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A Night to Remember-Taking Time to Notice the Little Things

Written By: Shannon M. Colburn

April 23, 2014 was a typical Wednesday for most people, but for the select group who made an evening of sharing in the joy of discovery, it was an evening spent valuing the efforts of those who have made it a life’s mission to value the smallest of things. Dr. Edward O. Wilson, whom many would consider to be a child at heart, was honored for his distinguished service to the field of biodiversity. To many that may sound very uninteresting, but to spend an evening with a black indigo snake, a bull frog, and a gopher turtle uninteresting is not the description that comes to mind when reflecting on this event.

In conjunction with notable personalities in the field of biodiversity six students from Tuscaloosa and Birmingham shared in the joy as gifts created by the students of Alabama were presented to Dr. Wilson. Ethan Hancock and Aileen Charles, both fourth grade students at Rock Quarry Elementary School, were two of the six students selected to present this compilation of research and art to Dr. Wilson. Five binders filled with cards upon cards of scientific information were presented along with a framed cover drawing as a small token of thanks for his inspirational guidance and love of learning. This gift was only one of many honors that Dr. Wilson received, but it was the only honor given at the hands of Alabama students who share in his love of animals and the environment.

The research cards, or animal trading cards, as they were called were created as a result of a challenge presented to students in enrichment classes throughout the state. Rock Quarry’s enrichment teacher, Shannon Colburn, offered this activity to her fourth grade students in conjunction with a unit of study on animals and technology. Many school systems in the state participated in researching native plants and animals and it was through the combined efforts of these students that Dr. Wilson was presented with concrete evidence that his love of creation was shared with countless others throughout the state. It was in this moment that something so simple as a classroom activity served as a concrete token of affirmation that his work will continue to live on in the lives of Alabama natives as children are granted the opportunity to discover, explore, learn, grow, and go outside and get dirty.


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