Written by Chris King, Emeritus Professor of Earth Science Education, Keele University.
GeoWeek is a collaborative project initiated by the Earth Science Education Forum. GeoWeek launched in 2018 with the aim of promoting ‘active geoscience’ via a ‘week’ of field trip activities that take place across the UK and Northern Ireland over an early week in May. It is managed by the ‘GeoWeek SuperGroup’.
GeoWeek partners include:
- British Geological Survey (BGS)
- Earth Science Teachers’ Association (ESTA)
- Geologists’ Association (GA) and regional groups
- Geological Society and regional groups
- Scottish Geodiversity Forum
- Geological Society Northern Ireland (GSNI)
- Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain (PESGB)
GeoWeek is a community driven initiative that does not carry any funding. This year the BGS offered staff time funding for events at Keyworth, Belfast and Edinburgh. BGS has also supported the Earth Science Education Forum since c.2000 by providing secretarial support. John Stevenson is the current ESEF secretary (since 2014) and also leads GeoWeek for BGS. The GeoWeek SuperGroup is most grateful for this strong BGS support.
GeoWeek aims to promote awareness of how geology affects our lives by helping the public better understand how geology has shaped the landscape and influenced the industry of a local area. GeoWeek also aims to encourage people to be active and explore their local area through ‘active GeoWeek’. In this way, GeoWeek aims to bring geology and the geologist’s profession closer to society. An attempt to measure increased awareness of these aims is gathered via participant and organiser feedback.
GeoWeek aims to emulate the success of the Spanish Initiative ‘Geolodays’. Since 2005, Geolodía (geoloday, the day of geology) has grown its public participation to 56 geological routes in most of the Spanish provinces and Islands. Public participation of Geolodía is estimated to be in the excess of 10,000. GeoWeek plans to emulate Geolodía, by increasing its audience to 10,000 people within ten years. GeoWeek also aims to achieve a national coverage of events across the UK and Northern Ireland within seven years. In Spain, this target is measured by an event in each province; in the UK, this could be measured by an event in each region.
GeoWeek aims to encourage people of all ages and economic background to be active and explore their local area.
- In 2019, 76 events ran across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with an estimated 2200 participants (extrapolated from survey figures); a 135% increase compared with 2018 (including Earthcaches).
- Positive feedback from event organisers; 95% of the organisers rated their organising experience as 4 or 5 (5=very good) and included comments like:
- 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.
- It shows the value of Earthcaches (and GeoWeek that gave me the impetus) and how we can teach Earth Science to a class even when we are not there!
- Positive feedback from participants; 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!
- Variety of building stones. Inspired to look at buildings
- Fabulous demo of oceans closing and creating folds.
- Variety of Somerset geology – polychromatic building style
- 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.
- The concept, the level, the atmosphere, the facts
- Three BBC local radio interviews promoting events
The map and figures below provide an analysis of the data available.
Next year’s GeoWeek will be the ‘week’ of the 9th – 17th May when we are planning to increase the number of our events and our national coverage even more. So please help us by:
- planning an event for next year;
- adding the detail to the GeoWeek website at: https://www.bgs.ac.uk/geoweek/participate.html;
- advertising the event locally (see the ‘publicity toolkit’ on the GeoWeek website at: https://bgs.ac.uk/geoweek/toolkit.html);
- running the event (and collecting feedback from participants if you can);
- completing the organiser questionnaire at: https://www.bgs.ac.uk/geoweek/evaluation.html;
- sitting back afterwards and contemplating a job well done.
By working together we can being the GeoWeek experience to a much wider public in the future.
A selection of photographs of different events follows:
This article has been published in various forms in other newsletters and social media platforms.