EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The History of Life film project

John Murray1,2, Tiernan Henry1,2, Tracy Frank3, Labhaoise Ní Dhonnchadha4, Blaneth McSharry4, Gráinne McGrath4, Sharon Flynn4,5, Jeremiah Spillane4, and Iain Mac Labhrainn4
John Murray et al.
  • 1Earth and Ocean Sciences, School of Natural Sciences, National University of Ireland Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland
  • 2Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG)
  • 3Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 126 Bessey Hall, Lincoln, NE, 68588-0340, USA
  • 4Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), Arts Millennium Building, National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland
  • 5Irish Universities Association, 48 Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland

The History of Life film project is deeply rooted in the area of science communication, education and public engagement. Every year since 2011, NUI Galway final-year undergraduate science students taking the module History of Life have been tasked with researching a significant theme related to the evolution of life on Earth, and then producing a short documentary-style film on their chosen topic. The students work in small teams and have no prior training in film-making. Their finished films are uploaded to a specially created channel on YouTube, where they have amassed large viewing figures. The value of this multimodal teaching approach is that it engages all of the major learning domains. Cognitive skills are enhanced through acquisition, analysis and communication of knowledge, and practical skills are honed through deployment and use of technology. The students also develop their team-working skills and they find the overall learning experience both novel and rewarding: positively impacting on the affective domain. The strong temporal narrative which underpins palaeontology makes it well suited for film and in the ten years that the History of Life film project has been running, many inspiring moments have been captured by the various student teams. This presentation draws upon student feedback, along with instructor and media developer insights, to highlight key takeaways from the project and makes recommendations for optimising best practice in media-based science communication/educational initiatives.

For more information please see the following highlights compilation:

How to cite: Murray, J., Henry, T., Frank, T., Ní Dhonnchadha, L., McSharry, B., McGrath, G., Flynn, S., Spillane, J., and Mac Labhrainn, I.: The History of Life film project, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-958,, 2021.

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