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Podcast: Establishing a bone museum in regional QLD

Written by Ben Newsome on September 17th, 2017.      0 comments

Establishing the Gympie Bone Museum on the FizzicsEd podcast

Meet Deb and Jaimie Cook, two highly motivated educators who are putting together the Gympie Bone Museum Project in QLD. This is on top of running two successful STEM businesses in Dissection Connection and RockHoundZ.

“Every kid says to me I’ll have to have a dig pit! So, I’ll be having some sort of a sandbox where they can get in and dig out their own bones. This also lends it to having guests come in and if we bury something in particular in that dig pit we can perhaps have an expert in that particular animal come in”.

We also look at how your students can learn science whilst visiting a farm and we revisit a grab from a past episode in which Dr Timothy Smith explains the benefits of the National Youth Science Forum.

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Top 3 learnings

  1. Just do it. Start small and aim big! Grow something that people can get involved in.
  2. Listen to your audience. Listen to the people who visit your museum, make things as hands-on as possible and respond to people’s needs.
  3. Don’t be afraid to show works in progress.

About Debra Cook

Debra Cook from Dissection Connection
Debra Cook from Dissection Connection 

Debra Cook was brought to Gympie by a job too good to refuse with the Forestry Research Centre at Fraser Rd and it's probably the best thing that ever happened to her.  With an academic background in chemistry and a professional background in secondary schools science education, she now runs Dissection Connection biological specimen supplies & RockhoundZ geology specimen supplies with her partner, Jaimie Cook.  Jaimie's professional background is in ecology, agriculture and forestry science research.  The businesses supply schools, universities and medical training facilities. But a funny thing happened on the way to their first $Million. The Cooroy to Curra highway project was announced and it looked like Gympie might be in danger of becoming another forgotten regional QLD town.  A downturn in the fortunes of the town not only threatened the supply chain for their businesses, it also threatened to put the brakes on the growth and vibrancy of our beautiful town.  So they gathered a skeleton crew of like-minded people devoted to the future of Gympie and the Gympie Bone Museum Project was born.

About Jaimie Cook

Jamie Cook from RockHoundZ
Jamie Cook from RockHoundZ

Jaimie graduated with a Bachelor of Natural Resources from the University of New England in 1990, majoring in biological resources management. He started his career with the CSIRO’s Division of Wildlife and Ecology in the Rangelands program, based in Canberra. His main duties consisted of conducting experiments in western NSW in the demography of native pasture grasses subjected to grazing by native marsupials and domestic stock. In 1996 he moved to Gympie and QDPI&F as the Ecology Technician on a range of fire ecology and native forest sustainability issues. From 2001 his research focus shifted to plant biotechnology. As a research scientist, he headed projects on cryopreservation and tissue culture of Pinus hybrids and worked on the Wollemi Pine commercialisation project. Since 2008 he’s run Dissection Connection biological specimen supplies & RockhoundZ geology specimen supplies with his partner Debra Cook, supplying schools, universities and medical training facilities. Jaimie is one of seven directors of The Gympie Bone Museum Project Ltd. His main roles are science direction, specimen sourcing, licensing and fundraising.

About the Gympie Bone Museum

The Gympie Bone Museum Project intends to be a world-class facility for the study and teaching of comparative anatomy as well as a tourism destination and community meeting place. The primary object of the project is to help “highway-proof” Gympie by building a facility that will attract scientists, school groups, tourists, artists and community groups who will be able to use the museum to study, to explore or to hold classes, events and parties.

The museum will be a collection of modern bones displayed in interesting and innovative ways. As much as possible the displays will be interactive and hands-on, not just skulls behind glass. The museum will also provide a venue for guest speakers and workshops, private functions, music film and art cross-cultural activities in conjunction with all the other community groups working for the town. In the long term we expect to have a café, behind the scenes tours, junior and senior internships, skull cleaning service and after hours special events. Gympie Bone Museum will be open in Condie's Arcade, Mary St in time for the Christmas school holidays.

About Dissection Connection

Dissection Connection

Dissection Connection
sources and supplies dissection specimens for schools and educational institutions. The organs are vacuum packed, frozen and delivered to your door. All you have to do is defrost them when you’re ready to use them.

Miss Vivi is the alter ego of a Queensland science tech and her aim is that Dissection Connection will be your one-stop shop for specimens that are guaranteed to be suitable for dissection. No more hearts with the top cut off. No more canceling eye dissections because you can’t get the stock.

About Rockhoundz


Angus, Deb and Jaimie's Great Dane cross, has always had a knack of sniffing our good rocks and leaving them on the verandah. They've harnessed this superpower for good instead of evil and now they have him help find rocks without faults to make teaching Earth Science easier for teachers and more interesting for students.

"We were tired of seeing teachers deliver fantastic lessons in Earth Science full of volcanoes and earthquakes and folding and landslides only to have to put a pebble ‘specimen’ on the desk in front of a kid and expect them to get excited about geology. Our geology samples are big – big enough for Angus to wrap his mouth around - big enough for a teacher to be able to use in a geology lesson that really rocks!"

About the FizzicsEd Podcast

With interviews with leading science educators and STEM thought leaders, this science education podcast is about highlighting different ways of teaching kids within and beyond the classroom. It's not just about educational practice & pedagogy, it's about inspiring new ideas & challenging conventions of how students can learn about their world!  

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Happy teaching,


Ben Newsome
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