In 1997, Baton Rouge lawyer Charles Moore was meeting with a client when he noticed that her young daughter was fascinated by a dinosaur egg sitting on his desk. The client asked Moore if he would visit her daughter’s school with his then-small collection of fossils and dinosaur eggs, and he agreed to do so.
“This was around the time when there was a series of articles in the local paper about the dismal scores Louisiana kids had in science,” said Moore. “This made me remember my own experience in school and the fact that most of the time we only read about what we studied and looked at a picture or two. I had read about volcanic ash, seen photos of it spewing from volcanoes, but had never seen, held, or felt it.”
That’s when the idea for the Science Outreach Foundation was born. Moore and his wife began visiting local schools with Moore’s collection, which included a mammoth tusk, rocks and ash from Mount St. Helens, shark jaws, snake skeletons, meteorites, rocket and space shuttle models, and more.
At each school, Moore would talk about the wonders of science and allow the students to handle and examine the specimens. Moore estimates that he visited 80 schools and talked to 25,000 students.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “It was wonderful to feel I was reaching all these students, in all kinds of settings—small towns, urban areas, and rural schools deep in the live oaks.”
He said the work was “similar to trial work, in the way you have to connect with an audience and explain complex things in an engaging way.”
As Moore continued visiting schools, his stash of scientific curiosities kept growing and now numbers in the hundreds. But the star of the show is Stan, a scientifically accurate cast of a near-perfect T-Rex fossil that was unearthed in the Black Hills of South Dakota. When Stan is not visiting a school, he lives in a conference room at Moore’s office, where he is no doubt an intimidating presence during depositions and mediations.
The Science Outreach Foundation is now incorporated, and the collection remains available for any school that wants to show it, but Moore and his wife stopped traveling to schools when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Moore said he is looking for an organization that will take the collection, on the condition that the organization continue the school-visiting tradition.
“I will give away this valuable collection for free to any group that will do that,” Moore said. “I think it’s important to keep that basic, integral part of the foundation’s work going.”
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