St Marys Senior High students' drill core interest

Earth and environmental science students from St Marys Senior High School cemented their knowledge of rocks and minerals with a visit to the NSW drill core library.

About 32 students in years 11 and 12 met with environmental scientists last week at the WB Clarke Geoscience Centre in Londonderry.

They left with a greater understanding of the rock samples’ use in the mining industry, a geophysical map of NSW and a framed 255 million year old fossil of a leaf.

‘‘This is a fossil which proves that Australia and Antarctica, South America and Africa were all joined together because the same fossil was found in each area,’’ said teacher David Bowden.

‘‘[Earth and environmental science] is a big picture, rather than chemistry which is very focused, and biology which is much of the same thing.’’

Mr Bowden, who teaches all three sciences, said the excursion fit with many parts of the curriculum including plate tectonics, continental drift, how physics is used to map parts of Australia, and identification of rocks found in its environment.

‘‘Most of all it was contact with people who all seem very positive and very enthusiastic about their career as geologists, as photographers, as mineralogists, as environmental scientists, as water scientists, as paleontologists,’’ he said.

Sarah Newman, 17, said she learnt a lot about drill cores and how to identify rock-types at the excursion.

‘‘They shave down the rocks into a really thin layer and then check the colours and densities of the rocks inside it,’’ she said.

‘‘Environmental science is something that I’d like to do in the future, either as an engineer or something to do with environmental health.’’

What the students said:

Isaac Condie, 17:

‘‘Seeing what we’re studying in class in real life is quite incredible. We look at lots of geology and what it means for the environment, where the different rocks occur. It was interesting to meet the people who know a lot about that.

‘‘The collection of minerals they had was really impressive — a lot of different colours and shapes.’’

Megan Clarke, 16:

‘The fossils were most interesting thing because they were millions of years old, and some of the only ones that you could find in NSW. 

‘‘I chose [earth and environmental science] because I was interested not only in the environment, but what Australia is made up of. I was mainly interested in the geology.

‘‘It was interesting to see the minerals on a bigger scale than what you normally would. Sulfur and things like that are really nice bright colours.’’

Kieran Aranha, 17:

‘‘It was really interesting. We got to see different types of fossils and rocks. We got to learn about how Sydney used to be millions of years ago and how the fossils have remained intact. There were ones of fish and leaves and trees from ages ago — about 250 million years or so.’’

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