Palaeontology, the study of fossils, occupies a unique position as a highly accessible science that triggers curiosity and the imagination, but has a surprisingly low profile amongst the Irish public. This pioneering project has reached out to hundreds of Irish children and adults via innovative hands-on, digital and interpersonal formats that encourage hypothesis-testing and active kinaesthetic learning. We developed bespoke resources tailored to nationally important fossils and delivered via a ground-breaking interactive exhibit hosted at national and regional science fairs. The exhibit, called ‘Fossil Crime Scene: Ireland’, showcased Irish fossils with a forensics twist and incorporated cutting-edge technology – 3D printing and X-ray fluorescence analysis – previously inaccessible to the public. The exhibit content was expanded into a series of curriculum-aligned activities delivered to schools, primarily those in disadvantaged communities. By raising the profile of palaeontology, this project will inspire curiosity in our ancient past at a national scale, ultimately reforming national science curricula and stimulating pursuit of STEM careers.
Dr Maria McNamara