Support the Rice Museum on #GivingTuesday!

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals needs your support and #GivingTuesday, November 29, 2016 is a great time to contribute.  Your tax deductible donation will help us continue the great programing and events at the museum.

With your help the Rice NW Museum has become recognized as one of the top 10 mineral museums in the United States.  We reach over 11,000 students annually with programs and tours designed to inspire future scientists from all walks of life, and our displays and activities attract nearly 27,000 visitors. Our staff educate young and old alike on the key role earth sciences play in our everyday life, and in our future well being.  None of this would be possible without you.

#GivingTuesday gifts go directly to supporting our staff in their efforts to expand educational programming, preserve and exhibit our fabulous mineral specimens and our beautiful historic house, and inspire thousands to pursue science.

This year, #GivingTuesday falls on November 29, 2016. We’ll spend that day encouraging our supporters to spend just a little time reflecting on how their gifts and talents can best be used to help the Rice NW Museum.  We’re asking for a little of your time as well. Please consider giving a gift to support our operations so that we can grow and share our passion with our community.

It’s easy, just grab your credit card and mouse and give to the museum by:

  • Donating to help keep the museum the best in the Pacific Northwest and globally
  • Become a member and join the Rice NW Museum family of supporters
  • Sponsor an event, rock or mineral, or an exhibit at the museum
  • Volunteer to help with the many projects and activities around the museum for a few hours or on a regular basis

After you give, join the #GivingTuesday conversation on November 29th. Share your thoughts online about the importance of giving back and see why others support the Rice Museum and are thankful for our mission.

Thank you for helping on this #GivingTuesday, and we look forward to seeing you often at the museum!

Veterans and Active Military receive FREE admission Veteran’s Day

To honor those who have or are serving in our nation’s military, the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks an Minerals will admit all veterans and active military free of charge on Veteran’s Day (Friday, November 11, 2016).  We thank all the brave men and women who serve our country to preserve the freedoms we enjoy.

The museum will be open to the public regular business hours, which are 1:00 to 5:00 PM.  Please remember to bring your military ID with you.

Join us at Portland Regional Gem and Mineral Show this weekend, October 7 – 9, 2016

Come see us this weekend at the Portland Regional Gem and Mineral Show, October 8-9, 2016. This is the largest rock, gem, mineral, and fossil show in the Portland area, with 45 dealers and 80 educational exhibits including a beautiful petrified wood display from the Rice NW Museum collection. And Museum executive director Julian Gray, co-author of Minerals of Georgia, will be lecturing at 1:00 pm today and tomorrow at the show.

The event takes place at the Washington County Fairplex. Saturday hours are 10 am to 6 pm; Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.  Adults $5, children 12 and under are free. Plenty of free parking is available or ride the Max to the Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport  station (stop #9838 on the Blue Line). Educational fun for the whole family. Great chance to start or enhance your own rock collection, buy beautifully crafted jewelry (“minerals you can wear”) or pieces you can use to make your own, and much more.

Conflict Minerals and your Smartphone

If you’re a Leonardo DiCaprio fan, you’ve probably heard the term blood diamond. It’s the title of his 2006 film set in Sierra Leone against the backdrop of armed conflict funded by diamond sales. The film helped raise awareness about this terrible connection and the steps being taken to break it.

Minerals associated with violence go beyond diamonds. Other lesser-known but vitally important materials play similar roles in conflicts elsewhere. And these materials end up inside your mobile phone.

Our museum’s display at this year’s Denver Gem & Mineral Show (Sept. 16-18, 2016), addresses the issue of conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These minerals include gold, tantalum, tungsten, and tin ores.

What is a conflict mineral?

A conflict mineral is a resource that directly or indirectly supports paramilitary violence and warfare. Mining in the DRC is carried out by small, local operators using hand tools and manual labor. It is a critical source of income for poor families who would otherwise rely only on subsistence farming to survive. Because these operations are so small and decentralized, however, the ore they produce must go through a long series of traders and middlemen before it can reach the market.

Paramilitary groups exploit this part of the supply chain because the material and money are so difficult to trace. Using violence, murder, rape, and extortion, they force taxes on the movement of ore minerals and use the profits to buy weapons.

How do these minerals affect me?

Materials derived from conflict minerals are critical to products you use every day. Just look at that ubiquitous symbol of high-tech gadgetry: your mobile phone.

Inside every smartphone, you’ll find:

  • Gold, which makes fast electrical conductors that won’t corrode over time
  • Tungsten, used in the vibrating motor that makes your phone buzz
  • Tantalum, needed to help tiny capacitors hold an electric charge
  • Tin, the soldering material connecting components together

These four materials are known collectively as the “3TG.” They have a wide variety of other uses, from hardening drill bits (tungsten) to forming surgical implants and rocket nozzles (tantalum) to shaping window glass (tin).

Circuit Board of a computer.

Image source: Morgan A. Vigil, University of California-Santa Barbara

 

How are corporations responding?

With such widespread uses of 3TG materials, it can seem impossible for the average person to have an impact on this issue. Fortunately, international governments, corporations, and non-governmental organizations are taking steps to cut off suppliers linked with conflict.

Annually, reports from electronics corporations and other organizations show positive trends: they are making headway in creating transparent supply chains and identifying conflict-free source materials. However, more must still be done, especially to combat smugglers who mix uncertified ore materials with ores certified to be conflict-free.

What can I do to help?

You can help work towards a conflict-free future by being an informed consumer. If you’re shopping for a new phone, look up the manufacturer’s Conflict Minerals Report as well as its device’s processing speed. If you are dedicated to a particular smartphone brand, contact the manufacturer in writing or through social media to express your support for conflict-free sourcing.

And when you’re done with your old device, always remember to recycle. Electronics recycling not only reuses 3TG materials, but also benefits public health and the environment.

We’re Hiring! Museum Educator Position Available

Will you be our new Educator? In this position, you’ll give on-site museum tours to school groups and travel to classrooms and camps to deliver dynamic presentations. You will also have the opportunity to develop new outreach education modules and programs.

Learn more about this job and submit a cover letter and resume through our posting on Indeed.com, just in time for the new school year.

2016 Northwest Fossil Fest at the Rice Northwest Museum

2016 NW FOssil Fest PosterThe Northwest Fossil Fest sponsored by the North America Research Group (NARG) will take place at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals on Saturday, August 13, 2016, from 10 AM to 5 PM.

The Theme for the 11th Annual Northwest Fossil Fest Fossil Teeth!

The event is free for families to learn about fossils, fossil collecting, preparation, identification, hands on demonstrations, and educational displays. There will also be two great talks.  The first will be Dr. John Bershaw of the Geology Department at Portland State University. He will be talking about how he uses fossil teeth to measure changes in chemistry that tell us something about how the past environment changed.  Victor Perez of the University of Florida will present a talk entitled “The Giant Megalodon and what we know about it from Teeth.”

Paleontologists will be on hand identify fossils and to show kids of all ages how to clean and prepare fossils.  There will be lots of hands on activities and this is a great event for families and fossil fans.  Attendance for the Fossil Fest includes free admission to the museum.

For more information and up-to-the-minute information see Northwest Fossil Fest.

We Did It!

RTM-banner

Thanks to you, we smashed our goal to #rockthemuseum and meet Gene Meieran’s $6000 matching challenge for technology upgrades. As of July 31, your donations totaled an amazing $10,335. Dr. Meieran’s match puts our total fundraising up to $16,335!

It’s time for our museum’s technology infrastructure to enter the 21st century. Your generous gifts have made it possible. We’ll soon have new computers, a faster, more secure network, the software we need to support our education and curation efforts, and more.

We’re excited to move forward with this project. Once again, our success is all thanks to YOU!

New Museum Exhibit: “What’s inside a rock?”

Have you ever picked up a rock and wondered about what might be inside? This new exhibit puts everyday rocks under the microscope to show the beautiful secrets inside ordinary stones.

What's inside a rock?

This exhibit sheds light on some of the science behind the gorgeous minerals displayed at the museum. It’s great for families and people of all ages!

Come visit to discover the humble ingredient in over half the rocks on Earth’s surface and find out what, exactly, makes something a crystal. You can even check it out during the museum’s upcoming Summer Fest, taking place this year on August 6 & 7 from 10 AM through 5 PM.

Summer Fest August 6-7, 2016

Our annual Summer Fest 2016 will be at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals Saturday and Sunday, August 6-7, 2016. This year will be bigger than ever! The hours are 10 AM – 5 PM. Admission is only $5, and kids 17 and under are FREE.

Geodes and other minerals and rocks for sale at vendor booth.The outdoor festival features a wide variety of rock, mineral, gem, and fossil dealers. We will have food, music, and plenty of fun family activities. Of course, our favorites Fred and Wilma Flintstone will be rolling in on the famous Flintmobile to give “rides” to children and adults.

Rock clubs from around the region will be offering wonderful educational displays, demonstrations, and activities.

The road construction is complete so you will have no problem finding your way through the new interchange at Highway 26 and Helvetia.

Come early and stay the whole day. The entire museum will be open during this event, so you can explore all our displays after browsing vendors’ tents and creating a “pet rock.” Bring a picnic lunch or enjoy the refreshments at the museum. It’s a perfect event to spend with friends and family. Bring them all!

2016_summerfest

Northwest and American Federation of Mineralogical Societies Event in Albany, Oregon

Precious gems and minerals on display in vendor's booth.Oregon state is privileged this year to be honored with the Northwest Federation of Mineralogical Societies Federation Show at the same time as the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies holds their region meeting in Albany, Oregon, July 29-31, 2016. The event is at the Linn County Fair Grounds and Expo Building just off I-5.

Presented by the Willamette Agate and Mineral Society, this year’s theme is “Treasures of the Northwest.”

Rarely do the two federations come together for a single event, so we are honored to have some of the best geologists, collectors, and rock hounds share their passion with so many in one place.

There will be over 200 display cases, and a vast variety of vendors, lectures, daily field trips to a local petrified wood locale, and a silent auction to help raise money for the group. The schedule (pdf) is packed for each day.

Some of the speakers’ topics include a learning about the fossils of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, studying rocks from a microscopic view, learning more about the newly discovered thalattosaurs, coastal rockhounding, petrified wood, and more.

There are local hotels and campgrounds offering show discounts if you are heading for the full event.

The Rice Museum representatives will be there and we hope to see you there, too!