Geology Rocks!

This guest blog article was written by Lucy Spindler, a geology student going into third year at the University of St Andrews. Lucy was awarded an internship at MUSA through the St Andrews Summer Internship Scheme.

What does a Geology intern do for the Museum of University of St Andrews?

Well what doesn’t a Geology intern do is the real question! Half-way into my geology internship for MUSA and it has been a fantastic range of work. There are three main aspects of the internship that I have been a part of which has been working with the Learning and Access team, being Front of House staff at MUSA and also curating and cataloguing the University’s geological collection.  So one day I am sitting in a lab cataloguing rocks all day and the next I am making camouflage animals in the Bell Pettigrew Museum!

Fossilized fish
Fossilised fish from Dura Den on display in the Bell Pettigrew Museum


The Learning and Access part of the internship has been mainly planning our Geology week which is less than one week away! Myself and my colleague Rosie have been planning three different events that are all geology themed. These events are free, and aimed at ages 3 – 12 years old. Come along and join in on our fun activities and learn some cool geology! The three events that we have planned are the Fantastic Fossils (Monday 18Th July), Junior Geologists (Wednesday 20th July) and the Rock Detectives Walk (Thursday 21st July).  It has been very exciting to be able to plan events for children as Geology as a subject is not taught at all in Scottish schools therefore I feel it is extremely important to get the message out there about how much Geology rocks! (geddit?)

The other part of the internship is working Front of House at the Museum which involves


welcoming all visitors into the museum, answering their questions and providing them with information about the Museum and our collections. We also work in the MUSA Shop: I had no idea how many different things you could buy here – Tunnocks aprons, University tea, and marble polar bears to name but a few! The Front of House part of the internship has allowed me to see the hard work that the staff put into keeping high visitor satisfaction which is rewarded by the lovely comments people leave. Keeping on the theme of how diverse this internship is I even spent a few hours one day in the Learning Loft of the museum making fabric flags for children to design as part of the One World exhibition currently on display!



The third part of the internship that we work on is the curating and cataloguing of the geologistgeological collection. This is where being a geologist comes in pretty handy and where my two year university education is tested!  The Geology department currently have some 48,000 samples that are on their way to being catalogued.  Our job is to look at each sample (be it mineral, rock or fossil) and describe it using a set of criteria that we as students use all the time on field trips and laboratory classes, so it really is great ‘revision’ for my degree! This information is then uploaded onto a database which is used for all other collections curating as well.  In previous decades the system of cataloguing was very different.  Each sample had a hand written or typed (from a type writer) label describing what it is, where it was collected, who collected it, time of collection and possible time period it is from (Jurassic or Devonian etc).  These labels are often old and faded and hard to understand therefore we are modernising geological cataloguing and going online!

Lucy cropped
Lucy on a Geology field trip to Spain, 2016


Each part of the internship has been such great experience and a joy to work on but it’s not over yet! Our anticipated Geology week is just round the corner and hopefully we will be the inspiration for future generations of Geologists!


Find out more about Geology Week (18th-24th July) and other free events for adults and children here


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