On Tuesday, Chicago Children’s Museum (CCM) welcomed Project Exploration students training to be Science Giants. The Science Giants program—formerly Dinosaur Giants—is where most Project Exploration students start out. Science Giants serve as docents who educate museum visitors about the exhibits, making the experience more fun and accessible. This year, about 40 Science Giants will be working in CCM’s Dinosaur Expedition exhibit, where children can learn about paleontology, dig up pretend fossils, and view dinosaur teeth, claws, and bones—including a life-size skeleton of Suchomimus, an intimidating carnivore discovered by Dr. Paul Sereno in 1998.
Project Exploration’s Amaris Alanis Ribeiro and Mikki Brown led the all-day training with help from CCM staff members and three enthusiastic student coordinators—veteran Project Exploration students themselves. The room was filled with model dinosaurs, prehistoric creatures, and reptiles, and the tone was upbeat. The Science Giants-to-be learned that their first responsibility was to have fun and discussed ways to be a good volunteer and to engage with children. A special guest—University of Chicago junior Khari Thompson—spoke about dinosaurs and what it’s like to work in a fossil lab. The students could hardly contain their questions for Khari, and he answered them all eagerly. He emphasized the limitless possibilities of science, saying, “You can never learn enough, you can never discover enough—you’re always finding more.”
After a lunch of ham and turkey sandwiches, the Science Giants took a tour of the museum. CCM has a variety of fun and educational exhibits, ranging from a room where children can build their own forts to a pretend garden with a digital butterfly screen. The main attraction for the Science Giants, however, was the Dinosaur Expedition where they would soon be working.
During the time they spent in Dinosaur Expedition, the students learned about the four areas of the exhibit they will be covering. In Fossil Hunt, the Science Giants help visitors find and identify dinosaur fossils hidden in the exhibit. The Science Giants teach visitors common excavation techniques and how to use tools in Find My Bones. Face to Face allows visitors to compare and contrast Suchomimus and Tyrannosaurus Rex with the help of the Science Giants. In the last activity, Dino, Dino Not, Science Giants explain characteristics that differentiate dinosaurs from other types of animals.
At the end of the day, the newly trained Science Giants signed up for their shifts. Their curiosity, intelligence, and drive promise another great summer of science!