2008-05-16 / Community

Collegians take on mammoth project

By Sylvie Belmond belmond@theacorn.com

CREATURE FEATURE- Josh Banday, right, shares a  preview of the cartoon characters he designed for the multimedia package about the Moorpark mammoth with the City Council last week. Banday is one of five California Lutheran University students creating a website, workbook and DVD about the mammoth. CREATURE FEATURE- Josh Banday, right, shares a preview of the cartoon characters he designed for the multimedia package about the Moorpark mammoth with the City Council last week. Banday is one of five California Lutheran University students creating a website, workbook and DVD about the mammoth. During a City Council meeting last week, five students from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks gave an overview of a website, a DVD and a workbook telling the story of the Moorpark mammoth discovered in the Moorpark Highlands in 2005.

"The idea is to use the mammoth as a fun teaching aid topic," Assistant City Manager Hugh Riley said in an interview afterwards.

The ancient creature, unearthed during construction of a housing development north of downtown, is the second most complete Southern mammoth skeleton in North America.

The remains were donated to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History so the skeleton could be displayed close to home.

The city provided initial grant money to help fund the teaching project, but the creators are seeking private sponsors to maintain the website and associated materials and to help fund the museum exhibit, Riley said.

"We brought the mammoth back to life and now hopefully we will keep it alive by promoting it." Riley works on the project on his own time.

Animated characters designed by student Josh Banday will take viewers on a prehistoric trip through the DVD, which was created by Bret Bays. Chris Meierding formulated the workbook that will accompany the project. The website, designed by John Atkinson and featuring interactive games produced by Joey Lang, will be launched on June 30.

"It's really a great way to deliver the story," said Riley.

The three elements of the project feature games, activities and information presented with 3-D animation and video clips.

Working with CLU education professor Michael McCambridge to tie the program to state standards, the students are designing the DVD for use in middle school classrooms. It will incorporate math, biology, geology, geography, art and debate skills.

Atkinson of Newbury Park, Banday of Los Angeles, Bays and Meierding of Ventura and Lang of Simi Valley are putting the final touches on the multimedia educational tools under the guidance of Tim Hengst, director of CLU's multimedia department.

The students worked with a science education company called Amuseum in Orange County to accurately depict the story of the beast and the era in which it lived.

"It's a joint concept developed by Curt Abdouch and me," said Riley, who nicknamed the mammoth "Emma" soon after it was found. Abdouch is president of Amuseum.

A group of middle school teachers is also taking part in the project to make sure that its contents fit into the curriculum, said Hengst.

"The idea of the project as a whole is not only to provide a teaching aid, but also to provide something interesting in the classroom so kids can be interactive," Banday said.

The materials, which will be free to Moorpark schools, may be sold to other school districts.

The project includes a gallery of photos taken during the excavation and preservation processes and a fictional account of the Moorpark mammoth's life written by Abdouch.

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