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Geopark Shetland Educational August

Published: 03 September 2014

Mapping workshop at Breiwick Beach Mapping workshop at Breiwick BeachZoomIt’s been a great month for education in Geopark Shetland! In August the Geopark was excited to welcome the Geobus project to run a series of geological workshops with High Schools in the islands. Geobus is a free educational outreach project for schools developed and run by the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of St Andrews. It is available to visit all secondary schools in all educational authorities around Scotland. Teaching packages cover broad areas of Earth science aimed at supporting STEM subjects and highlighting related career opportunities.

This was the first Geobus visit to Shetland, although Geopark Shetland has worked with Geobus on the Scottish Mainland, supporting the annual ‘Scotland Rocks’ conference for Geology Higher pupils run by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

Geobus worked with all the National certificate classes in mainland Shetland at Anderson High School, Brae High School, Aith Junior High School and Sandwick Junior High School. A Plate tectonics & their hazards workshop was linked directly to the new Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and involved experiments and demonstrations to simulate earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. As well as the Earth science behind these events the team also used games to demonstrate the reality of the aid effort after the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.

In addition the Monitoring Volcanoes workshop with Anderson S4 pupils provided information on up to date techniques being used by Earth Scientists around the world as well as using party poppers to demonstrate the difficulties of predicting volcanic eruptions. On a related note, AHS is about to receive an ash collection kit from the British Geological Survey, in case the Icelandic volcanic systems erupt!

Pupils from Sandwick Junior High School described their workshop as ‘amazing!’ and told the Geobus team ‘'Thank you so much for coming and (we) hope you come again!

The Geobus also managed a session with the Higher Geography students at AHS, using sand tanks to demonstrate river processes. Advanced Higher students benefited from discussions and advice from current academic researchers. Finally, a highly successful geological mapping workshop for higher pupils and members of the public was held at Braewick Beach.

Meanwhile, a group from the South East Branch of the Open University Geological Society spent a week touring Shetland with local geologist Allen Fraser who runs Shetland Geotours. The 18 members of the Group began by exploring the remains of ancient oceanic crust in Unst and Fetlar, before heading south to look at the igneous rocks of Northmavine, which include the best section through the flank of a volcano in the British Isles, discovering the remains of a desert environment in the South Mainland, and finding out how present day Shetland was brought together by movements along a series of major faults.

Geopark Shetland’s Project Officer Robina Barton said ‘Shetland’s geological heritage is quite remarkable for what it can tell us about how the Earth has formed and developed over the past 3 billion years. It’s fantastic that with organisations like Geobus and Shetland Geotours we can help to bring these stories alive for a whole range of audiences. This is exactly what the Geopark wants to achieve.'