Outreach Training

By Tim Wright, Senior Consultant Geoscientist

As geoscientists and intrepid subsurface explorers, we often get absorbed in our own peculiar subterranean world. We sometimes forget about the wider community and how they perceive the world around them and beneath their feet. Geoscience without context can be confusing and alien; “what do you guys actually do?” is a question I am often faced with. Of late, there has been a lot of bad press surrounding our industry and some of that undoubtedly comes from a failure to engage with those around us with empathy and excitement. Here at Merlin we are doing our bit to connect with the community around us and give a little bit of knowledge back to show just how magical planet Earth really is.

Following up on a request from a local teacher, I recently took the opportunity to guest present a lesson on “being a geoscientist” to a local primary school. For the first time in a long time, I felt a genuine sense of apprehension, what would the children think of me and my bags of rocks and minerals? Will they throw things at me and tell me I have destroyed the planet?

“Dr” Wright explaining the perils of confusing fool’s gold and real gold to a class of sixty Year 3s. This huge 8 Kg chunk from Peru is sadly not the real stuff!..Ironically it was by far the most attractive of the shiny objects for the delightful little geo-Golums! “My precious….”

What happened was a delightful experience which warms the heart and convinces me there is still much to do that is good in the world. Sixty Year 3 children filed in excitedly, wondering what this bespectacled man was doing wearing a ridiculous lab coat with boxes of shiny looking rocks and minerals hidden under the table. It turns out all children LOVE shiny rocks and minerals. Except one – she loved dinosaurs more than anything and wanted to be a palaeontologist. The children played with a big lump of fool’s gold, and little sapphire marvelled at the funny hexagonal blue stone from which she received her name. I loved the fact they didn’t question why they were happy, they just were! I think it is just the pure joy of something new and exciting. It is easy to get complacent about what we do, but on reflection, it is that innocent uncluttered fascination that probably got most of us into this career in the first place.

Giving back to people, especially when there is nothing asked in return is a hugely freeing experience. I recommend it to anyone who is getting bogged down in the day to day or asking themselves why they got into geology in the first place. With every new generation, there is a new population waiting with open arms to learn about the world they live in and learn how to do things better and make the world a better place for them and all future generations. In my experience, an understanding of Geoscience is one of the best gifts you can give, so get on out there and give!

Dr Wright in true guise finding black gold in a natural seep at Lulworth cove as part of adult outreach training on behalf of the SPWLA!

Why not get in touch and we can share some of our knowledge to get you on the right path to success and happiness, however you choose to measure it.