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Education + Dinosaurs



Following the recent debates on the communicating of quality 
information WRT dinosaurs/ palaeontology, it does depress me that 
more teachers in primary schools don't make use of dinosaurs to 
facilitate interest in subjects that they want to teach.  The power 
of dinosaurs as a phenomenon to galvanise the interest of children as 
existed for most of this century, not, as some adults seem to think, 
just since JP.  That fascination CAN be used to great benefit: see 
how fast you get the attention of over 80% kids if you start talking/ 
asking them about dinosaurs.  Bearing in mind much of the 
work and advances of the last 15 years, dinosaurs can be used as a 
device to teach kids, not just about earth-sciences or Big Dead 
Fossils, but about plants, the environment, ecosystems, astronomy, 
climate/ weather, teeth......the list is prodigious.
This power will again become intensified in 3/4 years, when 
Crichton's sequel (or however much of it makes it to screenplay) hits 
the screens.  It seems to me that a lot of groundwork needs to be 
down by all of us before that happens, to catch the wave, and ensure 
we maximise the interest of that generation of kids in science, 
through using the film and 'its stars' as a catalyst for science 
learning.  Many of the teachers, certainly in this country's primary 
schools, have an arts background, which means that they need a lot of 
help from their local museums, in terms of classes for kids, and in-
service days for the teachers beforehand, to let them know what can 
be done with the available knowledge/ teaching materials/ exhibits.

Which leaves the ball......back in our courts, I guess.

J.J.Liston
Hunterian Museum
University of Glasgow
Scotland