Virginia Living Museum Makes Nature and Science Come Alive for Student Groups

03/31/2010
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VIRGINIA GABRIELE

View red wolves, bald eagles, otters and a loggerhead sea turtle up close and personal. See a living replica of a Cypress Swamp and an Appalachian mountain cove. Touch live horseshoe crabs and fossilized dinosaur tracks. Explore the universe in the planetarium. image

The Virginia Living Museum in Newport News is full of opportunities for student groups to explore Virginia’s natural heritage. The museum features wildlife native to Virginia in natural habitats, fresh and saltwater aquaria, native wildflower gardens, aviaries, fossils, planetarium theater, observatory and environmental education center — all in one wooded lakeside setting.

Each exhibit tells a story. There is the predator-prey relationship between the chipmunk and the corn snake; the defensive mechanisms of the porcupine fish, and the complex interrelationships of the animals and plants that inhabit a cypress swamp.

There are surprises around every corner. Enter the steamy world of a cypress swamp, complete with an alligator and snapping turtle. See songbirds nestled in the trees around a cascading mountain waterfall and view trout in a cool mountain stream. Explore the underwater world of the Chesapeake Bay and the underground realm of a limestone cave. See flying squirrels, moon jellyfish and other creatures of the night. Touch some famous Bay creatures, plus enjoy four hands-on discovery centers. Outdoors, stroll the elevated boardwalk to view coastal birds, bald eagles, beavers, a bobcat, river otters, endangered red wolves and other animals in natural habitats, plus explore the complexity of wetland and pond habitats and tour the Living Green demonstration house.

Travel the universe in the Abbitt Planetarium with its state-of-the-art digital projection system. Using a single fisheye lens that places astronomical images across the entire surface of the planetarium’s ceiling dome, the system can project a view of the skies from anywhere on Earth across a time period of 200,000 years, or as seen from any other known body in the universe.

The museum’s professionally trained educators present enriching natural science curricula that are grade-level targeted and correlated to national standards. Students in grades 6-12 can experience amphibians, fossils, minerals, weather or real-world environmental challenges in science labs or attend an assembly-style program about how animals face the daily challenges of survival.

In the museum planetarium, students visit the planets, travel to a black hole, observe spinning galaxies or study the earth from space. These SOL-correlated classes are offered in addition to public planetarium shows.

For more information call 757-595-1900 or visit www.thevlm.org. Call 757-595-9135 for group reservations.

Virginia Gabriele is the Marketing Director for the Virginia Living Museum.

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