On Monday we welcomed 80 visiting students and their teachers to the Department of Geology for the 55th Annual Bennett Lecture. Our visitors were Geology and Biology AS level students from Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Leicestershire, London and Derbyshire. They took part in an afternoon of Pre-Lecture activities on evolution and fossils. As well as these visitors, the lecture was also attended by members of the public, the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, Geology Section, and staff and students from the Department of Geology.
The afternoon activities were great fun and allowed the visitors to get hands-on fossil experience and to work in teams with new people.
The geological timeline activity asked students to work in small groups to find out about the evolution of a particular fossil group or topic through the Palaeozoic, and then present their findings. Our student demonstrators did a fantastic job in explaining new concepts to the visitors and talking about their experience studying geology.
The microfossils activity allowed the students to pick out real fossils from a sieved sediment that contains tetrapods and many types of fish. Many scales, plant and bone fragments, and a few fish teeth were found! This activity looked at a sample we have been studying in the TW:eed Project, and the results have added to what we know about life in the early Carboniferous.
Students from visiting schools and colleges working on the activities
Some of the fantastic team of volunteers and staff from the Department of Geology
In the evening, Professor Jenny Clack gave a very interesting and well received talk about our work on the TW:eed Project, and how it is helping to reveal hidden parts of the story of the evolution of life on land. It was great to see in her talk how important our teamwork is for this project, and how my recent work on the sediments fits into the larger story that is emerging. There were many questions after the talk, one of which was ‘why did you want to be a geologist?’, to which Jenny responded that she isn’t a geologist, but a zoologist, with a fascination about ancient life on Earth. This really gave an insight into how interdisciplinary geology is as a science, and how many of the big scientific questions it seeks to address, such as the evolution of life onto land.
The day was a great success and thoroughly enjoyed by all. Do come and visit for our next Bennett Lecture in 2015!
Until next time