I had a very enjoyable day today at the Scottish Earth Science Education Forum (SESEF) Earth Science Outdoors Meeting.
The SESEF Earth Science Outdoor Project is about developing educational
resources to support outdoor activities for school and community groups, at
special sites of scientific interest. The pilot phase of the project
(2008-2009) is about developing resources in the Fife/Lothians and Grampian
areas of Scotland.
Ten sites have been selected including Barnes Ness and North Berwick in
East Lothian. More details about the project can be found
on the ‘NEW’ SESEF website.
Here is a brief roundup of the day:
Colin Graham gave a quick introduction to SESEF and then Angus Miller (development officer for the Earth Science Outdoor Project) gave an overview of the pilot phase of the Earth Science Outdoor Project.
We then moved into discussion groups to chat about the benefits and barriers of outdoor learning for all ages. There were some interesting points made here. But for me if geologists want to get more earth science / geology taught in schools they need to start emphasising the societal / social benefits of outdoor and environmental learning as well as the scientific benefits.
Next we moved into development groups where we talked about some of the new materials that have been produced and how they could be improved. In particular we critiqued the one that had been produced on Holyrood Park. It’s a great resource, with huge potential – but it’s not quite ready for school use yet.
The document links well to the new Social Subjects Experiences and Outcomes of a Curriculum for Excellence. I suggested that SESEF may have missed a trick here as I believe it’s important that all new resources that are developed now need to be as cross curricular as possible. The activities suggested for Holyrood Park could also easily be related to the science, literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing outcomes. In the long term this could be a really valuable resource for teachers and school managers.
Over Lunch I met Keith Hoole who is the project manager for the Lochaber Geopark.
Geoparks, ‘work together to conserve and valorise
their geological heritage through the integrated and sustainable development of
their territories’, there are currently 32 Geoparks in Europe.
Anyway, Keith has got a really interesting project in development involving the use of mobile phones that will allow visitors to the Geopark to find out more information about it. I really hope to visit Keith during the coming year to find out more about this project and how we could start using similar technology with schools.
In the afternoon there was an opportunity to learn more about some of the resources the SESEF offer to schools. They have a new version of the simplified geology map of Scotland and we also talked about the rock kits that they give out with some of their CPD workshops.
During the last session there was further opportunity to re-cap the days discussions and to feedback in the lecture theatre. For me it was really heartening that over 70 professionals had given up their Saturday to take part in such an important discussion / debate. Outdoor learning, geology, place, earth science and geography are all very important in a childes development.
It was also great to catch up gain with the enthusiastic Catherine Morgan (SESEF Development Officer) – Hopefully Catherine and I will get to work on a few exciting projects together in the coming year.
Finally, it is important to remember that membership of SESEF is free – click here for further information.