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November 23, 2011

Child Scientists

For some, an interest in science shows up in college, or later. For others, it starts young. I was one of those very young science kids: if you mispronounced a dinosaur name around me, I would come right up to you and correct you. To this day, I still cringe whenever someone mispronounces Dienonychus* or Diplodocus**. As I've grown older, I've met lots of other kids who are excited about paleontology, like these two:

I love encouraging this type of interest in science in general, and paleontology in particular. Sometimes, though, I meet a kid who just completely blows me away with how passionate and excited they are. Thanks to the Internet, I've recently discovered several of these amazing kids. All of them are 7 or 8 years old, and how passionate and enthusiastic they already are about science blows me away.

 The first is Aaron, an 8 year old time traveler who, with his trusty computer pal INO, wanders through prehistory in search of his favorite dinosaurs and other creatures. He documents his travels in short podcasts, most of which focus on a particular dinosaur or other prehistoric animal. He takes time to share facts about each dinosaur as he tracks it, and to answer questions about paleontology, specific dinosaurs, and his own interests, sent in by other kids. His podcast story  is on its second season now, traveling through the Cenozoic instead of the Mesozoic. You can find him at Aaron's World.

Another is a vlogger, rather than a podcaster. Riley the Paleontologist is 7 years old, from Alabama. Much of the Southern U.S. could learn from him; he's clearly got the concept of "science" all figured out. He brings a miniature version of every dinosaur he discussed to his show, and discusses the basic facts paleontologists have found about each dinosaur. You can watch his first episode below, and find him on Youtube.

And the third "paleokid" I've discovered is Art, of Life Before the Dinosaurs. He is a blogger, and unusual in that, unlike many kids who love paleontology, his obsession isn't dinosaurs. Instead, he loves Paleozoic invertebrates, the weirder the better. This happens to be my favorite time period as well, and I learn something new with every one of Art's posts... which, considering this is what I'm studying in college right now, is quite impressive.

It's inspiring to find kids like these, taking initiative and, with their parents' help, sharing their love of science with the world. It gives me hope for the future of science. And these are just a couple of the paleokids. I am always finding other children and teens who, against the cultural norm, love science and spread that love to anyone willing to listen. If you know of any others, please send them my way!

Modified from my post at Teen Skepchick

Just in case you weren't sure how they were to be pronounced...
*die-NON-o-kus, not di-no-NI-kus
** dip-LOD-o-kus, not dip-lo-DOUGH-kus