ASE produces prize winning primary educational resources on the life of Mary Anning, 19th century fossil collector and palaeontologist

ASE produces prize winning primary educational resources on the life of Mary Anning, 19th century fossil collector and palaeontologist

In January 2022, the Association of Science Education has developed enquiry-based resources offer support to primary teachers in the fields of science, history, English and the wider curriculum. In a bid to offset the trend of more than a decade towards a very prescriptive curriculum of English, Maths and Science, the materials fulfil mandated educational criteria whilst exploring significant lives, ideas and events in the development of scientific ideas and thinking in the 19th century.  An excellent way to capture pupils’ interest, this is a gripping story told through the life of a brave and distinctive individual, Mary Anning. 

Mary Anning

These resources have been piloted in schools for over two years.  While of a scientific nature, exploring the science of fossils and evolution, this high quality project enables teachers to facilitate reflections on the influence of historical, cultural and religious thinking in changing ideas. Crucially, it offers also an example of a person who had a dream, and contributed to society, against many obstacles.

https://www.ase.org.uk/news/ase-produces-treasure-trove-of-primary-educational-resources-life-of-fossil-hunter-mary-anning

The film Sea Dragon is at the heart of the project, and is the winner of the 38th annual Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. 

For adults who want to continue learning while off-duty, the R rated film Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, offers a very scenic portrayal of the friendship between Mary Anning and Charlotte Murchison.  Historians do speculate that it was this relationship which sparked off the career of the renowned palaeontologist Roderick Murchison.  However, the lesbian angle has been added to the story by director Francis Lee, and is not a part of the historical account.

If your appetite is whetted, then the University of Cambridge offers the completed Darwin Correspondence project. https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/  This collection of over 12,000 letters both to and from Darwin is available on-line, and offers themed material suitable for 7-11 year olds, 11-14 year olds, and university students.   The topics are wide, offering innovative food for thought on experiments in science, but also more widely in fields of religion, slavery, the role of women in the scientific community and Darwin’s life experiences.

A dramatisation of the correspondence between Charles Darwin and Asa Gray was commissioned by the Darwin Project, and written by Cambridge playwright, Craig Baxter. It was developed for the stage by director Paul Bourne of the Menagerie Theatre Company, Cambridge, UK.