The following is a diary entry I wrote from the perspective of the Scientist Richard Owen. He is the scientist who first distinguished the difference between the ancestors of our own common day Reptiles and Dinosaurs. I Studied his environment and thought about his emotions at this time to try and portray this through his entry. This deals with the drama term ‘Visualisation’ and can be linked across several curriculum areas.
Monday 8th November 1841
I think I may be on to something big…
The day started off like any other day. I peeled myself from bed and I slipped on the pristine white lab coat I pressed freshly last night, ready for the day ahead. I walked the short distance to the laboratory and washed my hands thoroughly as always. You never know what dirt and disease can be picked up on the streets of Lancaster, walking past people of all sorts. Some, Scientists like myself, caught up in our latest obsession. Some, business men speeding through the crowds, avoiding beggars to their best ability. Mothers dutifully walking their children to school and then the homeless riddled with illness and bugs. I try to drop a penny their way now and again, but mostly I avoid them, how would I control a nest of flees inhabiting my sterile lab coat after all? However, I digress. Back to subject at hand.
Today I was particularly excited to study fossil collection found by a William Devonshire Saull. I have heard a lot about this collection and have a particular interest on a chunk of spine that he found.
As I approached this collection I forget about the white walls around me, the chemical smell that usually takes a while to settle and get used to, I forget about the dripping of various experiments going on around the lab. All I can think about is the fossil in front of me. It seems to be some sort of Spine, Saull identified it as belonging to an antient creature called an ‘Iguanadon’. These are bigger versions of the modern day Iguana. I however, had a hunch there was more to this.
I started comparing different fossils from this collection. I observed the smooth lengths of fossilized bone and felt the bumps and lumps beneath my fingers. I held small ones behind larger versions, and noted the similarities and suptle differences. Some bones curved and some remained straight, some were thick and strong and others thin and versatile. I have a hunch that these fossils belong to more sophisticated creatures than ancestors of our modern reptiles. One thing I can tell for sure is that these fossils belong to somewhat similar creatures.
After being so engrossed in this study for hours and hours, I finally decided to call it a day. Although my work hours finished many ago, my mind will not focus on anything else. My mind has been reeling ever since I closed the heavy lab door, walked through the narrow street chilled with frost, branching over railings and the hard ground beneath my feat, disregarding the small slips that interrupted my mindless pace. I don’t even remember the precise moment I reached my small flat and sank into my comfy leather chair. All I can remember is thinking. Endless thinking about the possibilities of what I have discovered. I’ve given them a name: Dinosaurs. I need to research more, but I think there may have been a whole other branch or creature we don’t yet know about. The thought is explosive, and I doubt I’ll get much sleep tonight. One thing is for sure however…I cannot wait to get my hands back on those fossils.
I think this activity would bring a lot of value to a school environment because it encourages children to get into a mindset of another person, and develop their understanding of emotions. It gives the children a chance to be creative and validate their learning. Various levels of support may be needed depending on the class, such as support with writing or whole class involvement for those who maybe can’t explore the thoughts and feelings of other people as easily. Over all, this was an interesting experience for me, and I believe children could enjoy this lesson very much providing they are allowed to write about a character they are interested in.