Category: Geology

Cuddly Science At Country File Live (by )

Cuddly Science ready to go at Country File Live

The Cuddly Science Paleo Posse were really excited to be at Country File Live with the Gloucestershire Geology Trust. They got to perform on the Garden Stage of the Wildlife Zone and do a bit of walk about.

The puppets are Mary Anning, Charles Darwin and Mary Leakey and the associated props where a squid hair clip, a triceratops head piece and a brain hat. And together with the audience we explored evolution, landscape, history and science plus quiet a lot of improve humour in response to the kids 🙂

Cuddly Science Paleo Posse waiting in the Garden Stage of the Wildlife area at Country File Live

Walking around with the puppets doing little improve sets to let people know about the actual shows was fantastic - I really love this aspect of it.

Mary Anning the Puppet out and about explaining fossils at Country File Live

Children really do love the puppets - far more than I thought they would when I was designing the general concept! They get cuddled rather a lot. Coraline button eyes and all!

Cuddly Science explaining landscape and geology at Country File Live

Adults often end up in conversations with them as well!

Mary Anning the puppet looking for her pet squid in the Wildlife area of Country File Live

Mary Anning the puppet did seem to spend a lot of her time searching for her pet squid which the children helped her find - she then explained about cephalopod, belemnites and fossilised ink sacs and how looking at creatures alive today you tell a lot about extinct animals and vice versa.

Mary Anning the puppet looking for her pet squid in the Wildlife area of Country File Live

The squid was most popular and got one little one so excited I ended up giving her one of my My Pet Dinosaurs booklets as well as the colouring sheets as after finding the squid she just kept asking questions and she really was very little 🙂

Cuddly Science Paleo Posse on Stage at Country File Live

Mary Anning comes from Dorset so... apparently my accent was "not too bad, a little caricature but better than Poldark" - I'm happy with that 🙂 Though I will say whilst telling kids about the fossils in the Geo Trusts' tent I struggled with some of the dino names!

Cuddly Science Paleo Posse on the Garden Stage Country File Live

Kids actually came back for successive shows - this is what I found with the British Science Festival too, which is why I don't like just repeating material and try and swirl it all around a bit even if it is the same characters!

Mary Anning the puppet explaining how she discovered fossilised ink sacs at Country File Live

I am very pleased with how Mary Anning has turned out and she is such an easy character to play/envelope and as was said by a fellow story teller at Stroud Out Loud the week before - she's a story telling gift - such a colourful life right from infancy!

Talking rocks at Country File Live

She is also a good contrast to the other two characters who hated school as she loved it and worked really hard - this ticks my want boxes of role models/relatable things for as many kids as possible.

Cuddly Science on stage talking rocks Country File live

The Glos GeoTrust also sent a T-rex out with me to help let people know about the show - which was amazing and lit. got all the kids running over!

Glos GeoTrust T-rex planting a tree in the wildlife zone Country File Live

Of course the other puppets did also get on stage - though I failed to get a pic of Mary Leakey and the brain hat which is a shame.

Darwin Puppet explaining the bone wars and evolution at Country File Live

Darwin was very popular indeed and had to be rescued and placed back in his cryogenic chamber due to the kids wanting to play (I may need to re attach some hair!).

Big thankyou to the Glos Geo Trust and Country File Live and my lovely sound engineer who did tell me his name but I have since forgotten :/

Inbetween rests and performances I also helped out at the GeoTrusts tent - this contained both the Gloucester and Oxfordshire Geological Trusts and contained so much fun stuff!

Geo-Entertainments: when dealing with the public and geology - especially where kids are involved you tend to end up pulling out the dinosaurs. I know myself that the big things for me as a kid were finding my own bits of nature... sticks, feathers, shells, stones and fossils followed by the absolute WOW!!!! moment of the five year old me walking into the Natural History Museum London and seeing Dippy standing there. This was a huge dino skeleton reconstruction and dominated the great hall as you wandered in. I just remember the awe and the silence that enveloped me when what it was was explained. This began my dino madness which was fuelled further by films such as the Land Before Time and Jurassic Park.

The Gloucester Geology Trust knowing their local geology and what engages people have a lot of dino stuff on hand!

Dr Alice Kennedy showing off the T-rex replicas teeth at Country File Live

These photos are Dr Alice Kennedy showing people the T-rex reconstruction skull, it is one quarter the size of an actual t-rex skull because you know it has to actually fit in a car to be taken to shows, schools and events! (p.s. yes you can get your local Geo Trust to come into your school for talks and workshops, some even have funding to help with this!).

Dr Alice Kennedy explaining all things geologic at Country File Live

And of course there was the dino-dig! Excavation digs ie sandpits do seem to be really popular with kids (as the Archaeology Festival proved for Cuddly Science).

Dino sandpit dig Glos GeoTrust Country File Live

And who could forget the inflatable dinosaur!

T-rex planting a tree vexed by little tiny t-rex arms Country File Live

Yes it's planting a tree 🙂

T-Rex and the Bee out for a stroll Country File Live

Yes it went for a walk with a bee!

T-rex and Buzy Bumble going for a walk Country File Live

I believe it was an Oxford Friends of the Earth bee but I would not swear to it.

Fuzzy Buzzy Bees at Country File Live

There was a swarm of the things!

But dinosaurs what not the only thing they had bought:

The Geo-Trusts had an amazing array of rocks, fossils, maps and reconstructions with them, including a hadrosaur head banging bit and the Buckland Megalosaurus jaw (yes I know more dinos but shhh). There was a mix of fossils and reconstructions, not to mention a map or two.

Fossils and reconstructions with Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire Geo Trusts

Fossil shrimp! Just look at the preservation on this little fellow!

Fossil Shrimp Glos Geo Trust Country File Live

I loved this cute velociraptor skull which got me into many an argument with kids who've seen the Jurassic Park Franchise films but have yet to delve deeper into the mists of deep time and dino-lore!

velociraptor skull Glos Geo Trust Country File Live

People who have known me and Al for a while will know we call each other polyp and kids as well... this is because when we first started going out I'd just started my paleo-biology module and was fast becoming obsessed with colonial and modular organisms such as bryozoans and corals (and plants for that matter). Polyps are the little creatures (v. similar to zooids) and I explained the concept to Al and he would pretend to be in a polyp tube and so on... This is why I got rather over excited at these fossil corals etc... 🙂

Fossil corals and modular organisms in the geology tent Country File Live

On one of my University interviews - Birmingham I think - I was given a fossil to try and identify - I thought it was a coral. It wasn't it was a mammoth tooth dredged from the English channel (I think it was a long time ago!). This misidentification burned what a mammoth's tooth looks like into my brain and thus when I saw this little one I knew what it was instantly (I still checked though before telling kids that that was what it was!). I never got to do the vertebrate paleo module which made me very sad and working that the Natural History Museum I was limited to the projects I was working on so didn't really get a broad look at macro/large fossils. The thing that looks like a shiny slither of tree is - it is fossil wood 🙂

Baby mammoth tooth and fossilised wood Gloucestershire geological trust

Dino-Roar! This is a view into the T-rex reconstruction skull - it is angled slightly upwards so you can really see the shape of the teeth. The Natural History Museum used to have little workshops on working out what you could tell about an animal from the skull/teeth/eye sockets ie diet, predation and social structure so I may have wibbled about this to the kids a lot.

Dino roar T-rex reconstruction skull veiw into the mouth at an upward angle

Shiny sand dollar! Look at that five fold symmetry!

Fossil Sand Dollar Glos Geological Trust Country File Live

Glos Geo Trust also had fossil making with plaster of paris with moulds from actual fossils, and a badge maker. And the Ox Geo Trust has 3D dino skull masks and little dino puppets which I sadly failed to get any photos of because to be quiet frank it was really quiet busy!

Paleo Posse (by )

Cuddly Science now has a Paleo Posse - very similar to the Awesome Archaeology team but with the addition of Darwin and some special head gear 🙂

Cuddly Sciences Paleo Puppet Posse with props!

So we have Mary Anning known as the Princess of Palaeontology who was a poor girl from Dorset who made her name collecting and studying fossils - she's the one in the bonnet and has a squid head piece accompanying her as she discovered fossilised ink sacks and would study modern creatures to see how they compared to the fossil creatures she was finding!

Then there is Charles Darwin who came up with the theory of evolution, he had many adventures on the high seas and was massively influenced by the new geological finds that were coming from people like Mary Anning and the Bone Wars! Where there were fights over the fossils bones of dinosaurs and were to find them! He has a reconstruction of a dino head with him.

Lastly but not least is the archaeologists, physical anthropologists and paleo-anthropologist Mary Leakey who worked on everything from Roman ruins to iron age sites to neolithic caves complete with stunning cave paintings to finding the remains of what appear to be the ancestors of humans paving the way for more insight into how our brains evolved. There is a brain hat to help her explain!

The paleo posse are preparing for their first outing as a team to Country File Live (2017).

Cuddly Sciences Paleo Posse getting ready for Country File Live

August Events! (by )

August dates: Thurs 3rd Cuddly Science goes to Country File Live, Sun 6th running a Poetry Workshop at Waterstones Gloucester 2-4, Tuesday 8th Villanelles SpaceHoppers Stroud 6:30 for Poetry, weekend 11-13th Cranham Feast doing various, Sun 20th True Believers Comic Festival: Summer Variant Edition in Gloucester for my zines/books/art prints and cosplay etc..., Mon 21st Villanelles Chelteham for poetry performance, Thurs 31 Villanelles Gloucester running free poetry workshop during the first hour. I think that is everything - the Soulfull Festival has sadly been cancelled and then September sees me back with craft workshops and history talks!

Mary Leakey – The Puppet! (by )

Cuddly Science has a new puppet 🙂 Mary Leakey - an paleoanthropologist who along with various other members of her family and team found alot of the early homonid fossils and moved our understanding of our own evolution on in leaps and bounds.

Mary Leakey the puppet reading one of her favourite books

Mary Leakey was one of my science heroes when I was a teen - during my GCSEs and A'levels I read all the books the library had or could get on her discoveries. And she was in the original list of ten puppets to make for Cuddly Science. My Mum and Dad worked on her mainly in secret for me, knowing I was uber busy with things.

Mary Leakey the puppet with one of her creators Angie Pym

She also doubles as a general geologist, archeologist and explorer! Which is just what I needed with various archeology festivals and geology based workshops coming up this summer!

Sarah Snell-Pym Cuddly Science Cheltenham Science Festival

The puppet was in fact barely finished before it was being whizzed off to the Cheltenham Science Festival to help explain the Cheltenham Hackspace's magic sand box!

Geology Puppet showing off the sand projector

This 3D projector that maps the sand contours in real time and projects and ever updating graded colour system on top was amazing! I do have video but haven't worked out how to extract it from my phone etc...

Geologist puppet is at the sand

We had over 10, 000 kids through the Makers Shack at the festival which was amazing and also exhausting! Mary Leakey and Ada Lovelace both enjoyed their outings and I have a hell of a lot more photos and vids to put up from the festival including trying to launch a robot into near Earth orbit! But for now I shall end with this pic of Mary Leakey chilling and relaxing behind the scenes.

Mary Leakey the puppet chilling behind the scense at the Cheltenham Science Festival

Cephalopod Week 2017! (by )

Cephalopods are things like squid, octopi, cuttle fish and the nautilus or at least that is all there are today in the rock record it is quiet another matter. Ammonites with their curly shells pretty much ruled the seas at one point and were so wide spread and abundant and varied that we use them as markers in the geologic record i.e. you know what type of ammonite you've got - you know the time period the rock was formed.

Ammonite Ink Sketch

I love my fossil cephalopods (lit. head on legs) and the modern ones are pretty amazing too!

There are so many videos on youtube of them doing amazing things like escaping from jars and squeezing through very small gaps, mimicking walking and so on.

The Natural History Museum London has an entire twitter feed dedicated to cephalopods which is well worth a look and can be found here.

The Guardian has an article on Snake Stones i.e. our friends the ammonites again, which you can find here 🙂

The New York Times has an interesting article on the genetics and intelligence of squids and octopuses, which is stuff I am putting straight into one of science fiction stories as it really is quiet weird! You can find that article here.

Ever since I was a child I've loved the way cuttlefish skin changes colour, squid skin is pretty fab too 🙂

I also have one crotchet squid for my hair and one cuddly octopus for snuggling that have been given to me - surprisingly they are both purple 😉

Over at ChemKnits they happen to have collected a load of free patterns for our cephalopod friends which you can find here.

The drawing sheet still needs some work done on it but will soon be up for free down load though sadly not this week. I will also be creating two different boarders for it - one for workshops and one for the third of my adult colouring in books - Colouring Rocks!

Enjoy what's left of Cephalopod Week and I will try and do better next year 🙂

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