Scott Sampson was four years old when he learned to spell the word paleontology.
The next year, he knew he could become a doctor of paleontology.
“I was one of those kids that just knew,” he says. “I still love these dinosaurs and I’ve spent a big chunk of my life, living in tents and digging up old bones. It’s a wonderful trip for me.”
Today, Sampson is not only a doctor of paleontology, but he’s also the executive director, William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair, California Academy of Sciences.
Not to forget, his role as host of the PBS Kids series, “Dinosaur Train.” It airs at 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on New Mexico PBS and then at 10:30 a.m. Saturday-Sunday on PBS Kids.
Sampson is also the keynote speaker at this year’s New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children virtual conference on Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6.
The organization supports quality care and education for the well-being of young children, birth to eight, through professional development, research and advocacy for the early childhood educator workforce.
Sampson has spent plenty of time speaking at conferences for early childhood education.
It’s also the reason he got involved with the PBS Kids series, “Dinosaur Train.”
The series encourages kids ages 3-6 to apply scientific thinking as they discover new types of dinosaur species, and to embrace the living sciences of paleontology and natural science.
“When we first started doing the show, I wanted to treat kids like they are smart,” Sampson says. “It’s been a powerful show and we’ve been doing it over a decade now. The show presents a problem for the dinosaurs and each comes up with a hypothesis. The show has been great in showing kids how science works.”
Sampson says the show is a gateway to science and that it’s important to engage children from a young age.
As the guest speaker for the NMAEYC conference, Sampson tries to provide insight to today’s educators.
“I think the single, biggest misconception is that humans aren’t part of nature,” he says. “We see ourselves outside and above it. The science says we are part of the natural world. Kids, now they see themselves as part of nature. It gets beat out of them in the education system. We need to heal that divide. We’re part of this amazing natural system. If we keep removing parts of that system, then parts of it will collapse.”
To register for the New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children (NMAEYC) conference, visit https://na.eventscloud.com/website/18809/home/