DAVID EMLYN EVANS 1915 - 1997
The following account was received from Nick Perrin who lives in New Zealand. The original source remains unknown
The award of the 23rd R.H. Worth Prize to David Emlyn Evans in 1978 was an unusual, but fitting event. Emlyn was a great encouragement to amateur geologists, and made considerable contributions to the teaching of geology; not only to school and pre-school children but their teachers as well.
One of three children from a mining family, in 1935 he went to the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and gained an Honours Degree in the Department of Geography and Anthropology.
His first teaching post was at Caerphilly Boys Secondary School. In September 1949 he became involved in the Museum Schools Service, created by the National Museum and Local Education Authorities. As one of two Officers, his task was to create a loan service of specimens and persuade teachers and headmasters in Welsh secondary schools to take part.
The growth in the number of geological schoolteachers was undoubtedly a major factor in the establishment, in 1959, of a South Wales Group of the Geologists' Association. Emlyn became its Chairman in 1974.
It was natural that he should be invited to join the Committee of the Museum Association’s "Group for Children's Activities". After serving as Local Secretary of Section C of the 1960 BAAS Meeting in Cardiff he served as Secretary of the BAAS sub-committee on the teaching of geology in schools. He organised the first conference of The Association of Teachers of Geology (now the Earth Science Teachers Association) at Keele in 1967. In 1958 he became Assistant Keeper in the Department of Geology at the National Museum and remained there until his retirement in 1979.
His main academic interests were the denudation chronology of South Wales and the correlation of the South Wales Coal Measures. He became progressively more interested in minerals, and made significant additions to the Museum collection (his responsibility for nearly two decades). He was responsible for the illustrations in the Collectors Encyclopaedia of Rocks and Minerals (1974). On the applied side, he was active in assessing the stability of the Severn Bridge foundations, and of the Inner Ring Road (Eastern Avenue) in Cardiff. He also analysed the peculiar forms of subsidence in the Bridgend area.
His most important contributions were in interpreting his subject, especially to the young, and in developing teaching techniques. He was always anxious to involve the student and to find ways of counteracting the inhibiting effect of glass between viewer and specimen.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, he carried out a series of experiments in an 'activities' room to which primary school children and their parents were invited. His emphasis was on direct experience, on the importance of discovery, and on making the learner feel confident and competent. He also introduced Family Expeditions (or Excursions). The scheme grew from an informal scheme involving geology only, to a formal one involving all departments of the Museum.
Emlyn was a formidable model-maker who solved many presentational problems. His models were used in demonstrations and courses for teachers; others formed part of the Museum's new geology gallery (1968). Many were used in the preparation of films for the Schools Department of BBC (Wales). The models for a film to explain Plate Tectonics (Continental Drift) included one of the Atlantic floor large enough for presenters to walk across. Those for a film on the Ice Age involved fieldwork on Swiss glaciers and visits to the Swiss Institute of Glaciology in Zurich.
Emlyn lectured widely to local societies, community groups, chapel societies and men's clubs. He used regularly to leave the Museum at closing time with, slide projector and portable screen, to give one of his inimitable talks - a blend of knowledge, excitement and humour, presented with all the skill of the story-teller.
Emlyn was the National Museum's most energetic, successful and committed proselytiser - one of the unique voices of geology. He infected others with his enthusiasm and created a sense of wonder among his younger pupils. He died on 12 January 1997 and is survived by his wife Olive.