Why is a timeline like a crocodile?
Every primary school class has a timeline. Some teachers make a great deal of use of them. Some timelines just seem to be there for no apparent reason like the ubiquitous stuffed crocodile in these old paintings of alchemist’s shops – just one of those things that are part of the fixtures and fittings.
A timeline problem
The trouble for me is that all these timelines seem so short. I suppose that it’s inevitable when you’ve only limited space in the classroom. The problem’s even more acute when you’re dealing with geological time as I was during last week’s visit to a primary school in Leeds (West Yorkshire, UK).
An outdoor solution
My new presentation focuses on How do we know about dinosaurs? and I needed to get the children to think about how far back in time the Cretaceous Period might be. My solution was to take the children outside into the school yard. After all, the classroom is only a workplace: it’s not a prison. This gave us the room we needed to work.
Dinosaur timeline maths
First I got ten children to stand in a line with their arms outstretched and fingertips touching. Each child represented ten years. ‘What’s ten ten’s?’ I asked. There was some confusion here as I got a reply of ‘twenty’ a couple of times but eventually we sorted out that I meant multiply ten by ten not add ten and ten. I repeated this process with each child being a hundred, then a thousand, then a million years. It’s a great way to revise maths, if nothing else.
The Cretaceous at last
Finally, I lined all thirty children up as thirty million years and asked the classroom assistant to walk away from them holding one end of a surveyor’s tape measure. She was told to stop when she reached thirty four metres. Thirty million plus thirty four million equals sixty four million years ago; the end of the Cretaceous Period and the time when the world was rule by Tyrannosaurus Rex. ‘There’, I said ’, Isn’t that a long way away?’
For more details of the new dinosaur presentation or to book a session contact me here.