Pasto Agricultural Museum to offer interactive learning programs for families

March 11, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Spring has sprung at Penn State’s Pasto Agricultural Museum, and to celebrate, the museum is hosting two free programs filled with fun, interactive learning for families.

“This is a chance to see what 'ag sci' looks like by meeting scientists and exploring hands-on agricultural science topics from DNA to dragonflies to fish bones to giant vegetables,” said Rita Graef, curator of the museum, an outreach of the College of Agricultural Sciences.

The two programs — AgSci Action Labs and AgSci Explorers — will be held weekly for four consecutive weeks beginning in mid-March and continuing through mid-April. Penn State faculty and graduate students will lead the sessions, sharing their work and talking about the tools they use in the field and in the lab. Each session focuses on a specific topic through a series of stations, providing hands-on activities, take-home projects and lifelong learning.

“Participants will look through microscopes, observe specimens, participate in crafts and games, and learn to think like a researcher,” Graef said, adding that each participant will receive a field notebook (while supplies last) to record their observations.

The series kicks off with AgSci Action Labs, which runs from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. Weekly topics, designed for curious 7- to 107-year-olds, are as follows:

— March 20: “Meet an Ichthyologist -- How Can I See the Fishy Parts of Science?”

— March 27: “Meet a Horticulturalist -- What’s the Dirt on GIANT Radishes?”

— April 3: “Meet an Anthropologist -- What Does DNA Have to Do with My Food?”

— April 10: “Meet an Entomologist -- Why Does an Insect Scientist Need a Map?”

The second program, AgSci Explorers, is scheduled from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturdays. It is designed for early readers as young as 3 — and their grown-ups — but anyone can attend, Graef noted. Presenters will share illustrated stories from children’s literature as they explore science topics about food and the environment. The following sessions are planned:

— March 23: “Fish Tales and Fish Tails -- Stories and Hands-on Science.”

— March 30: “Carrots, Radishes, Peaches -- Folk Tales About GIANT Foods.”

— April 6: “Magic Beans -- Planting the Curious Seed of a Story.”

— April 13: “Dragonflies -- When Our Stories Take Wing.”

Both programs will culminate with an ice cream social at 1 p.m. on April 14 at the museum.

To register, visit More information on the museum and its open houses is available at the website. To receive information and event reminders via email, send a message to Graef can be reached at 814-863-1383 or by email at

Located on the Ag Progress Days site at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs — 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45 — the museum features hundreds of rare farm and home implements from the “muscle-power era,” before the advent of electricity and gasoline-powered engines.

  • Pasto fish photo

    Sarah Mueller, at left, leads an AgSci Action lab on the science of fish at Pasto Agricultural Museum last year.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 11, 2019