By Kristen Johanson

by Kristen Johanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A couple pledges a $25 million gift to Rowan University for a unique, one-of-kind museum in South Jersey which school officials say could rival the Franklin Institute & the Smithsonian.

It’s called the Jean and Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University, a brand new paleontology museum and fossil digging site for anyone who wants to get dirty.

“We’ve seen over and over that this is a transformational experience for people. When they connect themselves with the place where they live, with the earths ancient past, it’s really mind-opening,” said Dr. Ken Lacovara, dean of the Earth and Environment School and Park Director.

Ric says their primary focus is to make an education impact.

“It has a tremendous opportunity to get children particularly excited about science and engineering, and if we are going to remain competitive on a global economy, we have to produce more scientists and engineers,” he said.

(L-to-R) Dr. Ken Lacovara, Jean Edelman, Ric Edelman. (credit: Kristen Johanson)

(L-to-R) Dr. Ken Lacovara, Jean Edelman, Ric Edelman. (credit: Kristen Johanson)

Along with a digging quarry, the museum will feature hands-on, interactive, and virtual learning facilities.

Ric & Jean Edelman say they chose this philanthropic project because of their deep love of science.

“We were much more interested in doing something that is going to create a genuine impact for students, for adults, for the community,” said Ric.

They also hope to bolster the local economy with visitors from across country.

“Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?”

The park is planned to open in 2020.

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