Oxford Professor Explains About Earth Sciences
Shortly before the nation went into lock-down the school’s Aspire students were given some very meaningful insights into the Earth’s processes from Oxford University Assistant Professor of Planetary Materials Jon Wade. Dr Wade was introduced to the school via Governor Mary Cook, herself a former Business Studies teacher at the school.
Dr Wade’s main role is as a lecturer in Earth Sciences at Oxford but he is also heavily engaged in the university’s outreach scheme to recruit students from all areas of the UK. He had an interesting academic history himself, having failed A-levels at school, then worked as a bus driver and builder before going to university at the age of 27.
He spoke at length about the make-up of the earth’s core and the effect of pressure on the various layers of the earth over time – crush a piece of carbon for a million years and you’ve got a diamond! He also spoke about the theories for the formation of the Earth and the planets as well as the origins of life. The most exciting part of Dr Wade’s talk was when he began to talk about his passion – rocks! Distributing a range of rocks amongst the audience Dr Wade invited our students to guess the various types of rock they were examining, ranging from obsidian (used for surgical knives), pumice (formed in the air when a volcano erupts), granite crystals and an iron meteorite. Students were surprised at how much they already knew and more often than not guessed correctly.
Interestingly, graduates from the Earth Sciences course are said to have the highest earning potential from all Oxford’s courses. Not surprisingly a number of the Sixth Formers present immediately went to research more on the course.
Earth Sciences is an applied forensic science dealing with unique problems of scale, time and size. It is a subject that requires imagination with very broad applications. Sounds good for Aspire students!