Geology dept introduces students to ?World of Dinosaurs?

By Lauren Talaga

U students will not need a DeLorean to go back 248 million years to experience the “World of Dinosaurs.”

Nor do they have to look far to take a class from a man who could be a brother to Harry Potter’s Hagrid passionately lecturing about ancient creatures. Because of popular demand, Geology 1040, which for the past nine years has only been offered Spring Semester, is now offered for Fall Semester as well.

Mark Loewen, research associate at the Utah Museum of Natural History, has been co-teaching the class for five years. It not only fulfills a science credit, but it also uses dinosaurs to teach how science works.

“Dinosaurs didn’t live in a vacuum, and they were around for a long time,” Loewen said. “These ideas help students learn about the world (dinosaurs) lived in, how they changed it and how it changed them. This has implications for us today. Just as dinosaurs faced climate change, we are now going through the same thing and figuring out how to adapt.”

Although “World of Dinosaurs” fits the traditional notion of a class8212;exams and reading assignments from a textbook are given8212;interactive teaching keeps the class going.
“It is more of a round-table discussion rather than a straight 50-minute lecture,” Loewen said. “And there are field trips.”

In the past, classes have visited Thanksgiving Point Dinosaur Museum and the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry in Price. The all-day trip gives students a firsthand look at the work that goes into removing fossils from the ground, many of which are brought back to the U. Students are able to see the preparatory work involved in preserving the fossil records. Interested students can also volunteer to do field work at the site during the summer.
Loewen said it’s a great opportunity to be at the U, a school at the forefront of paleontology.
“Students are getting to see things before they hit the press,” he said.

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U professor Mark Loewen lectures to students in Geology 1040, World of Dinosaurs. The class discusses not only the animals themselves, but also the world and climate they lived in, how they affected it and how they were affected by it.