Skulls and sculptures, meteorites and mining: Geology teachers to convene on Leicester

Posted by mjs76 at Sep 07, 2010 03:30 PM |
The annual conference of the Earth Science Teachers Association (ESTA) takes place at the University of Leicester next week, hosted by our Department of Geology.

The ESTA conference is aimed at everyone who teaches Earth science, from primary level to higher education. Over three days (17-19 September 2010), delegates will get to handle skulls and meteorites, search for buried treasure and find out about cutting edge research into geology and its application in classrooms for students of all levels and ages.

Most events take place in the Bennett Building, home to the Department of Geology, but there are also field trips around the local area and a conference dinner at the National Space Centre.

Several academics from our Geology Department will speak at the conference:

  • Dr Mark Williams will discuss how fossil records of mass extinctions can provide clues that help research into climate change.
  • Dr Stewart Fishwick will show how data from earthquakes can reveal information about the structure of the Earth’s mantle.
  • Dr Richard England will demonstrate how Leicester students are using new digital technologies in their field research.
  • Vincent Williams will use tiger, hippo and crocodile skulls in a workshop examining how the teeth of extinct animals can provide detailed information about their diet.
  • Dr Louise Anderson and Dr Sarah Davies will recount their experiences about ships and platforms operated by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme.
  • Dr Jan Zalasiewicz will follow up his recent trip to Aspen with a talk on the argument for considering the current age to be the Anthropocene epoch rather than the end of the Holocene.
  • Jan will also team with Professor Dick Aldridge for a talk on Tilton Railway Cutting, a valuable location for identifying Jurassic strata.
  • Professor Mike Petterson will discuss how the concept of sustainable development can be applied to earth sciences and associated industries such as mining.
  • Professor Andy Saunders will look at the special significance of carbon, its uses and abuses.
  • Professor Mike Lovell will talk on natural gas hydrates – crystalline structures that trap methane within a ‘cage’ of water.
  • Dr Ian Hill will lead an outdoors workshop on geophysics in which participants will use equipment to actually hunt for buried items.
  • Mike Lovell will lead a scientific tour of the sculptures currently displayed in the Botanic Garden.
  • Kip Jeffrey and Dr Gawen Jenkin will lead field trips to, respectively, Bardon Quarry and Charnwood Forest.
  • And Professor David Siveter will give a special evening lecture on Exceptionally Well-Preserved Fossils.

In addition, a few staff from our Space Research Centre will give talks or lead workshops, including Dr Derek Pullan on robotic geological exploration of Mars, Cat Muller on geospatial technology in the classroom and Dr John Bridges showing off some of the Martian and asteroid meteorites from the University’s collection.

Other speakers include Rhian Meara (Edinburgh), Dr Jim Andrews (Southampton), Professor Chris King (Keele), Dr Maggie Williams and Peter Williams (Liverpool); Simon Roberts (Nottingham), Dr Laurance Donnelly (Wardell-Armstrong), Professor Jane Evans (NERC) and Dr David Bailey, Paul Denton and Patrick Bell (British Geological Survey).

The aim of ESTA is to advance education by encouraging and supporting the teaching of Earth sciences at all levels, whether as a single subject or as part of broader courses. There is no qualification necessary for membership, other than a willingness to promote the aim of the Association.

For more information on the ESTA conference, please contact the administrator Linda Marshall,