I'm immensely grateful for the opportunities and access I've had, especially in museum collections. However, I never knew these opportunities were even possible until I was skinning my first specimen. Therefore, in parallel to conducting research, I'm committed to teaching kids about both the utility and wonder of museum collections, and how abstract concepts like taxonomy and genetics are actually the foundation for cutting-edge science!
In addition to the activities described here, I also:
Review articles for middle and high school students with the Journal of Emerging Investigators
Write letters to 5th-8th grade science student penpals with Letters to a Pre-Scientist
Middle School Workshop on Latin Names & Taxonomy
Easter Monday Scavenger Egg Hunt at the National Zoo
I was lucky to participate in the long tradition of Easter Monday at the National Zoo, but with a twist! This year, teams of professionals across the zoo facilitated a scavenger egg hunt where kids had to match clues about what we do to our tables in order to 'find' the eggs. They might have come for the eggs, but at Genetics, kids stayed to hear about how we use DNA from non-invasive scats or museum specimens while touching the fake caniform scat models, real skulls, and fox pelt!
I developed a virtual hour-long workshop for middle school Latin classes on basic taxonomic concepts and how scientific binomial Latin names for species are created and used. At the end of class, students invent their own imaginary animal species and created new unique Latin names for them! We also talk about how vital taxonomy, museum collections, and the study of Latin are for many different fields of science.