Laupus Library makes science, history and medicine fun for kids


The William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library at East Carolina University hosted “Potion Power: Medicinal Herb Discoveries for Kids” on July 19 for nearly 100 children and parents as part of a botanical exhibit from ECU’s Country Doctor Museum.

On display in the library’s fourth floor gallery, “Nature’s Remedies: Traditions of Botanical Medicine,” explores the history of using herbs and other plants as remedies and preventatives and showcases objects used by ordinary consumers, druggists and medical practitioners in their search for relief and well-being.

“We were really overwhelmed by the attendance and positive response from the families who came out for our event,” said Beth Ketterman, interim director of Laupus Library. “The kids all seemed really excited by the interactive stations and the chance to talk with our experts about the plants they were viewing and handling.”

During the afternoon, attendees visited the exhibit and participated in hands-on learning and exploration stations including one where they made dream pillows using traditional medicinal herbs and mortars and pestles. An old-fashioned pharmacy station required them to use math skills, play dough and antique pill rollers to fill prescriptions. At the microscope station, they discovered a wide range of plant and animal cells up close. And finally, they were given a chance to color historic botanical drawings from the pages of the oldest coloring book in the world.

A team of Country Doctor Museum curators and staff from Laupus Library’s History Program offered attendees a brief history of the medicinal practices presented at each station and answered questions about health care needs in the past.

Live leeches, antique bloodletting tools, and a large collection of artifacts were also brought in from the Country Doctor Museum for the day as part of an educational demonstration for everyone.

Seven-year-old attendee Jason Sturz, who wants to be a paleontologist one day, said his favorite station was the microscopes and slides. “They are the coolest because they show everything up close,” he said. “That’s way easier than trying to catch a bug and look at it through a magnifying glass.”

Jason’s mother, Sarah Sturz said her children are homeschooled so she’s always looking for something educational and fun for them to attend. “Jason likes to talk to people and we’re working on social skills so I figured this was a good educational opportunity for him,” she explained. “He loved it.”

Alice Barber, age ten, found out about the event through ECU’s Campus Recreation Wellness Summer Camp she attends each week. She said she’s interested in science and medicine because she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. “I like the library,” she said. “It has so much cool stuff to learn about.”

“We will definitely pursue more events of this nature in the future,” said Ketterman. “The library and our museum have a lot more in our collections to inspire these kids, who all have the potential to be the next great leaders in healthcare.”

The exhibit will be on display until Aug. 21.

For more information about the event please contact Kelly Rogers Dilda at or 252-744-2232.