13 September 2019

Prepare for Laugharne

Every year I attend our field trip in South Wales. It changed quite a lot since the first time! Back then it was some 9 or 10 days, and I would take all students into the field, make them process the samples we had taken, and then have them pick and identify a statistically not-all-too-unrobust assemblage of foraminifera. That sometimes took 14 hours! And I would generally only have one day off. But the budget got tighter and tighter and I was told I had to do something that allowed all students to do my assignment in two days. So I had to rethink it! And make it less work. So the students learn less but it is less heavy on both them and me.

This year would be even more different; firstly, we always used to go in June but now we would go in September, the week before Welcome Week. The students struggled with June as for one thing, they have their exams in early May, and then they couldn't get home and get a summer job until late June. And by the time they would be asked to wok up the data in the new academic year, they would have forgot what they had done in the field. But that did come with shorter days and colder weather. We would see how we would get on!

We also would not have two men that used to always come. One, Colin, had retired, and the other, Jaco, had to be at some conference. So we had to fill in for them! So I had to make sure I was not only prepared for my own assignment, but also for the things that Colin and Jaco used to do. That meant: remind myself of the things we tell the students on the first day, when we take them for a walk at various places in the ares; be ready to survey, and be ready to act as a sedimentologist. I have surveyed a fair bit as a salt marsh sea level scientist, but we used differential GPS; that requires knowledge of the technology, and not so much the old-fashioned technology of dumpy level and staff. And my sedimentology hasn't been used much since my student days. So I had to swot up! But it's always good to either re-learn something or learn something entirely new. It's the perk of a life in academia!

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