It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Shakira singing “Hips Don’t Lie”! Every intern training is unique, and this one was no different. As I walked into the Careers in Science classroom that Monday afternoon, Shakira’s 2006 hit song rocked my ears. It turned out that dinosaurs’ hips didn’t lie either. That’s right, those roaring colossal beasts that flourished in the Mesozoic Era, also known as the Age of Reptiles, evolved separately and owed a large part of their biological sucess to their hip structures. Fascinating lectures by CiS Manager Eric Godoy, Senior Science Content Specialist Roberta Brett, and San Francisco State University graduate student Nic West all highlighted the erect posture of dinosaurs, a distinction from other reptiles with sprawling postures. Upon closer examination, the interns realized that there was a correlation between posture and evolution. More biologically successful animals, such as the dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era, all had erect postures. Unlike their sprawling counterparts, these animals could maintain a sufficient amount of air for a longer period of time (for example, present-day lizards, who are sprawlers, can only sprint for a very short amount of time due to a lower lung capacity). Because of this physiological advantage, the dinosaurs had increased stamina. Much like dinosaurs, birds and mammals, including humans, also evolved to have erect postures, which must explain why all of the interns are so tireless in their interest in science!
I had no idea lions once roamed California! The new Extreme Mammals demo station that showcases skulls from extreme mammals that once lived in California was created by some of our interns and is the most interesting station in recent years. It has replicas, interesting facts, and staggering theories that would make you want to take a second look at our endangered and threatened species.
We had this cart for 3 weeks and we are pleased with the reactions we get from the museum visitors. They are so intrigued by this fascinating topic which includes information about the height of these mammals, the time they lived, when they became extinct, and theories about why they did. We cannot get enough of how children watch in amazement as the skulls on our cart roll past them and they tug on their parents clothing for them to come look.
The interactive games created by interns at the station are geared to make a fun learning environment for children and adults alike. This reassures that when we collaborate together, we are capable of pulling all ages into the world of science. The Extreme Mammals cart; the craze sweeping the public floor and the new addition to a long line of intern demonstration stations.
On Monday November 30th, after having our training on natural selection, two interns each showed their own presentation to the interns.
One intern, Rubi, taught us about a special part of science, public health. Rubi is now in college and taught all us interns about public health! She prepared a twenty-minute training for the interns which talked about what public health is, different aspects of public health, epidemiology (study of what is upon the people and factors affecting the health and illness of populations) and the three types of studies public health officials do.
Mark, who does research with the aquarium’s husbandry department, also taught us about the Academy’s Touch Tide pool filtration system. It seemed like just a tank and amazing animals at first, but Mark explained the many complicated and intricate components used to keep the water clean such as UV sterilizers, protein skimmers, and bioballs. UV sterilizers kill various diseases, protein skimmers take out excess food and waste, and bioballs take ammonia that is fatal to the animals and converts them to nitrites that aren’t dangerous.
This was a very unique training; it was led by interns, and included more about science applied in the public, rather than science content. It’s always very interesting to hear about all the various types of careers in the science fields as well as facts about the Academy, especially from interns themselves! As interns, we are always learning about career choices to get a glimpse of what a career in science would be like.
During the summer, the Interns gain teaching experience by visiting various summer schools or recreation centers. We typically teach two age groups: kindergarten-2nd grade and 3rd-5th grade. Our lessons are “Incredible Insects”, “Rockin’ Reptiles”, and “Shark Shakedown”. These classes are designed to teach students about the different characteristics and adaptations of these animals.
The parts of an insect from Incredible Insects
To prepare for teaching the lessons, Interns attend trainings to learn about the curricula and different teaching styles. When we teach the students, our older Interns give the actual lessons while the newer Interns observe. This gives the newer Interns the opportunity to gain a better understanding of different teaching styles, to see how the lessons are run, and how to control the classroom. Teaching in the classroom gives Interns practice for teaching on the public floor and helps us improve our public speaking skills.
Teaching about shark anatomy
We have taught at organizations including the Hamilton Family Center, Jose Ortega Elementary School, Gilman Recreation Connect, Garfield Recreation Connect, West Sunset Recreation Connect, Hayward Recreation Connect, and the Asian Women’s Resource Center. If you would like the Interns to visit your school, program, or recreation center, please contact Eric Godoy, the Careers in Sciences Manager, at 415-379-5109 or by email at