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Dinosaurs in the Wild: "It's education by stealth!"

Lucinda Reid speaks to Darren Naish, lead scientific consultant for Dinosaurs in the Wild, to find out how the experience is tailored for schools

Posted by Lucinda Reid | May 24, 2018 | Events

How did you first become interested in dinosaurs?

I have always been fascinated by animals, and my interest in prehistoric animals like dinosaurs is an extension of a broader interest in animals. I am unusual among dinosaur experts as I have never been specifically dedicated to dinosaurs, I wanted to become a zoologist and it just so happened that I ended up working with dinosaurs.

When did you first become involved in Dinosaurs in the Wild?

I was working at Impossible Pictures, which is the company that produced Walking with Dinosaurs by Tim Haines. Tim is the daddy of Dinosaurs in the Wild and when he was looking for a consultant palaeontologist, he came to me. I was drafted in from the very beginning.

What is your main role as a consultant on Dinosaurs in the Wild?

I am the sole scientific consultant and that means making sure that all the animals are constructed on hard facts. I have worked on things like reconstructing behaviour and dietary behaviour before, so I used this experience when working on Dinosaurs in the Wild.

How did you decide what to include in this live experience?

The team had many discussions about what to include, and we based it on the work that real scientists would do if time travel existed and there was a research park studying dinosaurs. For example, scientists would do autopsies and collect eggs using a range of technologies. We had fun visualising what would happen but it’s a mix of what real scientists do and what we would expect in a science fiction scenario.

Why do you think dinosaurs are good for education and learning?

I think everyone from a young age is aware of these creatures and finds them interesting. There are other areas of science that kids are interested in, like animal behaviour and space, but they are not as accessible as dinosaurs. This accessibility is fantastic as it encourages an interest in science in young people.

Why is Dinosaurs in the Wild attractive to teachers?

Every decision that we have made in Dinosaurs in the Wild is based on science, so therefore the hundreds of ideas, concepts and processes that are mentioned all relate to real life. Behind everything you see in Dinosaurs in the Wild there is an educational element. You will find out about earth history, evolution, biology and so much more. You cannot help but learn something new as that is a core part of what we’ve done. It’s education by stealth! Also, I hope there is another idea conveyed through the experience. It’s important that Dinosaurs in the Wild illustrates the variety of jobs available in science. I hope it shows that science is for everyone.

What is your favourite part of Dinosaurs in the Wild?

Well, I feel fairly fickle and childish in saying it but I like all of it! It’s a very immersive experience and involves a lot of technology to bring the dinosaurs to life, but it is also led by a cast of 40 brilliantly trained actors. They are a fantastic bunch of people and have done us proud!

Dinosaurs in the Wild will be at London’s Greenwich Peninsula until 31st July. The show is an immersive, live-action educational experience that enables teachers to take school groups of 7-11-year-olds somewhere they've never been before – 67 million years back in time to the late Cretaceous Period.

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