Public Engagement – Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences

The Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences has celebrated two centenaries in the past 3 years; in 2017 we celebrated 100 years of Geology and 50 years of Geophysics, and in 2019 it was 100 years of Ocean Sciences. These celebrations have involved several public events, including a major national Earth Sciences research conference (the VMSG-TSG-BGA Joint Assembly with >450 delegates), a series of public lectures and outreach events to engage with the general public and school children. 

The University’s Central Teaching Laboratories are an important venue for Earth, Oceans and Ecological Science public engagement and outreach. In 2019 we ‘Borrowed the Moon’ to contribute an activity to the celebrations of 50 years since the lunar landings, where students were able to see and interact with lunar samples and meteorites we loaned from NASA. In 2017 and 2018 we worked with colleagues from the English Department to host a ‘Science and Poetry’ competition for school children. We regularly contribute hands-on laboratory experiments to engage incoming school children with topical issues such as geohazards, plastics in the oceans and sustainable energy challenges by contributing yearly to Faculty STEM events for school children (year 6, year 9 and year 12), and the ‘Dangerous Science’ event organised in association with the University’s Widening Participation team (for year 10). We also run Microscopy masterclasses for incoming A Level geology students. We are currently planning events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020. 

Earth Scientists at the University of Liverpool have been delivering a 2-day Continuing Professional Development course for Geology A Level teachers for over 30 years. This is the longest running course of its type, and recently obtained official endorsement from the Geological Society of London (the only course of its type to have received such an acolade). Through the CPD course, Liverpool Earth Scientists have changed the A Level Geology syllabus and played a key role in developing officially-recommended A Level coursework exercises. The CPD course is a major part of a REF Impact Case Study to be submitted in 2020.

GeoHub Liverpool is an online educational resource developed by Liverpool Earth Scientists over the past 15 years to support teachers and students of geology and geophysics. It was relaunched in 2019 and now has an associated youtube channel which is being well-received by the community. 

A major annual public engagement activity in Earth Sciences is the annual Herdman Symposium, which is a 1-day event organised by our undergraduate Herdman Society which brings leading experts from across the UK to give a series of talks on a topical theme. In 2020 the theme is ‘Climate throughout Earth’s History’ and is expected to have over 250 delegates. 

Outside of the University, our academics have successfully bid to represent Earth Sciences at the national Royal Society Summer Science Festival in 2019 and 2017. These events are attended by several thousand school children and members of the public over one week. 

We regularly contribute to local public engagement events, such as the Big Bang North West, the Liverpool River Festival, the Liverpool Tall Ships festival, Science events at the VG&M and Earth Science Week at Ness Gardens. We regularly visit schools to give diverse lectures and deliver class activities to support teachers and engage students in subjects they would not otherwise come across (from year 3 to year 13). We also give talks to local groups and societies about e.g. geology, landscapes and local history and have had several staff contribution talks to the global event ‘Pint of Science’.