+ Middle-Schooler Co-Authored Scholarly Article with Dad

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Associated Press reports that the Wilson Journal has published a scholarly article on the white-winged diuca finch. 

The name of co-author Spencer P. Hardy’s Norwich, Vermont school was listed simply as Marion B. Cross School.  The word “Elementary” was dropped. 

Spencer Hardy helped his father, Douglas, document the phenomenon: on a high altitude ice-field where only penguins had ever been seen, another species is successfully nesting.

Although Spencer has been fascinated with birds ever since he began thoughtfully watching flocks of them as he sat in his high chair, he did not travel with his dad to Peru’s Quelccaya Ice Cap.  Douglas traveled to the area in 2003 as part of his work to help get a long-term climate history through the dust trapped in centuries-old ice, 18,000 feet above sea level.

Because of his son’s huge interest in birds, Douglas began taking pictures of every bird he came across.

After he returned home, Spencer would pore over the photos, checking bird books to identify the species.

But during this process, Douglas started noticing the nests on the ice.  The father and son team shared their finding with neighbor George Clark, a retired biologist from the University of Connecticut, who has helped to groom the young ornithologist. 

The group began to puzzle out which species had made the nests.  “We got it down to two species, mainly from the size [of the nests] and what was around and abundant in the area,” says Spencer. 

A feather expert at the Smithsonian made the link to the white-winged diuca finch.

Says Clark, “The discovery of this is really a kind of new frontier.  Physically, we think much of the globe has been covered.  This is an area that people just haven’t visited.”

About two years ago, Douglas Hardy queried the Wilson Journal about a paper on the ice birds.  Professional birders persuaded him that given Spencer’s level of input, he certainly merited the co-author tag.

Says Douglas Hardy, “My first step was to go to the editor and say, ‘I want to be totally honest with you, he’s my son.  I can’t see objectively about this.”

But editor Crait Braun said the science — and Spencer’s contribution to it — was sound.  “It’s not just the casual person who can pick this stuff up and turn it into terrific prose.  Spencer deserves a lot of credit to get his dad to get more information and then helping his dad turn it into a scientific paper.”

After the paper was finalized, there was some discussion about which of Spencer’s schools to list.  They chose the school he was attending when the journal first accepted the article.

Spencer says that right now, birding is an after school project for him.  But there is definitely formal ornithology study in his future.

sole source: www.googlenews.com: Associated Press article on 11/17/08.

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email   aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com 

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