Student’s Discover…..the wisdom of 6th graders!

Here at the paleontology lab at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and NC State University, we’ve been working on bringing North Carolina kids to the forefront of science.  We’ve been fortunate to partner with an extraordinary group of people and institutions to develop citizen science projects with middle schools as part of the NSF funded Student’s Discover project, the brainchild of Dr. Robert Dunn at NCSU.  By citizen science, I mean partnering with the public to collect real scientific data that is publishable, answers questions about our natural world, and allows the students to participate in the whole of the scientific process.  Our first run at this involves using middle school kids to collect data from fossil shark’s teeth.  The kids at Exploris Middle School in Raleigh presented on their own shark tooth research this morning.  It was extraordinary!  Today we wanted to share this reflection from one of the students:

This expedition was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever leaned about!  Shark teeth were never something I was really interested in, so when we went to Aurora, I was really surprised where you could find them, and how special they really are. These teeth are 25-5 million years old, and some people just look at them and don’t care. Now, when I see a shark tooth I realize that i am holding something that could be older than humans.  This really intrigued me. So, when we collected data on these sharks, just like real scientists, it was an amazing experience.  Knowing that most sixth-graders don’t get a chance to do things like this, I learned how to be a scientist and also organize data.  We studied different types of sharks, what they ate, and why they are important.  I know so much more about how the ocean works and what it holds within than ever before, and I really enjoyed this.  Now, I am wondering why these shark teeth found in Aurora were so small.”

Thanks Sabreen!