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Cal Day 2014

Cal Day at the MVZ is an elaborate, exciting affair that has become a favorite with the Bay Area community over the years. The quality and success of this event is in large part due to the tireless efforts of MVZ's veteran scientist-educator Monica Albe, who has grown the museum's capacity for education and outreach since she began working at the MVZ in 2001. This year, Cal Day (April 12th) was Monica's last official day as an employee of the MVZ, as she has moved on to begin an exciting career as the marketing director for a promising Oakland start-up. We are sad to see her go, but know that she will be keeping in touch with the MVZ community wherever her adventures take her - as many past students and staff have mentioned, the MVZ is a place that sticks with you long after you leave! Monica has left behind a lasting legacy; a strong commitment and passion for science education and outreach that we are proudly striving to maintain in her absence. This Cal Day was somewhat of a transition, with Monica helping me to organize the event so that future MVZ educators will have to tools to put her tried and true plan into action year after year.

Monica Albe and Terri Barclay
MVZ Prep Lab Manager Terri Barclay (left) with science educator Monica Albe (right) at Cal Day(Photo by Jeremy Chase Crawford, 2014)

I'd like to thank MVZ faculty, staff, Post-Docs, students (graduate and undergraduate) and volunteers who helped make this year's Cal Day a success! Following are some key highlights, stories and photos from our big day.
—Katharine Corriveau

Panoramic of the MVZ gallery before doors were opened for Cal Day. (Photo by Jeremy Chase Crawford, 2014)


  • 2360 visitors set foot inside the museum
  • 104 volunteers contributed their time to make Cal Day happen
  • Special events included:
    • Two hilarious puppet shows, put on by MVZ undergraduates Irene Chang, Anna Hiller, and Sam Parks, along with MVZ Prep Lab Assistant Shelby Medina, MVZ educator Monica Albe, her brother Paul Albe, and Curatorial Assistant Perry Pearson. You can watch the second puppet show, and see the table crashing down during the grande finale here!

    • A DNA extraction demo led by our Evolutionary Genetics Lab Manager Lydia Smith - her DNA extraction demo is so popular with visitors that we get her to come back year after year!
    • An antler craft activity led by MVZ undergraduate volunteers where families could make colorful antler hats depicting native Californian species!
    • An enticing snake dissection put on by Prep Lab Manager Terri Barclay, Prep Lab Assistant and Instructor Shelby Medina, and MVZ undergraduate Maggie Lee. Visitors were mesmerized by the guts and glory and everyone was surprised when it was uncovered that inside the snake were four viable offspring!
    • A memorable Science in Disguise show put on by MVZ graduate students Philip Skipwith, Luke Bloch and Jesyka Melendez-Rosa; UCMP (UC Museum of Paleontology) volunteers Ash Poust, Jessie Atterholt and Whitney Reiner; and two improv actors Mitch Green and Andy Schweig. Have you ever heard the show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! on NPR? If so, you can imagine what Science in Disguise was all about. Essentially, our volunteers sat on a panel and were asked a science-related question - the audience had to guess which one was giving the right answer! Watch the video here

    • An endearing My Favorite Animal show-and-tell session, where MVZ graduate students Mike Holmes, Beth Wommack, Rachel Walsh, MVZ postdoc Megan Phifer-Rixey, and MVZ undergrad Alexis Barrera related their favorite museum specimens to a family audience. They also shared their personal 'ah-ha moments' - pivotal people, places, objects or events in their lives that motivated them to pursue science as a career.
    • Last but not least, a wonderfully engaging natural history illustration station organized and led by natural history illustrator and Science@Cal Outreach and Education Coordinator Katie Bertsche. Visitors were invited to use pen and water colors to draw or paint specimens out on display. Needless to say, this activity was very popular, especially with young visitors!

Katie Bertsche
Katie Bertsche teaching drawing and painting techniques (right), and showing off the wall of natural history illustrations created by Cal Day visitors (left). (Photos by Jeremy Chase Crawford, 2014).

The above events, along with many others, were made possible thanks to the tireless undergraduate, graduate and external volunteers who put in the time to spread our love of science to the public!

Thank you to all who came by!

Felipe Martin
Felipe Martins, an MVZ Post-Doc, tells a young visitor all about vampire bats. (Photo by Jeremy Chase Crawford, 2014).
Rachel Walsh
MVZ graduate student Rachel Walsh, spent Cal Day engaging visitors with her Yosemite habitat game. (Photo by Jeremy Chase Crawford, 2014).
Mike Holmes
MVZ graduate student Mike Holmes shows off a two-faced cat specimen in the VLSB Courtyard display. (Photo by Jeremy Chase Crawford, 2014).
Marcie Nakatsuchi
Undergraduate volunteer Marcie Nakatsuchi teaches a young visitor how to use binoculars. (Photo by Jeremy Chase Crawford, 2014).

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