Our mission is to educate the more than 690,000 school children in Northern California about the joys of “doing science,” as they explore our region’s magnificent natural resources. Two specific programs, “At Home in Northern California” and “Bridges to Critical Habitats” help us fulfill our mission.
The Northern California Natural History Museum (NCNHM), with the support of Chico State’s College of Natural Sciences, creates educational programs to teach school children about our region’s rich natural heritage, and to present them with the promise of higher education. These programs permit children to be active and involved. While reading text on the wall may work for some adults, it doesn’t work for kids. They need to be challenged by an interesting question or activity, and to be doing something with their hands and their energy.
Features that permit activity and present challenges are called Interactive Features. The exhibits of our museum will be rich in them. Some can be simple: a model of an octopus that the child can touch, tracing the shape and location of its suckers and beak. Or a plaster-of-paris mold of bird footprints, that children can cover with a piece of paper and rub with chalk, producing something to take home and show mom and dad.
Interactive learning can also be “high-tech.” Touch-screen monitors can allow children to call up short videos and animations on whatever species or environments they wish to investigate. Computer games and simulations can allow children to manipulate a “virtual” environment or exosystem to learn how human actions or changes in predation patterns affect wildlife populations.
Children will get “hands on” experience in field trips based out of the museum’s large classroom. Making leaf collections from our campus Arboretum trees, kids will be able to see how leaf shape and texture are different in trees of the hot, dry valley versus trees in the wet, cool Cascade Mountains. And then they’ll be able to immediately compare these environments in our Worlds of Northern California permanent exhibit, walking from the Coast to the Valley to the Foothills to the High Mountains.
The two “Teachers of the Year” on our Board of Directors are working to ensure that our exhibits incorporate K-12 Science Requirements for California, as well as producing Teacher Packets that effectively preview class visits to the museum. We’re doing everything we can to ensure that classroom visits to the NCNHM from schools throughout Northern California will inspire our children to explore and conserve our region’s magnificent natural heritage, as well as turn them on to the joys and challenges of scientific exploration.
In the interactive activities of classroom visits to the NCNHM from schools throughout Northern California, in the At Home in Northern California program, and in the Bridges to Critical Habitats program, the NCNHM is fulfilling our mission to educate our children about the magnificent natural heritage of Northern California, to inspire them to pursue higher education to broaden their professional and personal vistas, and to work to conserve our heritage.
Please join us. We need your help to accomplish these goals.