Every few months, I get to host local troops at my university to teach them about rocks and fossils. I’ve done this a few times now, and I’ve helped several scouts earn their Geology and Mining in Society badges. The latest visit was from a local Webelos troop and their parents! We hosted about 15 scouts and their parents, and one adorable sister!
Two of the university’s professors, Mike Williams and Sheila Seaman, a structural geologist and petrologist (in other words, they study rocks and minerals and the tectonics of the Earth), taught the group about key minerals that make up rocks. In addition, they brought out some really interesting rocks.
After Mike and Sheila wrapped up with the rocks, I talked with the troop about cool things geologists get to do (mostly traveling all over the world), and the importance of the fossil record. I then let everyone walk around the room to examine three tables full of fossil specimens arranged by the different geologic eons.
Outreach such as teaching scouts about rocks, minerals, and fossils is vastly important, as many public schools do not teach their students about these nor let their students get hands-on experience testing minerals and identifying fossils. Many students do not get exposure to geoscience classes until they reach college or university, so students are missing the opportunity to learn about Earth’s vibrant and complex past. After all, learning about past organisms and climate events has important implications for understanding how ecosystems and climate will react to future climate change.