The workshop ranged from building sand volcanoes to touching fossil dinosaur bones
On 14th June 2018, iCRAG postdoctoral research fellows Dr Emma Morris and Dr Anthea Lacchia delivered a primary school workshop in St Cuan’s National School, in Kilbaha, Co. Clare, as part of iCRAG’s range of public engagement activities.
The school, nested within the beautiful landscape of west Clare, is located just behind the famous sea cliffs of Loop Head. The rocks of west Clare have attracted geoscientists since the early 1900s, with groups from industry and academia considering this a must-see location since the 1950s and 60s.
Anthea and Emma have conducted and continue to conduct postdoctoral research in Clare, so being able to engage with the local schoolchildren was a very special and exciting opportunity.
The workshop started with a guessing game about the age of the Earth, followed by a presentation on the basics of the rock cycle and a discussion on the famous sand volcanoes at Bridges of Ross, Loop Head, that are visited each year by geoscientists. These are not actual volcanoes with magma, but instead were formed from liquefied sand buried under the sea floor moving upwards and eventually escaping from a central crater and forming a cone shape.
Having introduced the fossils found in the area, namely ammonoids – relatives of squid and cuttlefish – the children got started with guided hands-on activities, making their own sand volcano and learning about the rock cycle using sweets.
A highlight of the day were the fossils on loan from the National Museum of Ireland, including coprolites, dinosaur bones and eggshells.
iCRAG researchers will be in Loop Head again in August during Heritage Week, when two coastal walks are planned in partnership with the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark.
Thank you to the School and teachers, we had a wonderful time and will be back soon!
The only remaining natural bridge at Bridges of Ross, an area often visited by geoscientists. Photo: Anthea Lacchia