A volunteer teaches a child about the importance of brushing

Dinosaur Train, the popular PBS program that teaches children about dinosaurs, made a stop at Stony Brook University on Sunday to raise money for the Madagascar Ankizy Fund. The event kicked off at 2 with an expo in the Wang Center that featured activities, snacks, and opportunities to donate to a good cause. One table even allowed children to write a question for Dr. Scott to answer on the show.

The expo was staffed by entirely by volunteers, some as young as 13, who were collecting tickets, hosting activities, and handing out snacks. Other volunteers wore pins that read ‘I’ve been to Madagascar, ask me a question’ as they explained models and actual fossils to curious onlookers of all ages. The ancient creatures on display, which ranged from giant frogs to carnivorous dinosaurs, were all discovered by Stony Brook Researchers.

Both David Krause, the founder of the Ankizy fund, and Cornelia Seiffert, the fund’s CEO, were on hand for the event. Seiffert briefly explained what the charity means to Madagascar. “We’ve provided the children the with mosquito nets, healthcare, education, we’ve built them four schools and we have a fifth on the way.” All proceeds from Sunday’s event will go to the Madagascar Ankizy Fund.

After the expo, the sold-out crowd of approximately 1,000 adults and young children moved over into the Staller Center where Stony Brook officials introduced Dr. Scott and premiered two brand new episodes of the animated Dinosaur Train.

The first episode was about a visit to the North Pole where the Pteradon Family met up with some feather-covered dinosaurs with Canadian accents who liked to play hockey. Before heading home, everyone sang a non-denominational holiday song. The second featured a Masaikasaurus, a dinosaur that Dr. Scott discovered on a trip to Madagascar. It had lost one of its large front teeth, but wasn’t worried because another one would grow in its place.

Dr. Scott spent a short time interacting with the audience after each episode. He encouraged kids and parents to spend time outdoors searching for ‘backyard dinosaurs,’ or birds. He used the episode about the tooth to remind kids to practice good dental hygiene.

After the show, I asked siblings Samuel and Astrid and their friend Kristian about the show. “It was awesome!” they said excitedly. “Yeah!” Astrid said in agreement. But they seemed more interested in talking to Dr. Scott. “I want to ask Dr. Scott about when he found the Masiakasaurus” said Samuel. “I want to ask Dr. Scott if he ever found a T-Rex” said Kristian.

Dr. Scott poses for a picture with a young fan

Luckily, Dr. Scott announced that he would be available in the lobby for pictures and autographs after thanking his young audience for doing a good thing. “I know you may not understand how you’ve helped the children in Madagascar today,” he said, “but thank you.”