Eleven-year old Kevin Stufflebeam, a fifth grader from Allegan, Michigan sure knows his historical facts. In fact, he knows them so well that he recently corrected an 18-year old mistake at the Smithsonian Institutional's Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
It all began when Kevin visiting the museum with his family went to the Tower of Time, a display that involves prehistoric time. There he noticed that the Precambrian period in the history of the earth was classified as an "era". He knew from his social studies class that this was wrong.
The Precambrian period which makes up seven-eights of the Earth's history, is one of the most important periods in the biological history of the world.
It was during this period, 4,500 million years ago that Earth was formed, the first tectonic plates rose forming mountains, plants and organisms with cells evolved, and the atmosphere became rich with oxygen, allowing for life to be possible. It was also the period when the first animals evolved.
Due to the large number for years involved defining it as an "era" as the Smithsonian had done, was wrong. An era is defined "a succession of years dating from some important event as - the era of Alexander or the Christian era. Because the Precambrian period covers so many years, it is more appropriate to define it as a "dimensionless unit of time"
Kevin knew all this because his social studies teacher John Chapman had almost made the same mistake and then corrected himself in time. So Kevin and his dad went to the information desk at the museum to point out the error. Sure enough he was right and he recently received a letter from the Smithsonian Museum, acknowledging their mistake, except it was addressed to Kevin Slufflebeam!