Education outputs from ‘Drifting Apart’
a case study provided by Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark, Ireland
Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark was one of seven lead partners to participate in the INTERREG Vb “Drifting Apart” project which brought together partners from Northern Ireland, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Iceland, Canada and Russia between 2015 and 2018, with the aim of improving the understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the fascinating and interconnected geological heritage of the Northern Periphery and Arctic Area, and its many links to natural, built and cultural heritage.
A key output of the programme was the delivery of education workshops and resources. The opportunity was taken to develop educating teachers to provide them with the confidence, knowledge and resources to bring geological learning into their classrooms. Educational resources were developed by the Geopark Geologist from Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) with input from Geopark Officers and Geological Survey Ireland. The result was the production of ‘A Field Guide to the Geodiversity of the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark’. This weather-resistant guide has been developed to assist post-primary teachers in using the remarkable outdoor classroom that exists within the Geopark.
These guides include detailed information, teacher and student sheets with the aim of providing post-primary teachers with adequate information and resources to deliver fieldwork within the Geopark. The guide aims to create accessible classrooms at eight Geopark sites which have significant and diverse geology which also relate to the national curriculums in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland. This guide has been distributed to each post-primary school within the Geopark boundary. The guides are also available to download from the Geopark website (http://bit.ly/geodiversityguide), making this resource fully accessible for all interested teachers and students.
Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark, in partnership with the GSNI delivered a two day Earth Science workshop to help teachers understand and explore the geology of their area and how Northern Ireland was once connected to places across North West Europe, Canada and Russia and to enable training on how to use and get the best from the new educational resource. The course ran over two school days. It covered basic principles of geology, supplied each teacher with literature, taught classroom activities related to the curriculum and provided a health and safety overview for outdoor learning.
Interactive indoor workshops were delivered on day one and a field trip to Geopark sites covered in the Field Guide resource on day two. Bursaries were made available to cover substitute teacher costs to allow teachers to avail themselves of this opportunity, which was made possible through the Drifting Apart funding.
The course aim was to give teachers the knowledge and confidence to introduce geology into their classrooms, their everyday teaching and bring classes out on field trips to explore the local geology and it received excellent feedback from the participants and requests to run further training for each of the Geopark sites covered in the guide.