Paleo Quest is a citizen science organization that is composed of passionate volunteers that are interested in advancing science, science education and public engagement in the sciences. For this reason, Paleo Quest has licensed and supports the Shark Finder citizen science program.
SharkFinder™, true to its name, is a STEM education program aimed at finding fossil elasmobranch (shark, skates and ray) remains in the Atlantic coastal plain of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina. To date, elasmobranches from this region have been poorly characterized despite the fact that shark fossils from this region have been a favorite of collectors and paleontologists for more than a century. SharkFinder™ will allow classrooms and citizen scientist the opportunity to search through highly concentrated fossil-bearing media to find and report shark fossils.
These fossils will then be sent to Dr. Bretton Kent at the University of Maryland where he and his team will publish on the fossils. All participating classrooms and citizen scientist will be acknowledged in the resulting professional publication and students or citizen scientist that find certain distinctive fossils will be acknowledged by name in the publication. Dr. Kent’s team will provide an intimate window into the inner workings of a paleontology lab through a Wiki site. The non-sensitive portions of their discussions, work and findings will be updated continually so that students can experience the intellectual life of a professional paleontologist and his team.
After publication, the fossils will be donated to the Calvert Marine Museum. Curator Dr. Stephen Godfrey and Collections Manager John Nance have agreed to curate the fossils in their permanent collection. This collection will be one-of-a-kind and will continue to provide important scientific data to paleontologists for years to come. All contributing classrooms will receive a deed of gift from the Calvert Marine Museum to acknowledge their contribution to science.
Paleo Quest is working with leading curricula developers to provide an interactive, web-supported STEM curricula portal for SharkFinder™ and other similar modules. These curricular modules will allow students and citizen scientist to view and participate in all phases of professional scientific endeavors. They will also provide examples of the sample collection process to highlight how Jason E. Osborne and Aaron A. Alford use science in the field in order to collect and prepare the fossil media for SharkFinder™.