The Cincinnati Museum Center is one of the largest urban history museums in the United States. The exhibits of this museum tell the stories about the city and its surrounding regions. The Cincinnati Museum Center serves more than 1.47 million visitors annually with up to 200000 young people through the exhibits and programs. Over seven hundred events are held in the building every year. It was originally built in 1933 as a Union Terminal Train Station. The building is a historical landmark, which was renovated and reopened as Cincinnati Museum Center in 1990 (Condit, 1977).

The museum inspires people from different countries and different ages. It is a perfect place for enjoyment and having fun. In addition, the museum provides a learning opportunity for those who want to research this historical facility. A visit to this museum gave us an opportunity to learn more about the world through science, regional history, educational and other meaningful experiences.

The Cincinnati Museum Center offers programs for both kids and adults. The program for kids includes scouting, day camps, overnights, and birthday parties. They also offer additional enrichment programs like sprouts institute, bright ideas, and Explorers University. Their programs are multidisciplinary and focus on every aspect from art and science to history, culture and technology.

The Cave Exhibition

Exhibition through the cave was one of most interesting experiences in our lives. The cave was modeled to resemble those ones found in the Tri-State region of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. There was a trail for the beginners and an advanced trail for the adventurous explorers. The beginners’ trail has facilities like wheelchairs for the physically challenged. It provides the view points to the lower advanced trail. The advanced trail includes an underground stream, a waterfall and a bat chamber. The bat chamber is a home to the big brown bat colony hanging upside down on the underside of the cave’s roof. The cave is a recreation of the Kentucky limestone cave.

There are many cave formations within the cave, also referred to as speloethems. Columns, stalactites and stalagmites are some of the most common cave formations. Some speloethems are given similar names to the objects they resemble. Some examples are soda straws, gypsum needles, snowballs, cover flowers, and angel hair. All these speloethems are found in the advanced trail room. (Constitution and By-Laws of the Cincinnati Society of Natural History, 1874)

However, the exhibition had some challenges too. The visitors who come for the first time face a lot of challenges. The entire architecture of the cave is frightening to the kids and new visitors. The exhibitor had a rough time to convince people about the stability of the whole structure and why it cannot easily collapse. It includes 500 feet of tight complicated passages, an underground waterfall and a flowing river. Some parts of the cave are very dark and look like flesh ravening mantises. Noise from the waterfall and bats flying across the structure created beautiful scenery for the veterans but a frightening moment for the kids and first-timers.

Another important aspect of this exhibition was cave biology. A cave has got two types of lives: accidentals and the TROGS (trogloxenes, troglophiles and troglobites).Thetrogloxenesare the animals that can survive in a cave. An example of such animals is a beetle. The troglophiles love caves and can spend their entire lives either inside or outside a cave. Raccoons are an example of the troglophiles.The troglobitesdwell in the caves and live in there permanently. They have adapted to the life in the caves and cannot survive outside the caves. A cave fish is an example of the troglobites. (Constitution and By-Laws of the Cincinnati Society of Natural History, 1874)

All over the planet, there are landscapes hiding caves beneath them. Challenged by the underground frontier and inspired by the secrets it may yield, the cavers shared a passion for exploration. These unique forms of habitats pack millions of micro-organisms that somehow survive there. In addition, this is kind of environment with no light, less nutrients, and, in the case of glaciers, the organisms may be locked under ice for decades. For these reasons, these organisms have developed unique survival tactics for accessing nutrients and resist the competitors. Scientists believe that these micro-organisms may be useful in developing new antibiotics or drugs to fight human diseases.

In the bid to explore a little about the turquoise-hued river, we rappelled down to the cave entrance, dangling more than seven hundred feet above the river. It was a dangerous activity, but curiosity did not allow us to quit. It really conveyed the excitement of scientific exploration. The journey through these amazing caves took us on an adventure in the scientific world. We watched the underground landscapes that are as beautiful and attractive as the ones in the world above. One could hardly believe that it was a renovated cave. It looked very natural and attractive. We could look at the bats hanging on the small cliffs, which seemed very scared. These magnificent creatures did not seem to posses the confidence that could earn them the deserved respect. One could feel a strange affiliation to nature brought by this strange environment. Most people had quite a rough time to navigate along the twisted tiny paths in the cave. However, they soon got used to such challenges and started enjoying the whole expedition.

On the contrary, the freezing cold temperatures made some students to start lagging behind. Besides, a few group members faced some challenges. Not many people go for ice fishing and suchlike activities that could help them adapt to such extreme conditions. In this underworld, we looked like creatures on a visit to an uncertain world. A compilation of excitement and tension made the whole exhibition a wonderful extravaganza.

The Glacier Exhibition

In this section, we were taken 19000 years back to the Ohio valley, when the last glacier in this area started going back to the north. We had to act like detectives to discover what animals lived in the massive Cincinnati area. We learnt much about them. We also walked through a recreated glacier and experimented with a water run-off in the stream table. We explored our Ice Age Trail past where the glacier ends in Ohio, and the pine forests and bogs of Northern Kentucky. This ground is way too swampy and with a wide variety of small natural vegetation growing on it (Condit, 1977).

The interesting part of glacier formation is where the spaces are left between the layers deep underneath forming the glacier caves. The glacier caves are formed by water running under the glacier. Running water often originates from melting ice on the glacier’s surface. We were informed that heat transfer from the water could cause a sufficient melting to create air-filled cavities sometimes aided by solifluction. Air movement assists in enlargement through melting in summer and sublimation in winter. Some glacier caves are quite unstable. Instability is normally caused by melting and glacial motion. It is a subject to a partial or complete collapse, as well as obliteration by the glacial retreat (Harry, 1943). The dynamic nature of the glacier caves may also be seen in the paradise ice caves located on Mount Rainier in the United States of America. The glacier caves are used by the glaciologists to study the interior structure of the glaciers. The study of the glacier caves is sometimes called glaciospeleology.

Cincinnati Museum Center strays from glaciology to a variety of scientific subjects. It was mentioned that the specimens presented for display were centuries old. There were some living creatures on the glacial environment. Glacial mice and pebbles that blew around on the glacier and growing moss on the glacial surfaces made it incredible.  The temperatures in this region were freezing cold. However, the excitement caused by these strange observations made the entire event very interesting.

On the contrary, there were a lot of challenges during this exhibit. Some students were not fully prepared for this trip. They were supposed to learn backcountry navigation skills, carry snow shoes and snowboards or alpine ski. It was also important for the students to learn much about the regions and people surrounding the museum. Such an opportunity promoted a greater awareness of all the exiting experiences of the museum as well as developing a school culture with values of exploration and wonder for our world.

Conclusion

The Expeditionary Learning fostered curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provided fields of imagination, time to experiment, and time to make sense out of what was observed.

All students can succeed if they are aware of the possible risks and ready to meet different challenges.  Students are also suggested to learn from their own mistakes and keep moving even when something is not going as it was expected. There was a respectful and friendly relationship between the people and nature. The trip refreshed our spirit and brought us some ideas of cause and effect. Students learnt how to become stewards of the nature and how help the future generations. Teachers and students need to spend some time exploring their ideas and creating their own imaginations. Students also need time to share their reflections with their friends and adults.

Generally, the objectives of the trip were attained. The trip facilitated self discovery and independence through experiencing new challenges. It also promoted empathy, compassion and interdependence through the shared group experiences. The trip also fostered a respectful relationship that incorporated awe and wonder for the natural world.

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