Engage with the Experts: Investigative Geology

It’s that time of year again, when schools and colleges are beginning to think about activities and opportunities to reinforce classroom learning.  Last week we welcomed Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form to The Manchester Museum for one of our Engage with the Experts A Level Study Days.

Image, The geology preservation handling box used in the session

Image, The geology preservation handling box used in the session

I’ve previously written about the work David Gelsthorpe and I have done for this session, but it’s always good to try the activities we developed with another group and in a slightly different configuration.

For this group, we mixed things up a bit, starting off with all the students taking part in a gallery tour led by David, before splitting them into two groups for the activities.  This was a really good opportunity to point out some of the highlights of the gallery as well as flagging up those areas, such as the Burgess Shale material, that appears in the A Level Geology Syllabus.

After the 30 minute tour, we left the students to have a look at the gallery briefly on their own, David was available to take questions from the students and I went back to our discovery centre to make sure that everything was ready for the first groups of students.

Image, Students by the fossil tree in the Pre-Historic Life Gallery

Image, Students by the fossil tree in the Pre-Historic Life Gallery

We then took the first group for just under an hour, introducing them to fossil groups and getting them to work through a practical exercise where they had to use their investigative skills to determine the age of their group of specimens.  Everyone worked well in their groups and was able to correctly identify the age.

Then David showed the group some of the recent acquisitions to his collection area and talked about how he ended up working in Museums having gone to Durham and Leicester Universities.  This is a key element of our Engage with the Experts series, allowing students to have the opportunity to talk and find out more about real and practicing scientists.

I was really pleased with how well the students responded to the different elements of the session and I hope that they found them useful and engaging.  If you are interested in out work for post-16 audiences, you can find them here on our website.

You can also read about David’s thoughts on the day here.

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