One of the primary goals of the DIG is to connect students and teachers with real scientists. To accomplish that goal, members of our team visit the classrooms of DIG participants in the greater Seattle area, where they teach students about paleontology, lead hands-on fossil activities, and discuss careers in science. We also hold Skype sessions with classrooms that are outside of Washington.
So far these classroom visitations have been extremely rewarding for us, and feedback from the teachers has been great. Witnessing the excitement of a student touching a real fossil is an experience that’s hard to beat. We hope that this type of experience is something that sticks with them, and helps demonstrate that scientists are not just old curmudgeons in lab coats hiding inside laboratories. Moreover, these visits help increase engagement with and understanding of scientific concepts among both students and teachers, which in turn leads to increased preparedness for tackling the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
In addition to visiting classrooms, we give behind-the-scene tours of our research lab and the Burke Museum at the University of Washington. During these tours students get to interact with university and museum scientists and with fossils not accessible to the general public. These museum and lab tours have been equally as impactful as the classroom visits, and with the building of the new Burke—as well as some exciting fossil discoveries like the Tufts-Love T. rex—we hope to continue to expand the number of classrooms we interact with.
Teachers who have been through the DIG program can request a classroom visit or tour of the museum by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to sign up soon!