HAMBURG, N.Y. — If you and your kiddo are really done sitting at home in front of the computer because of virtual learning, look no further than Penn Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Reserve in Hamburg. The staff has everything you need for an 'Ed-venture.'
The couple-acre dig site is every aspiring paleontologist's dream. Hidden among the rocks and dirt are 380 million-year-old fossils. You just have to know what to look for. This is where Dr. Holly Schreiber, Penn Dixie's director of education, comes in.
"My daughter, who's in third grade, spends a lot of time on the computer," Schreiber said. "We really wanted to get kids outside, learning in nature."
It’s also a way for them to learn about the world around them, not related to COVID-19.
"This was tropical, Schreiber said. "We were under at least 100 feet of water in a coral reef."
Now left for us to explore are fossils. Enter Penn Dixie's Director of Science Catherine Konieczny.
"There are five different 'Ed-ventures' to choose from, and you can do more than one in a day if you want to," Konieczny said. "They are all based on things you can find here at Penn Dixie."
There's a lot more than meets the eye. Some of the self-guided science tours involve the surrounding vegetation, animal tracks and their habitats, and, of course, digging for fossils. There are questions to answer along the way.
"There's really no right answer, and every kid could have a different answer and still be correct," Konieczny said. "It's just really to help build their confidence while they aren't in the classroom."
Parents, there's a lesson for you here too.
"When your child is trying to answer these questions, or any questions with school, your natural instinct is to give them the answer," Schreiber said. "But really, it's much more beneficial if you try to guide them with questions that get them thinking and coming up with the answer on their own."
And let the adventure begin! Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays, weather permitting. Just make sure you check out Penn Dixie on Facebook and Twitter so you too can channel your inner paleontologist.