Meteorite and Family Fun Day is May 23

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Asteroid, meteor, meteorite: what’s the difference? Come find out on May 23rd at our Meteorite and Family Fun Day! The event runs from 10 AM through 5 PM and features talks by an expert, meteorite identification, and fun activities for kids. Admission is reduced to $5 for all visitors (children 4 and under are free).

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Dick Pugh of the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory at Portland State University will be giving talks at 11 AM and 1 PM, exploring famous meteorite falls as well as meteorite science. If you have a possible meteorite you’d like him to identify, please try to arrive before 2 PM.

Kids will enjoy touching real meteorites found in locations all over the world. Additional science activities and crafts will be fun for the whole family!

Meteorite and Family Fun Day this Saturday, May 23rd

Come out tomorrow between 10 AM and 5 PM for meteorite talks and science activities here at the Rice Museum. Admission will be reduced to $5 per person for the day (children 4 and under are still free). Check out the schedule of events below. In addition to the listed events, kids’ crafts will be running and available all day!

Meteorite Day Schedule Descriptions

Watch: The Mt. St. Helens Eruption Story, Commemorating 35 Years

The 35th anniversary of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens is this coming Monday, May 18th. Today at 10 AM Pacific Time, a USGS scientist will be giving a free webinar narrating the story of the eruption and its aftermath. You can register for the webinar through the Volcano Explorers program here.

Volcano Explorers poster

From the Mount St. Helens Institute:

Friday, May 15, 2015 at 10:00-10:45 a.m. Pacific Time

May 18, 1980 Mount St. Helens Eruption Story
with Liz Westby, Geologist, USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

May 18th, 2015 will mark the 35th Anniversary of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, a day vividly remembered by so many. Yet today, students are too young to remember this eruption or its disastrous aftermath. Mount St. Helens provides a potent example of an eruption as well as biological recovery of an active volcano in the Cascades of which that students should be aware.

New Discoveries at Jewel Cave

Jewel Cave GrowingThe map of the Jewel Cave National Monument continues to expand in South Dakota. Currently the Jewel Cave holds the claim of the third largest known cave in the world, but it has not always been easy. Back in July of 2011 tours of the mine had to be put on hold when the 28 story elevators for sightseers had a serious mechanical problem. Once the elevators were back on track, the visitors were once again able to enjoy the Monument Center and volunteers were recruited to continue the search for more areas of the cave system. The Cave is now open again with even more to explore and discover.

Looking to explore the rocks of North America this summer, consider a trip to South Dakota to this rare and special cave.

Free Admission for May Birthdays on 5/2

It’s that time again–May’s Birthstone Day is today, May 2. That means free admission for May babies with ID!

Emerald

May’s birthstone is emerald. This gorgeous green stone is part of the beryl family. It’s characteristic color comes from the element chromium. The museum has a giant, 88-lb. emerald on display that visitors can touch–don’t miss it on today’s Birthstone Day!

Image credit: Rob Lavinsky, Wikimedia Commons

Rice Northwest Museum and Smithsonian Affiliation Featured on The Oregonian

The Oregonian got a sneak peak at our press release and published “Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals announces new affiliation with Smithsonian” to help us honor and celebrate the museum’s new affiliation with the Smithsonian.

Screenshot of Oregonian article on Rice NW Museum and Smithsonian affiliation.

Speaking for the Smithsonian, Harold A. Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations, is quoted as saying, “The museum has a well-deserved reputation for engaging generations in earth sciences through its scholarship, exhibitions, and education programs. Our partnership offers the opportunity to underscore the importance of science as a source of inspiration in our daily lives and in the years ahead.”

Since the museum appointed Julian Gray as executive director in late spring of 2014, it has drawn a number of awards for its traveling exhibits. Most recently, it won top honors for its exhibit “Lead Minerals” at the 2015 Tucson Gem & Mineral Show.

The new relationship between the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals and Smithsonian Institution has the potential to bring specimens and exhibits from the Smithsonian and provide opportunities for collaboration with scientists on research projects, exhibitions, lectures and programs.

We will keep you updated with more news about this exciting affiliation on our social media channels: @RiceNWMuseum, on Google+, and the Facebook Page for Rice NW Museum.

Press Release: The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals Now Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution

Hillsboro, Oregon, April 17, 2015

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals has been named as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. This mark of distinction signifies the achievement of a goal long held by the Rice Museum’s originators, according to co-founder Sharleen Harvey. Her parents, Richard and Helen Rice, “had great respect for the Smithsonian Institution and used their collections as a high standard for quality and beauty when building the Rice Museum collection,” Mrs. Harvey explained. “Being a Smithsonian Affiliate confirms that our museum has the high caliber required to assist our schools and community in earth science education. It assures that visitors and supporters of the museum can have confidence in the quality and content of the exhibits, plus enjoyment in viewing fine minerals, fossils, meteorites, and lapidary specimens.”

“The Smithsonian is very proud of its new Affiliation with the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals,” stated Harold A. Closter, director of the Smithsonian Affiliations program. “The Museum has a well-deserved reputation for engaging generations in earth sciences through its scholarship, exhibitions, and education programs. Our partnership offers the opportunity to underscore the importance of science as a source of inspiration in our daily lives and in the years ahead.”

Established in 1996, Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums and other educational and cultural organizations in order to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. The long-term goal of Smithsonian Affiliations is to facilitate a mutual relationship among Affiliate organizations and the Smithsonian Institution to increase discovery and inspire lifelong learning in communities across the United States.

The new relationship between the Rice Museum and the Smithsonian will bring great things to museum visitors in the Pacific Northwest. Not only will the Rice Museum be able to borrow objects and exhibits from the Smithsonian’s collections, but the Museum will also gain opportunities to collaborate on research projects and to sponsor exciting programs from renowned visiting scholars.

“We expect the Affiliation to serve our community well,” explains Julian Gray, Rice Museum executive director. “It will help us increase awareness of our excellent museum and attract more visitors to the area, allowing more people to experience our own world-class exhibits, events, and educational programs.”

Board President and Intel Senior Fellow (retired) Gene Meieran hopes that “this association will lead to the creation of next-generation collectors, curators, and scientists who will continue to preserve and understand our fascinating and ever-changing natural history.”

The Rice Museum houses a premier collection of rocks and minerals recognized as the finest in the Pacific Northwest and one of the best in the nation. The museum is located in Hillsboro, Oregon, just west of Portland (exit 61 off highway 26). Its educational programs include organized school field trips as well as ongoing educational outreach throughout the community at large. A variety of public and private events are hosted throughout the year as well. The museum is listed on the National Registry of Historic Homes for its unique architectural style and its use of natural stone and extraordinary native Oregon woodwork throughout the building.

For more information about the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, call (503) 647-2418. Receive updates on museum events by following the Twitter handle @RiceNWMuseum, on Google+, or the Facebook Page for Rice NW Museum.

More information is available on the Smithsonian Affiliations program and Affiliate activities site.

Meteorites Bring the Building Blocks of Life

Meteorite Day at the Museum May 23, 2015 Visit us at the Rice NW Museum on Saturday, May 23, for our annual Meteorite Day. There will be guest lectures and special events for the family all day.

Scientific American reports that life began on meteorites. Well, actually the ingredients necessary to start the building blocks of life on this planet did.

The molecules that kick-started life on primordial Earth could have been made in space and delivered by meteorites, according to researchers in Italy. The group synthesised sugars, amino acids and nucleobases with nothing more than formamide, meteorite material and the power of a simulated solar wind, replicating a process they believe cooked up a prebiotic soup long before life existed on Earth.

Formamide is a simple organic compound first suggested as a starting material for the formation of prebiotic biomolecules back in 2001. The chemical has been detected in galactic centres and stellar nurseries, as well as comets and satellites. These latest experiments show that formamide, irradiated by the solar wind…and in the presence of powdered meteorites, gave rise to amino acids, carboxylic acids, sugars and nucleosides—the building blocks of DNA and RNA.

The scientists speculate that this could mean that life formed on other planets might share similarities with the life formed on earth.

Gibeon Meteorite at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals features many meteorites on exhibit discovered all around the world from Russia, Argentina, Namibia, the United States, and Australia. The extensive meteorite exhibit was put together by the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory from the Geology Department of Portland State University.

Take a moment as you enter the main gallery area near the entrance to run your fingers across the large Gibeon meteorite found in Africa for a bone chilling sensation. Made mostly of iron, touch it and know that you’ve actually touched space metal and maybe even the ingredients to life on this planet.

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Volcano Watch and Educational Resources

Interested in volcanoes? The staff at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals are fascinated not only by volcanoes but the geology of them as well. We’ve put together a collection of online resources to help you learn more about active and inactive volcanoes.

United States Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program

Mount St. Helens Eruption - credit Simple English Wikipedia.The United States Geological Survey features a Volcano Hazards Program website with an interactive map displaying volcanoes worldwide and their active status, from dormant to high red level warnings. You will also find the latest news on volcanoes, especially those in North America and the United States. Recent reports and photographs of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii are fascinating as the lava moves down roads and into agricultural areas on the big island of Hawaii.

You will find Webcams, educational information on US volcanoes, Podcasts and Videos, Elevated Volcanic Activity Updates, Monitoring data, and an amazing Photoglossary with photographs and definitions of volcanic terms.

For the locals living in and around the Rice Museum, the Cascades Volcano Observatory keeps us informed as to activity in the Cascade Mountains from Washington to Northern California. They reported in February on a new study that designates the at-risk areas of Washington State and Oregon.

Washington State lahar-hazard zones contain an estimated 191,555 residents, 108,719 employees at 8,807 businesses, 433 public venues that attract visitors, and 354 dependent-care facilities with individuals who will need assistance to evacuate during an emergency. Mount Rainier lahar-hazard zones contain the highest percentage of assets, followed by Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams. Residential populations within lahar-prone areas increased between 1990 and 2010, mainly in the Mount Rainier lahar-hazard zone, with some communities doubling and tripling their at-risk population. Many of these new residents may be unaware of the lahar threat.

See the Simplified Hazard Maps for the Cascade Volcano area for fascinating details on the Volcano Hazard Zones. Continue reading

15,000 Year Old Agate Knife Found in Oregon

Orange Agate from Rimrock Draw Rockshelter Excavation - Bureau of Land Management Oregon held in hand.OPB Radio reported on the amazing archaeological discover of a knife carved from agate currently estimated from 15,000 years ago in Eastern Oregon, evidence of what could be the oldest human occupation west of the Rocky Mountains, shaking up many theories on North American human history.

Carved from clear orange agate, the stone knife has been described as a Swiss Army Knife of its day with a serrated point edge like a saw and a steep, flaked edge used to carve wood and scrape hides and cut meat from the bones of prey. Blood found on the stone has been tested and found to be Bison antiques, an ancient ancestor of the modern bison or buffalo in North America. Continue reading