Teacher’s Questions for Cool Jobs: Museum Science


Before reading:

1. Why are museums important?

2. What types of things can you learn from artifacts kept in a museum?

During reading:

1. How did museum specimens help Robert Baker discover the source of the 1990s hantavirus outbreak in New Mexico?

2. Explain how the discovery of hantavirus in rodents helped people limit infection with the deadly virus.

3. What are antibodies?

4. Explain how discovering arenavirus antibodies in deer-mouse lung samples led Charles Fulhorst and Robert Bradley to the arenavirus itself.

5. What did Bradley and Fulhorst compare to identify the seven new types of arenavirus?

6. What did scientists formerly believe the ancestor of all flightless birds was like? Could it fly? Where did it live?

7. What did Oliver Haddrath and Allan Baker study to find out about this ancient ancestor?

8.  Explain why if moas and tinamous are closely related, this means their common ancestor likely could fly.

9. What tool can scientists use to peer inside a mummy? Explain how this tool works.

10. What surprise did the mummy CT scan reveal?

11. How did Daniel Antoine estimate the age of the mummy?

After reading:

1. What other modern-day problems might be solved with the help of museum specimens? Name two.


1. Do you think it’s important to keep adding items to museum collections? Why?

2. If museums are at risk of becoming full and can’t afford to build new storage facilities, which types of biological specimens would you get rid of first to make more room? The oldest? The ones where you have duplicates — or some other museum does? The most common? Those collected farthest from the museum? Make scientific arguments for — and against — letting go of each type.