Wednesday 27 April 2011

Who let the Dinosaur in?

Although I am someone who really does not like dinosaurs, I can see their power over children; and a while ago, I stumbled over this little video:

What better way to get children interested in palaeontology (and probably a bit of geology) than a huge scary dinosaur? The thing moves how I would imagine it to; as part of my universities outreach program, we have a ‘dinosaur runway’ thing. Which is essentially a big piece of paper which children run over in oversized dinosaur shaped and then we compare their stride lengths with really dinosaurs and tell them a bit about it – the children seem to love it and I hope it interests them in geosciences.

Events like these can be lasting memories to children, and if they contain an educational message (a quick interesting presentation of dinosaurs or geology), it can be a wholesome outreach event. One of my most vivid childhood memories is a visit to a local ‘attraction’ which had a fake earthquake generator – and discussion of how it earthquakes are generated (this to me, was much more interesting than the fake dinosaurs nearby). It would be great to see more of this sort of thing in the UK; I can’t imagine a fake dinosaur costume costs too much to produce – but gives children an excitement into paleontology, lifting dry bones and pictures to a real, interactive life.

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