Friday, 31 May 2019

GeoWeek gets active // by John P. Stevenson

What is GeoWeek?

GeoWeekers explored Lochaber geopark by e-bike to learn about the formation of Glen Nevis, and its surrounding hills, during periods of mountain building, fire and ice. GeoWeek aims to better connect the public with their local environment by helping them to learn about the rocks beneath their feet or wheels!

The aim of GeoWeek was to promote 'active geoscience' via a 'week' of field trip activities that took place across the UK and Northern Ireland between 4 and 12 May 2019.

Events ranged from walking tours around some of the National Parks and Geoparks, to e-bike, canoe  and sailing adventures. Perhaps the most energetic of them all was a geological run over and around Carrock Fell

From Penzance to Unapool, geoscientists told stories about ancient volcanoes, ice ages, desert landscapes, corals and tropical seas, tectonic events and mountain building.

Fell runners caught their breath whilst learning about the volcanic past and mining history of the geology around the Lake District at Carrock Fell.Did you know you could find more Jurassic Fossils in the buildings of Banbury than you could on the Jurassic coast? Did you know you could find evidence of volcanic bombs in Borrowdale, Lake District?

GeoWeek also featured some ask-a-geologist events, where the public brought in rocks to identify.  The geologists in turn, explained how to find the best local places, to explore the rocky landscape, by providing leaflets or walking guides.

Was GeoWeek successful?

There were 72 GeoWeek events taking place across the UK during May 2019.In 2019, GeoWeek events more than doubled compared with the previous year and topped out at over 70. Total attendance across all events, based on estimates from organisers, was in excess of 1500 people.


Visitors were asked to provide feedback on what really stuck in their minds about their trip. We include a selection of the comments below: 
  • ‘How Ireland was formed!’ 
  • ‘Fabulous demo of oceans closing and creating folds.’
  • ‘The series of lava flows and how they interacted with the landscape of the time.’
  • ‘How Sgurr of Eigg was formed when the Atlantic opened.’
Some of the event organisers explained why they get involved with education events and how it makes them feel:
‘It definitely makes you feel fulfilled in your job when the public you are communicating to are engaged and leave informed about geoscience. Outdoors is the best learning and communicating environment in my opinion!’
‘It always amazes me how interested people are. The landscape and rocks beneath Britain are so varied that it is easy to captivate people and to surprise them with facts like England and Scotland were once separated. Also helping them to realise how useful rocks and minerals have been (and still are) whether that’s for storing water, supplying building materials or for future geothermal energy.’

How can you get involved in 2020?

Young, budding geologists took part in geology themed workshops, Lecale coast, Northern Ireland.GeoWeek is a community driven initiative that relies on the generous support from formal and informal geo-education providers, universities, museums and science discovery centres. Unfortunately, GeoWeek doesn’t yet carry any funding, via sponsorship or other means.

However, anyone with a good knowledge of their local geology can organise an event. As we can see from 2019, events can be indoors or outdoors and involve a variety of ways of exploring the rich and varied geological landscape of the UK.

Look out for the dates of GeoWeek 2020, which will be announced soon.

GeoWeek was initiated by the Earth Science Education Forum (ESEF) supported by various partners including:

  • British Geological Survey
  • Earth Science Teachers' Association
  • GeoConservationUK
  • Geological Survey of Northern Ireland
  • Geologists' Association
  • Scottish Geodiversity Forum
  • The Geological Society

For more information about how to organise a GeoWeek event go to www.geoweek.org.uk or contact John Stevenson at the ESEF

GeoWeek logo. www.geoweek.org.uk.

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