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Next step ‚become a geologist‘? Practical approach to senior high school education in geosciences

Attracting young students with high capabilities to a tertiary education in geosciences is of paramount importance for the future progress of Earth sciences and constitutes a central goal in geo-education. A set of six thematic ‘school-lab days’ has been developed aiming at senior high school students aged 14 to 18, preferably with a background of advanced courses in natural sciences, mathematics or informatics. Lab days were available in German and English, with up to 2.000 attendees per year. Student groups came from all over Germany and several European countries, as well as from South East Asia. Bookable as single day courses with extension on request or as an ensemble, the lab days were each designed to combine classroom with hands-on outdoor field experience. Carried out at the GeoLab premises of the GFZ on Telegraphenberg in Potsdam they were led by scientists with the help of university student assistants, using original instruments and materials, original software and satellite data, as well as data from worldwide terrestrial observatory networks. Standard day curriculum started with an overview over specific science history chapters and the main characteristics of focused thematic and disciplinary fields. This was followed by examples of the practical applications including their societal impacts, an introduction to the instrumentation and the use in the field plus the data management. Profiles of the six thematic lab days included the principles of seismology and geodynamics. Plate tectonics were first explained, together with the methods of determining energy and focal processes of large earthquakes. As an active seismic experiment, hammer seismic imaging was introduced. The perception of the Geographical Information System as a computer based compositum of hardware, software and digital information initiated the entry into systems which allow us to capture and record, administrate and analyse the information. After an exciting geocaching experience outside in the woods, participants could take home a large number of new references and web links leading to the most valuable freely accessible geodata resources. Magnetic field of the Earth: the different components of the global magnetic field and their dynamic influence form the core of this lab day. The nature of the gravity field of the Earth, its components and the processes leading to the changes have a strong influence on our daily life. After classical indoor experiments different types of modern instrumentation from field gravimeters to observatory superconducting gravimeters were introduced and compared with satellite mounted gravimeters. Geodata Brandenburg: Geological mapping with aerophotographs, remote sensing and underground data processing plus the GNSS assisted search for a hidden virtual gold deposit outside. As a complement, the geological history and geography of Germany and Central Europe was presented, bringing a general introduction to geology and its methods.


Andreas Nikolaus Küppers
The Potsdam Conventus, Germany
GeoUtrecht 2020