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‘Discovery Day’ excites future paleontologists

Tyler Harrison
Staff Writer

Squeals of excitement were louder than the exhibit that simulated dinosaur roars on Family Science Discovery Day at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont.

Visitors had the chance to see the “Hall of Life: From Stars to Early Civilization” and “Hall of Footprints: Tracks to the Past” exhibits.

“Our mission is to be a scientific resource and educators,” said Kathy Sanders, the director of public outreach and Claremont resident.

“We inspire students and little kids to learn. Kids love dinos and that is a gateway to other sciences.”

The “Hall of Life” boasts dinosaur skeletons, including a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Displays that hang from the ceiling, art that depicts what scientists belive dinosaurs would look like, videos showing how they moved and interactive stations keep children running from fossil to fossil.

In “The Hall of Footprints,” guests search for bones in a dig pit, hear what dinosaurs may have sounded like and learn about local discoveries.

John Spruce brought his wife and three sons, 4-year-old twins and a 6-year-old.

“We’ve been to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. It’s an hour drive, it’s hard to find parking and crowded,” said Spruce.

“It’s amazing there is such a wide variety of specimen right here in Claremont.”

“My favorite is a big giant dinosaur who lived underwater called the Plesiosaur,” said four-year old William Spruce.

Julian Diepenbrock, a freshman from Rancho Cucamonga, hopes to pursue a career in paleontology.

“I like learning about things that we have no idea what they look like because they aren’t around,” Diepenbrock said.

The student volunteers answered questions, gave tours and ran exhibits.

“I like hearing kids pronounce the dino names that parents can’t,” Diepenbrock said.

Almost 200 people crowded into the two-story museum.

The Webb Schools, a couple of college preparatory and boarding schools in Claremont, runs the museum.

Ninety-five percent of the 142, 000 fossils in the museum were excavated by students, teachers and alumni of the schools.

It is the only museum in the world in which students are involved in all aspects of paleontological research.

“It teaches my daughters to live an adventurous life,” said Sonja Dominguez, Web affiliates museum liaison and parent of twin girls who are juniors at the schools. “They do genuine scientific research using the proper methods and technique.”

The Webb Schools require students to take a mandatory paleontology course, and offers students who wish to learn more extra elective courses and the chance to take summer trips to learn more about paleontology.

Many of the volunteers at the event were students from the schools.

The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The museum is located at 1175 Baseline Road in Claremont.

Tyler Harrison can be reached at tyler.harrison@laverne.edu.

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