EDUCATION AND LEARNING

Snakes and Slime Mold, Birds and Plankton at COA’s Dorr Museum

A still from a time-lapse video of slime mold by Anna Sagatov. The image comes from the end of a 10-minute video, when the slime mold has found a piece of food and retracted all of its branches to put its energy into bringing back nutrients from the food source.
A still from a time-lapse video of slime mold by Anna Sagatov. The image comes from the end of a 10-minute video, when the slime mold has found a piece of food and retracted all of its branches to put its energy into bringing back nutrients from the food source.
Posted May 27, 2013, at 8:07 p.m.
Last modified May 28, 2013, at 10:42 a.m.

Saturday, June 1, 2013 4 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History at College of the Atlantic, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

For more information: Carrie Graham; 207-288-5395; newsworthy.com

BAR HARBOR, ME—From prehistory to plankton to contemporary birds, from snakes to the spectacular beauty of slime mold, College of the Atlantic’s George B. Dorr Museum will be hosting a fascinating array of new exhibits, with four of them opening from 4 to 5 pm. on Saturday, June 1.

In reflecting on slime mold, the exhibit’s creator Anna Sagatov asks, “Could something called a slime mold possibly be beautiful?” Her answer is “Absolutely, and it’s intelligent.” The slime mold Physarum polycephalum not only creates lovely patterns, it also shows signs of primitive intelligence, she says. Sagatov has been working with Mark Lessard of the Jackson Lab’s Imaging Department to capture microscopic images and video of slime mold. She finds that slime mold, “can solve mazes, map out roadways, find the shortest route between two points, regulate its diet, and it has memory—all without any kind of nervous system.” Her exhibit is part of a study of emergence, or how simple entities—think ants, or schools of fish—form more complex behaviors as a collective than they can as individuals. In the exhibit, Sagatov shows living slime mold paintings, time lapse video, and more.

At the same time, Anna Stunkel will display drawings published in her illustrated guide, “A Natural History Field Guide to Common Birds of Mount Desert Island, Maine.” The guide offers a sense of the habits of 55 bird species common to the island, intended for older children to adults. Each species in the guide includes an illustration by Stunkel and information relating to the species’ natural history, ecology, life history, behavior, and anatomy, as well as some local spots where the species may be found. Copies will be available for sale at the Dorr Museum.

Also opening on June 1 are exhibits by Nathaniel Maddix and Hunter McAdam. Maddix has created “Paper, Plants, and Prehistoric Life Forms,” a series of linocut reliefs portraying an array of what he finds “fascinating and mysterious about the natural world, history, and human experience,” printed on paper he made. McAdam’s exhibit focuses on exotic snakes: “Exotic Snakes: Trade & Introduction in the United States.” This exhibit, he says, provides “an entertaining and aesthetically pleasing way for the public to learn about the controversial issues of snakes in the reptile trade.”

The fifth new exhibit, a plankton ecology field guide by Kaitlin Mathews, will have an opening on June 6, from 4 to 5 p.m. The exhibit is based on the studies she has been doing analyzing the vertical water column around Mount Desert Rock, conducting vertical plankton tows, profiling conductivity, temperature and density, and collecting plankton samples.

For more information on the exhibit openings at the Dorr Museum, on Saturday, June 1 from 4 to 5 p.m., contact Carrie Graham at cgraham@coa.edu or 207-288-5395.

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit www.coa.edu.

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