Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A YES outreach initiative

When one gives an earth science presentation, it is generally addressing an academic or an industrial environment whereby the speaker is trying to convey a specific geological related aspect across to a geological affiliated crowd. General causal earth science related conversation is also limited to colleagues and earth science professionals. However through casual coffee conversation with friends involved other realms of working world, such as lawyers, doctors etc, one realizes how little they understand what geological sciences are and how important they are for us as human civilization. To illustrate this, I am introduced as “This is Meagan, she studies Rocks!” by a very good friend of mine to her other friends just to see their reactions.

South Africa is a very rich country in terms of mineral wealth, with a long mining history, but this mineral wealth is generally concentrated towards the north of the country. Places such as the Eastern Cape and Western Cape are very poor in comparison and so general knowledge on earth science is significantly lower.

In keeping with the YES network’s “Earth Science for Society”, I decided to give a presentation on Monday, 19 September 2011, to about 30 Grade 11 and 12 learners at Hexagon High School in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape. Hexagon High School is a FET (Further Education and Training) school and the learners are largely from the rural areas of the former Transkei.

The presentation purpose was to expose students on high school levels to the importance of Geology and the career possibilities associated with it. To keep it relevant to the students, I used the example of the town’s local landmark mountain to illustrate this point. The presentation was roughly 35minutes long followed by a question series

The student response was that of interest and a lot of questions were posed with regards to the direction of study one takes to get as far as I am currently today.

Overall the response was good and should this be done in the future, maybe a more interactive approach should be included, maybe a little trip into the field to expose them to the science on “ground level”

It was a good experience and I enjoyed sharing knowledge with people who were interested in the subject. I also challenge anyone to go out there and share a little about our work, the importance of what we do, the uniqueness of our planet earth and the problems we as society currently face.