Thursday, April 3, 2008

Michigan Fifth Grade Finds Error at the Smithsonian Institute

While on spring break vacation with his family in Washington DC, Kenton Stufflebeam, an eleven year old Allegan Michigan boy found an error in one of the exhibit’s notation. The notation, in bold lettering, mistakenly identified the Precambrian as an era. 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 but attends Alamo Elementary School near Kalamazoo, said his fifth-grade teacher, John Chapman, had nearly made the same mistake about the Precambrian in a classroom earth-science lesson before catching himself. Kevin Stufflebeam, father of Kenton, took his son to the museum's information desk to report Kenton's concern on a comment form. 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. 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 bothered 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.


Lazy Daisy said...

Apparently a lot of people aren't smarter than a 5th grader.

PopArtDiva said...

First, I'm laughing at Lazy Daisy's comment and I agree.

Second, it's amazing how little people really pay attention to signs!

PopArtDiva said...

okay, the way I wrote that sounds like I am referring to "little people", ooops!

Let me rephrase - it's amazing how little attention people pay to signs.

There, I am not a "little people" biggot - I'm only 5'2" myself! :)

Pop Art Diva! said...

And now I mistyped "bigot" and look even sillier!
I think I should quit typing now!

pjazzypar said...

Lazy Daisy,

I actually watch that show sometimes and I am certainly not smarter than a fifth grader.

Pop Art Diva,

You are funny. I know what you meant though. Even if I had seen the sign I would not have known the difference.