Triceratops inhabits Timonium school

June 17, 1994|By Matt Ebnet | Matt Ebnet,Sun Staff Writer

Like many fourth-graders, Deirdre Daily and four of her friends at Timonium Elementary School are crazy about dinosaurs. Unfortunately, the great lizards are scarce in Baltimore County.

So they took an old sawhorse, newspapers and chicken wire and put two months of fourth-grade sweat into finishing a project that symbolizes a profound fourth-grade frustration -- the inability to find a dinosaur when you need one.

"We wanted a dinosaur museum. So we built one," Deirdre said.

At least they're off to a good start. Just inside the entrance to the school, under a banner that reads "Allow Yourself to be Great," their newly made, 9 1/2 -foot green papier-mache triceratops now stands guard.

"We didn't think it would get this big," Meaghan Russell, 9, said. "We ended up having to move it with a pickup truck."

The students finished the model Tuesday evening, three days before school ended. They named it "Cenozo," after the Cenozoic period during which its flesh-and-blood cousins lived about 65 million years ago.

"I'm astonished that the kids stuck to it the way they did," said Jean Daily, Deirdre's mother. "It took a long time. But, you know, it was really their project."

The initial inspiration came from a paleontologist who visited the school to talk about dinosaurs.

"The kids were very excited," said Jeanne Leaning, their teacher. "The kids had the idea and went away with it."

"Actually, I kind of always wanted to be a paleontologist. Really," said Kate Jay, one of the dinosaur-builders.

Although the children are glad the project is over, they say finishing it was their proudest moment in school because they worked so hard.

"The hardest part was the fan in the back of his head," said Daniel Blumenfeld, 10. "It was hard getting it at the right angle."

"The horns too," said Jacob Vanko, 11. "That was really hard. I really worked on those."

Meaghan Russell showed photographs of the dinosaur under construction, giggling over the first one, taken when the dinosaur was still chicken wire and paper.

"This is what it first looked like," she said. "We didn't think it would grow this big."

Suddenly she shouted "No!" and dashed to the dinosaur to head off another student who wanted to sit on Cenozo's back.

"We have two of us here every morning guarding him," she said, "but we should put a 'Do not touch' sign on it."

Added Deirdre: "We want everybody to see it, but if anything happened to it, I'd really have to hurt whoever did it."

The youngsters hope next year's students will add to the museum. Maybe something more ambitious -- like Tyrannosaurus rex.

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