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WaterVenutre’s Florida’s Learning Lab huge hit

By Staff | Aug 26, 2015

Challen Lowe, 9, played an interactive recycling game by swiping different items into various bins to save the habitat while visiting the WaterVentures Florida’s Learning Lab Thursday afternoon at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. The 53-foot semi trailer was full of museum quality exhibits. MEGHAN McCOY

A mobile learning lab parked at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum last week giving residents and visitors an opportunity to interact with many hands-on exhibits while learning about Florida’s waters and conservation during Lee County Day.

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Development Associate Paul Gulbrandsen welcomed residents and visitors to Lee County Day in the parking lot near the WaterVentures Florida’s Learning Lab last Thursday with a smile on his face and a brochure in his hand. He said individuals began filling the parking lot around 10 a.m. with a steady stream of people making their way through the learning lab from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

“I think it’s very impressive,” Gulbrandsen said of the semi. “It is extremely well put together.”

The special day featured a 53-foot semi trailer equipped with numerous exhibits providing an extension of the 525-acre privately owned sanctuary, Crystal Springs Preserve.

Young and old alike enjoyed the interactive exhibits that touched upon limestone and aquifers in the state of Florida, as well as water resources; various stages of the water cycle, water conservation and making right choices about using less water; recycling and how water is connected to global issues.

“Water is very important to Florida,” Gulbrandsen said, adding that the learning lab has a lot of really interesting educational tools. “The kids are really excited and they are definitely not bored coming out of the truck. It’s a really fun event. People that are coming out are really enjoying it and they are learning as well.”

Rachel Richardson, an intern that travels with the semi, said she began in the middle of August. Sanibel has been the furthest she has traveled since joining the team.

She decided to do an internship with WaterVentures because she is collecting experience before attending grad school.

“It’s awesome research,” she said of the truck, which travels to schools free of charge. “There is a lot of information and it’s very interactive. It’s all about the hands-on learning.”

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Marketing and Events Manager Katie Ball said the water truck was a great thing to introduce to the community during Lee County day, which was sponsored by LCEC.

Once individual’s toured the truck, adults received half off admission to the museum and kids were admitted for free. Many individuals stopped by the touch tank, which was introduced to the museum a year ago. The tank is divided into three habitats based on eating habits.

“We want people to walk away with a deeper feeling for the environment and live shells,” Ball said, adding that it’s all about education, fun and wonder.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.