Miami Dade College “Kendall Rocks” Museum is a Hidden Gem
Kendall Campus Earth Science Museum and Demonstration Center, better known as “Kendall Rocks.”
Miami, June 3, 2010 -
A tiger shark jaw from Key Largo, bottom sediments from the Antarctic and a whale tooth from Chesapeake Bay. Wherever former Miami Dade College (MDC) Professor Loren D. Wicks went, he and his wife traveled with a hammer and pick, ready to excavate and collect samples. Wicks passed away in 1987, but many of his archeological treasures can be found today at the Kendall Campus Earth Science Museum and Demonstration Center, better known as “Kendall Rocks.”
Associate Instructor Diane McKinney, whose wisdom teeth are part of the 10,000 specimens in the collection, oversees the museum. She began as an art major attending the Kendall Campus more than 30 years ago and was inspired to study geology after taking classes with Wicks.
“Professor Wicks used to say, ‘Wherever you go, make sure you bring back rocks,’ McKinney recalls. “He was my mentor and made me want to be a scientist.”
Before room 5130 became home to the Earth Science Museum in 2004, administrators found diverse uses for the space. First it was a cafeteria, then a bookstore, art space and considered for a classroom, but the lighting was poor.
While too limited to serve as a classroom, the space is ideal to showcase soil and sand samples, skulls, rocks, minerals, marine fossils, precious stones, pottery, turtle bones, and animal jaws, among thousands of other items. There are also two 250-gallon tanks for fresh and salt water species.
“I wanted to create a place where you could come in and touch everything. It’s the best way to learn, up close and personal,” McKinney said.
McKinney gives tours and demonstrations to groups from local schools, which often visit the museum. She shows them how to make fossil replicas and recreate archeological digs. They especially love the fluorescent rocks and “shiny drawer” filled with sparkling stones.
Children in the Wild Things Happen and Science/Nature summer camps, beginning this month at Kendall Campus, also spend time in the museum as a fun and educational component.
“I’ll bring the kids here and they get to run around and touch all the rocks. It’s something neat for them to do,” said Max Rodriguez, Kendall Campus summer camps coordinator.
Kendall Rocks is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
To learn more about Kendall Rocks, or to schedule a tour, please contact Diane McKinney at 305-237-2770, email@example.com.
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