Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

7.4 Corresponding With Experts


7.4: Corresponding With Experts

In encouraging kids to correspond with experts, you may want to do some advance legwork to make sure that they‘ll get a timely response. It would be a shame to build up a child‘s expectations and enthusiasm only to see a letter, email, or phone message go unanswered.

Start by asking kids what it is they‘d like to learn about. Then decide who might be a good expert to address their questions. For instance, a child might want to know where all those diamonds come from in the jewelry store windows downtown or in the mall. Or they may want to know how a particular dinosaur got its name. The first question would be appropriate to address to a local jeweler and the second to a museum paleontologist or a university professor. You should help decide who would be the best person to address the question and to track that person down and see in advance if they would be willing to help in your project.

Here are examples of different experts you might contact and how to track them down:

Local jewelers. Check your yellow pages under Jewelers or Jewelry. They usually have a number of different categories: Jewelers-Manufacturers, Jewelers-Retail, Jewelers-Wholesale, Jewelry Buyers, Jewelry Designers, Jewelry Engravers, Jewelry Repairing, etc. Other categories to try include Gemstones, Appraisers, or Lapidaries.

College professors. Check the web site of the nearest college or university to connect with academic geologists and paleontologists. A listing of all colleges and universities in the U.S. is available through a web site maintained at the University of Texas. Once on a university web site, check under Geology or Earth Sciences to get to the department site. Such department web sites usually have a listing of all faculty on staff, with brief descriptions of their areas of expertise. Someone there may be able to help you or to give you the name and contact information of a colleague at another college or university.

Museum curators or researchers. Call up the closest natural history museum to see if they have a staff geologist or paleontologist.

Professional geologists and other earth scientists. The U.S. Geological Survey web site has a link to the Earth Science Information Center to address earth science questions via the USGS education web site.

Mining experts. Two groups have web sites that provide much educational information on mining and mineral resources, along with links to ask questions. One is the Mineral Information Institute and another is Women in Mining.