From the Editor | November 2022

Last week I once again had one of my most rewarding experiences as a geologist.  As part of the Bones in Schools program, I was able to speak to a class of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students at a local school about geology and in this case, more specifically, paleontology.  I was joined by two other HGS members, Chuck Caughey and Brian Bottoms.  We told them about what a geologist does and about the world of fossils. 

At this age you need to get their attention, so we talk about dinosaurs.  The discussion starts with movies like Jurassic Park and The Good Dinosaur.  These Hollywood versions have some reality and many misconceptions.  For those who have not seen it, the premise of The Good Dinosaur is that the asteroid misses the earth and the dinosaurs continue to evolve and eventually encounter and come to the aid of primitive child to bring him home to his family.  It is an interesting sort of ‘what if’ for young minds or even adults to ponder.  Stephen J. Gould a renowned paleontologist frequently told a “want of a nail” story, whereby a missing nail from a horseshoe caused a series of events that led to a major change in world history.  

My next movie is Ice Age which gets so much wrong but allows me to talk about the animals that inhabited the Houston area a mere 20,000 years ago.  The students can relate because they know the characters but then I show them what they likely really looked like. 

Sid, the Ground Sloth                                      

Megalonyx jeffersoni

Manny, the Wooly Mammoth

Columbian mammoth

It is a wonderful experience to see the look on their faces when they are handed a real mammoth or mastodon tooth or a small wooly mammoth tusk.   It sparks wonder in their eyes, a look of amazement and many questions.

I tell you this because I want to share this experience.  The HGS has several programs and multiple opportunities for each of us to let these young people know what we do in our work, about the world around them, past, present and possible future but also to inspire them to ask questions and want to learn more. 

There are thousands of students in the Houston area, in grades from 1st to high school that would love to hear what you can tell them about rocks, minerals, fossils and much, much more. 

Many of you work for companies that would gladly give you the time off to go a talk up geology to the young people in our area.  And even if that is not the case, the time you invest in these efforts will pay back so much to you that it will be well worth it. 

Contact Steve Johansen or other members of the Educational Outreach Committee and become part of something great.

Ken Thies, HGS Editor 2022-2023