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School year!


Over the past year the Society’s educational programmes have expanded hugely, with offerings for all ages, from our Primary School programme to life-long learning initiatives. Sarah Day reports.

Geoscientist 20.12 December 2010/January 2011

Primary age children are already incredibly responsive and fascinated by the world we live in. By supporting Rockwatch, the club for young geologists, GSL encourages families to get involved with geology. We have also developed our own ‘Rocks and Fossils’ workshops, which over the past year has introduced over 400 primary age children to geology, with hands-on activities.

These workshops were launched as part of ‘Darwin in London’ – a project that brought together the various societies and organisations with which Charles Darwin was associated in London, and delivered to Westminster primary schools. The GSL even opened its doors to welcome classes of wide-eyed children (and staff!) to Burlington House. After a positive reception, it moved north to the Orkney Science Festival (see p.??), where over 200 children had the chance to take part. We also participated in the family day at Orkney, where children and families were able to find out more about geology and share their perspectives on landscape and history. As our education programme expands, we continue to work with Primary schools throughout the UK, offering teachers support and material to underpin their curriculum work.

Call in the SAS

Our outreach activities for older children have also gathered momentum this year with the introduction of the Schools Affiliate Scheme (SAS). This has enabled GSL to stay in touch with schools via bi-monthly newsletters, copies of Geoscientist, and news of events planned for next year. This has been very well received by schools teaching geology, and the programme will now be expanded to include schools who do not currently offer geology A level.

At the 2010 Big Bang festival, The GSL proudly celebrated A level student Tom Hearing’s award as Young Scientist of the Year, for his project on the Erosion of the Ammonite Pavements of Monmouth Beach. Tom is currently a Junior Candidate Fellow of the GSL and we wish him every success for the future.

Thanks to help from BP, GSL ran its first Geoscience Education Academy (GEA) in August, with the aim of providing support to teachers without a background in the subject who nevertheless cover geology in schools,. The Academy was a great success and enabled us to work with over 20 secondary school science teachers to develop ways of incorporating geoscience into their lessons – and hopefully pass their knowledge on to others. The next GEA will take place in August 2011.

The Friends of the Geological Society scheme was launched in 2009 in response to the enthusiasm of interested amateurs attracted to the Society through our Shell Lecture series. There are now around 90 Friends, and after a successful evening event in July a second 'Friends only' evening is being planned for December. Friends receive a range of other benefits, including Geoscientist, a discount on the Special Publication book series, and a newsletter. Continued growth is expected in 2011!

The Friends scheme forms part of the Society's 'Lifelong Learning' activities, which will be targeted for development in the coming year. The operating and branding of the existing Endorsed Courses scheme will be reviewed and improved, and we hope that Friends will welcome the addition of a set of 'short courses' on a range of subjects. The emphasis on what we offer the geological enthusiast will be maintained with the addition of extended information on Shell Lecture topics, delivered via the website.

HEN picked

The Society, together with the GEES (Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences) Subject Centre, are holding an interactive one day meeting on ‘Geoscience Graduates for the 21st Century’, which will include presentations, demonstrations, posters, workshops and discussions, to share research and best practice on learning and teaching in the geosciences at university level. This event will also mark the launch of the new Higher Education Network of the Geological Society, which is being formed to provide support to those working as teachers and researchers in academia.