Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Closing the museum

This article was featured in "Letters to the editor" in the Laramie Boomerang, Tuesday July 28th.

I came to the University of Wyoming as the secondary science teacher at Prep. What a resource the museum was for Earth science and biology teaching. From the textbook, we walked down the sidewalk to observe the evidence for the big ideas -changing Wyoming environments, evolution, the age of the earth. Before coming to Wyoming, I knew that geology was one of the academic strengths of UW. To Joy and I, the museum is the concrete cornerstone of Wyoming geology where the science and the public interface and we see the evidence for the processes that have shaped our state. It is the first place in Laramie we take our guests.

In this virtual world we live in the Geological Museum represents the effort by our state geologists, from Sam Knight on, to link Wyoming's present with its past- ancient sea beds, volcanoes, fossil fuel formation, the ice age. When one walks into the museum, it is a step from the present into Earth's history. We see ourselves as the most recent characters of the long drama. If the museum is closed, we will be cut off from our past. I took this statement from the Sam Knight Web page. "During his 50 year career with the University of Wyoming Knight earned the nickname 'Mr. Wyoming University'. Knight helped to design and promote the construction of a new geology building and to expand the Geological Museum. Not only did he create an outstanding, nationally recognized Geology Department, but he also promoted the University of Wyoming to the nation and the world." Sam Knight, who was voted Wyoming Citizen of the 20th Century, will roll over in his grave if the museum is closed.

Each day I drive by the new box seats construction at the football stadium. Football has its place. I have had season tickets for thirty years-rarely miss a game. But what is really important to this university? This great science resource has survived much worse economic dilemmas and it would be inexcusable and shortsighted for our generation to close the doors. Where is your thinking? The U.S. scores with third world countries in science.

Dr. Duane Keown, Professor Emeritus, Science Education
Joy Keown, Retired teacher

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