A class trip to the Smithsonian Institution was all they needed to get their creative minds working overtime. Penn State Brandywine junior Teron Meyers, of Upper Darby, and Alyce DiLauro, of Drexel Hill, who transferred to University Park this fall to complete her major, took one look at the dinosaur exhibit and the next thing they knew they had created a podcast and a video featured on YouTube and iTunes. But they have no plans of stopping there.
The two began studying dinosaur type specimens at the Smithsonian as part of their Dinosaur Extinction and other Controversies course project. After compiling their research, the students used the campus' Digital Commons to create their very own enhanced podcast to present their findings. Today, however, their project has evolved into something much more creative and personal. They have taken it above and beyond the requirements and gone out on their own to explore new options.
After Teron, an honors student and corporate communications major, and Alyce, also an honors student while at Brandywine, presented their project at St. Joseph's University's Sigma Xi Annual Conference they were encouraged by attendees who visited their display to expand the project.
"We knew we could have done more with the podcast—the music and images." Teron said, "When we got positive feedback at the conference we decided to step it up."
Under the direction of Dr. Laura Guertin, associate professor of earth & mineral sciences at Penn State Brandywine, who advised the students on their project, they traveled back to the Smithsonian for a closer look at the dinosaur exhibit. During their visit they interviewed Museum Specialist for Dinosaurs and Fossil Reptiles at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, Dr. Michael Brett-Surman, who took them on a behind-the-scenes tour of the exhibit, which will soon close for updating and renovation for four to five years. After compiling their findings once again, Meyers and DiLauro used advanced software in the Digital Commons to create a video, featuring photos from both the inside and outside of the Smithsonian and detailed descriptions of several specimens. Teron and Alyce compiled the research about the dinosaurs, wrote the script, chose the clips, edited the video, handled copy write issues, and even starred in it. The six to seven-minute video can be found on YouTube, TeacherTube, iTunes, and the Penn State Brandywine Web site, among others.
(Left to right; Teron Meyers, Dr. Michael Brett-Surman, Alyce DiLauro, and Jennifer Choi)
Teron and Alyce are scheduled to show the video, podcast, and the rest of their research to graduate and undergraduate students and professors from colleges and universities across the east coast at a conference next spring in Philadelphia. They also hope to expand their project by creating a journal documenting their work; it will also feature dinosaur sketches by fellow classmate Jennifer Choi, of Media, who accompanied Teron and Alyce on their second trip to the Smithsonian. They also plan to create another video offering a broader look at the dinosaur exhibit and featuring actual clips from their interview with Dr. Brett-Surman.
"This isn't for class credit anymore," Teron said. "We're doing this project because we're interested in the subject."
Teron said he will show their work to people at the Smithsonian in hopes that they will feature the video on their Web site or at least give them some feedback. Since the dinosaur exhibit is closing for several years, Teron said the video could show people who will never get to see the current exhibit what it was like. "We worked as hard as we could on the project and we'd love to know what the people at the Smithsonian think of it," he said. "It's possible that not all of the specimens will be there when it reopens so our video could give people a glimpse of the dinosaurs featured in the exhibit today."
Even though his focus at Penn State Brandywine is communications, Teron said the scientific aspect of the project was relatively easy to keep up with. "Alyce and I have very diverse backgrounds and both enjoy science so the project was very interesting," he said. "If I'm not going to pursue science in my career then this is a fun way for me to get back into it."
Click here to see Teron and Alyce's video.