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Dippy zooms into Rochdale schools

20 November 2020

Dippy in Number One Riverside. Special Zoom sessions, recently launched in Rochdale, have connected children across the region with the Natural History Museum’s famous dinosaur, Dippy.

The roarsome sessions were put together to enable young dino fans to engage with the world famous exhibit, which is currently in Rochdale as part of a national tour, without having to leave the classroom. 

Over 32,000 schoolchildren from across the North West were booked in to meet the famous exhibit at Number One Riverside in Rochdale, but with the building closing its doors in March as part of the national lockdown, many never got the chance to take the trip. 

Dippy briefly reopened in Rochdale in September, but with school trips difficult, the council came up with the online resource to keep the popular sauropod in touch with his young fans. And when Dippy closed again as part of the second national lockdown, the Zoom sessions proved more popular than ever.

Dippy on Tour is being brought to Number One Riverside, Rochdale and visitors across the UK by the Natural History Museum in partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation, and supported by Dell EMC and Williams & Hill. 

Over 240 children have already enjoyed a Zoom session with Dippy

More than 240 children from schools across Rochdale, Manchester, Bolton and Oldham, as well as Brownie groups, took part, with children asking questions like: ‘what did Dippy eat?’ and ’do you think dinosaurs will ever roam the earth again?’ 

The children submitted their questions in advance, with the answers, which were put together by experts from the Natural History Museum, being read out by staff sitting next to Dippy. 

The Zoom sessions are just one of the many ways schoolchildren have engaged with Dippy. Elsewhere in the borough, talented students from St Mary’s RC School in Langley came to the rescue when the council needed to create a brand new, covid-secure exhibition in Number One Riverside, when it reopened earlier in the year, ahead of the second lockdown. 

The students created pieces of art, depicting dinosaurs and the natural world, which formed part of the touch free ground floor display surrounding Dippy. 

The artwork was put together using a variety of techniques, including sketching, collage, screen printing and painting. 

Children also created artwork to accompany Dippy on the ground floor

Sarah Geddis, headteacher at St Mary’s, said: “This display was created by the children of key workers earlier this year when many of their friends were not in school. It gave them a real focus during a time of uncertainty and they loved working on it. 

"It’s been wonderful having Dippy in Rochdale. You can go and see things like that in the Manchester Museum, but to see something like that in the middle of Rochdale, in our children’s hometown, you can’t underestimate the importance of that and how much it means to them. Although Dippy is closed at the moment, they’re so proud to have played a part in his story.” 

Dippy was also surrounded by displays from the council’s Linking School project, which saw primary schools across the borough link together. As part of this, Lowerplace and St Mary’s primary schools created a poem on home, travel and the places that connect us. 

The council’s school equalities team also worked with local Gypsy and Roma families to create a display on what their heritage means to them, giving visitors an insight into migration and travel and how it connects to the natural world. 

Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for a safer and more inclusive community, said: “Dippy on Tour is all about inspiring the next generation of scientists and it’s been wonderful to see children’s reactions to him. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for young people and we didn’t want them to miss out because of the current restrictions. That’s why we decided that if they can’t come to see Dippy, we’ll take Dippy to them. 

“Although Dippy is not open at the moment, it’s already had a huge impact on our young people and I’m so proud that they came on this journey with us and contributed their time and efforts to be part of Dippy’s adventure in Rochdale.”