Tuesday, May 27, 2008

10 Years of Grease and Grit

Sara, Mac and I spent a recent afternoon going through all of our field cooking gear. We knew that some things were in pretty bad shape, so that's why we brought it all back to Cincinnati with us this off-season for a good cleaning. WOW! We never expected to find the grit and grease that had created a shellac-like coating on EVERYTHING.

After a bottle of dish soap, scrubbing pads and a lot of elbow grease, Sara ended up pulling out a chisel and rock hammer...and we still couldn't get everything clean. So, we have some more steel wool pads and some more "intense" cleaners in hopes of getting it all clean.

On a more positive note, we will be having a special guest at camp for the first two full weeks...a professional camp cook! Not that we can't fend for ourselves (Sara has learned how to cook chicken parmigiana), but having some well-cooked meals will be a nice step up for those of us on site. For the "Field School" participants coming in from around the country (and Europe), you will also get to join us one night for a field-cooked meal...although it probably still won't compare to the wonderful meals that you will be enjoying at the YBRA camp, lovingly prepared by Jeanette...the camp "mom" who cooks for more than 100 people during peak weeks.

Just 4-1/2 weeks until departure...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Field Crew Introduction: Sara Oser

I am currently a second-year student at the University of Cincinnati majoring in Geology and Physics. I've wanted to be a paleontologist since the fifth grade, and I have been with the museum since my freshman year of high school, working in the paleo lab. This will be my fourth year out in Montana and I honestly can't wait. Its absolutely beautiful out there, and not just to a geologist. Every year my family points out that I come back with more pictures of landscapes, sunsets, and rocks than of people. And the night sky puts Ohio to shame- the field season corresponds with the Persied meteor shower and the plane of the Milky Way arching across the sky is always awesome.
Six weeks left.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Kids and Dinosaurs

Today, I had the great pleasure of connecting via videoconference to about 30 elementary students in Argyle, New York. I've done around 120 similar connections this school year, but this session and this group of students were especially wonderful. These students were eager to ask and answer as many questions as possible, and we ran out of time before we could get to all of them, so I am eagerly awaiting an email from the teacher with more questions.

We all know that kids love dinosaurs. For some, it is a phase--for others, it becomes a calling. Paleontology, as I have said many times on this blog and elsewhere, is a gateway science. Whether it is something as formal as the scientific method or as simple as getting their hands dirty digging in a mock dig site, we (as educators) should try to hook the kids while they are naturally interested. An earlier post referenced the new confirmed DNA link between birds and dinosaurs. While a 3rd grader may not understand how DNA works, they CAN look at a T.rex foot and recognize the similarities with birds sitting on the phone wires while they walked into school that morning, or imagine a Thanksgiving turkey that would barely fit inside a school bus.

If the hits on this blog (50 states and 32 countries) and attendance at Dinosaur Field School (guests from across the country and now Finland and the UK) are any indication, the paleontology gateway has remained open for many of you. Post a comment to let us (and the readers) know why you are so fascinated in paleontology and show the school groups who visit us why THEY should keep paleontology in their curriculum.