Encana Science campers contributing to research
The Encana Science Camps have always been a fruitful place for young people to explore their love of dinosaurs, but it has also become a place for real scientific exploration.
For 12 years, the Royal Tyrrell Museum has been hosting science camps. Over the years, the popularity continues to swell. Camp director Morgan Syvertsen says in the last few years, the participants have been doing more than just learning about science and dinosaurs, but contributing to research being done by the esteemed scientists at the Tyrrell.
“What has made a difference in the last four years is the emphasis on science. The kids are not just doing games, they are doing research work, they are contributing to the work being done at the museum,” explains Syvertsen.
He said the campers are engaged and have the skill to support the research.
“We did a big data collection project for Dr. Mike Newbrey over a couple years and we went through 11,000 myledaphus teeth to find certain specimens to use in his research. The error rate of these kids was equivalent to the error rate of university students. So he was more than happy to recommend us to the other curators at the museum.”
Today the campers are out in the quarries, taking samples, screening, sorting, and identifying. “We are working on an actual full sized dinosaur cast which looks like it is going to be donated to the Children’s Hospital. They are demonstrating they can do everything,” said Syvertsen.
In a coincidence last week, former camper of 10 years, Greg Funston, was in a quarry with his own crew from the University of Edmonton working on his PhD with Dr. Phil Currie.
The camper’s work is raising the prestige of the camp outside the museum and inside. About a year ago, Syvertsen said he made a presentation to the museum staff.
“When I presented the actual work we are doing, the extent of it and how it is affecting people’s lives, it really turned the tides and we are getting more support,” he said.
Each year there are about 130 young people participating.
“It has been growing exponentially. We have to turn kids away every year,” he said. We started to open registration on December 1 and by December 5, we were 50 per cent filled. By the end of the month we were virtually sold out.”
The participants come from all over Canada and the world. They have had campers from the US, China, Japan, Korea, Australia and Europe.
The only limit to growth is the facility. The recent announcement of an expansion at the Tyrrell may allow more campers in the future.
“With the expansion of the Tyrrell, which has been approved, they are going to build a larger multi purpose room. All that limits the growth of our camp is the size of our classroom, with a maximum of 40. But if we’re able to have more people, we could put up more tipis or tents at the campsite, we could add more staff and have more people at camp.”
He says the secret to the camp’s popularity is simple.
“It’s just dinosaurs, that’s all we do,” he said.
The Encana Science Camp crew in the Hadrosaur quarry at Tolman Bridge last week. The campers are contributing to research being done at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.