“No matter who you are, engaging in the quest to discover where and how things began tends to induce emotional fervor—as if knowing the beginning bestows upon you some form of fellowship with, or perhaps governance over, all that comes later. So what is true for life itself is no less true for the universe: knowing where you came from is no less important than knowing where you are going.” Neill DeGrasseTyson. “In the Beginning“. Natural History Magazine. September 2003.
Now that we’ve covered just what this blog is all about and why, it’s time to give you a more detailed look at what we propose to do and what you will find here. On this site, you will find blog posts, links to a variety of websites providing resources and information that have been either put together or verified by content experts, contact information for people that may be of use, and collections of material that are free to use. In the future, we hope to include material created by students and teachers that have been submitted for public dissemination.
The blog on the website will provide essays on several topics. The first and most common will be reviews of books, videos, games, and other resources, both online and off. Because few teachers can afford to go out and buy books for their classroom on a regular basis, they often rely on donations or library book sales to stock their book collections, so reviews will cover a variety of books, both old and new. As a parent myself, I have seen books in classrooms and ones used by teachers that were more than twenty years old. A few are still great books, a lot are either woefully out of date or were terrible to begin with and should be expunged. Hopefully, these reviews will help guide people to books that have quality information in them that are suitable to classrooms. Some books, like The Complete Dinosaur, 2nd edition or The Dinosauria, 2nd edition, are fantastic books, but are in many places rather technical and probably not something most teachers would stock in their classes (although they would have a happy home in a high school library).
Another series of essays will cover the fossils and geologic history of Arkansas. Arkansas has a variety of fossils, from trilobites and bryozoans, fossil oysters and shark teeth, to saber-toothed cats, mastodons, whales, and even dinosaurs. One series will cover individual fossils highlighting the different types of fossils. If we get funding, we will include a 3D interactive image with every fossil we can. Another series will cover Arkansas through time. We have rocks from the Cambrian to the modern. Each essay will cover a selected time period, tell you where in Arkansas you can find rocks of that age, what type of environments they represent, and what sort of fossils you might find in them. It will take a long time, but should be an exciting series to write and as much fun to read. A third paleontologic series will cover common myths and misconceptions of dinosaurs, other prehistoric animals, and paleontologic concepts.
New resources will be added to the website as they become available. Pending funding, a series of teacher workshops are planned, with as much of the material as possible available for free download. Interactive lessons made using SoftChalk, Articulate, or other programs will be added. Additionally, other people are encouraged to design materials that, after being checked for accuracy, will be made available to everyone. The more people participate, the better and more useful the site will be. From teacher-designed tools to student presentations, all accurate and topical material will find a home here.
Education is more than just the transference of information. It is a discussion. An important part of this website will be to put people in touch with each other. Posting information by others is just one part. Discussions of how to teach difficult topics will be another. An important goal of this website is to connect scientists with educators in both formal and informal environments with parents, students and anyone else with an interest in learning more. Together, we can get more questions answered as we find ever more questions to ask. Change may be scary, but refusing to change is to be doomed to failure. Finding the right path forward, the right change, means we keep asking questions and helping each other find the answers.