Asa Kaplan

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A Chicago and St. Louis based Naturalist
Sunday May 26, 2019 3:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

“Using Natural History skill to tell your rock’s story”

This talk introduces an easy framework *you* can use to meaningfully interpret the Natural History story of any rock or fossil you come across. No lab equipment needed, just a keen eye for the right details. After walking through the storytelling toolkit, we will workshop a rock storytelling together. Every rock and every fossil tells a unique story of its experience on earth. Not a fairy tale, but rather a set of characteristics and measures that *you* can document objectively. Science uses these specifics to draw conclusions about these organisms’ lives and environments so long ago; for example, “molting trilobites evidently liked to hide in empty seashells.” In turn, conclusions like these help science generate broad hypotheses to be tested in the wider world; for example, “vulnerability during molting has been a key constraint on the evolution of the world’s most successful animals, the arthropods.” Learning to read and tell such stories is thus its own scientifically crucial discipline: the discipline of Natural History. But just as importantly, Natural History skills enrich our moment-to-moment experience of this earth that we live on and experience every day. Moreover, it’s my belief that this Natural History connection through stories is not merely enriching but actually crucial to our continued survival on earth. If we don’t relate to the specific stories our planet tells us—the stories of earth’s individual rocks and trees—then we will inevitably destroy our planet.

For Asa Kaplan, science is only as good as its ability to enrich everyday living. A Chicago- and St. Louis-based naturalist and social entrepreneur, Asa focuses on gathering community around hyperlocal nature experiences in urban settings. Though more informed by experiences of personal discovery, Asa’s formal educational background includes Biology undergraduate (Yale) and Geology graduate work (University of Michigan). Asa’s recent projects include a paleontological building stone tour of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, as well as the internet’s first real-time almanac of the seasons, The @Living Almanac. Asa also founded the Logan Square International Film Series, and more recently a cooperative housing initiative in Avondale. Current collaborative projects include an urban nature children’s book and a very silly board game. Finally, you will hone *your* own Natural History skills by practicing telling each other the Natural History story of the particular rock or fossil *you* have brought to the talk. Lots of learning for every one : )

***Bring your favorite rock!