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Night at the Museum celebrates reopening
Da Vinci Academy students create exhibits
A family sits in a roller coaster exhibit being pushed by eighth- graders Jamie Mancuso, top right, and Alexander McIntosh, bottom left. - photo by SHANNAN FINKE

For everyone in Hall County wanting to see a 70-million-year-old Mosasaur fossil, look no farther than your own backyard.

The Da Vinci Academy in Gainesville hosted a Night at the Museum on Monday in celebration of the museum’s grand reopening and a recently renovated annex to the school’s existing building.

The Museum of Inspired Learning features The Da Vinci Academy’s students as docents and the creators of the museum’s exhibits.

In addition to the $125,000 ancient fossil that was donated to the school, the displays included fossil and nature dig boxes, a life-size periodic table, a new annex exhibit named “Adaptations” and a variety of physics demonstrations by The Da Vinci Academy’s eighth-grade class.

Cindy White, the museum’s director, said the strides the museum has made have been a long time coming.

“I started the museum concept many years ago when I was a science teacher,” she said. “We have now created a full-blown working museum.”

Among the interactive exhibits was eighth-grade student Anna Banda’s display on how the human eye perceives color.

“Ever since I was kind of small I wondered about colors, so I started researching on how our eyes see color,” Banda said of her project.

Jamie Mancuso and Alexander McIntosh, both in the eighth grade, made roller coasters come to life by creating an actual car for visitors to sit in and experience a simulated ride.

“We both knew we wanted to do roller coasters, so it was a perfect match,” said McIntosh.

Mancuso explained that their science teacher had helped them with the roller coaster car that took three weeks to build.

“We’ll donate it to the museum after tonight,” she said.

According to White, the concept of The Da Vinci Academy started as the idea of a “dream school” for talent development in February 2009.

By August, The Da Vinci Academy opened in the former South Hall Middle School building with six teachers and 120 students ready to focus their studies specifically on the arts, science and technology.

Currently in its fourth year, The Da Vinci Academy now shares its building with The World Language Academy.

Together, the two programs are known as The Academies of Discovery.

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