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At the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum (The Discovery) in Reno Nevada, young kids are dreaming of becoming paleontologists by digging through a pit filled with Safeshell for bones from a T. rex named Sue. An innocent name for one of the most ferocious animals to ever roam this planet but very fitting when you realize it was named for Sue Hendrickson, who discovered the dinosaur near Faith, South Dakota during the summer of 1990. No doubt fueling the dinosaur craze of the 1990’s, which eventually led to the Jurassic Park movie series.
Sue, the Tyrannosaurus rex, is the largest, most complete and most well-preserved T-rex ever discovered. This 65 million-year-old dinosaur is part of the traveling exhibit from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. As part of the traveling exhibit, a full-scale cast replica is on display, as well as a dig pit where kids of all ages can harness their internal paleontologist and discover replica T. rex bones.
As The Discovery was preparing for the arrival of the exhibit, they began evaluating several different types of materials to place into the dig pit. While other museums had used sand or crumb rubber; The Discovery decided that those materials wouldn’t provide the safe, clean experience they wanted for their young museum visitors. During some research, the staff discovered Safeshell and began to wonder if it would be a good fit for the dig pit. They were attracted to its rich color, sizing, cleanliness and overall texture.
However, they had to keep one very important thing in mind: food and nut allergies. According to FoodAllergy.org, about 0.5% of children in the US have a tree nut allergies. Moreover, the staff had some initial questions about Motz process to remove tree nut allergens from the product. After a rigorous Q&A process, they eventually trusted us to ensure removal below FDA levels. Several tons of Safeshell were purchased and placed 8-10 inches deep within the exhibit.
In the first 90 days, over 50,000 visitors came to visit Sue, about two-thirds of them children. Most of the children explored the dig pit… digging through Safeshell to discover Sue’s replica bones. They used paleontologist tools to uncover a jaw bone, or a rib, or one of 20 other bones buried in the pit. Of this 50,000 visitor set it was estimated that 67% were children which equals 37,500 kids. Because of the Safeshell “FAQ” posted at the dig pit, we were not surprised that the exhibit went live without any allergen reports.
By the end of 2017, it’s estimated that 200,000 visitors including an estimated 134,000 children will pass through the exhibit, making it one of the most popular exhibits at The Discovery in Reno.
What does this have to do with artificial turf? The kids participating in this dig pit are being exposed to Safeshell at a much higher rate and in much higher quantity than would take place on a sports field and not a single issue has been raised. Ultimately, it’s a strong testament to the safety of Safeshell, organic infill.