USE OF LOCAL GEOLOGY AND MODERN ANALOGS IN MUSEUM-BASED GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION TO FOSTER EARTH SCIENCE LITERACY
As an example, one of the most requested education programs at the Museum focuses upon the interpretation of the rich fossil record of central New York and the layers of strata exposed in many local gorges. This interactive presentation starts with hands-on exploration of rugose corals and brachiopods, first exploring what they might be and how we know. Through guided inquiry, over the course of the presentation participants use what they know about modern analog environments and organisms to gradually "discover" for themselves the environments represented by the rocks that are common in their own neighborhoods and in outcrops around central NY. Use of modern analogs in the presentation leads to (jargon-free) discussion of various forms of uniformitarianism and the importance of confluence of evidence in historical sciences.
If visitors and program participants understand the concept of modern analogs, they may also be more likely to consider the relevance of understanding analogs from the geological past as models for understanding the future. In addition to implications of such analogs for the societal relevance of paleontology and paleoclimatology, they also lead logically to serious consideration of current global change and environmental stewardship.