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The Wonder of Shark Scales
Inspiring innovation and conservation
This blog post was written in collaboration with Vicky Chan, who is a former Smithsonian I2F Fellow in Family Programs at the National Museum of Natural History. She hopes to continue science outreach and attend graduate school to strengthen her interests in science communication, program development and design.
What do a back scratcher, a glove and a mermaid’s tail all have in common? It may be difficult to find a common thread—but, to a group of students—the connection was clear.
Each of the three ideas could benefit from mimicking the texture of a shark’s skin. A back scratcher made rough like sandpaper, a protective glove with extra grip or a fantastical mermaid’s tail covered in dermal denticles for speed.
These ideas came from an inquisitive group of elementary school students who were learning about shark skin under the guidance of Vicky Chan. As a Smithsonian Fellow, Chan developed creative science workshops for families visiting the National Museum of Natural History. Chan is also a huge fan of sharks.
So, what about sharks’ skin inspired these students’ ideas? Let’s explore.