Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Bit Of Maternal Pride

I've had a very busy and stressful fortnight (today I noticed I now have a full-on streak of grey hair at the front, which although not caused by the stress seemed an apt visual accompaniment...). Another member of staff and I joined up to organise our college's participation in National Science and Engineering Week. We had trips up the wazoo - to a "Chemistry In Action" event, to a criminology workshop, to the Science Museum and to the Natural History Museum.

I would like to apologise firstly to the staff in the Sexual Nature exhibit for the large drawing of a penis left on the comment board. I shall encourage them to draw it more anatomically correct next time...

My BTEC students have been taking part in I'm A Scientist: Get Me Out Of Here!, in the Space Zone. If any of you think that the vocational students are unable to deal with complex theoretical ideas, then check out my lad "waveicle" and some of the questions he's asking - every time I see a new question from him I get a swell of pride.

Great friend of mine Dave Hone very kindly agreed to come and give a talk on feathered dinosaurs, which was attended by about 50 or so students ranging from pre-GCSE up to A2. All I was able to offer him in return was one of the chef's more "experimental" recipes in the staff canteen, but there'll be a nice big pint of cider with his name on it down the Town Wharf come the summer. And he did say the students were better behaved than some of his undergrads, which is always nice to hear (even if I did have to give a couple of girls the hairdryer treatment later for being physically incapable of not speaking for more than ten seconds)...

And finally, the AS science students, admittedly with some degree of inertia, undertook some Science Busking activities, which drew absolutely massive crowds. The nice thing about objects with a lot of inertia is that, while it is really difficult to get them moving, once they're moving they really go! These guys were no exception. Since my video footage is up on the officially sanctioned YouTube channel, I can at last show you the little darlings in action:

You'll see me hamming it up pretending to be all nervous that the water balloon was going to burst, and the absolute highlight of the entire video is when the boys levitate the Principal from 2:30 or so onwards. So I'm incredibly proud of my students - they've risen to a lot of challenges in the past week and shown that they're growing and developing into very insightful, communicative scientists. I wonder if any of them will get a Nobel Prize?

(Of course this now means that I've told you where it is I work, so a) please don't come and stalk me, and b) if you look back at any of my blog posts and find I've done something stupid like call a manager a nobber, please let me know.)

Sunday, 6 March 2011

My Favourite Geological Picture

Ann is calling for our "favorite geologic pictures" for the Accretionary Wedge. So here's one of my top ones (Coral Pink Sand Dunes has already been submitted) - a unique choice, I think you'll agree:

It is what appears to be an enormous fossilised penis. On a very crude level (usually the one at which my students operate) this goes some way towards making this my fave. It's from the Lulworth fossil forest on the Jurassic Coast in the UK. The forest is mid-Jurassic, flooded when sea levels rose. What we have is a somewhat amusing arrangement of a fallen tree trunk flanked by two rings of algae.

This geological knowledge did not stop my fellow students from behaving like children, including one who decided he was going to lie in the tree trunk as though about to be ejaculated into the English Channel.

So here's mine - the first known CDC in the fossil record.
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