Life's A Beach

This week I am running a science workshop for primary schools as part of the TechFest taking place at Aberdeen Beach Ballroom and Leisure Centre. The workshop goes by the name of "Life's A Beach" and lasts an hour, so we do two or three workshops a day. The children are mostly 9 or 10 years old and the classes vary from 12 to 30 pupils in size. The aim of "LaB" is to introduce children to geology, particularly rocks and fossils, via the study of beaches. So they get to look at different beach samples under the microscope (from purple garnet sand to shelly Pacific sand), inspect some rocks, fossils and modern beach debris, and finally become detectives solving the mystery of "The Body On The Beach".

The body is an Action Man or Barbie, covered in mud, lying on a sandy beach that has dinosaur footprints on it. The official story (inasmuch as we've devised one) is that the dinosaur footprints were made some time in the past (65 million years ago or more, if you take them literally), then the body was dumped there having first been dragged through some mud at Newburgh, an estuary north of Aberdeen. Whether the kids reach the same conclusion doesn't really matter - the main aim is for them to gather evidence and try to construct their own story or explanation for what happened.

Some of the explanations so far have been fantastic. From Action Man having been killed by a man-eating duck to Barbie having committed suicide, there's almost no limit to the children's imagination. But our favourite so far came from a small boy yesterday who, when asked where he thought Barbie had been before she ended up on the beach, said "Dundee". When asked why, he replied that she was wearing orange and pink, which showed she had no dress sense, just like the girls of Dundee. Having never been to Dundee I really can't offer an opinion on the idea, but it made us smile, which is never a bad thing.