March 12 Science Café explores Ponce de Leon’s 500th anniversary of discovery of Florida

February 28th, 2013
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Kathleen Deagan, Florida Museum distinguished research curator of historical archaeology, works at the Fountain of Youth site in St. Augustine. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Discover Juan Ponce de Leon’s life and times as a Spanish explorer and his 1513 arrival in the state at the Florida Museum of Natural History’s “Science Café” March 12.

The event from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Chef Brothers Custom Catering, 5240 NW 34th St. (across from the YMCA), includes a limited, Florida-themed menu for participants. Kathleen Deagan, Florida Museum distinguished research curator of historical archaeology, will describe the daily life and times of Ponce de Leon before he came to Florida, and how he became governor of Puerto Rico and Florida.

“I hope people will come away with a better understanding of the origins of the Spanish settlement in the Americas,” Deagan said. “I also hope they leave with a better understanding of the conditions of life for the earliest settlers as well as the reality of being a ‘conquistador.’ ”

This is the second year of the program in which community members and guest speakers gather at local establishments to discuss contemporary science issues over food.

“We have terrific presenters who are both personable and engaging as they explain their area of expertise,” said Betty Dunckel, director of the Florida Museum’s Center for Science Learning. “Throughout the year, we offer a variety of topics for participants to learn about and discuss.”

The final “Science Café” of the spring semester is scheduled for April 8. Jonathan Bloch, Florida Museum associate curator of vertebrate paleontology, will discuss the discovery of “Titanoboa: Monster Snake” at Saboré. Bloch helped lead a team of international researchers in the discovery of the world’s largest snake from a Colombian coal mine. The Florida Museum’s current temporary exhibit also features the discovery and includes a life-sized model of the 48-foot, 2,500-pound giant.

To help plan for these free programs, please RSVP at least one week in advance of the café date with your name and the number attending by emailing aerickson@flmnh.ufl.edu or calling Amanda Harvey, 352-273-2062. Space is limited and filled on a first reserved basis. Participants purchase their own food and beverage, and may arrive at 6 p.m. to begin placing their orders.

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Writer: Kate Schofield, kschofield@flmnh.ufl.edu

Media contact: Paul Ramey, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu, 352-273-2054

Source: Betty Dunckel, bdunckel@flmnh.ufl.edu, 352-273-2088