Charles Henry Turner: Entomologist

Charles Henry Tuner: Entomologist

In Discovery Park’s newly established permanent exhibit, “AgriCulture: Innovating for our Survival, over 10,000 complex, creative and intelligent beings reside in a wooden and glass chamber in the building’s northeast corner. There are eight living species of honeybee in this chamber, and each of them are brilliant, efficient and incredibly structured in their behavior and interactions.

However, this was not always believed to be the case.

For millennia, naturalists assumed that insects were essentially mindless – incapable of complex thought, learning, recognizing patterns or even seeing color. For this reason, little was done to develop the honey industry in the way of altering a colony’s behavior to increase production.

This changed around 1910 with the release of a number of scientific publications by St. Louis-based scientist Charles Henry Turner.

Turner was born in Cincinnati in 1867, graduated valedictorian from Gainesville High School and earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s of science in biology from the University of Cincinnati. Despite his innate brilliance, experience and education, Turner faced an obstacle in his search for employment that, in the late 19th century, seemed impossible to overcome – his race. Turner went on to become to the first African American person to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1907, but upon seeking employment at an esteemed university, still faced racism and dismissal of his accomplishments. Turner became a high school science teacher at Sumner High School in St. Louis in 1908 and remained there until his retirement in 1922.

Nevertheless, over the course of 30 years, he published over 70 scientific papers, many of which pertained to the behavior of insects. Turner’s work essentially formed the foundation for entomologists for the coming century. Turner was likely the first black entomologist to be published in the United States, as well as the first black scientist published in the journal Science.

Turner is perhaps most well-known for his work with honeybees, detailing in a 1910 paper how bees in his independent study had reacted to various colored disks, showing complex thought processes and color vision.

As we celebrate Black History Month at Discovery Park, we are making people aware of the contributions of black scientists, engineers, artists, and other great minds who have shaped the disciplines represented in each of our museum and heritage park’s galleries.

Volunteer of the Year: Sue Ellen Morris

Volunteer: a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service

Discovery Park is pleased to name Sue Ellen Morris as the 2020 Volunteer of the Year. Volunteers are important to Discovery Park. They enhance our ability to implement our mission by offering their knowledge and expertise in a variety of ways.

When Sue Ellen started volunteering in early 2020 at Discovery Park, she soon realized one of her favorite things was sharing information about the park with first-time guests. “I really enjoy meeting the people that visit from around the world,” said Sue Ellen. “I like hearing their stories and watching the children’s reactions when they walk through the doors and see the giant cave bear or the dinosaur skeletons. Some are frightened by the bear and others want to hurry to see if it’s real.”

“Of course, 2020 was a tough year for all of us,” said Scott Williams, Discovery Park president and CEO. “Rounding the corner and seeing Sue Ellen sitting there with her mask on, ready to welcome guests, always made me feel a little happier.”

Sue Ellen received an etched serving board handmade by Discovery Park volunteer John. R. Hall for her dedication to Discovery Park of America.

Get to Know the 2020 Volunteer of the Year

Born in Hickman County, Ky., to Raymond and Estelle Morris, Sue Ellen grew up on the family farm with her two sisters, Gina Lou and Ruth Ann. She was always helping out on the farm, driving tractors and planting soybean, corn and wheat. Growing up, she was also an avid reader and volunteered at the library in Clinton, Ky. She loved reading books about places around the world that she never dreamed a little girl from a small town in Kentucky would visit. Little did she know what was to come.

She attended Murray State University and received her undergraduate degree in English with a minor in history. Sue Ellen then decided to pursue law school and attended the University of Tulsa. After she graduated with her law degree, she realized that the big city life and the cold were not for her. She missed her family, the warmer weather and the greenery of her hometown. So, she packed everything up and headed back home to begin her career as a lawyer at Roberts, Bugg and Morris in Clinton, Ky.

Once her career took off as a partner in the law firm, she remembered the books she read as a little girl about all the exotic places around the world she wished she could visit. Sue Ellen convinced her sister, Ruth Ann, to be her travel partner and they started exploring the amazing places she had only read and dreamed about visiting. She and her sister visited places all around Europe, including Ireland, Great Britain and Italy. Their furthest adventure to date has been to New Zealand. They have also met friends that they now travel with on their adventures.

“She loved reading books on places around the world that she never dreamed a little girl from a small town in Kentucky would visit. Little did she know what was to come.”

“My favorite place that I have visited is Rome,” said Sue Ellen. “The city, the history, the food and the people make it one of the most interesting and culturally rich places to visit. We have found the best gelato place in Rome and have to visit it every time we are there.”

Sue Ellen and her sister had to put their next adventures on hold when COVID-19 hit. “We are big cruisers and had two cancelled, one in 2020 and one in 2021, but we have a Celebrity Cruise planned later this year that starts in Venice and ends in Rome. We are really hoping we get to experience this trip.”

Since international travel is paused for now, we asked Sue Ellen where her favorite place to visit is in the United States. “I really like to travel to the Smoky Mountains. We rent a cabin, take hikes and just relax.” She already has a condo booked in April to hunt for spring wildflowers in Sevierville with her travelling buddies.

“I like hearing their stories and seeing the children’s reactions when they walk through the doors and see the giant cave bear or the dinosaur skeletons. Some are frightened by the bear and others want to hurry and touch it to see if it’s real.”

She still practices law part-time, but within the next couple of years, she wants to have something more she can do to give back to the community once she completely retires. This volunteer program fits in well with her plans. Plus, Sue Ellen enjoys taking photos of the guests and giving them the information they need to enhance their experience at Discovery Park.

When asked if she recommends others to volunteer at the park, she said, “Yes! This is a great opportunity for retired educators or for anyone who is passionate about sharing knowledge with others.” She also shared her favorite part of the park. “I really enjoy the grounds, and I like to see the transformation of the outdoor foliage that occurs as the seasons change. The grounds staff does an awesome job. I also love the old cars and there are a couple I would love to take home.”

If you or someone you know is interested in joining the volunteer program at Discovery Park, please email Polly Brasher at for more information.

Discovery Park Partners with Farmspace Systems and VETSA

Discovery Park Partners with Farmspace Systems and VETSA

A unique view of Discovery Park of America can be seen in these photos and video provided by Chance Weldon and Ted Moore with Farmspace Systems who recently demonstrated the latest in drone technology for Scott Williams, Discovery Park CEO, and Ardis Porter, retired Army Colonel and the director of VETSA (Veterans Employed in Technology and Service in Agriculture).

VETSA is a pilot program designed as a 12-month intensive experience with coursework and hands-on participation in active farming and research projects or a choice of certification programs that provide valuable and marketable professional skills with a shorter time commitment. This program offers veterans the opportunity to participate in trade workshops and conferences, networking and post-training support.

Farmspace Systems recently partnered with Discovery Park on the permanent exhibit “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival.” 

Drone footage of Discovery Center and STEM Landing.

Drone footage of the 50-acre heritage park at Discovery Park. 

#OnThisDay: Dec. 17 – 24

Discovery Park of America is filled with artifacts, replicas, history, science, art and more. Our mission is to inspire children and adults to see beyond, and we do so by sharing educational content online and throughout our museum.

We share weekly updates on anniversaries and significant moments in history, and where you can find items related to these dates through our museum and heritage park.

Transportation Gallery

  • Dec. 17, 1903 (117th anniversary) – Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew the first powered plane for 12 seconds near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Military Gallery

  • Dec. 18, 1865 (155th anniversary) – The 13th Amendment was formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution, officially abolishing slavery in America.
  • Dec. 19, 1941 (79th anniversary) – In a major shake-up of the military high command, Adolf Hitler assumes the position of commander in chief of the German army during World War II.

Freedom Square: Liberty Hall

  • Dec. 19, 1777 (243rd anniversary) – Gen. George Washington and his troops arrived at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 22 miles from British-occupied Philadelphia.

STEM Landing

  • Dec. 21, 1968 (52nd anniversary)Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on this day. On Christmas Eve, the astronauts entered into orbit around the moon.
  • Dec. 19, 1972 (48th anniversary) – The Apollo lunar-landing program ended on this day when the last three astronauts to travel to the moon splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean. This lunar mission was called Apollo 17.

Natural History Gallery

  • Dec. 23, 1938 (82nd anniversary) – A living coelacanth, thought to have gone extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, was discovered off the east coast of South Africa.

Technology Gallery

  • Dec. 24, 1906 (114th anniversary) – The first radio broadcast for entertainment and music was transmitted from Brant Rock, Massachusetts to the public.

Discovery Park of America Announces Plans for 2021

We are excited to announce plans for 2021. While the year will be very different than it would have been without the challenges brought on by COVID-19, we continue to implement tactics that allow us to enthusiastically continue our mission of inspiring children and adults to see beyond.

One popular opportunity that will return in 2021 is free admission for children 17 and under for the month of January, thanks to the generosity of our annual gallery sponsors ATA Accounting Firm, Magnolia Place Assisted Living, Simmons Bank and Southern Machinery Repair.

One of our most recent additions, “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival,” opened Dec. 5, 2020 and is located in the Simmons Bank Ag Center. This one-million-dollar permanent exhibit  tells the story of farming innovation in the past, present—and especially—future. Guests experience how food, fuel and fiber get from the farm to the family as they learn about the role of innovation in the field of international agriculture today.

There will be several temporary exhibits among the galleries at Discovery Park in 2021.  “Southern Artist Showcase: The Caldwell Collection, Works by Southern Self-taught Artists” can be seen March 4 through Sept. 27. The exhibit showcases some of the art from the collection of the West Tennessee Regional Art Center. Included will be works of art by Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Helen La France and Sulton Rogers. “Self-taught Southern artists have in common a powerful belief that they simply are artists. Most seem driven to express themselves visually. Some work within established traditions, while many others create their own distinct art forms,” said Bill Hickerson, executive director of the center.

“40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World” will be on display July 21 through Sept. 6. This powerful exhibit features 40 photographs by philanthropist and farmer Howard G. Buffett that document the world hunger crisis. Traveling to more than 137 countries, Buffett turned his camera lens on the powerful forces that fuel hunger and poverty. Buffett believes that each of us has about 40 chances to accomplish our life goals, just as farmers have about 40 growing seasons to improve their harvests.

“The Fascinating World of Murray Hudson’s Globes and Maps” opens on Dec. 2, 2021 and will be on display through March 1, 2022. It features globes and maps on loan from Murray Hudson’s collection of more than 40,000 objects. He has collected for many years and currently owns and operates Murray Hudson Antique Maps, Globes, Books, & Prints in Halls, Tenn. The exhibit will include examples of vintage globes and maps from different eras that reflect what the world was like at the point in time in history when they were produced.

While some of our live concert events and indoor programs are postponed until they can be held safely, a lot of our events can be held while following recommended health and safety guidelines. We are excited to announce that by popular demand “Pumpkin Village” will return in 2021, and the “Let It Glow” light show will return with a new component where guests can walk through a portion of the light show.

“The leadership team of Discovery Park takes very seriously the challenge of providing a safe experience for our guests who come to northwest Tennessee from literally around the world,” said Scott Williams, Discovery Park’s president and CEO. “Although the schedule looks a little different than in previous years, we’re excited about the exhibits and events we are able to host in 2021.”

For a full list of events, visit Discovery Park 2021 Calendar.

Discovery Park of America Opens Permanent Exhibit on Innovation in Agriculture

Discovery Park of America Opens Permanent Exhibit on Innovation in Agriculture

On Sat., Dec. 5, 2020, Discovery Park of America opened “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival” in the museum and heritage park’s Simmons Bank Ag Center. Below is a Q ‘n’ A with Jennifer Wildes, Discovery Park’s senior director of collections and exhibits who led the team in creating the exhibit.

How do you describe Discovery Park?

Discovery Park is difficult to describe unless you have been here because it covers so many areas including science, military, technology, history, art, theater, transportation, space and more. It has content to appeal to visitors from 2 to 102. Although our mission to inspire children and adults to “see beyond” has remained the same since opening, we have refined it based on what we’ve experienced the last few years. Today, it means inspiration to learn, inspiration to grow and inspiration to consider new ideas. We want our guests to leave inspired to see beyond wherever they are in life, regardless of age or education.

How did an exhibit in innovation in agriculture come about?

The Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board noticed that, although we covered many topics, we did not include much about agriculture; ironic considering the 50 acres we sit on was previously a corn field, and we’re literally surrounded by agriculture. With their help, we pulled together focus groups of farmers and others who work in agriculture to learn more about what they would include in an exhibit. When we first began, we planned for a small exhibit possibly located in our Simmons Bank Ag Center where we had on display a collection of about 50 tractors. The more focus groups we had and the more we listened to those who work in that industry, the bigger our plans got. Of course, we knew the bigger and more elaborate the exhibit, the more it would cost to create, so we had to go down two tracks simultaneously. We had one team fundraising and another doing research and figuring out what stories we would tell. After the focus groups and research, we settled on the story of innovation in agriculture.

Are there other museums with exhibits like this?

There are many museums with exhibits that tell the story of how things grow, but we’ve not seen any focused exclusively on innovation, so this will be one of a kind.

Why is innovation in agriculture important?

As we discovered doing the early research—but those working in agriculture already know—by 2050, the global population is expected to reach close to ten billion, so our food supplies will be under far greater stress than today. We absolutely have to figure out how to create more with less. And the only way to do that is through innovation. We want our guests who tour the exhibit to walk away with a better understanding of how food, fuel and fiber get from the farm to their family. In a world where fiction and propaganda can be spread with the click of a mouse on a computer or the touch of a finger on a mobile device, bad information is plentiful out there. Our goal was to provide a source for accurate information relating to agriculture, and to do it in a fun and entertaining way.

Who worked on the exhibit?

We secured the services of an exhibit design firm, Solid Light, out of Louisville, and our two teams began taking the general ideas and information from the focus groups and creating this exhibit. Solid Light built most of the exhibit in Louisville and has had teams of installers here for much of the month of Nov. doing the installation. It’s been fun to see the exhibit go from brainstorming to a Word document to designs on a computer screen to a completed exhibit.

What will visitors see when they tour the exhibit?

“AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival” will tell the story of farming innovation in the past, present—and especially—future in a fun and interactive way. Visitors of all ages will gain an understanding of how food, fuel and fiber get from the farm to the family and the role technological, scientific and genetic innovation in agriculture plays in society and culture around the world. Our research showed us that, because so few people have ever even met a farmer in person, the stereotype of an older, male, Caucasian in overalls was all they knew. Old MacDonald was literally the only farmer they could identify. Of course, that isn’t the case, so the exhibit will also spotlight some of the men and women working in the field today. We want those who experience this exhibit, especially those who are exploring future careers, to understand all the facets jobs in agriculture can cover. We traveled across the region to farm shows and any place those who work in agriculture were gathered and collected portraits of more than 250 individuals. Their faces have been incorporated into the exhibit, as have some details on some of their careers.

How did the Discovery Park team get the exhibit funded?

We aimed high. Our plan was to create “a mind-blowing, myth-busting farming exhibit that will change the world.” In a true testament to how important others found this initiative, by the time we were done, we saw a million dollars donated from companies, organizations and individuals for the construction of this exhibit. As with our other fundraising efforts, we share our vision with others who may have a similar goal and invite them to join us.

What do you enjoy about working at Discovery Park? What makes your job rewarding?

I was inspired in so many ways after taking field trips to places similar to Discovery Park as a kid. Living in Memphis at the time, it was easy to find nearby educational experiences like that. This was not the case for this region before Discovery Park was built. It is so gratifying to know that the children (and adults) of our rural area now have somewhere close to home that offers the same type of inspirational experiences that I was able to have growing up. We brought the “big city” to them, and you can see it on their faces when they come through the door.

What is your favorite part of the exhibit?

It is so hard to choose! If I can only pick one, though, it would be the Case IH Magnum Tractor on loan from H&R Agri-Power and Case IH. It is a modern-day tractor, and guests can climb into its cab. It shows what the tractor innovations that began in the early 1900s and developed over the years have led up to for today’s world. I think our guests are going to be very surprised at how high-tech—and comfortable—the tractor has become.

How do you hope people are inspired after experiencing “AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival?”

I hope that our guests leave with the same experience that I encountered while working on this exhibit. I was ignorant of just how diverse agriculture is today — the workers, jobs, technology, and practices — and how vital it is for our future. My original assumption was completely turned inside out, and I developed a great appreciation for those working in agriculture. I do especially hope that our younger visitors are able to see the overwhelming career possibilities that exist in the world of agriculture, whether that is a farmer, a veterinarian, a scientist, a technology developer and everything in between.

#OnThisDay Dec. 4 – 10

Discovery Park of America is filled with artifacts, replicas, history, science, art and more. Our mission is to inspire children and adults to see beyond, and we do so by sharing educational content online and throughout our museum.

We share weekly updates on anniversaries and significant moments in history, and where you can find items related to these dates through our museum and heritage park.

Natural History Gallery (Mineral Wall)

  • Dec. 5, 1848 (172nd anniversary) – United States President James K. Polk triggered the Gold Rush of 1849 by confirming a gold discovery in California.

Technology Showcase

  • Dec. 6, 1877 (143rd anniversary) – Thomas Edison made the first sound recording. He recorded himself reciting “Mary had a Little Lamb.” From this machine evolved the phonographs and record industries of the world.
  • Dec. 6, 1923 (97th anniversary) – Calvin Coolidge gave the first presidential address broadcast on radio.

Military Gallery (Reconstruction)

  • Dec. 5, 1955 (65th anniversary) – Following the arrest of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Improvement Association was formed to direct the boycott of the city’s segregated buses. Martin Luther King, Jr. was elected as the organization’s president.
  • Dec. 6, 1865 (155th anniversary) – The 13th Amendment formally abolished slavery in the United States.
  • Dec. 10, 1964 (56th anniversary) – Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in America. He declared that “every penny” of the $54,000 award would be used in the ongoing civil rights struggle.

Military Gallery (World War II)

  • Dec. 7, 1941 (79th anniversary) – The Japanese attacked the United States Navy at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • Dec. 8, 1941 (79th anniversary) – After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States officially entered World War II.

Caterpillar Model Fifteen

Caterpillar Model Fifteen

On Dec. 5, 2020, Discovery Park of America’s newest permanent exhibit, AgriCulture: Innovating for Our Survival, will open to the general public. This eye-opening display will give guests of all ages a better understanding of how food, fuel and fiber get from the farm to consumers and the significance scientific innovation plays in the modern agricultural industry.

While the exhibit will shed light on the latest and greatest in agricultural technology, it will also illuminate the lesser-known history of farm machinery over the last 150 years. This will be accomplished through the inclusion of several machines that have been on display at Discovery Park since its inception as well as a few newcomers – most notably a 1927 Caterpillar Model Fifteen, one of a series of tractors that redefined the American farm.

In 1907, Benjamin Holt, a wheel maker in Stockton, Calif., noted that the soft alluvial soils surrounding the San Joaquin River in California’s Central Valley were often impassible by heavy steam-powered tractors, which sank deep into the ground or became stuck on rolling terrain. Mimicking a technique that he had witnessed in England four years prior, Holt developed a tractor with a system of endless steel platforms, which we now recognize as continuous track, which allowed the weight of the tractor to be distributed across a larger area, causing the machine to float across the surface much like a snowshoe on unconsolidated snow. This design also prevented the tractor from compacting the soil too tightly, which was detrimental to row crops. A photographer hired to document the prototype noted that the machine crawled across the earth like a caterpillar – and thus, the brand was born.

In 1910, Holt purchased the defunct Colean Manufacturing Company facility in Peoria, Ill., a city that would host Caterpillar Inc.’s headquarters until 2017. Holt’s nephew, Pliny Holt, managed the facility in its infancy. After the outbreak of World War I, Holt Manufacturing Company shifted all of its focus away from agricultural equipment to facilitate the production of military equipment, including artillery tractors equipped with continuous track, which many historians have credited as an essential advancement on the Allies’ path to victory in 1918. During the war, C.L. Best Tractor Company, a competitor that Holt had frequently encountered in courtrooms over the previous decade over trademark infringement, took the lead in domestic farm equipment sales. Nevertheless, both companies took massive losses in the recession of 1920-21. In 1925, after 20 years of rivalry and at the urging of investors, Holt Manufacturing Company and C.L. Best Tractor Company merged to form Caterpillar Tractor Co.

The two companies consolidated their product lines to offer only five “crawler” type tractors, including the new company’s first original line – the Caterpillar Model Fifteen. Weighing in at 4,500lbs, the relatively compact and lightweight Model Fifteen was equipped with a four-cylinder gasoline engine employing three forward gears and one reverse.

With the assistance of Robert Weunch, Discovery Park of America acquired the 1927 Model Fifteen in a dilapidated state in 2014 from Robert Lavoie. Union City natives and brothers David and Jeff Ursery began working to restore the piece to its original functionality and charm. The Ursery brothers began by disassembling the tractor to bare parts and determining which parts were salvageable and which would need to be completely rebuilt. Some of the irreparable pieces were milled at local tool and dye shops, while others are parts from newer tractors that have been modified to function on the Model Fifteen. Enough of the original paint remained to formulate a new coat, and faded emblems were deciphered by examining vintage photos and diagrams of tractors from the same production line.

On Nov. 10, 2020, the tractor was delivered to its new permanent location in the Simmons Bank Ag Center by Buddy’s Wrecker Service, where it will inspire children and adults to see beyond their understanding of the American farm for years to come.

#OnThisDay Nov. 20 – 26

Discovery Park of America is filled with artifacts, replicas, history, science, art and more. Our mission is to inspire children and adults to see beyond, and we do so by sharing educational content online and throughout our museum.

We share weekly updates on anniversaries and significant moments in history, and where you can find items related to these dates through our museum and heritage park.

Regional History Gallery

  • Nov. 20, 1936 (84th anniversary) – “Slingshot” Charlie Taylor, an Obion County native who was famous for his prowess with the slingshot, received his hunting and fishing license for just $2.00.

Science, Space and Technology Gallery

  • Nov. 21, 1877 (143rd anniversary) – Thomas Edison announced his great invention—the phonograph—while working on a way to record telephone communication at his laboratory.
  • Nov. 23, 1924 (96th anniversary) – Edwin Hubble’s discovery of nebulae beyond the Milky Way galaxy was published in the New York Times.
  • Nov. 23, 1936 (84th anniversary) – The first issue of the pictorial magazine Life was published.

Natural History Gallery

  • Nov. 24, 1859 (161st anniversary) – Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species that explores evolution and natural selection was published. It immediately sold out its initial print run and became one of the most influential books of modern time.

Children’s Exploration Gallery (Entry Level)

  • Nov. 26, 1945 (75th anniversary) – The popular slinky toy was displayed at Gimbels Department Store in Philadelphia. The whole inventory of 400 was sold within 90 minutes.

National/International Holiday

  • Nov. 26, 1941 (79th anniversary) – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

#OnThisDay Nov. 13-19

Discovery Park of America is filled with artifacts, replicas, history, science, art and more. Our mission is to inspire children and adults to see beyond, and we do so by sharing educational content online and throughout our museum.

We share weekly updates on anniversaries and significant moments in history, and where you can find items related to these dates through our museum and heritage park.

STEM Landing

  • Nov. 13, 1980 (40th anniversary) – The United States Spacecraft Voyager 1 sent back the first close up picture of Saturn.
  • Nov. 14, 1965 (55th anniversary)U.S. Bell UH-1B “Huey” Helicopters, like the one on display at STEM Landing, delivered lead units to Landing Zone X-Ray in South Vietnam’s Ia Drang Valley. The North Vietnamese Army attacked, triggering the first major battle between U.S. and North Vietnamese armies during the Vietnam War.
  • Nov. 14, 1969 (51st anniversary) – Apollo 12, the second manned mission to the surface of the moon, launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. President Richard Nixon viewed the liftoff from Pad A at Cape Canaveral making him the first president to attend the liftoff of a manned space flight.

Freedom Square: Liberty Hall

  • Nov. 15, 1777 (243rd anniversary) – The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, on Nov. 15, 1777.

Science, Space and Technology Gallery

  • Nov. 16, 2011 (9th anniversary)The Gutenberg Press on display in the technology showcase is a full scale, fully functional reproduction. It was built by Pratt Wagon and Press Works, of Cove Fort, Utah, and delivered to Discovery Park on Nov. 16, 2011, almost two full years before the park opened to the public.

Train Depot

  • Nov. 18, 1883 (137th anniversary) – At exactly noon on this day, American and Canadian railroads created the first time zones. They began using four continental time zones to end the confusion of dealing with thousands of local times.

Freedom Square: Walk of Heroes

  • Nov. 19, 1863 (157th anniversary)President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the National Cemetery at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg.

National/International Holidays

  • Nov. 15, 2020 – National Recycling Day


#OnThisDay Nov. 6 – 12

Discovery Park of America is filled with artifacts, replicas, history, science, art and more. Our mission is to inspire children and adults to see beyond, and we do so by sharing educational content online and throughout our museum.

We share weekly updates on anniversaries and significant moments in history, and where you can find items related to these dates through our museum and heritage park.

Freedom Square

  • Nov. 6, 1860 (160th anniversary)Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States over a deeply divided democratic party, becoming the first republican to win the presidency.
  • Nov. 11, 1620 (400th anniversary) – Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower completed their 66-day journey from England to Cape Cod. Forty-one men on board the ship signed the Mayflower Compact, a set of rules for self-governance.

Military Gallery

  • Nov. 7, 1861 (159th anniversary) – Union forces under the command of Ulysses S. Grant overran a Confederate camp at the Battle of Belmont in Missouri during the Civil War.
  • Nov. 10, 1775 (245th anniversary) – During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress passed a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised.” The resolution created the Continental Marines and is now observed as the birth date of the United States Marine Corps.
  • Nov. 11, 1918 (102nd anniversary) – Armistice Day: World War I ended when Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France.

Train Depot

  • Nov. 7, 1885 (135th anniversary) – Canada’s first transcontinental railway, the Canadian Pacific, was completed in British Columbia.

National/International Day

  • Nov. 8, 2020 – STEM/STEAM Day: This day recognizes the strong science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics skills being taught in education programs around the world.
  • Nov. 11, 2020 – Veteran’s Day: On this day, we honor the brave men and women who have fought and are fighting in the United States armed forces.

At Home Activity: Pizza Box Solar Oven

At Home Activity: Pizza Box Solar Oven

Experiment time!

Did you know you could make an oven out of just a few household items and an old pizza box? The McIver’s Grant Public Library in Dyersburg, Tenn., shared this interactive science project with us to share with you! This fun activity teaches you how engineers harness the power of solar energy and convert energy from the sun into conductive heat. You’ll need the following items:

  • Small cardboard box with a lid, such as a pizza box
  • Tin foil
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Sunlight
  • Pencil/stick or wood skewer
  • Optional: Graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows

This experiment works best outdoors on a bright, sunny day.


Step 1) Take an empty pizza box and cover the base and lid with tin foil all the way around – depending on your pizza box and your foil, you may need tape to securely fasten the foil. Be careful to make as few wrinkles as possible. This will reflect the solar radiation into the box so the more concentrated the light, the better.

Step 2) Cover the opening of the box with plastic wrap; this will help keep the heat inside your solar box. Make sure that it is completely sealed.

Step 3) Use a pencil, stick or skewer to play with the position of the pizza box lid. You want to be using the lid to direct more sun rays directly into the pizza box.

Once you have completed steps 1-3, place your box outside on a concrete surface like your driveway or sidewalk. Be sure to align the box with the sun so that there’s no shadow inside your solar oven.

For a sweet treat, place a graham cracker with a marshmallow inside the box and reposition the lid to catch those sun rays. Let that cook for approximately 30 minutes and place a piece of chocolate on top of the marshmallow. Reposition the lid for 5 more minutes of sunlight. Finally, carefully remove the treat from the box and enjoy a delicious s’mores!