New lab at Coastal Discovery Museum offers a fun, educational experience for all ages.
Story by Amy Coyne Bredeson + Photography by Lloyd Wainscott
For a fun, interactive lesson on the creatures of the Lowcountry, take a trip to the new Tom Peeples Discovery Lab at the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island.
See up close a variety of native creatures – fish, horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, frogs, even an alligator.
“It’s been better than I ever expected,” museum curator of education Dawn Brut said. “It’s so great for people to be able to come in and get their hands on the stuff.”
One thing visitors might not want to get their hands on is the new indoor beehive, built and installed by local beekeeper David Arnal. A pipe on the outside of the building allows bees to fly in and out of the hive. Arnal takes care of the beehive as well as other hives on the property. Don’t forget to grab a jar of Honey Horn honey in the museum shop on the way out.
According to the museum’s website, the building that houses the discovery lab was originally built around 1900 as a home for the property’s supervisor.
The lab, which opened a little more than a year ago, is now used primarily for school programs. Over the past year, between 6,000 and 8,000 students have visited the lab, Brut said. Children from various area schools and summer camps take field trips to the lab throughout the year.
The lab features microscopes for conducting experiments, games, crafts and other activities to get kids and adults interested in the local environment. Six life-size stand-up images of turtles demonstrate how large various species can grow. Brut said most sea turtle nests found along the South Carolina coast are from loggerhead sea turtles. She added the average adult female loggerhead turtle’s carapace (top shell) is between 31 and 43 inches long.
“It’s very popular and I think very successful,” Brut said. “It’s a fun educational experience.”
There is no fee to visit the lab, which is open to the public only at specific times, depending on the season. Make sure to call or check the museum’s website in advance. Groups interested in field trips to the lab should contact Brut at [email protected] or at 843-689-6767 (ext. 228), as far in advance as possible. For more information on the discovery lab or other programs at the museum, visit www.coastaldiscovery.org.
“Our vision includes inspiring people to care for the Lowcountry so that they’ll go home and act or spread that message, and really be an example on a global scale,” Brut said.
The building was named in honor of former Hilton Head Island mayor Tom Peeples in recognition of his foresight in preserving Historic Honey Horn and helping develop a public-private partnership between the Coastal Discovery Museum and the town of Hilton Head Island.
How many creatures can you find at the Coastal Discovery Museum?
3 species of fish
5 hermit crabs
5 white shrimp
12 grass shrimp
15-PLUS horseshoe crabs
THOUSANDS of honey bees