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Science Course
Course CodePBIO
Year Opened1984
Sites OfferedLAN, LOS
Previously OfferedCLA, CLN
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Course Description

Paleobiology involves extensive overviews of geology and biology, which cover most of the course. The course includes various dissections, such as starfish, crayfish, squid, fish, salamanders, lizards, and mice. The students also get the chance to see fossils up close and to collect any that they find, and the course usually includes two or so field trips. The remainder of the course involves discussion of various topics in evolutionary biology and ecology, as well as a unit on the evolution of the genus Homo.

Class History

In LAN.06.1, Paleobiology was taught by Mr. Freeman, a knowledgeable biology and archaeology teacher who happened to share the last name, first initial, and middle initial of the course's textbook's author. The TA was Darrell, well beloved by the students and notable for his Chuck Norris-based humor. The class was taught in a classroom in the center of the ground floor of the Hackman physical sciences building. In the absence of windows, rows upon rows of shelving units full of fossils, and casts of an amphibian skull, a plesiosaur forelimb, and other relics of the past adorned the walls.

The course began with a unit on geology lasting for almost a full week. This was followed by another rather long unit on biology, overviewing much of that subject in slightly over one week. This included three dissections in two hours: starfish, crayfish, and squid. Later on, the class was divided into six groups of three students for the purposes of producing the major presentation. Each group was given a space of time of about two geological periods to cover, describing animal and plant life, climate, geographical changes, and any mass extinctions during that time. Presentations took the form of trifold posters, which were presented at the beginning of the third week.

Two field trips were taken during this session. The first, which took place on First Friday, was a fossil-hunting expedition to the Suedberg fossil site in Swatara Gap National Park, about one and one half hours from Franklin and Marshall. Dozens upon dozens of specimens were found, and all but a few choice fossils were discarded. A stop was made at a smaller fossil site somewhere in Lancaster County, but no fossils were found there whatsoever.

The second trip was to the Philadephia Zoo, ostensibly for the purpose of observing primate behavior and movement patterns. The class split into four groups, each headed by either the teacher, TA, or one of two RAs who tagged along. Since the required observation period for the gorillas and orangutans was only fifteen minutes each, much time was spent touring the remainder of the zoological park.

According to the teacher and the TA, the staff arrangement was to be different for second session. Mr. Freeman was not able to teach then, so Darrell was to be the instructor, and someone else to be the TA.

In LAN.08.1, Mr. Freeman was the intructor, with Melanie being the TA. There was also a red-eared slider (a type of turtle), who lived in a tank located at the rear of the classroom. The session one class named the turtle Sewp (pronounced "soup").

(From LAN.08.1) An ongoing innuendo particular to Paleobiology: PELECEPODS! Look at the size of his pelecepod! That pelecepod is rock solid! Alison's touching my pelecepod! Bob's pelecepod is bigger that all our pelecepods combined. That is a gigantic pelecepod; how does he carry that thing around? Etc... The TA, Melanie, did not however approve of this humor, and send multiple kids to the academic dean for "sexual innuendos".

LAN.12.2 was the most glorious session of PBIO ever The teacher was Rich Bykowski and TA was Dan Feldyman Dan was notorious for his large beard which got him dubbed as "Dan the Neaderthal Man'" credit for this goes to LAN.12.1 He was a very quiet man.

The Y chromosome part of the class had taken up a habit and liking of trolling. Two members, Connor and Jason Y would troll whenever they could, which at times vexed the instructors.

In LAN 15.2, PBIO was taught by Rich Bykowsi and TA'd by the lovely, squirrel-loving Lauren. The class grew very close, although the boys sometimes got out of hand. For example, when Ben "the Mom" was locked into a shower stall (consensually, of course) and forced to eat Hot Tamales. In addition, the class was full of memes, including Olivia's Pepesaurus rex. There was of course the Holy Bibile, courtesy of Jason's legendary misspelling, and the "Water you doin', Erin?" puns made by Nina, for the most part.

In LAN 16.2, Rich Bykowski was still teaching, and the TA was Lauren, an extremely kind and squirrel-obsessed (the animal) person. Rich's knowledge of CTY traditions was impressive, although he had an irritating tendency to not care about them much - he pulled one CTYer out of Canon Lunchtime halfway through the last song because we were "late for class" (we weren't). The first field trip was to Beltzville State Park, and the second didn't happen due to rain but would have been to a museum in Lancaster.

In LAN 18.1, Rich Bykowski was still our teacher (we called him Dr. Rich this time around, and he commented on that ("When did calling me Dr. Rich start?")) and Jesse Broce was our TA. Jesse was a kind, friendly man with a positively massive, magnificent beard who specialized in Precambrian studies and was incredibly popular with the class. However, he wasn't actually able to control the class that well (maybe this contributed to the students liking him so much) and was consistently baffled by the weirder aspects of CTY culture and traditions, as well as some more bizarre conversations among the students. One student, Daniel K (known to everyone as "Mark" due to an incident involving his RA), was known for asking Jesse some rather inane questions ("what's the fossil record?" "what's biostratigraphy?" and "what are tetrapods?" two weeks into the course), leaving his lanyard behind (and getting it stuck in a tree once) and generally being one of the more vexing students to deal with. "Now I know why Dr. Rich hates you" was heard spoken to him once. During the class game of PBIO Trivia in the third week, the teams "Team Cope" (Dylan and Alex) and "English Water" (Joanna and Joseph) were tied with 58 points, but English Water won the game due to Joseph being able to spell "Lagerstätte" with the accent on the correct letter. The first field trip was to Beltzville State Park (where we did quite a number on the cliff face and brought home many brachiopods) and the second was to a museum in Lancaster.

In LAN 18.2, Rich Bykowski and Jesse Brock were still Instructor and T.A. respectively. Rich mandated that we call him Rich, and Jesse was affectionately nicknamed Tesso after an incident of poor handwriting. Jesse seemed to have given up and accepted the weirdness of CTYers after several crazy study hall sessions. The field trip to Beltzville was almost canceled due to torrential rains that week. Due to the rain, many breaks had to be spent indoors, but luckily, Sydney brought in her deck of Disney Princess themed Uno from 3rd grade to play. Kumaren was the true winner of Princess Uno with having to draw 24 cards all in one go from stacked +2/+4 cards. During Sunday study hall, Rich made the class draw 10 variations of critters from randomly generated measurements, unfondly nicknamed "the RNG (Random Number Generator) abominations". This activity was strongly disliked and the class spent more time writing petitions against the activity than actually drawing critters. Throughout the 3 weeks of CTY, Rich used the word "critter" at least 100 times. In Pbio trivia, 4 teams of 3 competed, with team Nanotyrannus (Nathan, Kumaren, and William Radmore) won with ~68 points (not sure of the actual number)

A fair set of warnings to next year: Do Not... -Mention Nanotyrannus to Rich, -Mess with "Rexy" Rich's wood dino skeleton, -Base everything you know off of Jurassic Park, -Get Rich's frisbee stuck in a tree, -Use another frisbee to get Rich's frisbee out of the tree, and most of all DO NOT FALL ASLEEP IN CLASS

In LOS 17.1, the class progressively became more obsessed with Foursquare over the course of the session. Coupled with the teacher's ever-smaller desire to put up with us and the TA's immense pleasure in playing Foursquare with the kids during break, the last few days of the session were marked by daily 30 minute breaks. The class went on two field trips, one to the La Brea Tar Pits, where we listened to a short lecture about the trials and tribulations of restoring fossils from tar, and one to the Alf Museum of Paleontology. Due to the TA being an advisor helping develop the game Saurian, in the last few days the class was able to play a demo. After the somewhat obvious realization that ancient creatures are more interesting to 13-year-old kids than simply rocks that were ancient, the TA began to give nightly presentations, each day on a different creature, beginning, of course, by giving a presentation on the great creature that was the dodo. Since the teacher was working on their doctorate dissertation, which was based on a prehistoric cetacean (which, for any confused people reading this either means dolphins, whales, wolves, or something in between), most of the in-class examples of studying animal biology from fossils came from observations surrounding this curious aquatic family of creatures. Another obsession of the class was ERS, and the few occasions in which people did not play Foursquare during a break, they could be found in one corner or another with playing cards. A recurring comment in the class was the ubiquitous desire to go to the Jamba Juice in the middle of campus. Most of the students were from the San Francisco Bay or LA, with a couple of exceptions, one being from Hong Kong, another being from Singapore, and the last being quite the exotic visitor from a land of forests, rivers, and Carnaval.