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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What are points?
Points are your reward for sharing your knowledge about the object you bring to the Collectors' Corner. Points are used to trade for other objects. Money is useless here. You may use your points that day or save your points on our computer database.

How are points assigned? Points are assigned based on:
1) The actual item you bring in to trade.
2) What you know about your object.
3) Any reports or drawings earn extra points. These show extra effort.

Any written report you do scores big points with our staff. Draw a picture of the object, snap a picture where you found your item. Do some research before you bring in your items.

How can I get the most points?
You can earn the most points by bringing in a report and/or a drawing of the item you are trading. Remember the more you know about your object the more points you earn.

What can I bring in to trade?
You may trade rocks, fossils, pine cones, skulls and bones, dead insects, and shells.

Does the Collectors' Corner take live animals?
Sorry, we do not accept any live animals. Instead draw a picture or take a photograph and use that as the basis of your trade.

Here are some other things you can NOT trade at the Collectors' Corner:

  • Bird feathers, eggs, or nests
  • Animal mounts
  • Anything from protected or endangered species
  • Mollusks from the St. Croix or Mississippi Rivers
  • Any animal - dead or alive
  • Wildflowers

Why can't I trade certain things?
It's the law. Federal and state laws protect and preserve the world's wildlife resources. Collecting can impact the populations and survival of plants and animals.

Do I have to trade my item to get points?
In most cases, yes, you have to trade your item. If your object is too valuable or sentimental to you, bring it in and share what you know about the object. We'll give you points for your knowledge only.

What's worth the most points?
We have crystals, skulls, and large shells. These items come and go fairly quickly.

How many items can I trade on any one day?
You may bring in a maximum of two items each time you come to trade. We ask that students coming with school groups only bring one item per person. Trading takes time, and we like to give all kids quality time to talk about the items they bring in.

What is a trade like? The following is an example of a trade with a fairly knowledgeable 8 year old trader (T) and the Science Museum staff.

woodStaff: What did you bring in today?
T: I have a stick I found in the creek near my grandma's.
Staff: Do you know what kind of stick this is?
T: I think it's a beaver stick.
Staff: Well, you are right. How do you think the stick got into the river?
T: The river carried it from a beaver lodge up the road.
Staff: Yes, very good. How do you know it's a beaver stick?
T: By the way it's been chewed.
Staff: Why do beavers chew sticks like this?
T: For their lodges.
Staff: How do beavers actually chew trees?
T: They have really sharp teeth. I have a picture of the beaver lodge.
Staff: Wow, that is a good drawing.
T: Yes, I hiked with my mom up to the lodge and I drew this picture.
Staff: Well done. How about 2000 points for your efforts?
T: Sounds good.

What cool things have been traded?
We have traded catfish vertebra, animal skulls, exotic shells, cut stones, polished rocks, trilobites, amethyst crystals, catfish spines, deer antlers, sand samples, petrified wood, iron concretions, crystals, shark jaws, animal teeth and lots of other things.

Must I buy museum admission to visit the Collectors' Corner?
Yes, you must pay admission to trade at the Collectors' Corner.

Can I trade via the mail?
No, you must come into the museum to trade.

Do I have to be a museum member to trade?
No, we have many traders who are not museum members.

How many traders are there?
Since opening in December 1999, we have entered more than 6500 names into our database as traders. Over 4000 kids have made at least one trade. Some kids have made more than 80 trades! Most traders are between the age of 6 and 14, although we have both younger and older traders. Traders have come from Alaska, New York, Texas, California, as well as from all over the Midwest. Both boys and girls are active traders.

Can I donate to the Collector's Corner?
Yes, we often accept donations of the objects we trade. Please call or send us an email explaining what you have to donate.

Email your questions.