Exploring Paleontology to Spark Science Engagement from a Young Age!  

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Are you and your students fascinated by dinosaurs, fossils, and the field of paleontology? Learn how to nurture your students’ interest in dinosaurs and increase science engagement beginning in elementary school in this webinar recording.

Many children grow up fascinated by dinosaurs, but parents and educators are often unsure of how to foster and support this interest. In this webinar recording, hear from Dr. Holly Woodward Ballard, an Associate Professor of Anatomy and Paleontology at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, to learn about her interest in dinosaurs growing up and how that bloomed into her current career as a paleohistologist. Joining Dr. Ballard is PK-5th grade teacher Alyssa Barr who shares tips on how to use a book like Lily and Maia to fuel an integrated learning experience. This webinar also featured Audrey O’Connell, co-founder of HSG, who shared the process of developing the Lily and Maia characters and working with the young artist, Grace Hattrup, to ensure scientific accuracy of the paleo elements.

The Exploring Paleontology to Spark Science Engagement from a Young Age! webinar was hosted by NGCP on March 30, 2023.  In this webinar recording, you'll learn strategies to help you capture the power of dinosaur science as an important tool to engage and delight girls, and all children, in connecting to science more broadly!

Holly Woodward Ballard - woman with long, dark hair wearing burgundy floral top in front of gray background

Dr. Holly Woodward Ballard, Oklahoma State University

Dr. Holly Woodward Ballard is an Associate Professor of Anatomy and Paleontology at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As a paleohistologist, Holly studies the microscopic structures found within fossil bone tissue to ass assess growth dynamics, individual variability, and survivorship in dinosaurs like Maiasaura and Tyrannosaurus. To establish a framework for such interpretations, Holly compares biological signals within the bone of modern animals to their documented life histories. In this way, when similar signals are found within fossilized bones of extinct animals, reasonable life history interpretations can be proposed. Holly received her bachelor’s degree from NC State University, her M.S. from Texas Tech University, and her Ph.D. from Montana State University. She is a Research Associate at the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and the Museum of the Rockies, and an Honorary Associate at Museums Victoria

Audrey O'Connell - woman with chin length brown and gray hair wearing teal shirt

Audrey O’Connell, Horner Science Group

Audrey is well-known across industry sectors as a trusted catalyst for bringing people, ideas, and global cultural projects and partnerships together. She is an experienced international museum specialist with a compelling reputation for working with all types of organizations and the creative industries to market, development, design and operate successful and authentic exhibition products for museums, attractions, and destinations. She is a specialist in creating business opportunities for museum products and services, a useful bridge between industry sectors, and a cultural specialist for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Following the success of her consulting business, Audrey teamed up with former colleague and friend, Jack Horner, to open Horner Science Group (HSG) in 2016. Having worked on several creative projects with development partners, HSG continues to drive towards delivering on the mission to galvanize adventurers of all ages to explore the vibrant and astonishing world of dinosaurs through Jack’s revolutionary scientific discoveries and theories.

Drawing on Audrey’s business acumen and Jack’s paleontology expertise, HSG continue to produce cross-platform products and services that communicate innovative insights about the lives of dinosaurs and the thrill of the process of science.

Currently, Audrey is leading on the publication of Lily and Maia…A Dinosaur Adventure by Jack Horner. The goal to inspire young girls to ‘stick with science’ is the hoped-for outcome of this children’s book.

Alyssa Bar - woman with long brown hair swearing a gray sweater standing in front of a green hedge

Alyssa Barr, Preschool – 5th Grade Science Specialist

Alyssa Barr has been teaching in independent schools for 15 years. This year she combined her two passions, education and Science, embarking on a new adventure as the Science Specialist at University Child Development School, preschool-5th grade, in Seattle, Washington. Driven by the investment and engagement of her students, Alyssa can be found in the lab exploring fossils, creating circuit puzzles, or breaking down the science behind the game of curling. In her time outside of school, she dreams of curling up with a good book but is more often knee-deep in potion-making with her daughter, taking her dog on an adventure, or chipping away at a home remodel.

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