Fossil Festival

The Key Stage 2 children from Branscombe, together with their peers from Farway and Broadhembury C of E schools, visited Lyme Regis to take part in a series of workshops as part of the annual Fossil Festival. As well as tying in well with this term’s Science work on Rocks, Soils and Fossils, the trip gave the children the opportunity to learn a lot more about the very special area in which they live. They learned that the 95-mile long Jurassic Coast is one of two nature-based World Heritage sites in England and that it is particularly known for the fossils and rock formations to be found along its length. The children will be using and building on some of the knowledge gained from this trip in the coming weeks to write about some of the features and characters of the Jurassic Coast in their English work. One of the people that might feature in this writing is the fossil collector Steve Etches, whose collection of fossils is displayed in a museum at Kimmeridge, further along the coast. The first activity the children took part in as part of this special day, was a fantastic talk about the Jurassic Coast and the fossils found here, by a volunteer from the Kimmeridge museum. Then, the children were led in a series of fascinating activities by staff from the Natural History Museum, who showed them various fossils, including some tiny examples viewed through a microscope as well as the huge teeth of a megaladon. The children learned about how global warming is causing the rapid extinction of different species of animals but also how, in the time of Mary Anning, the famous Lyme Regis fossil collector, extinction was not much known about, which was partly why it took a long time for scientists to prove that some of the creatures she found evidence of had actually existed.

After lunch, the children attended another workshop, where each of them was given a small fossil, many of them ammonites, and taught to polish these fossils. Following this, which was probably the most popular activity in the day, the group proceeded to the Lyme Regis museum, where they were met by ‘Mary Anning’, who explained more about her story and the finds made by this famous Lyme Regis resident.  The day was interactive, informative and highly enjoyable and provided a good basis for the children’s further work on the subject this term.