Wikipedia is the perfect medium for communicating a joy for science. Every spark of curiosity leads to a new question, and Wikipedia offers paths for a mind to wander.
When we saw that there was a class about dinosaurs, we got pretty excited. There’s something compelling about giant, “terrible lizards” roaming the planet. We all know a child or two whose encyclopedic knowledge of dinosaur taxonomy borders on eerie.
Students in Dr. Paul Sereno’s Dinosaur Science course at the University of Chicago tackled Wikipedia articles about paleontology. Their writing was paired with a field study in South Dakota and Wyoming.
Students expanded the article on Dicraeosauridae, a family of dinosaurs with short necks and small bodies, and Stegosauride, armored dinosaurs related to the Stegasaurus. They expanded the stub article about Eusauropoda, long-necked, four-legged herbivores that spanned much of the planet.
The class made a staggering number of quality contributions to articles about dinosaurs. Just a few more:
- The wedge-snouted Protoceratipsids
- Megalosaurids, once a catch-all family name that’s now more narrowly defined
- Small, herbivorous Saltasauridae
- The Majungasaurinae, a top predator with fossils found in Madagascar
- The large, four-legged Brachiosauridae
- The small, armadillo-esque Ankylosauridae
Together, students contributed 41,500 words to 17 articles. Those articles have been seen 22,100 times in just a few weeks. That’s helping more people understand paleontology, and the fascinating history of life on this planet.
Thanks to these student editors, and to Dr. Paul Sereno, for contributing their expertise to be shared with the world through Wikipedia.
If you’re interested in teaching science with Wikipedia, and improving open access to scientific information, we’d love to have a conversation! Reach out to us: email@example.com.
Photo: Deinonychosaurier by Dellex – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.