Young readers watched Exploding Geoscience with paleontologists Mike and Roberta Straka for Kutztown Community Library’s summer reading finale last week.
“We hope that they’re inspired by science,” said Mike Straka. “If you can capture their imagination early, they can go on to be scientists.”
Mike and Roberta Straka brought with them a large cast model of “Molly.” In 2003, they had discovered the fossilized skeleton of a mosasaur, an undersea reptile who spent her entire life living under the ancient oceans. Molly is not a dinosaur, because she lived in the sea while dinosaurs lived on land, explained Mike during the presentation.
“Any time you get to discover something that’s new, exciting, there’s a great amount of joy that comes when you unearth something that hasn’t been touched by anybody for 60 to 70 million years,” he said to The Patriot.
The Exploding Geoscience program included demonstrations, volunteer activities, a look at various fossils and their own trivia game show.
One of the lessons demonstrated how bones transformed into fossils. Mike dumped dirt, sand, water, leaves burying a bone very quickly. Step 2, minerals in the ground seep into the bone and take the place of the bone, so the bone turns to stone, he explained during the program.
Their goal was to convey scientific lessons, show the children how science is done and that science can be fun. “It’s not something that’s intimidating.”
After the program, Mike talked about reading, “It’s our hope they’ll head out to the library and check out some books on science, maybe dinosaurs, maybe something else, but if they’re reading, it’s the gateway to all knowledge.”
Kutztown Community Library youth librarian Joy Newswanger was excited about the conclusion of the Fizz, Boom, Read summer reading program.
“I’m excited because I’ve gotten a lot of parents coming to me with kids who are doing projects,” said Newswanger.
One is making a skeleton out of fired pottery bones and another is making a robot out of junk yard finds.
“This summer inspired their imaginations so much,” said Newswanger. “That’s the kind of stuff that I love to hear. I know there have been some people who have been infected with science, have a love for it and they know that they already are scientists.”
“It’s been an exciting summer. I don’t know how next year will live up to it because this has been great but I hope it just keeps going,” said Newswanger.