Vol. 1, Issue 21, October 7, 2003
Second Grade Class Wins Grant To Teach About Dinosaurs
For the first time, a successful National Science Foundation (NSF) grant proposal has been submitted by an elementary school class, Mrs. Simonsen's second grade class in P.S. 35 in Staten Island, New York.
"This is a remarkable statement about the strength of our public education system," said Diana Lipscomb, program director of the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences. "These kids turned in a very competitive proposal, and fully deserved to win the award."
The class won a three-year, $2.5 million award to conduct an outreach and education project in comparative phylogenetic paleontology, bringing knowledge of dinosaurs to potentially thousands in the Staten Island area via a novel informal education network.
"My class worked very hard on this project," beamed Simonsen in a press conference. "They even added some remarkable drawings, which I think may be what tipped the scales in their favor."
Although the application turned in by the class bore hallmarks of its elementary school origin - it was apparently typed on construction paper and included a report cover with a collage - the proposal within possessed some surprising strengths.
"The truth of the matter is that no one knows more about dinosaurs than five-to-seven year old children," said Lipscomb. "Their obsession with classifying and understanding dinosaurs, particularly the larger carnivores and their prey, can lead to a degree of knowledge and understanding that shames many professional adult paleontologists."
"I like Tyrannosaurus Rex the best," said first-grader Danny Michaels, age 7. "He was one of the largest theropods ever, up to 46 feet long and weighing 8 tons, with six-inch teeth," said Michaels. "I have three of them, but the rubber one is lost."
The project to be run by Simonsen's class will apparently include a variety of media, including PowerPoint presentations, written reports, and puppets.
"Next year, I'm including my son as a principal investigator," lamented Kansas University paleontologist Oscar Kurosawa, whose proposal was not funded. "He knows more than I do about some of this stuff anyway."