Published: Oct. 2, 2012

Exploring MSU's
'Echoes of Silent Spring' walking trail

By: Alex Mitchell Office of Communications and Brand Strategy alex.mitchell@cabs.msu.eduContact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709

As part of Michigan State University Museum's "Echoes of Silent Spring" exhibit, a first-of-its-kind walking trail has been set up around campus to highlight areas that relate to the book, "Silent Spring," by Rachel Carson.

"We have the maps printed and we have a GPS mobile app that people will be able to download so that you will be able to spend about 45 minutes walking around the prettiest part of campus, visiting places that have historical significance to the story of Silent Spring as it relates to MSU," said Gary Morgan, director of the MSU Museum.

Carson published her book 50 years ago.

"Rachel Carson's book drew upon a particular exercise of research here where DDT was causing the death of birds on campus, and one of the faculty members here at MSU, a fellow by the name of George Wallace, was studying the deaths of the robins and that features very prominently in her book," Morgan said.

Morgan said the walking trail was designed to further engage people with Carson's book. Included on the trail are locations where hundreds of diseased elm trees once stood, spots where dead and dying robins were collected and then analyzed by MSU researchers, as well as a historic monument observing the first use of pesticide spray for agricultural application. The trail, accessible to persons with disabilities, also includes stops at the College of Natural Science Building and Agriculture Hall, where the MSU Museum will present small companion exhibits that explore current MSU work in environmental research.

"The walking trail takes people around places where they actually can engage with the physical delivery of parts of that story," he said. "So, it's a real exercise in connecting history with place."

The museum worked with a team of educational technologists and digital humanities experts from MSU's College of Arts and Letters, using a program they developed called "Tourguide," a mobile-based learning environment that uses GPS navigation to pinpoint tour landmarks and present interpretive information, photographs and audio features on a variety of mobile devices.

A printed map and trail markers are also available for those without mobile devices. Take the tour here, which also can be previewed on computers.

Gary Morgan, director of the MSU Museum, talks about the new walking trail that has been set up as part of the "Echoes of Silent Spring" exhibit. To read more, go to

Gary Morgan, director of the MSU Museum, talks about the new walking trail that has been set up as part of the "Echoes of Silent Spring" exhibit. To read more, go to

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