BSI offers teacher professional development workshops throughout the year, and our summer workshops are in full swing. We kicked off the summer offerings with Paleontology: Discovery, Research, and Application to Modern Challenges in early June, with 17 teachers and guest presenters Kim Nichols and Dr. Thomas Bown. Teachers learned about the processes of paleontological investigation: from field search and recovery to lab processing, preparation, cataloguing, and onward to research on the adaptive ecology of extinct fauna, including that of primates. Participants discussed how paleontologists use paleosol and paleocommunity data to reconstruct the biome in which the earliest confirmed primates (Teilhardina, Tetonius, Cantius), perissodactyls (horses, Hyracotherium; tapirs, Homogalax), artiodactyls (deer, Diacodexis), and extinct faunal lineages of “swamp cows” (Coryphodon), creodonts, and so forth co-existed with crocodilians (Allognathosuchus), lizards, and turtles. The facts of this research indicate that, once upon a time (56-53 Ma), northwestern Wyoming was a subtropical biome. Research on this paleontological community contributes to the literature on the PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) model used to predict the outcome of current global climate change.
In early July, BSI hosted Life in the City: Understanding Urban Wildlife Using Camera Trap Technology with ScienceLIVE and guest presenters Dr. Liesl Erb and Peter Erb. Attending teachers learned about the variety of wildlife right in our backyards, discussing the community ecology of urban versus wild habitats and how wildlife communities differ in the city versus a rural neighborhood or a wildland park. Participants also gained experience setting up camera traps to gain photos of elusive animals, and interpreting data collected through camera trapping.
The final workshop this summer is Evergreens Gone Brown, Then Black: The Pine Bark Beetle Epidemic and Forest Fires on Friday, July 14 with guest presenter Dr. Jeff Mitton and Colorado science teachers.