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Museum First To Offer Master of Arts in Teaching for Science

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The New York State Department of Education has selected the American Museum of Natural History to launch a pioneering Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program this fall.

“The Museum is proud to be the first museum in the United States to offer a master’s degree program to prepare science teachers,” said Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History. “The Museum’s new Master of Arts in Teaching program extends the Museum’s formal roles both in improving the teaching of science and addressing the national crisis in science education, and will be an important new component of the Museum’s longstanding graduate training, including, most notably, the Richard Gilder Graduate School, the only museum-based Ph.D.-granting program in the country.”

Tags: Master of Arts in Teaching, Richard Gilder Graduate School

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Tracking Baboons’ Behavior Wins Student Young Naturalist Award

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Henry always loved to observe. “Walking through parks,” he would later reflect, “I have watched squirrels, birds and other animals, always curious to know what their actions meant.”

So when given the chance to monitor the behavior ofhamadryas baboons at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Zoo, 15-year-old Henry grabbed his journal and found a comfortable seat by their glass enclosure. He wanted to know how captive baboons differed from their relatives in the wild and which activities baboons performed most frequently in the zoo. Profiled in a recent New York Times article, Henry’s project, which he describes in the essay Hamadryas Baboons, Papio hamadryas: Captive vs. Wild, earned him a 2011 Young Naturalist Award.

Tags: Young Naturalist Awards

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Museum Researcher Names Lizard Genus After Tolkien’s Dragon Smaug

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The villain of J. R. R.Tolkien’s The Hobbit–the fearsome dragon Smaug–dwells deep in a cavern with a massive hoard of treasure and terrorizes nearby villages.

His real-world namesakes aren’t quite as fearsome. Smaug is the new name given to a genus of girdled lizards from South Africa by Ed Stanley, a doctoral candidate at the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History, who reclassified the genus in a in a paper published in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution in January 2011. Stanley’s work is funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

Smaug lizards live in tunnels in the highlands, including the appropriately named Drakensberg (Dragon Mountain) mountain range of southern Africa. But the inspiration for the name came from a connection to the author rather than the fictional character. “Tolkien was born in the Free State, South Africa, where this lizard was found,” says Stanley.

Tags: Our Research, Richard Gilder Graduate School

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Museum Program Pairs Teens with Scientist Mentors

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Ailan Hurley-Echevarria removed a pebble-sized piece of dark amber from the variable speed grinder-polisher and looked at the now-smooth and clear surface under the dissecting microscope.

“I think there’s something here in the corner,” he said.

Hurley-Echevarria had uncovered an ancient biting midge (Ceratopogonidae) which had been trapped in amber about 52 million years ago, perhaps after feeding on an Eocene mole or other small mammal in the prehistoric tropical jungles of India.

Tags: Children's Programs

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American Museum of Natural History

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