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Rockville Centre science program helps kids dig into history

David Moscato, 27, a paleontologist with the Center

David Moscato, 27, a paleontologist with the Center for Science Teaching and Learning in Rockville Centre shows off a mold of a Pachycephalosaurus skull on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. Credit: Steven Sunshine

Ancient fossils are hard to come by but on Sunday, children attending a workshop in Rockville Centre were able to take home one of their very own.

More than 30 youngsters filled Tanglewood Preserve’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning to explore the past and learn about fossils.

Program coordinator and paleontologist David Moscato discussed various fossils, such as replicas of a dinosaur skull, a tyrannosaurus Rex’s tooth, and an ammonite, an extinct mollusk that lived more than 200 million years ago.

Moscato explained how paleontologists study and identify fossils in an interactive lesson where students created their own plaster casts of fossils such as spiral-shelled ammonites.

Enda Heaney, 9, of Bellerose, said he knew a bit about fossils before coming to the program, but that he learned a lot and was glad to take home a plaster shark tooth fossil.

Westbury resident Valentin Gonzalez said he was impressed by the “huge” allosaurus skull, because he’d never seen one outside of a glass museum case.

“It’s cool to make because scientists make [the plaster fossils] too,” Valentin, 9, added.

Bellemore resident Wyatt Bausinger, 6, said his favorite part of the event was creating a plaster cast of a bear tooth, but that he was confident he “knew everything” about fossils.

By the end of the lesson, tables were covered haphazardly with congealed plaster and colorful paint, which Moscato described as evidence that the kids had a blast.

“It’s just a really quick burst of exciting hands-on activity,” Moscato added. “It’s scientific and educational, but also a lot of fun too.”

The event is part of the center’s new Sunday Science program, which launched two months ago to much enthusiasm. The sessions are on the second and fourth Sundays of every month, with a new topic each time, and parents can sign up online.

Moscato said he thought the program appealed to the participants because they weren’t just being told science facts, but also “picking up learning along the way” during creative activities.

The program is open to a mixed-age group of children, from 4 to 12 years old, and parents can attend too.

Melanie Corbett, of Rockville Centre, said her daughters had attended every Sunday Science event thus far. As a former science teacher, Corbett said she thought the program was an ideal supplement for her children’s curriculum, which she described as heavily focused on language arts and math.

“It’s well-rounded,” Corbett said, of the program. “This is how kids should learn, with hands-on science.”

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