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Summer Programs

Dr. Mossbreath’s Mystery ~ For students entering 4th – 6th grades

Summer 2007

Twenty children participated in this summer’s Dr. Mossbreath camp. At week’s end, they had solved an incredible mystery and found the treasure: the lost mummy of the Burke Museum.

Nellie, the 2000-year old Egyptian mummy, had been lost for many years. Was it stolen? Was it borrowed and never returned? Or was it hidden somewhere inside the museum? No one knew, until the mysterious Dr. Mossbreath stumbled onto a few clues. But he couldn't piece them together on his own. He needed the help of the young investigators (ages 7 to 10 years old) brought together in the camp. Dr. Mossbreath shared his clues with the campers through shredded letters, notes, and mysterious symbols – adding to the suspense of finding a lost treasure.

Each day, the campers practiced a different sense. Sensory activities included mystery smell bags, sound maps, and even blindfolded drawing. Their heightened senses helped them to solve the mystery. Whether deciphering a coded message or searching the museum for clues, the campers worked together to unlock a secret door that led to Nellie, the lost mummy. They pulled up a dusty cloth and unlocked a drawer to reveal the ancient coffin and mummy, painted with strange symbols and even gold. Dr. Mossbreath’s mystery was solved!     

The campers, the camp instructors, and families celebrated finding the treasure on Friday afternoon with an ice cream party. Dr. Mossbreath made a startling appearance in the final hour, and congratulated the campers on their success. The kids, of course, wasted no time in telling him how smart they are for solving the mystery! Perhaps Dr. Mossbreath will devise an even more mysterious mystery next summer.

Summer 2006

Eight inquisitive elementary-aged students joined a team of Burke Museum educators this past summer 2006 to solve an exciting search for lost treasure. The lead character: a mysterious scientist named Dr. Mossbreath. The lost treasure: a valuable collection of iron pyrite missing for decades from the Burke Museum.

While practicing a different physical "sense" each day, the children found clues and notes from the elusive Dr. Mossbreath. Clues led the team of investigators on museum-wide and even campus-wide hunts for pieces to the mystery. One adventure led them to the UW Medicinal Plant Garden and another to the UW Botany Greenhouse. At the end of each hunt, students found clues such as a piece of split cedar, a hazelnut, and a feather.

Students created their own "treasure boxes" to hold their clues and natural objects. Each of these clues later helped the students solve Dr. Mossbreath’s final mystery: the search for the lost treasure.

After the team successfully solved the mystery, Burke Museum Director Julie Stein personally thanked and congratulated them for finding and returning the treasure to the museum. This was followed by an unforgettable appearance by Dr. Mossbreath himself, who helped students to make a tray of ice cream sandwiches disappear.

Designed by Burke Educators Tim Stetter and Maureen Carlisle, “Dr. Mossbreath’s Natural History Mystery” camp allowed a team of young observers to find the natural treasures all around us – treasures we might walk by everyday. From pinecones to fossils to bird songs, the search for treasure is a never-ending adventure – and it’s fun! As eight year-old Joey Miller said, “This is the best adventure ever!”


The reviews are in...

"My daughter thoroughly enjoyed it and we have recommended the camp to many friends."

"High quality, fast-paced camp."

"It was fun and educational!"

"My child loved it - being inside the museum and outdoors on campus."

Participants described the education staff as "kind, caring, helpful, and thoughtful."

Camp participants with Dr. Julie Stein and Dr. Mossbreath.
Camp participants with Burke Museum Director Dr. Julie Stein and Dr. Mossbreath.
Photo by Tim Stetter
The complete mystery with the week’s clues from Dr. Mossbreath
The complete mystery with the week’s clues from Dr. Mossbreath.
Photo by Tim Stetter.
campers tickle a Venus flytrap
Burke Educator Maureen Carlisle and campers tickle a Venus flytrap at the Botany Greenhouse.
Photo by Keely Gnagy
A young detective shares the next clue with Burke Educator
A young detective shares the next clue with Burke Educator Tim Stetter.
Photo by Diane Quinn
Children Doing Activity with Guide
Photo by Tim Stetter
Children Looking at Mummy
Photo by Tim Stetter
Children Working together on an activity
Photo by Tim Stetter
Children Outdoor Photo
Photo by Diane Quinn