Fifth grader Kenton Stufflebeam is smarter than the Smithsonian Institution. Since 1981, the Tower of Time exhibit has indicated that the Precambrian is an “era” … when in fact it is not an actual era.

The student informed the museum, and now the Smithsonian is working on plans to paint over the word “era.”



  1. #1 Ellery
    April 7, 2008

    Actually, as the article states:

    “While no previous visitors to the museum had brought up the error, it has long rankled the paleobiology department’s staff, who noticed it even before the Tower of Time was erected 27 years ago…”

    The Smithsonian, still smarter than a fifth-grader (TM).

  2. #2 manigen
    April 8, 2008

    If they knew, why didn’t they do anything about it? Were they all just too busy?

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    April 8, 2008


    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. “Oh, really, I knew the answer was ‘D’ … I have no idea why I chose ‘B’ … Can’t I get the points anyway????”

  4. #4 Becca
    April 8, 2008

    Great headline.

  5. #5 Ellery
    April 8, 2008

    Perhaps unfortunately some exhibit designers, like many of those at the Science Museum of Minnesota, are artists or designers by training, not biologists or geologists.

    But I’m much more troubled by two exhibits I just saw at the Vancouver aquarium titled “Sharks: Beauty by Design” and “Sea Turtles: Beauty by Design,” implying that their forms were designed, not adaptations to their environment.

  6. #6 mark
    April 8, 2008

    Shouldn’t it be “Prenoachian”?

  7. #7 the real cmf
    April 8, 2008

    Ellery: “The Smithsonian, still smarter than a fifth-grader”
    …you had better be a fourth grader, or I will forever think that comment was just uncalled for! Now go sit there at the desk by the wall.