Teen-Designed Exhibition at the Peabody Museum Explores Careers in Geosciences

Climatology, paleontology, geoarcheology and other careers in the geosciences are the subjects of “GEOWhiz,” a new exhibition on view through Labor Day (Sept. 1) at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

“GEOWhiz” was designed and produced by students in the museum’s EVOLUTIONS program under the direction of Peabody educator Jamie Alonzo. The exhibit is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of a program to expose students to the geosciences.

EVOLUTIONS stands for EVOking Learning & Understanding Through Investigations Of the Natural Sciences. It is an after-school program for New Haven teens that places a primary focus on science literacy and career awareness, college preparation and transferable skills development.

Planning for the “GEOWhiz” exhibition began in the fall of 2007 when students were presented with a long list of careers in the geosciences. Each team of three to six students chose one of these fields as the focus of a mini-exhibit. They were charged with researching the career, which included taking part in hands-on activities working with Yale scientists and Peabody collections staff. In addition to the careers named above, other fields the students learned about for the mini-exhibits are glaciology, volcanology, oceanography and planetary geology.

Christine Randall, who worked on the geoarchaeology component of the exhibit, said she had no idea what geoarchaeology was when she began the project. Now she may want to pursue a career in the field. As part of her research, she had to communicate with scientists and photographers around the globe to access information and images.

The students hope that visitors to the exhibit will have similar revelations about the scope of the various fields and the variety of tasks involved in the different career paths.

To produce the mini-exhibits, the students also had to make decisions on what information to present and how to display it and to implement the design: constructing, painting, producing the visuals and placing the objects. Several exhibits have interactive elements - such as a giant word search - designed to engage younger children.

Also on view in the exhibition are the video shorts aimed at youngsters in grades K-6 produced by a separate group of EVOLUTIONS participants. The students learned storyboarding, shooting and editing techniques and worked in teams to produce the videos, which focus on such topics as water and its major role in shaping the Earth’s surface.

The Peabody Museum is located at 170 Whitney Ave. and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Admission to the museum is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $5 for children ages 3-18. It is free for museum members, Yale I.D. holders, children under age 3 and to all on Thursdays from 2 to 5 p.m. Visit www.peabody.yale.edu or call the Infotape at (203) 432-5050 for additional information.

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