In June of 2020, PBS and WTTW broadcast the Prehistoric Road Trip, a journey through America’s dinosaur country in a search for mysterious creatures and bizarre ecosystems that have shaped Earth. The goal of the program was to foster science curiosity among people of all ages and backgrounds and highlights women’s contributions to science and the relevance of paleontology in understanding today’s pressing concerns such as climate change.
In addition to the broadcast, WTTW planned to screen clips of the program for children and families at the Field Museum in Chicago, hosted by YouTube personality and Field Museum Chief Curiosity Correspondent Emily Graslie. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public engagement plans for Prehistoric Road Trip were modified to a virtual event, held on June 15, 2020.
The virtual sneak peek was attended by 572 guests. Short clips from Episode 1 (Welcome to Fossil Country) were shown, followed by a lively discussion with Emily Graslie and co-executive producer and director Ally Gimbel. Chicago Tonight co-anchor Brandis Friedman moderated the behind-the-scenes discussion about the fossil sites where the filming took place and the surprises and challenges encountered by the film crew as they traveled thousands of miles across the Northern Great Plains.
Participants were enthusiatic 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.”
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