Education is a key element of the Anglesey geopark. The teaching of geology has declined over the years to such an extent that many universities, colleges and schools no longer include geology in their courses or curricula. However, recent shortages in geologists for the economic and commercial sectors, particularly the oil and gas industry, have provided a much-needed wake-up call. Attempts to reverse the decline have started with the Earth Science Education Unit at Keele University developing geological INSET (In-Service Training) days to equip teachers with more effective geological teaching skills. It is hoped that stimulating interest among teachers will herald a dramatic improvement in the numbers of students, at all ages, wishing to study geology and related disciplines.
At the same time, Anglesey has an outstanding resource of geosites which is currently massively underused, and clear economic reasons to attract more visitors to the island. One of the chief aims of this project is to promote the sustainable use of Anglesey's geosites for education, a field which is considered here in four formal divisions:
Pre-school and Primary
This covers ages 3-11 years, "The Learning Country" and Key Stages 1 & 2 in the National Curriculum. Although challenging, this is one of the most important educational elements to tackle: children enthused with geology and related subjects at an early age have greater opportunity for developing their interests as their education progresses. The CCW/RIGS pilot study to find out what local schools and teachers require in the way of field and other geodiversity resources, has identified the Wylfa power station visitor centre as the principal opportunity to develop educational resources based on local geosites and materials. A 'Young Geologists' Club' akin to the already established 'Young Archaeologists' Club' is also proposed.
Secondary and Tertiary
This covers ages 11-18 years, Key Stages 3 and 4 in the National Curriculum, and the newly introduced Welsh Baccalaureate qualification. The requirements for geosites and geodiversity materials stem both from the science and geology elements of the curriculum, and include GCSE geology and A-level geology. Initial proposals include the development of worksheets, publications and web-based materials for the Holy Island area of Anglesey (particularly South Stack & Rhoscolyn). All RIGS on the island are being assessed for their suitability as field sites for education at this level.
Anglesey has long been used by universities all over Britain for the teaching of geology as a field science. Although this use has declined perceptibly in recent years (with the advent of cheap flights to geological study areas abroad), many geosites are still used regularly for geological teaching, and by students learning geological mapping techniques. An aim of ours is sustainably to increase this use, and encourage more university parties to stay longer on the island. We need to find out which universities are using the island already, which sites they are visiting and the type of information (scientific booklets, guides & trails; details of local accommodation etc.) that would be useful to university students and lecturers. Maximising the use of geosites (particularly GCR sites/SSSI & RIGS) for scientific research and publication is also an aim of the project.
Life-long learning is a growing element of education provision, and encompasses a highly diverse range of ages, abilities and social backgrounds. It includes formal provision, in the form of courses run from educational establishments, and informal provision in the form of events and publications facilitated by societies, clubs and trusts. It is one of the 'markets' targeted by the growing series of RIGS geological town-trail publications and RIGS-led field trips and events.
ROCKY SCRAMBLES TEACHING PACKS
Produced by Peter Loader, this new series of teaching field guides for the Anglesey Geopark begins with a geological guide to Traeth Bychan and Penrhyn Point.
The sites feature:
• structure and composition of the Carboniferous Limestone
• a small igneous intrusion
• palaeoenvironments - what this area looked like in the past e.g. tropical coral sea and evidence of ice.
Other teaching opportunities include identifying true and apparent dip and way-up criteria, together with the opportunity to demonstrate coastal processes. The guide includes worksheets for students.
The guide to Traeth Bychan and Penryn Point is available to download here, in three parts, in PDF format at A4 paper size.