We are delighted to have worked in partnership with the University of St Andrews and its GeoBus team to organise three Scotland Rocks conferences, in March 2013, 2014 and 2015. The two-day conferences brought together S5-S6 schoolchildren, students, geography teachers, university lecturers, and key industry representatives to discuss the teaching of Higher Geology and Physical Geography in Scottish schools.
All three Scotland Rocks conferences have offered an exciting programme of events, including a field-trip to St Monans in Fife, a series of interactive and informative workshops, and the opportunity for delegates to talk to people who work in related fields, to help make the link between studying Geology in school or university and jobs in the ‘real world’.
Over the weekend of the 2015 conference, participants pieced together the geological history of the coastline at St Monans, were inspired by Dr Hermione Cockburn (Scientific Director of Dynamic Earth) and Dallas Campbell (BBC TV presenter), and enthused about minerals, tsunamis, soil, climate change, flooding, GIS and studying Geology or Geography at university. Teachers also had opportunities to discuss their experiences of delivering the new National Qualifications, and to consider the future of Geology and Earth Sciences in the curriculum.
Addy Pope of Esri UK gave a presentation at the conference, and has kindly provided a copy of his presentation, What is GIS?, and a supporting handout with some more examples that teachers might find useful.
The 2014 conference included a keynote presentation by RSGS President Professor Iain Stewart, a live link-up to a Mars Science Laboratory scientist, Professor Sanjeev Gupta, to explore the research findings of the Mars Curiosity Rover Expedition, and an expert panel answering questions about current energy challenges. S6 pupils from West Calder High School wrote this report, which appeared in Earth Heritage magazine. Participants were enthusiastic: “I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and it changed my view on what I want to do after school.” (S6 pupil); “A fantastic event. I didn’t have any inclination to study geology prior to this event, but am now contemplating a distance learning package.” (Teacher A); “Many thanks for a fantastic Scotland Rocks! Great experience for our students. They haven’t stopped talking about it! The best CPD I’ve done in a long time!” (Teacher, Alness Academy); “I absolutely loved my experience at Scotland Rocks 2014. I felt very welcomed and learnt a lot about my country.” (S6 pupil)