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>No, Ma'am, I don't think you are being crotchety at all.  I've been
>mulling over this message since I got it, debating how to reply, or
>even to make an issue of it.  But I must agree, this kind of fishing
>for someone to do the hard work simply isn't acceptable.  Any kind of
>answer will provide at least a template for the report, if the not
>entire thing.

Larry et al -

        Let's keep in mind one thing here:  everyone is so quick to blame
the kids for laziness and lack of research, but there _is_ another, and
highly relevant, factor:  the teachers.  For the longest time, every piece
of snail mail that came to our museum from some kid wanting info on this or
that dinosaur ended up on my desk, and I was more than happy to answer most
of them.  What I have learned from a lot of these letters is that it isn't
the kids who are really writing for info, _it's_the_teachers_!!!!!  The
teachers very, _very_ often tell the kids that, either as part of or
instead of doing "usual" research, the kids must somehow contact an
"authority" on a subject and get the information from him/her.  This goes
back at least a couple of decades as a practice; I remember having similar
assignments in elementary school.  However, kids don't always relay this
particular tidbit of information when they present a question; they simply
ask for the info, and we, not having this same piece of information,
instead form the portrait of a child too lazy to do his/her own research,
when that simply isn't true.

        Having said this, I can also amend that teachers for kids as young
as second grade are teaching the children how to use computers and,
specifically, the Internet.  I have had two separate requests from teachers
who are doing this to answer the kids' e-mails on dinosaurs.  So when kids'
letters appear in this forum, it may well be that their assignment
specifically asked them to use the Internet to obtain information.  The
letters we see may be a by-product of that assignment.  Thus, it isn't
necessarily that the kids don't want to do the research; the letters we see
may just be their way of doing a specific assignment that involves the

Jerry D. Harris
Denver Museum of Natural History
2001 Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO  80205
(303) 370-6403

Internet:  jdharris@teal.csn.net
CompuServe:  73132,3372

--)::)>   '''''''''''''/O\'''''''''''`  Jpq--   =o}\   w---^/^\^o

OOO f the Earth's many creatures, not all did survive.
O   O Only those that adapted are today still alive!
OOO Those that couldn't -- or wouldn't -- are with us no more:
The most famous of these is the great dinosaur!
"Evolution," they call it; a 10-dollar word.
That's how nature, in time, from a fish, made a bird.

                                                -- Martin J. Giff

--)::)>   '''''''''''''/O\'''''''''''`  Jpq--   =o}\   w---^/^\^o