Forget hitting the shops, look at those rocks!
I had the opportunity last weekend to travel out of Dorset to the smoke and attend the 4th annual Geoscience Education Academy at the Geological Society offices in Piccadilly, London. The Academy which ran from Friday 26th July to Sunday 27th July is aimed at Secondary teachers with a specialism in Science, Geography and Geology. I joined the 30 teachers as they were using hand lenses to pore over the various rocks that made up the Prince Albert memorial opposite the Royal Albert Hall. We then continued on our urban geology tour to take in the use of sandstone in a church building in South Kensington. The small details of beautifully rounded grains in the sandstone and the evidence of graded bedding packed with tiny shells wowed the teachers.
The highlight for me was how rocks from Portland (more specifically the Roach) had been used to great effect at Green Park Tube Station. Here, I had a chance to tell teachers about the Jurassic Coast and see their faces light up with wonder (honest) when I described the environments in which these rocks had formed.
After lunch back at Geol Soc headquarters we headed to the Natural History Museum where we had a fantastic Nature Live Session with Dr Adrian Rundle where he discussed the “secrets of sand”. As a closet sedimentologist, I was enthralled learning about his microfossil collection and how to collect sand samples whilst going on holiday (seriously, you need a LOT of newspaper to do this). The teachers then had a chance to create their own microfossil slides using samples that Adrian had collected over his career.
On the second day I attended, the focus was very much on content based learning. Some of the teachers found this quite challenging as the material was quite technical, but there were some good hands-on examples to explain some theories such as how to differentiate between P and S waves. Even though I could not attend on the Sunday, the feedback suggested that more hands-on activities and field work were the way to go. These are valuable lessons I will take away as I work with the Geological Society and the Primary Science Teaching Trust to help plan the very first Geoscience Primary Education Academy next year on the Jurassic Coast. And in case you were wondering, not even the buzz of the Zara summer sale lured me away from learning about the density of the Earth. Honest (she says admiring her new gold metallic pleated skirt…).