I am a scientist

I've recently run a series of 'hands on' workshops for adults and their children, entitled, I AM A SCIENTIST.

Its focus was on adults working WITH their children on hands on science challenges, using recycled junk material.

All members were addressed as scientists.

Everyone ( my young scientists were aged between 5 and 14) appeared to have the best of times working collaboratively on a range of challenges.

Location: Parker, Colorado
Members: 7
Latest Activity: May 14, 2016

I am a collector


        Let’s be a COLLECTOR!!


Collecting – how it started for me


I lived near the sea when I was young – the stony beach of Mount’s Bay was a few hundred yards from my front door – and a mile or two inland were several abandoned tin mines.

On the day of my fifth birthday, I was really surprised when my dad met me at the end of the school day. [1]

Holding my hand, we walked to the nearby beach to search for heart-shaped or dark grey pebbles with a vein of white quartz running through the middle.


These pebbles were very, very special. Mum and Dad called them wishing rocks.


I soon spotted a wishing rock. I picked it up so it rested comfortably in the palm of my hand. I slowly wrapped my fingers around it and squeezed really tight.  

My fingers warmed the pebble. Then I closed my eyes and sent a special loving wish to my mum.

I put my wishing rock into what Mum called my treasure tin, a small red OXO tin.

Then, I spotted something different. There, lying with all the black, grey and white pebbles was a bright yellow object. It didn’t look like any of the other smooth rocks. What was it?

It stared up at me, wanting, I felt, badly to be picked up, wanting to be touched and admired. By me.

I bent over, picked it up and held it in the palm of my hand. Not wanting to scratch it, I wrapped it up in my white hanky and put it in my pocket.

As I dressed for school the next morning, I put my treasure inside a small OXO tin to take to school to show my teacher, Miss Harvey.

Even before all the boys sat in their seats, I was standing by Miss Harvey’s tall wooden desk, the OXO treasure tin in my hand, spluttering, “Miss Harvey, Miss Harvey, see what I found. I found it on the beach, after school, yesterday. Went there with my Dad. You know, when the tide was out, when you can see what the waves brought in.”

As Miss Harvey looked inside my OXO tin, her eyes widened.

It wasn’t, apparently a rock at all. It was ancient fossilized tree resin, and, she said, it was called amber. Miss Harvey knew amber was millions of years old and began its life as tree resin.

Resin? Fossilized? Amber? Ancient? What beautiful words, I thought.

Miss Harvey held my beautiful amber in her hand, smiled, looked down at me through her wire glasses that balanced on the end of her sharp nose, and said loudly, so everyone in class could hear, that it had been washed ashore after a long trip in the sea.

Miss Harvey handed the amber back to me and then wrote the word

A M B E R on the board. “Show it to everyone,” Miss Harvey said.


I turned a little red as I faced everyone in the room. As I held out my hand and showed the class, everyone stopped chattering. They were curious and wanted to see what I had found.

Then Miss Harvey said, “Johnny Paull, why don’t you draw a picture of your amber? Here, here’s some white paper. Use this! Don’t just draw the amber, draw the other beach pebbles, too. Just as you remember. Can you see them in your head?”

I couldn’t wait to grab some yellow, black and brown crayons from the big biscuit tin. Closing my eyes, I remembered just how the amber looked when I saw it lying with all the other pebbles.

When I’d finished my drawing and showed it to Miss Harvey, I could tell from her eyes that she liked it. Quickly, she glued the picture onto some black paper, then taped it to the wall close to my desk, and told me to write my name and the date underneath.

As I was drawing another picture of one of my wishing rocks, Miss Harvey came next to me and, with a broad smile, said, very emphatically so that everyone could hear,

”Keep it, Johnny Paull. The amber. Keep it safe. And that wishing rock. They’re wonderful. Keep them. Keep the amber. Keep it in your oxo tin- your treasure tin, sorry - and save it. Save it forever.”


That was it. I was hooked. I’ve been collecting ever since.




Many years later, when teaching 5th graders, we were sharing their treasure tins at the start of another day.


The treasure tin was renamed a pocket museum by Michael, one of my students when he said to me, “Like a museum, ain’t it? Dad says mine was a pocket museum. Can we call ‘em pocket museums, Mr. Paull?”


I asked the class what they thought to the idea.

Everyone agreed.












How to make a pocket museum

         for your prized possessions


You need a tin, a piece of felt, scissors, glue, and an artifact or two (or more).





  1. Cut the felt to size.
  2. Glue the felt inside the tin.
  3. Glue rocks/minerals/crystals, and,
  4. hey, you have your pocket museum!


John Paull




















[1]  Excerpt from ‘THROUGH MY EYES: on becoming a teacher, John Paull 2012.

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