The General Assembly (GA) is not only for researchers but for teachers and educators with an interest in the geosciences also. Every year the Geosciences Information For Teachers (GIFT) is organised by the EGU Committee on Education to bring first class science closer to primary and high school teachers.
If you are an educator attending this year’s edition of the GIFT workshop –the topic of which is ‘The Solar System and beyond’ and is co-organised with the European Space Agency (ESA) – you might be asking yourself what to expect. If so, read on, as this post should go some way towards showcasing the important take-home messages which come out of taking part in the workshop.
Anna Elisabetta Merlini, a teacher at the Scuola Dell’infanzia Alessandrini, near Milan in Italy, attended last year’s edition of the GIFT Worksop at the 2015 General Assembly in Vienna. Following the workshop she wrote a report about her time at the conference. Below you’ll find a summary of the report; to read the full version, please follow this link.
“My experience to GIFT workshop 2015 has been a real opportunity to find the connection between schools and the geoscience world,” explains Anna in the opening remark of her report. The 2015 GIFT workshop focused on mineral resources and Anna felt that “the GIFT workshop gave all teachers a new awareness of the presence of minerals in our daily routine” and equipped participating teachers with tools to tackle important mineral ores related topics, carrying out practical and productive activities with students.
As a teacher with a geological background, Anna found that the GIFT workshop allowed her to achieve mainly three different goals:
- Realisation of new didactic ore related projects
Following the workshop, Anna took some of the things she learnt during her time in Vienna and applied them to ongoing teaching projects she was involved with prior to the GA. In particular, she
adapted existing teaching activities to highlight the practical connection between daily life and minerals found in objects. For instance, the youngest pupils in the Milan based school enjoyed a more hands on approach to learning about soil by exploring the areas just outside the building gates!
- New interconnection to other teachers and scientific institutions
During the workshop in Vienna, Anna realised “how important is to involve young generations in geoscience topics in order to grow a more eco-aware generation in the future.” This notion inspired the primary teacher to start the Geoscience Information for Kids (GIFK) programme to be implemented throughout local schools.
- New ideas for my professional future within educational area
The GIFT workshop is not only an opportunity to develop new skills and develop new ideas, but also a place to network. Through interactions with the teachers she met at the GIFT workshop, Anna felt empowered to “improve my skills in teaching geoscience, learning new tools and new strategies to involve students in the best way.”
For example, fruitful discussions with a Malawi based teacher meant she now better appreciates the differences between teaching in two, so vastly different, countries and how that impacts on students.
Anna concludes that the GIFT
“experience opened my eyes about the future, enforcing my conviction that children are our future and educational programs need to involve students at all levels, starting from the beginning.”
The EGU 2016 GIFT workshop ‘The Solar System and beyond’, co-organised with the European Space Agency (ESA), is taking place on April 18–20 2016 at the EGU General Assembly in Vienna, Austria. The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 17 to 22 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website.