Paper No. 42-7
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM
CITIZEN SCIENCE AT THE RAYMOND M. ALF MUSEUM OF PALEONTOLOGY: PROVIDING ENGAGING STEM OPPORTUNITIES FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, COLLEGE STUDENTS, AND THE GREATER COMMUNITY
Over the past 80 years, the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology at The Webb Schools has been a center for providing citizen science and STEM learning opportunities for students and our greater community. As the only nationally accredited museum on a secondary school campus, the Alf Museum’s unique position as an educational institution with its own paleontological collection and scientific and educational expertise has allowed it to develop engaging programs that benefit research and provide outreach. Citizen science programs at the Alf Museum are split among three groups: The Webb Schools students and alumni, college students, and the general public. Students of The Webb Schools are given the opportunity to volunteer in the museum collections as part of the After School Museum Program or to participate in museum field collecting trips. Alumni of The Webb Schools are offered opportunities to join museum staff for field work as well, with many joining to excavate in field sites in locations such as California, Utah, and Mongolia. For college students, the Alf Museum has partnered with local college faculty to utilize our fossil collection in their classrooms to study museum science, anatomy, and paleontology through research-based projects. For those of the greater community, the Alf Museum’s volunteer program is open to any person 16 years of age or older. Through the program, volunteers are given opportunities to participate in any number of citizen science projects from fossil digitization to transcription to uploading specimens to the myFossil Community Database. In order to maintain quality of scientific work, the Alf Museum takes care to properly train our volunteers and students in museum procedures and science methods. As staff of the Alf Museum act in dual roles as secondary school educators and scientists, citizen science opportunities at the museum are undertaken in an environment that has strict guidelines, but also leaves room for exploration and learning through the experience.