When you’re the nation’s leading Museum of Natural History, you don’t expect to be perfect – but shouldn’t you be smarter than a 5th grader? Apparently NOT, since an 11 year-old just caught them in a basic mistake, reports the Associated Press:
Is fifth-grader Kenton Stufflebeam smarter than the Smithsonian? The 11-year-old boy, who lives in Allegan but attends Alamo Elementary School near Kalamazoo, went with his family during winter break to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington.
Since it opened in 1981, millions of people have paraded past the museum’s Tower of Time, a display involving prehistoric time. Not one visitor had reported anything amiss with the exhibit until Kenton noticed that a notation, in bold lettering, identified the Precambrian as an era.
Kenton knew that was wrong. His fifth-grade teacher, John Chapman, had nearly made the same mistake in a classroom earth-science lesson before catching himself.
Read the rest at the link above. “Precambrian” doesn’t describe an “era,” but rather everything from the formation of Earth up to the beginning of the Cambrian period. It seems some scientists associated with the Smithsonian knew about it for years, but it had never been corrected, and the Museum acknowledged that young Kenton was right – thusly:
Excited as he was to receive the correspondence from museum officials, he couldn’t help but point out that it was addressed to Kenton Slufflebeam.
In acknowledging their “Era” error, the Smithsonian officials committed TWO more!
While I’m about it, it’s a wonderful resource, but I’ve always wondered why it is called the “Smithsonian” in the first place. Sure, it was originally endowed by the British scientist, James Smithson, but so what? We don’t refer to “Carnegian Hall” or the “Kennedian Center” or the “Guggenheimian Museum,” do we?