Weird and Dead Stuff

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Auburn University

 Kay Stone has been working with students now for years, teaching them about fossils and the world around them, and bringing other educators into the mix to help kids learn.

Newest postings are at the bottom of the page!
Kay has now retired, we still have some photo postings to do, thank you for your patience!


4/29/08  We had a request from Kay (Auburn University) in Auburn, Alabama for donation of fossils to a school in Alabama, which we were only too happy to send.  The response has been so gratifying!  Here is Administrator Kay with several of the students:

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Dear Glenn and Heidi,


We enjoyed the first of our field days today with 6th graders of D. C. Wolfe Elementary School in Shorter, Alabama, part of our Black Belt Environmental Science & Arts Program, doing the paleontology module.

It was a huge success. The students had studied fossils and geologic time in the classroom earlier this semester and they were THRILLED to get to touch and keep some of the fossils.  We presented several boxes of labeled fossils to the classroom including one that was completely made up of your fossils as well as copies of the booklet. We included stickers on the box and booklets that noted they were donated from you along with the web page address for future reference.

We had put some small ones in bags of sand for them to 'find' and identify, then take home. I was happy to see that most of them were very focused on the task.
Here are a few photos and we will send more from the upcoming events. Have a great week.
 You are already listed on our sponsors page under private organizations.  Thanks again for helping to make the program special for these kids.

Kay, Outreach Program Administrator II

Auburn University Environmental Institute, Auburn AL


5/12/08 Update from Kay

Dear Glenn and Heidi,

Another week of fun in the Black Belt. We were part of a "Nature Day" at one of the State Nature Preserves and I opted to display fossils since they had most wildlife and plants covered. See the photo of my display including fossils from you and a few on loan from the state. We had a small crowd due to stormy weather, but the display was a hit with both children and adults.

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The other photos are from another field day with sixth graders. The younger lady in the blue shirt is an AU grad student in geology that was helping out.  Notice the poster in the background. We scanned it and had a copy printed for each child!!!

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Tara also got some lemon and bull shark's teeth to go along with the meg tooth that each child got to keep.  Then they had their bag of sand with all kinds of finds including coral, dental plates from rays, etc. Everyone was so excited, but also so well behaved. It was a pure pleasure to share with these students.

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We made up a special "door prize" in a small Riker-type box and the little girl was thrilled that she won it. The others gathered around to see it when the photo was over.

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Thanks again for helping to make these events so successful. Your donations took a good module and put it right over the top. We are headed out Monday again and will be focusing on archaeology. I already have your posters packed so I can show them to the students.
Several of the teacher asked me to relay their thanks as well.
Have a great weekend.


5/16/08  Update from Kay


You and Heidi are wonderful. We had a great time on the dig. Hope to get to download photos on Monday as I am still unpacking equipment. I can't wait for our next batch of goodies. You are so nice to share. Your t-shirts will go out Monday as well. They were a big hit on the field day circuit.
Dr. Cottier, AU archaeologist and the other "diggers" at our river camp were impressed with the point poster. We had it up each day the students were there.
Have a great weekend.  Kay


5/21/08 Update from Kay

Dear Heidi and Glenn,

The latest box arrived just before lunch and I am like a kid at Christmas. The office staff gathered around to see what cool stuff you sent. Everything is wonderful and I plan to spend a good bit of time this summer putting together fossil programs for fall. The books will be very helpful as well. I can't believe how lucky we are that you are so generous.


Here are some photos from last week's field days with eighth graders in Wilcox County. The young man in the photo did the art work for the T-shirts. (note the poster in the background)  Auburn University's archaeologist Dr. John Cottier and I are the other two in the photo. The building in the background is our camp kitchen and the only structure at the site other than tents and two Porta-potties.

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The other photo is of two students working at the excavation site.

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(p.s. from Glenn and Heidi)  WE GOT THE T-SHIRTS AND THEY ARE TERRIFIC, KAY.  Also, this is not about US, but how much we have sent that is SO USEFUL to YOU and the STUDENTS.  Thank you for letting us be part of the fun!

Glenn and Heidi


May 22, 2008


Heidi and Glenn,
The posting looks great. I am hoping to go to a nearby location with some graduate students next week to look for shark's teeth. It is a creek about 30 miles from here and is supposed to have  good teeth to find. We shall see.


June 26, 2008  We realized on our way to Louisiana we were going right by the exit for Auburn University in Alabama, so we stopped and surprised Kay and her boss Dennis there.  Here is Glenn with Kay in her office, showing off a slate she found on a recent dig, it has a Trigonocarpus seed pod of a medullosa plant on it, and another of Kay with Heidi.

She describes the dig:  We visited an un-reclaimed coal mine that is now owned by the State and protected due to the extensive prehistoric animal track ways found in the shale. I mostly got plant fossils, but did find one piece with burrows in it. I also got a piece of shale with small animal tracks. I am in the process of identifying them. It was a great time, but was very hot. The tree fern seed pod was my best find.

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Here is a recent photo of Kay finding this fossil, is that the look of a happy child or what?  It's better never to grow up.

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August 28, 2008  Dear Heidi and Glenn -

I visited a local elementary school to present a "Rocks, Minerals and Fossils" talk to a third grade class. They got to look at and handle lots of specimens and then of course they each got two sharks teeth to keep as a starter for their fossil collection. I also read them the book "Everybody Needs a Rock" by Byrd Baylor, then we played "speed rock" a little activity that helps them learn the three types of rocks.



May 22, 2009 


Our spring field days are over and again thanks to you they were a huge success. The students loved learning about fossils and getting to search and keep their own. One sixth-grade in Bullock County had just studied them in science and they were so thrilled to be able to answer our questions.  You can see some of the students looking through the "dirt" which I had seeded with a few of your larger fossils along with the small ones. I was even able to find some mini-magnifiers that the students could keep to study their treasures. The books were a hit as well since many of the fossils they found could easily be located in the books.
As always, the coprolite is a huge hit during the discussion.

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(July 9, 2009)  I (Kay) have put together my "poop" display and like the way it turned out. I have attached a photo. I set it up so I can take the specimens out and let the students see them.  I also have a couple of extra specimens that they can handle. I want them to get the tactile experience and besides they like to sniff the coprolite despite my assurance it doesn't smell.

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Update 9/18/09  Poop Meeting!

Kay writes us:  "I was asked to help with an outreach program on campus last Tuesday night hosted by the College of Sciences and Mathematics. It is called "GUTS" Getting Under the Surface of... various science and math modules. Ours was entitled "Fossil Frenzy". We had 13 first through third graders and their parents.  The local paper featured two parents looking at my coprolite collection. Here is a photo provided by the COSAM office."  Yes, it IS a fascinating collection, Kay!

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My poop ensemble has gotten quite a few comments and will be a great addition not only to the coprolite discussion, but also when we talk about animal signs (scats and tracks) on our trail walks.


OCTOBER 22, 2009


Kay invited us to speak at the Wehle Nature Center in Bullock County, near Midway Alabama to sixth graders.  We said YES!  Here's info on the Nature Center, a short video on Alabama news:


We had the students bring in all the whale fossils from the car, then we identified them and talked about interesting whale species and facts such as the beluga and narwhal.  We also shared megalodon and great white shark teeth and many other weird items.

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Here the students are outside at the picnic tables, identifying fossils in the sand packets Kay gave them.  Fossils from Aurora NC

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Here we're sharing our Bowhead Whale Baleen with some help from the kids 

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Glenn has some helpers holding up the whale rib while he talks about the size of the right whale this came from

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This is the right whale vertebrae just behind the skull. Behind Glenn is a blueprint of the whale's skeleton and skull

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Heidi's making a strange face, almost as bad as photographing someone that's eating.  But I kept this photo to show the whale poster behind

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Kay is introducing Glenn, who put this large dinosaur coprolite (fossil poop) in the middle of the room.wehle3.jpg (115632 bytes)

He had the kids all come together to touch it (not knowing what it was), told them to look up, imagine a big hole through the top of the center, and then made a big rude farting sound, and told the kids they had just been pooped on by a dinosaur!

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Needless to say, they all ran away laughing and screaming, only to listen closely to more information about fossil poop and how nature preserves it.  A great teaching tool with  humor!

Heidi is describing the shark tooth necklaces (in her hand), one of several necklaces each of the kids received as gifts

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Our goofy gift to Kay was a Grand Poo-bah (moose poop) necklace and matching earrings she is showing off here

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Photos of the day's team teachers assembled by Kay.  What a great group of assets for the students!

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and with Glenn and Heidi in the picture

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Hello, Glenn & Heidi
We do not know how to say thank you for coming to our field day. It was such a wonderful experience for all of us.  I am sure the students will remember it for years to come.  I love the great "poop" moment that Glenn pulled off.


Here are a couple of photos from our program this fall (2009) in Macon County. These are students from D.C. Wolfe Elementary School in Shorter, Alabama. They are identifying their fossils in the first one 

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and then using our "how big is a Megalodon?" cut outs to visual the length of a megalodon 

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and the size of its mouth:

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I received the Macon County evaluations in the mail today and they are so cute. Of the three modules we taught, the FOSSIL MODULE was listed most often as the favorite. 

Many liked learning about how Alabama has been under water during various geologic periods and that the fossils we find in our area are most often from ancient marine animals and plants. Again, your generosity has allowed us to let each student go home with their own fossils and sparked the imagination of many young minds.  Kay


December 2009  From Kay:

Here are a few pictures of Tonto, the gopher tortoise and "little kid" Kay. 

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Here are her comments:  They are a protected species in Alabama and Auburn University has an ongoing research project with the state wildlife folks. Tonto came to us before Christmas when someone "found" him and dropped him off at the office. He was dehydrated and had pneumonia, but with IV's and antibiotics, he is MUCH better. We have been buying a variety of fruits and veggie for him. He seems to have a sweet tooth as he will eat bananas, apples and strawberries before his greens and squash. Mushrooms are not his thing as he pushes them aside.

Come spring Tonto will go to live in one of the National Forests in the south part of the state. As a large male, we hope he will find him a lady friend and help regenerate the population.

2/17/10  Krogers donated a bunch of apples today so he will be happy as they are one of his favorites.


2/17/10 update from Kay:
Spring can't be far away as the chrysalis I found on my porch rail and brought to the office opened into a beautiful spicebush swallowtail yesterday!  It will be fed indoors as too cold and no flowers for it to eat from right now.

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3/10/10  From Kay - Dear Heidi and Glenn,

Hope you are enjoying the spring-like weather. Our trip to the Environmental Education Association of Alabama conference got off to a rough start. We were sitting at a stop light here in Auburn and were struck from behind by a pickup. There were three of us in the SUV and one passenger in the front hurt enough that she didn't travel on with us to the conference. The driver and I were sore (neck and back), but the vehicle suffered minor damage and we were able to continue our trip. 
The conference was wonderful with a night nature walk for star gazing and looking at lichen. We had a presentation from a professor at Auburn who has located a population of Ivory Billed Woodpeckers in the swamps of Southern AL and NW FL. 

They have audio and video evidence but a clear definitive photograph still eludes them. It was most interesting. The keynote speaker was Brian "Fox" Ellis a historical and ecological storyteller foxtalesint.com He performed his Adventures of John James Audobon and it was wonderful.  I purchased several of his books and CD to donate to some of our schools.

Our auction was not as well attended this year - I guess the economy has everyone pinching pennies. But the jewelry you donated got lots of attention and raised $150.00.  I was a little disappointed, but glad we were able to get that much considering some items went really low.  Again, I thank you for your help. I put together some photos of your visit and included the business cards on our table.

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A number of people were very interested in knowing more about your business so I hope it results in some contacts and sales.

As always, the wildlife was one of my favorites. From the bald eagles nesting and soaring over the lake to slimy salamanders crawling around in the Cathedral Caverns. 

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And yes, I got to see interesting fossils including the shark's tooth that protrudes from the ceiling 

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as well as an archimedes bryozoan.

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3/26/10  From Kay:  Heidi and Glenn,


I don't know if I mentioned that some of the State Lands people invited me to tag along last week to the Minkin Fossil site.  This is the un-reclaimed strip coal mine where all the fossil critter tracks have been found.  I visited there during a week-long workshop almost two years ago. The weather in March is MUCH nicer than it was in June.
We had a great time and found some nice plant material plus a few interesting tracks. Hope to have time this summer to go through it and identify specimens plus set aside pieces to give to students and teachers.

I am amazed at the wonders we found and we all sat on the rocks and pondered what the site was like for the plants and creatures that came 300+ million years before us. We concluded our wildest imaginations would not match their reality.

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4/6/10  From Kay
Hello, Glenn and Heidi - 
We visited with 58 third grade students this morning to talk about reptiles and amphibians. Thought you would enjoy the photos. I think the teachers enjoyed it as much as the students. Mr. Pace (the teacher) was a bit wary of Elvis (the snake), but I had him holding him before we left. He was more comfortable taking the alligator back around for the students to see. They were fascinated with the back and foot, with a few thinking they were fake.  I really appreciate you sending them to us as they are a great way to demonstrate the features of reptiles without having them squirm around. The tree frog I took to talk about amphibians promptly peed on me as soon as I got it out of the box.  The cane toad and two snakes were much better behaved.  We used the cane toad to talk about invasive species.

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Where on Earth responded:  "We are so pleased to have our gator items used to educate young people, Kay!"


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