (by 2019), for that matter.

That said, human employees will remain better than AI employees in many job fields for the coming decades. Still, in the next 40 years, AIs will surpass humans in:

* working in retail (by 2031)

* writing a New York Times bestselling book (2049)

* working as a surgeon (by 2053)
These researchers believe AIs will outperform humans in all job fields within 45 years! But, as the MIT Technology Review notes, predictions of 40+ years are not always accurate. Cost-effective energy fusion is predicted to occur in the next 40 years—but it was also predicted to occur in the next 40 years when first explored… over 50 years ago.

Most people have a working life of 40 years. This working life-span is increasing to 45 or 50 years, though, as adults continue working beyond retirement. So, if you are an adult today, it is unlikely that your job as a truck driver, retail salesperson, or even surgeon will be fully supplanted by AI employees before your retirement. But what of today’s young students?

Here at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, we are asking these questions. We discover, often in conversation with students, many new and insightful answers. In our educational programs, youth build 21st century skills, to help them succeed in our changing world. Rather than focus on single disciplines, youth develop cross-disciplinary skills like critical thinking, creativity, and initiative through hands-on exhibits and experiences. As a result, museum visitors are better able to handle the incredible technological and societal advances on our horizon.

 

But we still wonder—could AI employees ever run a museum? Guess we’ll find out!

 

 

Explore More:

“Experts Predict When AI Will Exceed Human Performance.” MIT Technology Review (5/31/17).

“When Will AI Exceed Human Performance?” Cornell University Library (5/30/17).

“How AI Is Transforming the Workplace.” The Wall Street Journal (3/10/17).

“A Robot May Be Training to Do Your Job. Don’t Panic.” The New York Times (9/10/16).

“Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills.” Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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