Nature Lab

Neal Overstrom, Director
Waterman Building, First Floor
401-454-6451

http://naturelab.risd.edu/

Founded in 1937 by Edna Lawrence, alumna and former faculty member, the Nature Lab houses 100,000 items, including a wide variety of shells, bones, insects, birds, mammals, reptiles, minerals, seed pods, pressed leaves, wood, and feathers, real and replica skeletons and anatomical models.  Plants and live animals (including birds, lizards, turtles, fish, amphibians, and mammals) also call the Nature Lab home. Unlike traditional natural history museums, this collection may be handled, touched, examined, and many items may be checked out. Other collections include minerals, a herbarium, skeletons, bones, birds, and animal pelts in storage.  These may be viewed by appointment with a curator (401-277-4951 or 401-454-6179).  For a class orientation, please schedule with the monitor’s desk (401-454-6451) one week in advance.

The Study Room
The Nature Lab’s Study Room is on the ground floor of the Waterman Building and includes a picture collection of over 10,000 images ranging from insects and animals to landscapes and microorganisms.  The pictures are arranged according to scientific classification and by common names.  Other resources include microscopes, microscopic slide mounts, x-ray photos, Edna Lawrence’s student drawings and Tiny Town–a development of acrylic boxes housing specimens suitable for microscopic study.  The Study Room can be set up with 22 dissecting and 2 compound microscopes for an entire class.  A dissecting and a compound microscope are available for examining specimens.  These also have the capacity for video, digital and 33mm photo microscopy; moving and still video images can be captured and saved for further editing.  A computer workstation with Internet access supports these resources.

The Arthur Loeb Design Science Teaching Collection comprises examples of 2-D patterns in various formats and 3-D polyhedra that can be used to teach visual thinking, mathematical concepts or the basics of pattern formation and structure in nature. For access, call 401-454-6179.