In June of 2020, PBS and WTTW aired Prehistoric Road Trip, a journey through America’s dinosaur country in search of mysterious creatures and bizarre ecosystems that have shaped our planet. The host of the series is Emily Graslie, Youtube personality and Chief Curiosity Correspondent of the Field Museum in Chicago. The goal of the series and its complementary programming is to foster science curiosity among people of all ages and backgrounds. In addition, the series’ creators aim to highlight women’s contributions to science and the relevance of paleontology in understanding some of today’s pressing concerns, such as climate change.
WTTW had planned to screen clips of the series for children and families at the Field Museum. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public engagement plans for the series were modified, and a virtual preview was held on June 15, 2020. This online event was attended by 572 guests, and included a lively discussion with Graslie and co-executive producer and director Ally Gimbel. Chicago Tonight co-anchor Brandis Friedman moderated behind-the-scenes discussions about the fossil sites where the filming took place and the surprises and challenges encountered by the film crew during their travels.
Participants were enthusiastic about the event, with one viewer commenting: “So excited for my 3-year old daughter! Her future/potential in science is getting brighter and thanks for helping to reinforce that message!” Another viewer remarked: “Thank you for an interesting and fun program for the general public. I teach geology in a continuing ed program for seniors and am always looking for new resources. I will be sure to plug Prehistoric Road Trip at next week’s lecture.”