Families get into ‘dino-orienteering’

Facilities partner in event

Addison Dobson, 5, and Liam Dobson, 7, both of Champion, examine skulls at a station during Friday’s “dino-orienteering” event at MooseWood Nature Center in Marquette. The event involved a partnership between MooseWood, the Glenn T. Seaborg Mathematics Center and the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — Looking for fossils doesn’t mean people have to worry about getting trampled by a rolling boulder a la Indiana Jones.

Sixteen families gathered at MooseWood Nature Center on Friday to “dino-orienteering,” a blend of orienteering and looking for fossils.

Renee Jewett, program coordinator of the Glenn T. Seaborg Mathematics and Science Center at Northern Michigan University, called the event a first-ever partnership with MooseWood and the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum.

“Orienteering is basically using a compass and getting from point A to point B,” Jewett said. “And it’s all about dinosaurs. So, we have some dinosaur fossils hidden on a scavenger hunt trail, and students have learned how to measure their pace, how to use a compass, follow a direction from point A to point B.”

Participants used two tracks, she said — one for older participants and another for younger participants. The start also was staggered so it was fun for everyone to find the first fossil.

When they found the fossils, they were to bring them back to the nature center and put them together.

A “dino-dig” also was scheduled for the end of the event, she said, because it’s a “dirty, fun thing.”

The dino-orienteering session was unique in at least one other way.

“At the Seaborg Center, we do so many things, just teachers or just students,” Jewett said. “MooseWood and the children’s museum are used to a family setting, and it’s fun for me to see a family setting in action for the first time.”

Plus, Friday’s event had rubber boots, dinosaur shirts and 3-D megalodon printed teeth.

Cassie Dobson of Champion took her two children, Liam, 7, and Addison, 5, to the dino-orienteering event that involved them using a QR code on a set of three skulls at one station: Homo naledi, neanderthal and Homo sapiens — or, as Liam said at first “Homo sapinese.” With the code they could learn background information on the skulls via a Wikipedia page.

Families also could look at a variety of fossils up close on tables outside MooseWood and learn, for instance, how fossils are prepared for collections.

Cassie Dobson said she received a letter from NMU about the event.

“We’re always looking for things to do in the summer,” she said, plus the family had an interest in exploring and the outdoors. “We thought this would be a good activity for them to do, something fun.”


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