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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

DeVore, Melanie L. [1], Brown, Catherine L.  [2], Hartford, Jan [3], Sternberg, Michael  [3], Pigg, Kathleen B. [4].

Bringing the site to your own classroom: using the context of fossil sites to illustrate today’s relevance of paleobotany.

Traditional introductory plant biology courses typically discuss the importance of plant fossils in reference to early land plant evolution, diversity of spore-producing vascular plants and origin of the angiosperms. Displays for laboratory exercises usually include a Lepidodenron stem or a slab of compressed Paleozoic seed fern foliage. It is essential to cover major evolutionary events, and instructive to expose students to Paleozoic fossils, but equally important to learn about plants that have a direct connection to modern biomes. In order to understand how today’s plant communities may respond to future climate change, it is important to show how plants responded in the recent past. To use the power of plant fossils to their fullest potential one must see them within the context of where and how they are collected. Stonerose Interpretive Center and Eocene Fossil Site ( ) is a regional museum and public outreach center in northeastern Washington. Established by the city of Republic in 1987, and currently run by the non-profit “Friends of Stonerose Fossils”, Stonerose manages collecting sites of the Eocene Republic flora and insect fauna, orchestrates informed public collecting and coordinates an extensive outreach program. The in-house Stonerose Strata, was developed to register "diggers" from the public, track research-quality specimens that are donated for scientific study, and keep individuals informed of the research and publication of "their fossils". As part of Stonerose’s mission of educational outreach, we have designed laboratory exercises and extended projects suitable for introductory biology, as well as botany and geology courses. Using sets of selected fossils, online image galleries and leaf morphotype databases, students can calculate Mean Annual Temperature (MAT) and other climate indices and compare the Republic flora with modern or other ancient fossil floras. Most significantly, the value of managed collecting of fossil plant localities can be presented to a wide audience who may, or may not, have an opportunity to visit actual fossil plant sites.

Broader Impacts:
Stonerose Interpretive Center has a strong public and school outreach program. The regional museum and public outreach center, located in northeastern Washington in the town of Republic, manages a rich and diverse Eocene plant and insect fossil locality only a few blocks from their facility, allowing the public an opportunity for informed fossil collecting at a nominal cost. Research quality specimens are kept and curated for the use of scientific researchers. We are actively developing educational tools for both on-site and classroom use for public, K-12 and university settings.

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Related Links:
Stonerose Interpretive Center

1 - Georgia College & State University, Biological & Environmental Sciences, 135 Herty Hall, Campus Box 81, Milledgeville, Georgia, 31061, USA
2 - Stonerose Interpretive Center, 15-1 North Kean, P.O. Box 987, Republic , WA, 99166 , USA
3 - Stonerose Interpretive Center, 15-1 North Kean, P. O. Box 987, Republic, WA, 99166, USA
4 - Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 874501, Tempe, Arizona, 85287-4501, USA

Stonerose Interpretive Center
plant fossil
public outreach
Science Education
climate change.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 44
Location: 554B/Convention Center
Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
Time: 1:30 PM
Number: 44001
Abstract ID:695

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