The UK's Nationwide Geology Club for Children

Oscar Lozada

Post Graduate Student
Rockwatch was such a big part of my young life that I quite honestly can’t imagine my childhood without it. I’d always had an obsession with dinosaurs from the age of 2 after a visit to the Natural History Museum. On my first day of school in reception class I was able to rattle off the names of a few dozen to my rather confused teacher, and by age 5 I was Mary Anning in the making, hunting ammonites on the Jurassic Coast. Joining Rockwatch allowed me to experience the world of dinosaurs outside my picture books; in our regular meetings I met others equally crazy for them and was able to have extensive discussions about geology and palaeontology.  Frequently I nagged my parents to take me on the regular Rockwatch quarry forays around the country, as well as trips to the Isle of Sheppey and Leeson House. To this day the extensive fossil collection of sharks’ teeth, ammonites, trilobites and the odd dinosaur bone that I amassed on those trips remains one of my most prized possessions. Winning the Rockstar competition was an annual endeavour of mine, each year I’d push the boat out for new and unusual projects to win (and the buffet at the awards ceremony at Anglo American didn’t go amiss either). I'm thrilled to see that my painting of a Devonian Age seascape, which I painted for the competition, is still being used as a promotional poster for Rockwatch. The people of Rockwatch encouraged my curiosity which, with our frequent discussions of palaeontology and the natural world, encouraged an interest in science. This lead me into work experience at the Natural History Museum, and later to study Zoology at the University of Exeter (where I took special interest in discussions of the evolution of mammals and dinosaurs). Now I am studying for a Master’s in Ecological Applications at Imperial College London. Currently I am working on my dissertation, on the biological side of how humans might go about terraforming Mars. Using Martian soil created by NASA I am growing extremophile bacteria from some of the harshest deserts on Earth to see if they could survive the Martian landscape. I’m also trying to grow crops such as wheat and barley in the Martian soil and analysing the physical and chemical properties of the soil. Still today I love reading about dinosaurs, watching documentaries and keeping up with the latest paleontological research. Being a part of Rockwatch undoubtedly lead me to pursue a career in science at university and beyond. Thank you to Rockwatch, Susan and everyone else I met in the Rockwatch family for satisfying my fossil obsession, encouraging my curiosity and ensuring this little boy never grew up. It’s been fun.

Author: Helen Connolly

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