Learning how to make resin-encapsulated specimens
We learned that the curator of the Museum of Nature and Human Activities in Hyogo, Dr. Mitsuhashi, will be holding a resin-encapsulated specimen preparation course at the Okinawa prefectural museum. We took the opportunity to invite him to OIST to give a lecture on the same topic for the staff of the Okinawa Prefecture Environmental Science Center, the OKEON Churamori project and the fire ants countermeasure project. The resin-encapsulated specimens come in handy at exhibitions as they are resistant to being damaged even if the visitors touch them, which is one good reason to display specimens in this form. Another example where resin-encapsulated specimens can be useful is for fire ant monitoring. If fire ant specimens can be preserved in resin and mass-produced, they can then be distributed throughout Okinawa to the people and the administrative agencies in order to broaden the fire ant monitoring network.
Even though Dr. Mitsuhashi claims that anyone would be able to make resin-encapsulated specimens, during the demonstration he meticulously mixed the materials and placed the specimens at precise locations. He did multiple test rounds and finally found the best solution for producing the resin. Each step of the process involved many little tricks to aim for perfection. The resin takes about two weeks to dry, after that it needs to be brushed and Dr. Mitsuhashi also used some very particular brushing techniques to do the job. We (Yoshi and everyone else) learned a lot from Dr. Mitsuhashi and this workshop. We are also considering extending this experience and using it for community building exercises.