My displays consisted primarily of various skulls, skeletons, and preserved birds, though I threw in some invertebrates for the fun of it. To draw people into the room I positioned our horse and saber-toothed tiger skulls so they looked out the door, with horse limbs not far behind. While this tactic worked on many, some kids looked in and then promptly ran away. I had some student helpers, and at least a few hundred people worked their way through the lab during the evening.
The most enjoyable aspect was how excited the kids and parents were at seeing the various items; almost everything I had out was real (not casts or models), and that impressed most of the visitors. There were countless "wow"s and "cool"s to be heard the entire evening, and many parents thanked me (and our other faculty) for having the campus open. The funniest event of the night was a woman who picked up a dried centipede and then said to her kids, "Look, this is what bit Daddy in Hawaii!"
Here are a few pictures from the evening:
Last night was what teaching is all about – sharing some of what I know with the people around me, and it was invigorating to see such joy at the things I use every semester.