DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — When George Blasing was a kid, he fell in love with dinosaurs, which is now fortunate for millions of other children.
“You know how everybody goes through those phases,” Blasing said. “Well, I never grew out of my dinosaur phase.”
Blasing, a self-taught paleontologist with more than 35 years of study under his belt, goes by the name “Dinosaur George.” And with good reason. Blasing developed a traveling exhibit called “Museum in the Classroom,” which brings a museum-worthy display to communities with no natural history program.
“It’s a display that would be the envy of most public museums,” Blasing said.
If you don’t believe him, you can find out for yourself Sept. 10-11 when he transforms Lakeside Pavilion, 307 Buena Vista Drive, into the biggest dinosaur museum around. He and his staff will put up more than 150 exhibits.
“This will be the first time many kids see a Tyrannosaurus rex skull,” he said. “Even for some adults, (it) may be the first time they see one.”
The exhibition is free and runs 9 a.m.-7 p.m. both days.
The Marble Falls Public Library is sponsoring the event. Eileen Smith of the library said the facility hosted a Science Rocks event last year to help get kids excited about science. When the library began looking for another exhibit to bring to the community this year, Smith said Dinosaur George was a natural.
“He came last summer (2012) as part of our summer reading program, and the kids just loved him,” Smith said. “And not just the kids, but the parents and grandparents thought he put on a wonderful program. At the time, he mentioned that he was starting this traveling exhibit, so when we decided to do another science program, it just made sense to bring his.”
The exhibit is a self-guided tour, but Dinosaur George and staff will be there to answer questions.
Blasing said his motivation for the exhibit and his educational programs is to open children to a world beyond what they typically see and experience.
“There are two basic reasons I do this. First is to expose children who may never get to see a museum to something like this. And the other is to encourage kids to look at the world from a bigger perspective than just their backyard. I want to encourage them to see that there are so many opportunities out there waiting for them if they just go and look.”
This isn’t just a marketing statement either. Blasing knows exhibits such as his make a difference in children’s lives. He recalled a letter one mother wrote him after her youngest of three boys attended one of his Dinosaur George programs.
“One of her boys had been shot and killed. Another boy was in prison, and her youngest son wanted to follow in his brothers’ footsteps,” Blasing said. “That was before he went through one of the programs. After he did, the boy went home and told his mother he wanted to be a dinosaur man. If I can change one child and get them to see what their opportunities can be, well, this is all worth it.”
Blasing began amassing his collection of dinosaur fossils during his many years of excavation. He also began collecting fossils from overseas.
Last year, Dinosaur George surpassed the two million mark in the number of children he has spoken to or put on a program for. Along with his exhibits, Blasing co-created, wrote and hosted the 12-part series “Jurassic Fight Club” on The History Channel.
Despite the TV success and other accolades, one of Blasing’s greatest joys comes from standing by an exhibit during the Museum in the Classroom and watching kids walk through.
“For me, the most exciting part is when you see the look on a child’s face when they come through and they look up at their parents and the parent has just as big of an expression of awe and excitement,” Blasing said. “It’s an exhibit where everybody becomes a kid.”
Go to www.dinosaurgeorge.com for more information on Dinosaur George programs or go to www.marblefallslibrary.org for information on the Sept. 10-11 Museum in the Classroom exhibit.