If you wish to arrange an unguided visit, you simply need to phone and book a time: this requirement is due to safety regulations, and to separate groups. Your period of stay is determined by your needs and whether we have any other parties booked in. There is an admission charge to Dinosaur Isle.
In the context of Earth Sciences within the National Curriculum, the Museum staff give talks introducing the study of geology. Topics covered include rocks, fossils, dinosaurs and landscape, with an opportunity to handle fossils. This talk lasts approximately 30 minutes, and can be extended by the use of worksheets. A charge is made for talks. In order to ensure that all pupils can handle the fossils we normally restrict a talk to a maximum of 40 pupils. Larger groups are split into two (and sometimes three when the school group is very large, for example when we get over 100 pupils in a group). If your group is going to St.Catherine's for its field trip we may be able to give you a talk on the site and its fossils instead of the standard talk. We would need to know this when you make your booking.
With this option the talk is followed by a visit to one of a number of sites on the island known to be particularly rich in fossils (click on Field Trip localities for further details). The children are able to collect fossils for their school or themselves. This we hope, will be a memorable experience for you and them. You should allow a total of 3 hours for a trip to St. Catherines Point and 1.5 hours for a trip to Yaverland. For this service a charge is made. A brief safety talk is given to groups before they go onto a site.Wet Weather Alternative:If you were booked with us for a fossil hunt but bad weather prevented your trip, we will do our best to offer an alternative. You may be able to extend your stay with Museum based activities, using worksheets or sketching sets of fossils. Please note: if you had no prior booking, we may still be able to provide you with a talk or visit, subject to availability.
A talk and fossil-handling session lasts about 30 minutes.A visit to see the exhibitions typically takes about an hour, but you should allow longer if you have a very large group.A field trip to Yaverland takes about 1.5 hours, allowing an hour for fossil hunting, and about 5 minutes for a safety briefing. The walk to the site takes about 10-12 minutes depending on how far along the beach you go. Reception classes travel much more slowly and for small groups it may be possible to be collected from the bus-stop near Yaverland Car-Park for your onward journey.A trip to St Catherines takes much longer, allow 40 minutes for the coach drive to the site, about 15 minutes to walk to the beach, an hour on the beach and about 20 minutes to walk back up to the coach. Allow extra time for large groups to disembark, embark, put on waterproofs if necessary, and generally mill about.The typical school activity includes talks, a visit, and a field trip to Yaverland for which an overall time of 3 hours should be allowed (longer if it is a very young group, or very large). For groups using the St Catherine's site allow about 5 hours if you are coming back to the Sandown area afterwards, and about 4.5 hours if you are going on to another education provider.
The normal sequence of activities is Talk --> Visit exhibitions --> Field trip. However, due to tide times at Yaverland and Shanklin it may be necessary to have the field trip first. In this case we would recommend coming to the Museum first (some regular schools who visit us make arrangements to go straight to the site, and we meet them there). We can also deal with very large groups by allocating more than one field trip leader and taking half of your group out straight away on the field trip. If you wish us to do this please make it very clear when you book. We will advise you on the sequence of events when we confirm your booking. If we know the tide state when you book we can advise you then.Groups who are not having field trips are obviously not affected by tide times.
We can now offer a new combined theory and practical activity to support the Geography unit - 'Investigating Coasts'. This comprises a session at Dinosaur Isle where pupils will take part in a presentation about the Island's eroding coastline and the measures that have been taken to slow the rate of erosion, or build up more coastline. This will be followed by the school visiting the coastline at Ventnor where they will be able to see a variety of coastal defence works designed to match the varying geological problems that are present on this stretch of coastline. Pupils will be able to see the effects on the local economy of the coastal protection work, the impact on the modern flora and fauna and the effectiveness of different types of engineering solution. The school will need to have their own transport to reach Ventnor, where there is adequate coach parking. About 40 minutes should be allowed for the talk, a similar time to get to Ventnor, and then about two to two-and-a-half hours for the walk along the seawall and back (there is a small toilet block at the beginning of the walk, and another at the furthest point). This trip is led by two staff from the museum who are qualified geologists and familiar with the geology of the area. Two worksheets are available to support the work, one for the museum session and one for the beach session. Please contact the Community Learning Officer for further details.
We aim to provide a guide who will stay with you for your visit, although you will probably not require assistance when going around the Museum, other than when you first go in to see the displays and pick up the activity sheets. Guides work for Dinosaur Isle, and are all employees of the Isle of Wight Council. The member of staff who provides the talk should also be the same guide on your field trip, although for large groups it will usually be necessary to bring along a further guide (and sometimes for operational reasons we may have to use a different guide). Sometimes we also bring along students on work-experience and trainee teachers. If we do, then we will introduce them to you and the pupils. All guides are experienced in the field trip localities, the geology and palaeontology.
If your visit overlaps your lunch break you may wish to use the grass area in front of the Museum to eat your food. Bench seating (and an ammonite-shaped seat) has recently been installed on the grass. We would ask all groups to ensure that their rubbish is collected and securely bagged. There are bins nearby. There is a fence between this area and the main road.The area is adjacent to the former Sandown Canoe Lake and is rich in wildlife, including a pair of nesting resident swans during April to May. If you are lucky you may arrive when the young swans and ducklings are swimming about the lake. There are also coots, moorhens, mallards and a variety of seagulls to be seen. At the back of the museum, in the evening, the grassed area is a playground for young rabbits. During the winter months it may be possible for your group to use our Education Room for your lunch, but this will depend upon whether the room is in use for other activities. We can advise you when you make your booking.Children will need to be supervised at all times during their lunch. Schools visiting St Catherine's as their field trip site may wish to take their packed lunches there, but all rubbish must be collected and taken away.
There is a large coach car-park in Fort Street nearby (about 5 minutes walk away) for which a fee is charged. Alternatively there is space for 4 coaches on the tarmac road (cul-de-sac) along side Dinosaur Isle. There is a sign, on a post next to the road, limiting the parking here to coaches only. This coach parking area is free only for visiting schools, please ensure your coach is not left in the large gravel car-park without a valid ticket.Minibuses may park in the large gravel car-park, or the tarmac car-park behind the building, please ensure a valid ticket or permit is clearly displayed.
Educational Services Activities Fossil Guide - what are fossils? Field trip localities Activity Worksheets Health and Safety Useful informationand Downloads Earth's Timeline FAQ's (on the Dinosaurs page)TestimonialsNewsletters Dinosaur Isle Shop