Fiberglass mako shark

Shark night at the museum

Teaching people about sharks before they watch jaws

One of my students, Katerina Zapfe, and I recently designed a three part exhibit on sharks to use during outreach events. When you are designing interactive content using specimens it is never really clear what the reception will be like until the event. In this case, the reception was incredible.

Sharks have an almost mythical place in the minds of many people. Get into the ocean deeper than your waist with a group of people and almost certainly someone will start talking about sharks. However, do sharks really deserve their fearsome reputation?

Looking beyond the teeth


Over the course of about two hours, our unit’s students, technicians, and volunteers took over 150 people through a series of interactive games to learn about shark biology, shark diversity, the efforts of my student, Tim Curtis, to develop a platform for citizen science projects with sharks, and how sharks are creating incredible new breakthroughs in human medicine.


We used a combination of specimens, measurement devices, props, and interactive games, to bring the world of sharks to life across three tables. The exhibit was packed and it was great seeing how positive everyone was about sharks


Using shark jaw specimens and images of sharks, visitors got to play a game of linking the picture to the tooth


Man testing his grip strength against the bite force of a bull shark.


Prior to the start of the film, I also had the opportunity to speak about sharks and my own experiences with the film jaws. Following the film we also did jaws trivia with prizes and had audience members ask me random questions about sharks. It was an incredible evening and everyone who attended was wonderful. Hopefully we will be participating in many more movie night events in the future!
Not only is getting to see Jaws in an actual theater a total treat, getting to introduce the film was just too cool.

Dialogue & Discussion