Maci Neal, Ada, is one of 14 students from across the state of Oklahoma who recently returned from Oklahoma Science Adventure 2011, a week-long summer field science experience hosted by the Sam Noble Museum. The participants were selected from nearly 130 applicants statewide. Neal will be in seventh grade at Latta School this fall.
Neal and the other students spent the week of July 9-16 exploring a variety of scientific disciplines, working directly with Museum scientists.
After a day developing teamwork skills at the OU Ropes Course, the students conducted field research at several locations in Oklahoma. They began the week at Rogers County Conservation District in Claremore. There, they worked with zoologists from OU, creating their own research projects. Like professional scientists in the field, the students were asked to make a hypothesis, collect data from area wetlands and forests, and draw conclusions based on their findings.
The students also investigated a unique Oklahoma fossil site known as “Billings 1”: an ancient river bed where, more than 280 million years ago, an assortment of animals left hundreds of tracks in a layer of soft dolomite. Under the direction Museum paleontologists Bill May and Joe Baalke, the students excavated a new area of the trackway and mapped the tracks discovered. They also learned techniques for tracking modern animals from Museum paleontologist Nick Czaplewski. In addition, students had the chance to hike, swim and canoe on the Illinois River.
For Neal, the experience meant a new understanding of science. “It was wonderful to find and uncover Permian animal tracks and realize I was the first to see them” she commented. “I loved visiting the parts of the museum not open to the public.”
Oklahoma Science Adventure is part of the Whitten-Newman ExplorOlogy® Program, a museum educational project funded by the Whitten-Newman Foundation. In addition to the week-long middle school program, the Whitten Newman ExplorOlogy® Program also includes “Paleo Expedition,” a two week paleontology program for high school students; “SciencEscape,” a Spring Break program for teachers and students to enjoy together; and “Science Institute,” a professional development opportunity of teachers. All programs are fully funded by the Whitten-Newman Foundation and are provided at no cost to participants.
Additional information about Oklahoma Science Adventure and other Whitten-Newman ExplorOlogy® Programs, is available online at http://explorology.snomnh.ou.edu, or by calling the Museum education department at (405) 325-1008. The Sam Noble Museum is located on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus.