Lunchtime with some old fossils

16th February 2007 at 00:00
Geologist Richard Thomas is qualified enough to travel the planet investigating modern-day natural disasters. But instead he opts to spend his life in a classroom, encouraging children to share his great love of fossils.

Mr Thomas, a primary teacher, started a lunchtime geology club at 700-plus pupil Rougemont independent school in Newport last month. Since then, Year 5 has been exploring some of the world's greatest natural disasters with the touch of button.

"I started off by teaching them the basics, like plate tectonics," said Mr Thomas. "They all know what causes tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes from downloading footage from the internet."

Regular trips to pebbly Southerndown beach in the Vale of Glamorgan as a child, hunting fossils and seeking out tell-tale signs of dinosaurs, mapped out the geologist's future vocation.

"I have been fascinated in everything to do with geology since those beach trips with my parents," he said. "I want my pupils to have the same thirst for knowledge that has stayed with me since then.

"This is the greatest gift any teacher can give a child."

Mr Thomas, who has a doctorate in geology from the School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences at Cardiff university, has 14 members in his new club, equally divided between boys and girls. The club is intended to be fun but also has a more serious side, with pupils learning about the effects of climate-changing global warming.

"We will be looking at the ice ages and how the Earth heats up and cools down," said Mr Thomas. "We will also be looking back through all the ages and seeing when different types of creatures evolved.

"Dinosaurs are popular with every kid and a firm favourite."

Mr Thomas said the club's activities will become more hands-on once the young members have grasped the basics.

* Are you a teacher, or do you know a teacher, who has started a popular out-of-hours club at your school. If so TES Cymru wants to hear from you.


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