Palaeoquest is the brain-child of Dr Helen, palaeontologist, geologist and child-friendly scientist. Dr Helen visits schools (and other noble institutions) with a car full of fossils, rocks and artefacts to provide hands-on "wow" days and workshops based around Earth and Biological Sciences. The aim is to help teachers to inspire in their students a love, and deeper understanding, of both science and our natural world.
She also writes resources (and soon, hopefully, books) for teachers and children.
Hello! My name is Helen, and I love rocks and fossils. From first seeing a picture of a dinosaur in a book when I was 7 years old, I went on to gain a PhD in geology /palaeontology. I have 11 years experience of scientific research.... and I still find rocks and fossils exciting! I have published scientific papers, presented my research at conferences, and collected rocks from some very interesting places (including Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the wilds of Scotland). After having my own children, I worked for 8 years in a Primary school. This is when I realised that I wanted to enthuse young people about science, and to help inspire the natural scientist that is in all children.
I aim to bring the wonder of the world under our feet (and science in general) into your classroom; to show children that using their brains is fun; and to inspire a greater appreciation of the natural world and of our unique place in it. For teachers, I aim to provide a well-organised, memorable, and relevant workshop that can be linked to your curriculum planning and other activities, and help you to inspire your pupils.
I'm also an amateur folk musician, so have designed a workshop to put science and music together (and perhaps inspire a future sound engineer or music technologist).
A large number of rocks and fossils and artefacts are brought into your school for pupils to handle and examine, as well as tools; maps; charts; microscopes; reconstructions and replicas. Scientific concepts are demonstrated through games, class discussions, puzzles, and the pupils' own explorations of specimens.
Pupils work in groups, examining specimens, making observations, and undertaking real-life scientific investigations.
There are plenty of opportunities to ask and answer questions. Workshops are linked with curriculum topics, but also have a strong emphasis on problem-solving and Working Scientifically. There are numerous opportunities for pupils to apply their existing skills and knowledge to new challenges. For example they may record or read data in new ways, or apply their knowledge of modern plants and animals to interpreting fossil ones.
If you wish to emphasize a specific area, curriculum topic. or aspect of Working Scientifically; would like preparatory or follow-on material; or wish to "mix and match" pieces of different workshops please call to discuss. This shouldn't be a problem. No writing is required during the workshops but workbooks or record sheets are provided for pupils to make written records of their activities.
Why Study Earth Science?
Earth Science is a unique and multidisciplinary science and encompasses elements of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Geography as well as being a vehicle for developing critical thinking and investigational skills and promoting environmental and outdoor education. It is heavily based around observation and practical activities and so these workshops can provide opportunities for struggling pupils to shine and enjoy learning. Equally, Earth Science can challenge students to think in new ways. For example, the ability to visualise objects in 3D; to observe and measure in new ways; to apply knowledge of present-day natural processes; and to solve puzzles are all useful skills developed through studying Earth Science.
Earth Science is also vital to our everyday lives - it provides us with our energy sources, the materials to make and build things with, and an understanding of how our world works and how we came to be here. The skills gained in studying Earth Sciences, such as problem-solving; teamwork; numeracy; and communication skills, can lead to many job opportunities. Common careers for Earth Scientists include: engineering geologist, geochemist, hydrogeologist, geophysicist, wellsite geologist, palaeontologist, civil engineer, accountant, and science teacher.