Liz Butler Draws The ROM: Multi-Tasking Waterfowl!
This week I was back to the Gallery of Birds to look at waterfowl: a common eider, a common merganser, and a greater white-fronted goose. These birds are extra awesome because they can navigate on land, in water, and in the air!
Like most sea birds, common eiders take advantage of their amphibious abilities by nesting on land and eating food from the water. Eiders particularly like to eat shellfish and crustaceans, and they have a pretty unique way of doing so; eiders dive all the way to the sea floor to find their favourite foods.
Common mergansers also dive for their food, but have much more active prey to pursue. Mergansers use their keen eyes to find fish and other small animals and invertebrates, and then chase their prey through the water. Once they catch their prey, a serrated beak edge helps the merganser to keep a grip on slippery food items.
The greater white-fronted goose takes a different approach to eating than the eider or the merganser. These geese use a feeding technique known as dabbling. Dabbling birds feed at the surface of the water, tipping their heads under the water while their legs and tails stay above the surface. It might be silly looking, but it’s a good way to forage for plants in shallow water! Greater white-fronted geese also eat foods on land, including seeds and grasses.
What species of waterfowl can you see in your own city or town? How are their behaviours similar or different to those of the common eider, common merganser, or greater white-fronted goose? Make some notes on your discoveries, or even some sketches!
- Liz Butler is an artist and teacher who loves natural history and museums. She loves drawing, painting, and making crafts of all kinds. She is happiest when she can find ways to combine art projects with science content.
- Liz’s Website – Liz Butler Draws
- Liz’s Blog – Saw Whet Studio
- More guest posts from Liz HERE!
- Do you like to sketch? Love museums? Are you a full time student in Canada? The ROM is yours to explore, FREE, every Tuesday! MORE!
Guest Post By Liz Butler. Last Updated: July 21st, 2014.
Introducing Gordo’s Grand Adventure!
Gordo’s Grand Adventure is an 8-part panel by panel mini series starring the Royal Ontario Museum’s very own Barosaurus, Gordo!
Join Gordo every Wednesday as he tries to find his way back to the Dinosaur Gallery after a long night of exploring Toronto.
Check out the rest of the story HERE!
Miranda Too is an enigmatic museum lover, former Summer Club camper, dinosaur enthusiast, student of mathematics, ROMKids staff, chronic doodler and Toronto explorer. Although elusive, it is rumoured that Miranda can be found amongst the sea of purple shirts at ROM Summer Club this summer.
You can read Miranda’s previous online comic “Miranda’s Museum” HERE!
Gordo’s Grand Adventure is written, drawn and created by Miranda Too and published every Wednesday all summer 2014 long!
Summer Club 2014 was ALREADY our largest camp ever in May (LONG before camp started), exceeding last year’s record set at the end of the summer. To help make this work we have a huge crew of great staff (many former campers!) including 117 volunteers, 42 assistants, and 21 instructors. Of course there’s also the rest of the Museum! Staff from all the over ROM take part in camp, through tours of collections, guest appearances, setting up spaces, or even just marveling at our campers amazing art. Shout out to ROM staff who also send their kids to camp too! You’ll see us throughout the Museum for the next 9 weeks, gaining inspiration from the amazing galleries, learning from our fantastic instructors and making friends to last a life time (I know I have!).
- To see more from Summer Club follow along at #summerclub2014 on twitter. We’ll also be posting quite a bit on Tumblr too!
We can’t wait to get back to our favourite time of the year!
Cherry Blossom Creations
Our very own Chris Miller came up with this awesome cherry blossom art project for Saturday’s Forbidden City Day. One of our best educators, Sudharshan Duraiyappah, will also be out with a selection of artifacts from our Chinese history collections. Should be a good one!
Learn more about our Forbidden City Exhibit HERE!
Summer Camp, Training Day & The Bucket List Experience
Today we ran our second annual Lead Day for our senior Summer Club staff. Our day of activities and brunch was attended by our four Lead Assistants (Will, Amna, Owen, Miranda), our Head of Ops- Madeleine & Head of Admin- Suzanne, as well as our general ROMKids staff including Engagement Assistant- Kim and our Studio Assistant- Chris.
Lead Day is an opportunity to get all our senior staff together and mesh prior to the start of camp. Honestly, we’re already a tight group, having worked together in some cases for close to a decade, but it’s important to make sure we’re on the same page. It’s a chance to have fun together and recall a few inside jokes and references. A chance to learn together, and fail (I did a spectacular job of ripping my shorts) and laugh through it all. It’s a chance to remember what we’re all here at the Museum and Summer Club for.
Working in a children’s camp carries the responsibilities of the health and safety of our campers and the delivery of high level content and programming. But perhaps, most importantly, all of this needs to be fun. Our leads develop our assistants and volunteers and work directly with our campers while our heads help ensure out instructors and the rest of our staff have the resources they need to run the best programs possible. But camp is a marathon and Lead Day allows us to strengthen the ties of our community and prepare us for the course of summer.
The Heart Of A Camp Assistant
At the heart of every camp assistant is a desire to be outside, so we braved the threat of rain and left the comfort and safety of the Museum. Part of doing this, ironically, is to actually leave the Museum and venture out into the city. Today we left for Ward’s Island, one of my favourite places in the city. Lead Day has to lead an activity. For example, Kim walked us though a teamwork activity over the hot lava of Wards Island Beach, Owen led us through some karate steps, Will helped us create chain link armour, Amna taught us how to make horror make up and Miranda showed us the secret art of Post-It Note origami. Madeleine, in true camp tradition, had us make friendship bracelets for each other (which I still need to make), and while we ran out of time to finish Suzanne’s reminder bookmarks and Chris’ animal beading activity (secretly a chance to create demos for his upcoming family program), there’s still plenty of time before camp starts to take a stab at it.
The Bucket List Experience
I opened up Lead Day at the Museum and spoke about the need to take in and remember the wonder happening all around during camp. I firmly believe that Summer Club has given me some of the best opportunities of my life and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. I’m cognizant that we’ll all move on at some point from the Museum, so we must make an effort to treasure this special place while we can. To help illustrate this, I brought our crew down to meet one of my favourite Museum staff- Earth Sciences Technician Katherine Dunnell, to get up close with some of the Museum’s greatest specimens. Katherine is wonderful and knew exactly what I wanted when I asked her to be our special guest- “Understood, you want the Bucket List Experience”. Today we received a once in a lifetime opportunity to hold a piece of the cosmos in planetary meteorites from the Moon and Mars. Of course we also got a tour of the Earth Sciences Department through their labs and vaults. We also got to hold a TON of gold, and even had a peek at some of the planning for our upcoming blockbuster exhibit (spoiler: involves history AND geology).
For us all, Summer Club is one of our favourite parts of the year, and really a gem that we’ll carry with us the rest of our life. We all can’t wait to get back to work on July 30th for the first day of #summerclub2014!
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: June 3rd, 2014.
From Dragons To Dinosaurs
A few weeks back I had a great opportunity to hang out with ROM palaeontologist Derek Larson up in the Vertebrate Palaeontology Department. Derek had kindly agreed to come out and talk to the public about his latest research, life as a palaeontologist, and those amazing animals called dinosaurs.
Much of Derek’s work is with modern reptiles and comparing their anatomy, specifically their teeth, to that of dinosaurs. Here Derek holds the skull of a female Komodo Dragon, formally of the Toronto Zoo. Derek’s skill set does not simply lie in the study of ancient animals and digging up fossils but also in the cleaning of modern animals. The Komodo Dragon recently put on display in our Biodiversity Gallery was skinned and cleaned with assistance from Derek.
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: May 27th, 2014.
Pillows, Carpets and Dinosaurs
At our Sleepovers we’ve started to move more of our activities into the galleries. The reasoning comes from our Dinosaur Sleepover where we’ve learned that as the most popular gallery, people have already seen everything and need something different to make it exciting. Imagine being able to read a dinosaur book under your favourite dinosaur, or build a Stegosaurus puzzle right beside an actual Stegosaurus? We saw instant results.
We’ve brought some of this thinking over to the public programs too. We’ve always run our art projects, scavenger hunts and costumes tables in the galleries. We also like to put our experts right under the specimens and artifacts they’ve studied.
A few Saturdays back however we also brought out the carpet. In the end we might need to invest in a few more carpets to combat outside shoes, but we had a great experience with this new facet brought to the Gallery.
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: May 27th, 2014.
Oh, The Things You’ll Find In Storage
The ROM Studio’s storage room or more frequently referred to simply as “storage” is a wonderland containing a multitude of things dating back to several decades ago. As a ROM staff or volunteer you’ve either ventured into the mysterious world of storage to retrieve a cart or to find one of the many things. Storage is another dimension and walking into it feels like being led into a completely different world detached from the one you’re in.
Some of the things you’ll find are as follows:
Far back in storage is a wall full of envelopes in boxes with witty lines on the front of the boxes like…
“Write yourself a letter or something….”
“What is white and paper-y, and something that we’ve been trying to get rid of for years? (hint: its envelopes)”
Many things can be found in the miscellaneous small blue boxes in storage. They contain everything from rocks, insects in protective casing, an old coke bottle, dolls and dust.
Yes folks, there is a humongous roll of bubble wrap under a table in storage.
Storage is the home to many different costumes. Whether you’d like to dress up as a dinosaur or a possum… we got it!
At the back of storage you will find an overwhelming amount of bamboo sticks… yes, you might actually think a panda lives in there.
Yes, we got it all! Storage has a box full of socks!
In storage you will find a box cleverly labeled “FELT! FELT! FELT! FELT! FELT! FELT! EVERYBODY!” in memory of the LMFAO song “Shots.” Did I mention storage had felt?
Storage obviously did not get the memo that crocs are a fashion crime. But oh well, we still got ‘em.
Going into storage you will be transported into the Canadian Arctic. On the right wall of storage you will find a huge polar bear cut out hanging on the wall.
Of course, how could we forget? Probably one of the most iconic things you will find in storage is the broken dino egg lying under a big black beanbag and some foam. Nevertheless, it is still there and will catch anyones eye.
If you are ever fortunate enough to venture into the vortex of storage, you should definitely check these things out. As mentioned previously, storage is a different world, so brace yourself!
The Fossil Library
Lined with mechanical rows that open and close so that only one isle is ever available, the Palaeontology Collections are like a library filled with fossils instead of books.
Within the rows are shelves deep with drawers full of fossils, each carefully labeled with what’s inside. ROM palaeontologists use these drawers to access fossils for further analysis and storage until fit for display. They’re also really useful for when I come asking for fossils for programs!
Here ROM palaeontologist Derek Larson walks me through the collections looking for the tyrannosaur drawer, shows off the vertebrae of a giant prehistoric boney fish, and the label to a fascinating drawer that unfortunately had all of its contents signed out for study.
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: May 27th, 2014.