At some point or another most research students end up helping out with the teaching of undergraduate courses and now that the new semester has begun so has the teaching. This semester I have the chance to demonstrate for a new second year course called ‘Rocks and Minerals’, taught by my supervisor, Greg Yaxley, which is the combination of two previous courses, ‘Mineralogy’ and ‘the Lithosphere’. I am quite excited about this as although I have taught before, it is the first time that I have taught in my area of expertise (petrology) and I’m looking forward to having a greater depth of knowledge to draw upon when explaining concepts to the students. It is also one of the first classes that get to use RSES’s brand new D.A Brown Teaching Lab in the new Jaeger 8 Building. This lab is setup brilliantly for the teaching of earth science with large benches, up to date IT facilities and plenty of space, though the walls are still a bit bare.
One of the challenges of taking on a teaching role is remembering some of the skills, techniques and concepts that I need to be competent in, especially as I have barely used some of them since my undergraduate days. As such I spent a couple of days last week teaching myself how to use a petrologic microscope again as I rarely use one. Fortunately I was able to work it all out by yesterday’s lab class. The first lab involved learning how to use the microscope and looking at peridotites in thin section, including my favourite minerals, garnet and diopside (clinopyroxene). As always the students found the first time using the microscope challenging but it will get easily during the semester. I’ll keep everyone updated as the semester progresses.