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Previous Winners of the National Schools Geology Challenge

The 2018 Competition

Eight teams of school students from across the UK attended the Finals of the National Schools Geology Challenge on 22 March 2018. 

The day was packed full of fascinating talks and posters on an assortment of geological topics including:

  • carbonados and diamonds 
  • the evolution of avian flight 
  • and the geology of an iPad. 

Each of our judges (Emma Bernard, Tim Gregory, Helen Smyth, Jessica Smith and Huw Richards) gave the students a talk on their area of geoscience covering:

Museum curation   -   Engineering geology   -   Oil and gas  

   Meteorite geochemistry   -   and Mineral exploration.

The Winners

The winning team were Aylesbury Grammar School  (Home Counties North Regional Group) with their talk and poster on ‘Curious Carbonados’. 


Winners: Best Presentation

The students from Saffron Walden School (East Anglia Regional Group) won the Presentation Award with their talk on ‘Convergent evolution of flight’.

Winners: Best Poster

Wells Cathedral School (Western Regional Group) won the Poster Award with their poster on ‘The Geology of an iPad’.

Congratulations to the winning teams and to all of our finalists:

  • Hall Cross Academy (Yorkshire Regional Group)
    Cu later, Copper!
  • Rathmore Grammar School (Northern Ireland Regional Group)
    Minerals: a key geological resource
  • Runshaw College (East Anglia Regional Group)
  • The Caledonian Orogeny in the UK
  • Torquay Girls’ Grammar School (South West Regional Group)
    The evolution of plate tectonics
  • Whitchurch High School (South Wales Regional Group)
    The effects of coal mining on Welsh landscapes: Sinkholes

The 2017 Final

Seven teams of school students from across the UK attended the 2017 Finals of the National Schools Geology Challenge. 

The day was hosted by Paul Maliphant and was packed full of fascinating talks and posters on an assortment of geological topics including:
  • tsunamis 
  • water supply 
  • mass extinctions 
  • and the volcanology of Mars. 

The Winners 

Whitchurch High School: ‘Managing Risk: La Palma-geddon’.


Winners: Best Presentation

Aylesbury Grammar School: Tectonics and Volcanology of Earth and Mars


Winners: Best Poster 

Altrincham Grammar School for Boys: The Geology of Venus


Congratulations to the winning teams and to all of our finalists:

  • Bishop Wordsworth’s School & South Wilts Grammar School for Girls (Western Regional Group)
    Hydrothermal Vents and the Origin of Life
  • Hall Cross Academy (Yorkshire Regional Group)
    Geology and Water Supply
  • Rathmore Grammar School (Northern Ireland Regional Group)
    Tsunami Geohazard
  • Torquay Girls’ Grammar School (South West Regional Group)
    How have Mass Extinctions Affected the Evolution of Intelligent Life on Earth?

The 2016 Final and winners

Teams of students from 8 schools attended the 2016 National Final on 25 April, hosted by Paul Maliphant.

The Winners: Altrincham Grammar School

The winning team from Altrincham Grammar School represented the North West Regional Group with their talk on 'Diamonds: Secrets of the Earth'.


Judges Presentation Award: Wells Cathedral School

Judges Poster Award:  Methodist College Belfast
Meteor Airbursts


Congratulations to the winning teams and the other finalists:

  • Aylesbury Grammar School
  • Beauchamp College
  • Bishop Wordsworth and South Wilts joint 6th Form
  • Sheffield High School
  • Whitchurch High School

The 2015 National Final and winners

A record number of seven schools took part in the Schools Geology Challenge Final on 30 April 2015, with Paul Maliphant presiding over a packed programme of talks, posters, and the all-important quiz. 

William Borlase School

The teams took on subjects ranging from mantle plumes and hotspots, to planetary geology, but it was the all-round performance of Sir William Borlase School (Thames Valley Regional Group) that secured the most points. 

Congratulations go to the winning team of students 

  • Adam Woollett, Bijou Dunn, Jessica Nunn, Alice Webster, Harri Ravenscroft and Ollie Blagden (above) for their poster and presentation on Methane Hydrates!
Poster Viewing in the Lower Library

In second and third places were Wells Cathedral School (South West Regional Group) and Whitchurch High School (Southern Wales Regional Group).

Posters were displayed in the lower library (left).

The final was shared with the Early Career Geologist Award.


Sir William Borlase School - 
Methane Hydrates

William Borlase School


2nd place:
Wells Cathedral School - 
Mantle Plumes

Wells Cathedral School

3rd place:
Whitchurch High School -
The Burgess Shale

Whitchurch High School


The Quiz Round

The quiz round

Altrincham Grammar School
The Discovery and Effects of the Chicxulub Impact

Hereford 6th Form College - Volcanic Britain

Sharnbrook Upper School - Sedimentary, My Dear Watson. The clues that lie beneath...

Farnborough 6th Form College - Planetary Geology: A Geologist's Guide to the Galaxy

The 2014 Winners

2014 Schools Geochallenge Winners

On Thursday 8 May, the Geological Society held its third National Schools Geology Challenge and Early Career Award Finals at Burlington house.

It was a very close final between the schools; Reading Blue Coat, Gower College and Wells Cathedral. 

Each school was judged on a poster about their chosen topic, then the students gave a 5 minute presentation, (followed by some probing questions from the judges!) and the final part was a general geology quiz.

The winners this year were Wells Cathedral School, whose chosen topic was “The Impact of Plate Tectonics on Life on Earth”. 

Congratulations to their teacher David Rowley and his students.

The 2013 Winners

Winners of the 2013 Challenge

After a successful first year, the finals of both awards were held again at the Society in 2013, hosted by Society Vice President Paul Maliphant.

‘Winners and finalists alike were all excited by the bringing together of early career professionals and A level students, in such an educational and fun arena’ says Paul.

The A level students, winners from regional group competitions held across the country, each provided a poster on a chosen topic, gave a presentation and participated in a quiz fire quiz. 

The early career finalists, also representing their regional groups, each gave a 20 minute presentation on their work in geology. 

The winning school, Wells Cathedral School, delivered an engaging and entertaining presentation on the evolution of the eye which impressed the judges – who included Society President David Shilston, and Executive Secretary Edmund Nickless.

All students who participated in the finals were awarded Junior Candidate Fellowship of the Geological Society.

Read more about the 2013 event in our Geoscientist article.

About the Challenge

The Geological Society Schools Challenge is aimed at years 12/13 (England), 13/14 (Northern Ireland) or S5/S6 (Scotland).

Teams of geology and geography students

  • produce a themed poster
  • present a 5 minute presentation on their chosen (geology related) topic to a panel of leading geologists from academia and industry
  • and compete in a quiz. 

Heats are organised all over the UK by the Society's Regional Groups, and the winners go forward to the national final held in Burlington House, London.