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.

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