Fossils, Families, and a 3-D Printer

On March 30th, the Corazón Latino team and an amazing cohort of bilingual volunteers spent the evening at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. I think a quick shout out to the Washington Center is in order — we asked for 10 volunteers, but got a group of 30!

There were several stations set up in Q’rius (pronounced “curious”), the museum’s hands-on learning area. Families walked in and were greeted by a friendly volunteer who directed them to one of the various activities. We recommended starting at the “What is a Fossil?” station, where you could show off your fossil knowledge, pick up and feel a variety of fossils, and learn a bit more about what exactly a fossil is. To those who are curious, a fossil is an indicator of past life that is at least 10,000 years old.

The fossils included a giant piece of petrified wood, a turtella, a coprolite, and more. Some kids knew more than others (and by “others,” I mean us), asking “Oh but is this turtella from the Early or Late Cretaceous?” One kid showed off his math skills, trying to figure out the difference in age between a 3.5 million year old fossil and a 200 year old horse bone. Needless to say, we were impressed.

In the background, Q’rius was bustling with activities. There was a highly entertaining game show-esque “Guess That Time Period,” activity where kids described a picture representing a specific geologic time period to two competing scientists. The scientists then had to guess the time period based on the kids’ descriptions. If you walked a little further back into the “lab” area, you’d find an expert 3D printing mastodon teeth. Fun fact: DC residents can use get more hands on experience with the DC library’s 3D print lab!

If you’d rather leave the 3D printing to someone else, there were some lovely 3D-printed trilobite fossils for everyone to take home to remember the event. The whole team is very grateful to have participated - we got to talk to hundreds of people who were just as excited as we were to learn about fossils! And what could be better than that?

We would also like to thank the US Forest Service for their continuous support.