Unearthing Paleontologists in Miami

Ever wanted to be a Paleontologist? Last Thursday, over 100 fifth grade students from Goulds Elementary School in Homestead got to experience a day in the life of a paleontologist. Through a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science staff joined Goulds Elementary students for a fossil whalebone scavenger hunt, a live science webcast with Dr. Nick Pyenson, and a question and answer session hosted by the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

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Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science staff member, Ta-Shana Taylor is our very own whalebone expert, and guides the students through their scavenger hunt activity.

To jump-start the immersion experience, students were sent on a mission to hunt for special whale fossils.  Through various stations, students took a trip around the world exploring different fossil-rich locations. Students dug through buckets of sand (not unlike real paleontologists) to find their bone.  Working as a team, students then had to figure out the story of their whalebone in a broader picture by comparing results in each of the five world locations. Then Smithsonian scientist Dr. Nick Pyenson discussed his research on the webcast and showed some of the specimens that be found through his work in Peru, Chile, the eastern United States, Panama, and Vancouver, while answering questions that students from around the country asked via a live chat window. The students from Goulds Elementary learned basic whale anatomy and how that corresponds to our own human anatomy, what whale species are rare and common now versus millions of years ago, and how paleontologists discover and dig up history.

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The new Q?RIUS (pronounced “curious”) collection at the National Museum of Natural History will be presented through a series of live webcasts. From January until June 2014, nine live webcasts will air that examine a wide range of scientific topics that are perfect for you and your classrooms to watch, participate in, and enjoy. Each webcast is based on the Next Generation Science Standards and entices students to explore core science concepts through real-world connections. Explore the topics in the schedule to access a package of classroom activities, lessons, readings and other related resources that support each webcast program.

Join us in our scientific adventures and tune in to watch real Smithsonian scientists talk about their research and answer your questions, live! Join the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and the National Museum of Natural History on February 12th to become Bird Detectives with featuring Carla Dove.

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