UCMP grad students teach California biodiversity in Bay Area public schools (cont.)

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range of habitats; this story is enhanced when students understand how California’s unique geologic history has contributed to modern flora and fauna. The GK–12 program gives us the opportunity to broaden younger students’ understanding of biodiversity by exploring its evolutionary origins. The UCMP has proven to be an exceptional resource because of its teaching collections and existing outreach programs, including the Understanding Evolution and Paleontology Portal websites.
One of the most exciting aspects of being paleontologists in this program is the way in which students are drawn to our research. Although our specialties cover both dinosaurs (Wedel) and mammals (Kraatz), there is a natural curiosity about discovering “unknown monsters” that helps us capture the imagination of our students. Creating this excitement is of first-order importance in turning students onto

science. One of the most valuable things we have learned is that our goal is not to turn all of our students into scientists — instead, our roles are to help them understand options so that they can best choose their own goals.
The program is headed by director, Rosemary Gillespie; academic coordinator, Betsy Mitchell; and education advisor, Judy Scotchmoor. This is the second year of a three-year NSF grant, and the program’s leaders, graduate fellows, and student participants hope that it will become a permanent component of the Berkeley Natural History Museums outreach activities.
Read more about the GK-12 program here.

May, 2005

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