Saturday, April 5, 2008

Smart 11 Year-Old Shows Up Museum

Fifth-grader Kenton Stufflebeam when on a winter break trip with his family to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, the 11-year-old southwestern Michigan boy noticed that a notation, in bold lettering, mistakenly identified the Precambrian as an era.

Painfully obvious it would seem but since it opened in 1981, millions of people have paraded past the museum's Tower of Time, a display involving prehistoric time. Kenton was the first to point out the error.

Kenton, who lives in Allegan, Michigan but attends Alamo Elementary School near Kalamazoo, said his fifth-grade teacher, John Chapman (otherwise known as Johnny Appleseed) had nearly made the same mistake about the Precambrian in a classroom earth-science lesson before catching himself.

"I knew Mr. Chapman wouldn't tell all these students bad information," the boy told OBB News.

So Kevin Stufflebeam took his son to the museum's information desk to report Kenton's concern on a comment form before anymore damage was done to the education of millions who probably didn't pay attention anyway.

Last week, the boy received a letter from the museum acknowledging that his observation was "spot on."

"The Precambrian is a dimensionless unit of time, which embraces all the time between the origin of Earth and the beginning of the Cambrian Period of geologic time," the letter says. As if it needed to be explained in the first place.

The solution to the problem would not involve advanced science but rather simply painting over the word "era," the note says.

While no previous visitors to the museum had brought up the error, it has long rankled the paleobiology department's staff, who noticed it even before the Tower of Time was erected 27 years ago, said Lorraine Ramsdell, educational technician for the museum.

"The question is, why was it put up with that on it in the first place?" Ramsdell said.

Excited as Stufflebeam was to receive the correspondence from museum officials, he couldn't help but point out that it was addressed to Kenton Slufflebeam.

You just know this boy has a lot of friends at the chess club.

Since writing this story Kenton Shufflebeam as been in contact and has pointed out how incorrect it is to start a sentence with 'As' we at OBB News apologise and hopes the boy never reproduces.


witchypoo said...

Well, he can't be too smart now, can he, if he's eleven and in fifth grade. Fifth grade is for ten year olds.

moi said...

Which is reason #345 why I never had children. I hate being shown up by people that are shorter than I am.

Hyphen Mama said...

Damned Amerikan skools, teaching kids crap they'll never use. Science, math, it's all useless garbage.

The Tall Red Head said...