Keaton Smith's ROM Inspiration

Posted: November 12, 2013 - 11:44 , by ROM
Keaton Smith at the ROM © Deborah Smith

This is a guest blog post by Keaton Smith, published by Jesika Arseneau. Discover the exciting ROM visit that sparked 11-year-old author Keaton Smith's prize-winning story "The Power"! Inspired by a behind-the-scenes visit to the ROM, Keaton's story won the 2013 Small Print Toronto Roald Dahl Day Writing Contest.

Do you ever wonder what happens behind the scenes at the Royal Ontario Museum? In February 2012, my family and I were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum by one of the paleontologists who works there.

 Our guide showed us two of the labs in which he worked, both contained countless fossils. In the first of the labs, he told us about the process of how they dig out the old bones at the excavation site, and how they keep the fossils safe when transporting them by coating them in plaster soaked cloth.

 In the next lab, he demonstrated a miniature sandblaster that they use to eat away at the rock to expose the petrified bones beneath. After that, we were directed into the hallway where the next part of our tour began.

 As we walked down the hall, our guide showed us the fossils lining the walls. Most of them were actually replicas of the real thing, like some of the publicly shown fossils. One of the most interesting fossils I remember was a lump of rock with the indentation of an Ichthyosaurus, and I could see where the bones of the dinosaur had been before they excavated them from the rock.

 After a long walk down the hall, we came to the collection room in which thousands of fossils are kept. The smaller bones rested in drawers while other, larger fossils stood openly on shelves. There were fully assembled skeletons as well as bones waiting to be fit together with others from the same species. There were even some donated human bones in the room. From elephants to Triceratops, there was every manner of creature in that room!

 Following the trip to the collection room, our guide showed us back to the public area where we marveled at the glory of prehistoric life on display.

 We were lucky enough to have a tour guide who had fit together three tiny bones from a newly discovered dinosaur related to the Triceratops, and had the new species named after him.

This was the trip to the ROM that I remember, but as far as I know we had visited many times when I was too small to remember. My experience there inspired me to write an award winning short story for the 2013 Small Print Toronto’s fourth annual Roald Dahl day writing contest.

 My experience at the Royal Ontario Museum was amazingly unforgettable. Who knows what yours could be!

- Keaton Smith

To read Keaton's prize-winning story, visit: