Observations from a Fernbank Volunteer

June 14, 2010 at 6:57 pm Leave a comment

One of the best things about working at the front desk of the A Walk Through Time in Georgia is the interesting people you meet, and the conversations with them. Curiosity may be bad for cats, but it is the key to an enjoyable visit to Fernbank Museum and can be brought to life by the collection of rocks and fossils at the front desk.

Did the wooly mammoth really live in Georgia?   Well, there’s a tooth of one and it is real.

Is kaolin really the most valuable mineral mined in Georgia?   It has hundreds of uses, including tooth paste, paint, medicine and magazine paper. One visitor from China took one look at the white clay and exclaimed “That’s what we use to make our porcelain.”

What’s the oldest fossil in the collection?  The head of a trilobite embedded in a piece of chert, about 500 million years old.

Which often leads to “What’s chert?”    A flint-like rock beloved by the original inhabitants of America because of its ability to fracture with a sharp edge, useful for tools and weapons.

Why are bits and pieces of marine animals contained in limestone from the Cumberland Plateau?  Because that area of Georgia, including Lookout Mountain, was once at the bottom of an ocean.

Some of the visitors are geology students or professionals in mining industries and know far more than I about the minerals of Georgia, but many have never paid much attention to such mundane things as rocks.

Once three teenage women listened with increasing interest to my discussion of the items on display, their ancient origins and modern uses. One of the young women suddenly exclaimed: “I didn’t know rocks could be so cool!”

Yes rocks can be cool and it is up to the volunteers to make them so, adding to the enjoyment of the Museum visitor and satisfaction of working at the front desk of A Walk Through Time in Georgia.


 -Furney Hemingway, Fernbank Museum Volunteer

Editors note: If you are interesting in donating your time as a Fernbank volunteer, visit us online or contact us at volunteer@fernbankmuseum.org.


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Pictures to buzz about Archaeology at work

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At Fernbank Museum, there’s much more than dinosaurs and giant-screen films. Even with our website, e-newsletters, Facebook pages and Twitter updates, there’s still a lot we’d like to share with you. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!

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