#IfThenSheCan: The Exhibit

Meet Ronda Hamm, Arlyne Simon, and Mercedes Taylor, three remarkable women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

These statues were originally part of #IFThenSheCan – The Exhibit which debuted in Washington, D.C. in 2022, and featured an astounding 120 3-D printed statues celebrating women in STEM. They are on exhibit at the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science through the end of February 2024.

Seeing is believing, and that’s what this exhibit is all about. When girls see women in STEM careers having fun, they can imagine themselves in those roles too. By supporting women in STEM, we’re working together to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, making the world’s future stronger.

Learn more about these three incredible STEM-ists by scanning the QR codes in the exhibit and visiting our Research Headquarters for videos about them. This exhibit is connected to our What a Scientist Looks Like outdoor banner exhibit, which also includes If/Then Ambassadors as well as several local STEM-ists.

3D printed statues of scientists Arlyne Simon, Mercedes Taylor, and Ronda Hamm. The statues are orange and have some texture because of the printing.

The IF/THEN® Initiative seeks to further advance women in STEM by empowering current innovators and inspiring the next generation of pioneers. From protecting wildlife, discovering galaxies, fighting superbugs, to choreographing robots, these STEM innovators were selected  through a rigorous process that identified them as leaders in their fields. Lyda Hill Philanthropies partnered with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to select and manage the AAAS IF/THEN® Ambassador program designed to empower high-profile role models to inspire middle school girls.

#IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit is a physical manifestation of this goal, created in part with inspiration from a 2016 study led by former Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios which found that the 10 largest U.S. cities publicly displayed fewer than a half-dozen statues of real women. #IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit is the largest 3D-printed project of its kind and made history for the most statues of women ever assembled. The exhibit has been experienced in-person by more than four million people in the U.S. since 2020.

IF/THEN is an initiative designed by Lyda Hill Philanthropies to activate a culture shift among young girls to open their eyes to STEM careers. All STEM innovators were selected through a rigorous process that identified them as leaders in their fields with a commitment to inspire the next generation. All were chosen by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Lyda Hill Philanthropies to serve as AAAS IF/THEN Ambassadors: high-profile role models for middle school girls.

Full STEAM Ahead

New program for ages 10+

All aboard for scientific discovery focused on STEAM Innovation designed for around middle school age 10+. Explore how Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math are interconnected through hands-on activities, creative thinking, problem solving, and more!

Summer: Full STEAM Ahead Workshop: Science Spectacular (Ages 10+)

June 17-21, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Journey through scientific discovery as we explore various STEAM-based experiments, awe-inspiring demonstrations, and interactive activities. This workshop facilitates excitement and wonder for the spectacular world of science. This workshop is geared towards higher education learning, which may not be suitable for younger age groups.  

Pre-registration required. Full week price: $290/DelMNS members, $325/non-members. Extended care available, $7/before or after care; $12 before AND aftercare per day.

Holidays at the Museum

Celebrate the season with a variety of holiday events! Unless noted, pre-registration required; events may sell out. Fees include museum admission and activities.

Gingerbread House Creations

Sunday, December 3 | 10-11:30 a.m.

Engineer your own confectionary creation building a pre-baked gingerbread house kit and decorating it with a variety of edible goodies from the candy buffet.
For families with children ages 3 and up. Pre-registration required by 11:59 p.m. on November 17. $35 per gingerbread house kit (must purchase at least one kit in order to participate in event). After kit purchase: free for members, $14.50 for non-members, $4.50 for non-members ages 1-2.

Breakfast with Santa

Saturday, December 9 | Current seating at 10:30 a.m.

Ring in the holiday season with breakfast with family, friends and Santa himself! Breakfast includes pancakes, sausage, coffee and juice. After breakfast, participate in various holiday-themed activities and explore our gallery exhibits including the new traveling exhibit, Mindbender Mansion.

Pre-registration required. $10/members, $5/members ages 1-2. $24/non-members, $14/non-members ages 1-2. Vegan and gluten-free options available.

Roaring into the New Year featuring live birds from Animal Behavior & Conservation Connections

Sunday, December 31 | 10 a.m.-noon

Celebrate the New Year with live bird presentations and celebratory activities including a science-related ball drop!

Pre-registration is requested. Special price for the day: $3/members, $17/non-members ages 3 and up, $7/non-members ages 1-2. The museum closes for the day at the end of the event.

New bird species discovered through scientific collections

Natural history collections are full of surprises, with scientists updating what is known about different species and uncovering new ones.

Dr. Matthew Halley, Assistant Curator of Birds, is the lead author of a recently-published paper that splits the Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus fuscater) into seven different species and four subspecies — including a newly-described species from eastern Panamá: the Darién Nightingale-thrush (Catharus arcanus).

Photo of Matthew Halley by Jenna McCullough

These genetically distinct populations live in secluded mountain rainforests in Central and South America and began to diverge from each other nearly three million years ago.

The species look very similar to an untrained eye. To document their differences, Dr. Halley and his team sequenced DNA from multiple populations, studied physical features like plumage color, iris color and bill color, and analyzed differences in their vocalizations.

Dr. Halley shared the findings on his Twitter (now X) account. Read on for a summary, along with some of the figures from the paper:

This figure shows the geographic distribution of the C. [fuscater] complex in Central and South America. Lines point to type localities. The variation in shapes denote sampling locations for different molecular data. Shape size is correlated with the number of samples (1–3).

The C. fuscater complex (Turdidae) is composed of several disjunct populations that inhabit cloudy mountain rainforests, ranging from Costa Rica to Bolivia. These birds are diabolically shy and more often heard than seen. Their song is a series of sweet, musical whistles.

The research identified 10 genetically distinct populations that have been evolving independently for multiple glacial cycles. Molecular clock suggests most lineages diverged in early Pleistocene / late Pliocene— ancient lineages with independent evolutionary trajectories.

This figure shows taxonomic variation in the structure of ‘punctuation calls’, visualized in RavenPro 1.5 (Cornell University), recognizing three groups based on shared acoustic structure: (Type 1) pulsed/rippling: C. [f.] hellmayri, Undescribed 1 (now C. arcanus), C. [f.] mirabilis; (Type 2) long/sinuous: C. [f.] sanctaemartae, C. [f.] fuscater, C. [f.] berplepschi; (Type 3) short/simple: Undescribed 2 (now C. o. tenebris), C. [f.] opertaneus, Undescribed 3 (now C. b. nebulus), C. [f.] mentalis.

Populations were divergent in the acoustic structure of three different call types, which are presumed to be innately acquired (i.e., not learned), and there were subtle differences among populations in song structure, which is presumably learned.

This image is a side view of polychromatic adult plumages in C. [f.] mentalis (from left to right): 1, FMNH 433742, a ‘grey’ male with enlarged testes; 2, FMNH 433738, a ‘brown’ male with enlarged testes; 3, FMNH 364458, a ‘brown’ male with testes not enlarged; 4, FMNH 433740, an adult female with an enlarged ovary. Adults of both colour types (FMNH 433742, 433738) were collected at the same site in November
2001.

Halley traveled to the American Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Museum of Natural History to study their C. fuscater specimens, and borrowed specimens from the Field Museum, LSU Museum of Natural Science, and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, bringing them to the museum to look at sexual and age-related differences in plumage color.

This image shows ventral and dorsal views of the adult male plumages in C. b. berlepschi, C. b. caniceps, C. o. tenebris ssp. nov., C. b. nebulus ssp. nov., and C. mentalis.

With a large sample of study skins assembled under one light source (flat panel LED), subtle differences between populations, difficult to appreciate in the field, became easier to notice — Halley scored this variation by comparing the specimens to published color standards.

The taxonomic revision splits the C. [fuscater] complex into seven species, of which one is newly described, and four subspecies, of which two are newly described (C. opertaneus tenebris, C. berlepschi nebulus). New English names were proposed for each species. The seven species are:

Talamanca Nightingale-thrush (Catharus hellmayri) – monotypic – Northern mountains of Costa Rica (Rincón de la Vieja, Miravalles, Tenorio) to west-central Panama (Parque Nacional Santa Fé, Veraguas). (Photo: alchetron.com)
Darién Nightingale-thrush (Catharus arcanus, sp. nov.) – monotypic – E Panama, endemic to Serranía de Majé and Serranía del Darién, from Cerro Azul in the west, to Cerro Tacarcuna in the east
Pirre Nightingale-thrush (Catharus mirabilis) – monotypic – Endemic to Cerro Pirre, Darién province, E Panama. (Photo: ML 242929041)
Cordilleran Nightingale-thrush (Catharus fuscater) – polytypic – (1) C. f. sanctaemartae, endemic to Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, NE Colombia; (2) C. f. fuscater, Sierra de Perijá of Venezuela, N and E Andes of Colombia and Venezuela. (Photo: ML 206115721)
Trans-Andean Nightingale-thrush (Catharus berlepschi) – polytypic – (1) C. b. berlepschi, W Andes in Ecuador; (2) C. b. caniceps, W Andes in Ecuador, S to NW Peru; (3) C. b. nebulus, ssp. nov., E Peruvian Andes. (Photo: ML 38468741)
Antioquia Nightingale-thrush (Catharus opertaneus) – polytypic – (1) C. o. opertaneus, NW and Central Andes in Colombia, S to Napo, Ecuador; (2) C. o. tenebris, ssp. nov., Río Chinchipe watershed of N Peru and SE Ecuador
Cochabamba Nightingale-thrush (Catharus mentalis) – monotypic – S Peru, east of the Río Apurímac, E to Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Note: Monotypic species are not divided into subspecies. Polytypic species can be divided into at least two subspecies.

Halley, M. R., Catanach, T. A., Klicka, J., and J. D. Weckstein. 2023. Integrative taxonomy reveals hidden diversity in the Catharus fuscater (Passeriformes: Turdidae) complex in Central and South America. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society zlad031. LINK

If you are unable to access the paper and would like a copy, please email Matt Halley.

Learn more about Dr. Halley’s research projects and publications on his website.

World of Discovery series returns

The World of Discovery series is back at the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science.

Join us for the World of Discovery lecture series at the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science. This fall, we welcome scientists from the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and Environment to present an in-depth look at the pioneering research impacting the future of Earth’s ecosystems.

The Complex Past and Future Trajectory of Coral Reefs

Wednesday, November 8 | 7 p.m.

Coral reefs have long been recognized as the “rainforests of the sea,” with fantastic biodiversity and ecological importance. However, they represent a paradox between the long-term success and resilience of evolution and growth over millions of years and an incredibly fragile ecosystem that is losing a global race against climate change and a host of local threats. This presentation will introduce several aspects of the science behind how coral reefs have been so successful, how they are threatened, and how some scientists are racing to understand what can be done to slow and manage the loss of this critically important ecosystem.

Mark Warner is a Professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy at the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment at the University of Delaware. He studied marine biology at Northeastern University and the University of Georgia (UGA), where he received his bachelor’s degree in zoology and doctorate in ecology. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in plant biology at UGA, he joined the faculty of the University of Delaware in 2001. He is a Fellow of the International Coral Reef Society and has studied the ecological physiology of reef-building corals for over 30 years in many western and eastern Pacific locations, the Andaman and Red Sea, and the Caribbean.


Past events

Exploring the hidden lives of sharks

Wednesday, October 11 | 7 p.m.

Sharks capture the public’s attention like no other species, as demonstrated by the popularity of Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” and the frequency with which stories of sharks “lurking” in local waters grab headlines. However, despite the great public interest in sharks and the important role they play in marine ecosystems, these animals remain misunderstood and challenging to study. Learn how new research is shedding light on the biology and ecology of sharks and how scientists are using cutting-edge technologies to view the hidden lives of sharks and aid in the conservation and management of these iconic predators.

Aaron Carlisle is an Assistant Professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy at the University of Delaware. He has studied the biology and ecology of fishes for the last 20 years, largely focusing on elasmobranch (sharks, skates, and rays) and pelagic fishes (tunas, billfishes).

Mindbender Mansion

Can you solve the puzzle?

Enter the wonderfully puzzling world of Mindbender Mansion, an eclectic place full of brainteasers and interactive challenges guaranteed to test the brain power and problem-solving skills of even the most experienced puzzlers.

Guests to this fun and quirky mansion are invited to join the Mindbender Society by gathering hidden clues and secret passwords scattered throughout the various thematic rooms of the house. The clues and passwords are revealed by solving select brainteasers and group challenges.

Visitors are encouraged to think outside the box and collaborate with their fellow mansion guests to meet individual and group challenges, which include manipulating a tilt table, keeping up with trays on a conveyer belt, and disco hopscotch spelling.

Mindbender Mansion is incredibly engaging for all ages and generations as grandparents, parents, and children learn from each other to solve the 40 brainteasers and five group activities.

Mindbender Mansion is on exhibit through May 12, 2024

Mindbender Mansion was produced and is toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland, Oregon, and is sponsored locally by Bank of America.

Dude the Museum Cat

In February 2023, The Dodo, an online publisher of positive animal-related videos, shared social media videos they created in partnership with our team about Dude the cat ahead of his 15th birthday and 14th anniversary at the museum. Since then, the videos have been seen by millions, with thousands of reshares. Other media covered the story, resulting in more interest in Dude. In the process, Dude has made many new friends, with visitors coming from the region as well as Connecticut, Texas, Florida and more.

The Dodo shared the story again in spring 2024, with millions more views!

Rescue Cat Goes To Work At A Museum With His Dad Every Day (The Dodo)

Rescue Cat Goes to Work At A Museum With His Dad Every Day (The Dodo on Facebook)

This cat runs a museum (The Dodo on TikTok)

‘Dude the Cat’ has earned many titles at the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science (6ABC)

Cat Goes to Work Daily With His Human at a Museum (Laughing Squid)

Delaware Museum resident Dude, the rescue cat, goes viral on YouTube (Delawareonline)

Hear about Dude the museum rescue cat from his cat dad Chris Hayden (Delawareonline)

The Dodo fell in love with ‘Dude,’ a famous museum cat in Delaware (Delawareonline, subscribers only)

These cute animal ambassadors will make you smile (10 Best)

Want to meet Dude? He’s only at the museum on weekdays – and often has left the building by 1 p.m. It’s always a good idea to call first.

Follow Dude on social media

Dude is on Facebook and Instagram, as well as making some appearances on the museum’s social media.

In 2020, in honor of Dude’s 12th birthday (and 11th anniversary of his time at the museum), this video compilation was created, featuring Dude in and around the museum, including hanging out downstairs in the facilities area. Special appearances by Buddy, his best feline friend.

This video was created in 2017 to celebrate the release of Dude’s third book, Dude Goes Exploring.

Digital Membership Cards

Help us further our mission by reducing paper waste and going digital!

The Delaware Museum of Nature and Science is transitioning to digital membership cards to be more in line with our mission to create a society that respects and values our planet. Going digital is convenient, while also supporting the museum and our environmentally friendly initiatives.

Your membership cards can be downloaded using the free eMembership app or into your digital wallet on your smartphone. Downloading the app gives you access to your benefits as a member, a floor plan of the museum, a list of reciprocal institutions, and frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Once downloaded, all you need to do is select Show Membership Card and we can scan the barcode at the front desk!

To download your membership cards with the eMembership App:

Step 1

Download eMembership App from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store

Step 2

Search and select Delaware Museum of Nature and Science, then select Find My Membership Cards

Step 3

Enter:

a) Your membership number and your last name

or

b) Your phone number and last name

Step 4

Select Download my cards.

To ensure the information you are receiving is correct, please make sure you have downloaded the most recent update for the eMembership app.

How to download membership cards to your digital wallet on your smartphone

If you do not want to download the app, you can download your membership cards right into your smartphone wallet.

Enter:

a) Your membership number and your last name

or

b) Your phone number and last name

If you have an iPhone, select “Add to Apple Wallet”

If you have an Android, select “Add to Google Wallet”

Soundscapes

Sound is a distinct part of an ecosystem. The soundscapes in the galleries are designed to add another level to the immersive experience – they aren’t just background noise! Many of the species that can be viewed in the exhibits have a corresponding sound in the gallery’s soundscape.

In an ecosystem, sounds are part of an animal’s habitat, offering clues about the surrounding environment as well as being a tool to communicate with others. For example, when a hawk flies by and screams, mice and other rodents nearby will scurry away.

Some of the sounds used in the soundscapes came from the Macaulay Library at Cornell University, which features the largest archive of animal sounds in the world, with new material constantly uploaded. For example, the Pileated Woodpecker sound, heard as part of the Regional Journey’s Temperate Forest soundscape, was initially recorded locally and uploaded to the Macaulay Library by Dr. Matthew Halley, the museum’s Assistant Curator of Birds. These resources help power Cornell’s Merlin app, which can be used by bird watchers in the field to identify birds by photo and sound.

Listen to Dr. Matthew Halley, the museum’s Assistant Curator of Birds, talk about the soundscapes in the Regional Journey Gallery and what we can learn from the sounds we hear.

Transcript: Regional Journey Soundscapes

Hi. Welcome to the Delaware Museum of Nature and Science Regional Journey Gallery. My name is Matthew Halley, and we’re going to talk a little bit about the soundscapes that we hear today in our gallery.

We’ve got multiple habitats that are found in the mid-Atlantic region, a deciduous forest, temperate forest habitat. We have the Delaware Bay and salt marshes and the cypress swamp, and each of these habitats has a different soundscape.

We hear different animals and different crashing waves or the rustling of the leaves. There’s all sorts of sounds that are happening in nature.

When we go into these habitats and the animals are calling out for different reasons that scientists like to argue about, about whether they’re saying, here I am, here I am, or they’re staking a claim to a certain area and resources, or maybe they’re trying to attract a mate or attract some companions.

But regardless of the reason, these animals have to live in a in a soundscape and they listen to all these different sounds and they react to the sounds in their life, which helps them to survive. And when the hawk flies over and gives its scream, you can be sure that the mice that are under the hawk are scurrying into a safe corner.

So, birds make different kinds of sounds and scientists call them calls or songs. But we don’t have any clear-cut definitions for those words. Some sounds are shorter and less complex, such as when a Blue Jay goes “jay…jay.”
Other songs are a lot more complicated. When the robin is singing, it’s warbling song going on and on. It seems like it doesn’t repeat itself very often.

And then we have the mockingbird, which, you know, can go on for an hour, and we don’t hear anything from the same. You know, it’s constantly coming up with new syllables in its song so that we might think of that as kind of a gradient of complexity in bird vocalizations. And one of the things that some that scientists have figured out is that some vocalizations are learned and other vocalizations seem not to be learned.

So, the Phoebe that makes it’s Phoebe, Phoebe call that will develop normally in a baby Phoebe, without hearing an adult. If it grows up in an acoustic isolation chamber, that little Phoebe is still going to say “Phoebe, Phoebe.”

And it’s going to be indistinguishable from a baby Phoebe that grew up in a forest full of Phoebes.
But some other songs: here we’ve got the wood thrush singing in the soundscape, the wood thrush, that flute section in the middle of its song. When you raise a wood thrush in isolation that’s middle, part of the song gets kind of flat and unmusical. And so, it seems that the wood thrush needs to grow up around other wood thrushes to have a tutor to learn how to sing its song correctly.

And when I say correctly, I mean just to sing to produce a normal song that will achieve the functions of the song, whatever they may be, whether it’s territorial defense or attracting a mate. The more your song deviates from the normal, that might have an effect on whether you’re successful surviving or reproducing.

Regional Journey

Four rotating soundscapes in the Regional Journey feature many of the birds seen in the exhibits. Listen closely: there’s also a frog, squirrel, and a fishing reel!

Global Journey

In the Alison K. Bradford Global Journey Gallery, soundscapes including a variety of birds, mammals, and insects rotating through the land-based ecosystems.

New discount programs for guests using EBT cards

We’ve joined Museums for All, a signature access program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), administered by the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), to encourage people of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum-going habits. The program supports those receiving food assistance (SNAP) benefits visiting the museum for a minimal fee of $2 per person, up to four people, with the presentation of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Similar free and reduced admission is available to eligible members of the public at more than 850 museums across the country.

Museums for All helps expand access to museums and also raise public awareness about how museums in the U.S. are reaching their entire communities. More than 850 institutions participate in the initiative, including art museums, children’s museums, science centers, botanical gardens, zoos, history museums, and more. Participating museums are located nationwide, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Virgin Islands.

We’re also a member of Art Reach’s ACCESS Delaware. The programs are similar, but with some geographic differences: ACCESS is primarily for residents of Delaware and Pennsylvania, while Museums for All is for residents of all 50 states. Additionally, ACCESS offers the Art-Reach ACCESS Card. Individuals with disabilities can purchase an ACCESS Card directly from Art-Reach that allows them to receive $2 admission to over 70 museums, gardens, theaters and cultural sites throughout Greater Philadelphia.

To use Museums for All

Upon the display of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, the individual and up to three additional people will get a discounted admission rate of $2 per person. The person whose name appears on the EBT card must be present to obtain the discount.

To use ACCESS

Bring a valid Art-Reach ACCESS Card, Pennsylvania ACCESS Card or Delaware EBT Card with a photo ID to the front desk. One (1) EBT or ACCESS Card admits the cardholder and up to three additional people at a rate of $2 per person. The person whose name appears on the EBT or ACCESS Card must be present to obtain the discount.