Helping hands at Riverfront Museum


Several Bradley faculty and students are active in the Illinois River study exhibit at the new Peoria Riverfront Museum. Dr. Sherri Morris, JESSICA JACKSON ’14, Madison Morris, and Dr. Kevin Finson focus on the exhibit’s stream table. 

Visitors to the new Peoria Riverfront Museum are getting a demonstration of the Illinois River’s potential and problems through the work of several Bradley faculty and student volunteers. The group helps operate the stream table and other displays at the museum’s river exhibit.

Dr. Sherri Morris, professor of biology and co-director of the Center for STEM Education, said the idea started with RENAE STENGER ’11, who was interested in museum curating as a career. She worked with Dr. Kelly McConnaughay, the associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Stenger is now a program specialist at the museum. McConnaughay and Morris helped start the grassroots River Action League to study water quality and increase public appreciation of the river.

The 16-foot stream table is a permanent, hands-on exhibit at the museum. Water flows from one end of the elevated metal table to the other and is then recirculated. The river’s flow, erosion, effects of different types of sediment, and the impact on water quality can all be demonstrated as visitors build their own waterways, complete with islands, bends, and dams. The “sand” in the exhibit is made from recycled milk containers and mimics the real material. 

“Visitors like having the stream table open. It helps them understand how water moves materials,” Morris said. “It can show how erosion increases in some spots and decreases in others.” 

The exhibit is open when Bradley personnel or trained museum staff are on hand. Dr. Kevin Finson, professor of teacher education and co-director of the Center for STEM Education, said one goal is to boost the number of Bradley volunteers and train additional museum workers to increase opportunities for visitors. Currently, a handful of students, mainly from the biology and teacher education departments, participate.

“Maybe our toughest hurdle is encouraging parents to get their hands in there and not sit back and let the kids do it,” Finson remarked. “Visiting engineers from Caterpillar are probably the most fun to watch playing in the stream table.”

Biology major QUYNH NGUYEN ’14 was one of the Bradley students who helped with the exhibit on the museum’s October opening weekend. “Kids coming through the exhibit just had fun. They would get into it,” she said. “Helping out at the museum helped me understand what’s going on in the Illinois River.”

“Our students have reported really good experiences there,” Finson said, adding a river water collection site near the museum is a future plan. “We have so many aquifer- and river-connected items in that lab, and the river is just a block away.” 

Other materials for river study at the museum include water test kits from Bradley and the River Action League, sedimentation tubes to study effects of different types of sediments, porosity columns, microscopes, and topographic maps to show the river and surrounding area over time. 

“I really think it translates into a learning opportunity,” Morris said. “The demonstration increases the science literacy and appreciation for our greatest resource — the Illinois River.” 

– Bob Grimson ’81



Artists drawn to international competition

Ann Johnston-Schuster created Still Small Voices with woodcut techniques. Her piece is one of 156 that are displayed at the exhibitions.

Bradley’s International Print and Drawing Exhibition, a biennial event, runs for the 34th time this year. The exhibition is the nation’s second-longest-running juried print and drawing competition. The contest encourages experimental techniques but is open to all traditional and nontraditional graphic media, including all forms of printmaking, drawing, and book arts. The exhibit features works by both distinguished artists and rising talent.

International artists hail from Thailand, Canada, and Costa Rica; national artists represent 34 states. Among the artists, JERRY PHILLIPS, MFA ’10; SARA STEWART, MFA ’12; and CHRIS TROUTMAN ’03 have entries on display.

This year’s exhibit is juried by Stephen Goddard, senior curator and curator of prints and drawings at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. Works by 105 artists are on display through April 20 at Heuser Art Center, Prairie Center of the Arts, the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria, and the Peoria Art Guild. Visit to view the artwork.

– Molly Dahlquist ’15 founder inspires students founder and CEO Jeff Hoffman was the inaugural speaker for the Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Series of the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation on February 25. He told the standing-room-only crowd to constantly seek new people, information, and opportunities. He added that being an entrepreneur is about fulfilling dreams rather than getting rich.

Visit to view highlights of Hoffman’s speech.



Betty Friedan website

A new website honoring Peoria native BETTY FRIEDAN, HON ’91 is the result of collaboration between the Betty Friedan Tribute Committee and the Bradley University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It contains information about the late author, as well as the Women’s Movement. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Friedan’s influential book, The Feminine Mystique.

Visit the website at