This month, Singapore Fossil Collectors Calvin, Steve, Han, and Andy were honoured with an invitation to National Junior College’s Junior High Science Day 2013 to deliver a pro bono talk on Paleontology.
The team arrived early on the bright sunny morning of 1 June, and got to work setting up for the event. The audience had self-selected to attend our session from among other science talks that were going on at the same time, and therefore comprised of some 100 students who were already quite curious, interested, and knowledgeable about Paleontology.
We started the talk using images to remind the audience of how the sheer size of giant prehistoric creatures such as the Kronosaurus or Diplodocus inspired wonder in all of us since childhood.
We then went onto cover the impact of fossils on our culture, from biblical times, through ancient Greek and Norse mythology, all the way to how they are influencing modern culture and religion today, including fossil-inspired designs in modern architecture.
Going into the science of Paleontology, we introduced the class to the geological time scale from precambrian era to modern times, using actual fossil specimens that are used as common references in each period.
Delving deeper into how fossils are used to illustrate possible ecological environments, ecosystems, behavioral patterns, and morphological adaptations of prehistoric creatures, the specimens helped to bring to life concepts such as plate tectonics, carbon dating, evolution, genetic sequencing, and extinction events. In addition, students could start to understand the linkages and relevance of related fields of inquiry such as anthropology, archaeology, biochemistry, botany, cytology, forensics, geochronology, mathematics, physiology, and even robotics.
The students were interested in learning about collecting fossils, so we shared on the nature of investing in fossils, how to tell apart fake fossils from authentic ones, and even some viable careers in related fields.
The highlight of the event was when the students took turns to handle the actual specimens that the team brought along that day, which ranged from fossils of fish and vegetation, to insects in amber, numerous dinosaur and megafauna bones, and how they related to their modern-day descendants.
We greatly enjoyed sharing our passion with the students, and answering the many questions they had. However, it was not only the students who had a great time!
“It was definitely a learning experience for me too,” says Caroline Manonmani, National Junior College’s Head of Department for Junior Science. “I thoroughly enjoyed watching Calvin and his friends share their personal artifacts with the students. That kind of passion is infectious. I hope that my students find that something that they feel so passionately about in their own lives and are as committed as you all to share it with others.”