Journey into the Jurassic for Junior School Pupils
Pupils at Ocker Hill Junior School are getting into all things prehistoric as they embark on a week-long science themed teaching topic with a focus on the dinosaurs. Based at Tipton, (West Midlands), just a geologist’s stones’ throw from the Wrens Nest Nature Reserve, the UK’s very first national nature reserve for geology, the staff at the school have been working on all sorts of clever and creative activities to help bring the past to life.
Looking at different types of dinosaurs and classifying them led to the development of a series of Venn diagrams as pupils under the tutelage of their teachers and support staff explored how best to present data relating to the Dinosauria. Getting school children to understand the concept of deep time can be a little tricky, but teacher Mr Wilde, armed with some stakes and a hammer set out to provide a scale model of the various geological periods using the school grounds. Each stake representing a period in geological time was carefully marked and hammered into place to give the budding young palaeontologists an idea of how old the Earth is believed to be. This is an excellent idea, a very practical demonstration of geological time, one that will help the children to grasp what different types of creatures lived and when.
Team members at Everything Dinosaur were invited in to kick start the week by holding a series of workshops with pupils in years three to six. The chance to explain what fossils can tell scientists and to explain a little about the science of palaeontology. Sarah Southall, one of the year three teachers was surprised to learn that there is a dinosaur named “Sarahsaurus, whilst Mrs Brookes (year 5 teacher) and some of her charges discovered just how big or (how small), the arms of Tyrannosaurus rex actually were.
Mr Goodwin (year six), had been helping his class to learn more about marine reptiles. Under the expert guidance of school artist Darrell Wakelam the pupils had created a wonderful reconstruction of the fossilised skeleton of an Ichthyosaurus.
Bringing the Past to Life
Picture Credit: Ocker Hill Junior School
Everything Dinosaur had some coprolite (fossilised poo) from the body cavity of an Ichthyosaur skeleton team members had been working on, the children were delighted when Mr Goodwin got to handle the 180 million year old fossil poo and to demonstrate what the creature had been eating by being able to point out the fish scales still preserved within the specimen.
It is certainly going to be an exciting week for the students. The enthusiastic teaching team have lots and lots of dinosaur themed maths, science and art activities planned all helping to enthuse and motivate the next generation of scientists.