GeoBus: Driving Earth science education in schools

Research Policy Office
Tuesday 30 September 2014

Over 27,000 pupils have been involved in hands-on, experiential learning activities in 150 schools across Scotland since January 2012!

GeoBus is an educational outreach project developed by the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences. It visits schools every week of term time from Tuesday to Friday (roughly 35 weeks per year). The project:

  • supports the teaching of Earth science in secondary schools
  • provides teaching resources that are not readily available to educators
  • introduces Earth science research outcomes and young researchers to pupils and teachers
  • provides a bridge between industry, HEIs, Research Councils, and schools
  • highlights career opportunities in geology specifically, and Earth sciences and STEM areas more broadly

GeoBus teaching packages are developed by the GeoBus team, academics in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences and the School of Physics and Astronomy. Many workshops are based on the research outcomes of young academics or are developed with our industry sponsors.

Who runs GeoBus and where does it go?

GeoBus is coordinated by Kathryn Roper, a BSc Geoscience graduate from St Andrews and a trained secondary school teacher, and Charlotte Pike, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. The project is directed by Dr Ruth Robinson. Undergraduates, postgraduates and academics also accompany GeoBus on some school visits, and industry professionals are encouraged to directly participate in order to improve school pupils’ understanding of career opportunities. GeoBus brings educational resources to schools across Scotland and northern England, and visits rural and urban areas in all council regions.

What does GeoBus do?

GeoBus is a mobile outreach resource that is dedicated to providing a range of interactive learning experiences for school pupils. The workshops are designed to include research outcomes and fit with the curricula. Key aspects include the use of equipment not normally available in schools, the opportunity to conduct experiments, and experience outdoor field work. Teacher support is a key component of GeoBus for teachers, with or without geological backgrounds. Workshops to support the chemistry, physics, and biology curricula are currently being developed.

The GeoBus team also coordinate the Higher Geology Conference (with the Royal Scottish Geographical Society), introduced in 2013 to support those pupils and teachers involved in Higher Geology.

GeoBus is supported by Natural Environmental Research Council, Centrica Upstream Energy, Dana Petroleum, Maersk Oil Ltd, Shell and Premier Oil. For more information on the project, please contact Dr Ruth Robinson (rajr@st-andrews.ac.uk).

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