Fascinating fossils help Perse pupil become Rockstar

Maito Shiode (Year 9) dug deep into the past to earn success with his research project in a major geology competition.

He was runner-up in the 13-16 age category of the Rockstar Young Geologists’ Competition, having entered his investigation into the types of fossils found in gravel in different areas of the Perse Upper site.

Maito, who had carried out the research for his Perse Project Qualification (PPQ) in Year 8, was thrilled to have done so well in the competition, organised by Rockwatch.

He said: “I’m signed up to Rockwatch, which is the national geology society for young people, and I’d been thinking about entering the Rockstar competition for a few years.

“This year I had my PPQ research, so I thought I’d submit that and hope for the best. I managed to get second place, which I wasn’t really expecting, so I felt very happy.”

For his project, Maito collected 300 samples of gravel from around The Perse, working out what types of fossils he could uncover and where they originated from, as well as the numbers of finds in different places and how well they had been preserved.

He took photos and created graphs based on the types of fossils he found and used online resources to help detect their sources.

Maito said: “It took quite a bit of time, but I found it very fun as there were many different varieties of fossils of different quantities and qualities.

“For example, I found the fossils in the gravel around the Outdoor Pursuits Centre were from the coast of Norfolk, whereas the ones near the South Building and the music block were from southern England.

“Some places had more sponge fossils, some had more of belemnites, which are squids, and some had more fossils of shells, which was interesting to see.”

A keen fossil collector, Maito had an exhibition of his finds on display at the University of Cambridge’s Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences in 2021.

Such is his interest in the field, Maito could not attend the Rockstar award ceremony as he was visiting the Munich Mineral Show, Europe’s biggest exhibition of its kind.

He did not miss out though, receiving his prize in a special presentation during the Geologists’ Association’s Festival of Geology at University College London.


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