Precocious 3rd grader revels in 'Curator for a Day' job

    9:15 AM, Apr 1, 2013   |    comments
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    DENVER, CO (CBS) -- A while back, CBS' Steve Hartman introduced us to a young man who combined his love for the pre-historic with his inclination toward the precocious.

    He made such an impression, CBS News wondered what he's been up to.

    A lot of kids are into dinosaurs, but few are as into dinosaurs as 9-year old Eli Navant. Steve says, "You know you could write a book about dinosaurs." Eli replies, "I already did. I'm working on my second."

    As CBS first reported in January, Eli self-published some impressive books. But these are nothing - compared to his next challenge.

    One of Eli's heroes was the head curator here at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. So when it was announced a few months ago that that guy was leaving for a job at the Smithsonian, Eli's first priority was to wish him well. His second was to take his job.

    Museum CEO George Sparks says along with all the resumes he got from PHDs, there was one applicant with just a 3rd grade education, a 3rd grader named Eli Navant.

    Along with his hand-written, 3 page cover letter, he attached a letter of recommendation from his teacher. Sparks says, "He was absolutely serious. And he's still absolutely serious."

    Eli says when it comes to dinosaurs, at least, he has the knowledge and the experience. He says, "Yeah, most of them were in my back yard but once I found like this, it looked like a chicken bone, but like it didn't look new, it almost looked prehistoric."

    Behind every kid like Eli, there are parents like John and Shalene. Since he was 3 they have gone to Supersaurus lengths to satisfy Eli's Velociraptor-sized appetite for dinosaurs. And it probably will pay off. Sparks says, "These are the kind of people grow up to win Nobel prizes or find a cure for cancer and you want to encourage that."

    George says he wanted to encourage that too, which is why he actually called Eli in for an interview.

    Eli did so well, he was awarded the newly created position of curator for a day, that day was last week.

    He began by making one of his employees bring him hot chocolate. Later he learned everything he could from every expert they had, and finally delivered a 10 minute lecture on his formative years.
    For Eli the only disappointment was that it was only a day and that the full-time position will have to wait, until maybe the fourth grade.

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