Undergrads hunt through Peabody

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Photo by Annelisa Leinbach.

While no animals came back to life on Saturday night, organizers said the first annual Night at the Museum at the Peabody Museum of Natural History was a rousing success.

Hosted by the Yale Undergraduate Society for the Biological Sciences (YUSBS), the event featured a museum-wide scavenger hunt that saw more than 100 undergraduates running around the exhibits to answer a series of questions about natural history. The night helped attract undergraduates to the Peabody and promote the YUSBS, said lead organizer and YUSBS director Angela Chen ’16. She added that the event exceeded expectations and that YUSBS anticipates making the night into an annual event.

“A lot of undergrads can’t attend tours or events at the Peabody that are from nine to five, so we wanted to open up the museum for a fun event that was after hours,” Chen said.

Participants searched all three floors of the museum to find answers to questions about minerals, meteorites, museum history, paleontology, evolution and Native American culture. Teams learned that the approximate elevation of Machu Picchu is 8,000 feet, the famous Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was the inspiration for the name of the earliest hominid species specimen, “Lucy,” a Tyrannosaurus rex skull on display has about 28 teeth on its bottom jaw and that lightning creates the mineral fulgurite.

The first place prize went to the team of Zach Miller ’17, Angus Mossman ’17, Genevieve Vi Fowler ’16 and Rebecca Beilinson ’16, who selected a FroyoWorld gift card for their efforts. With a consolation prize of a Peabody pencil with a built-in rock collection, no team left empty-handed.

Beilinson said while many students never find the time to visit the Peabody, the event gave them an excuse to go.

“Why not spend a Saturday night at a museum with dinosaurs?” said Tlalli Moya-Smith ’16, who attended the event. “It’s so fun being with friends that are so energetic about nerdy things.”

YUSBS Treasurer Austin Igelman ’16 said that the night went better than any member could have expected, as Igelman said YUSBS did not expect many students to show up to the event.

In the past, the Peabody has hosted overnight events for younger children, but never for a college crowd, said David Heiser, head of education and outreach at the Peabody. Annual Peabody events such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice initiative and Dinosaur Days target families and undergraduates only at the volunteer level, he said.

“There’s a really special thing that happens when you’re here with a small group at night,” Heiser said. “We’re always working to improve relationships with everyone.”

Heiser has spoken with Chen about creating a campus-wide scavenger hunt for natural specimens around Yale.

The scavenger hunt bonus question asked how Peabody staff brought the Irish elk into Peabody, despite the animal being larger than the museum doors—they cut off the antlers and reattached them inside.

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