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National Schools Geology Challenge

National Schools Geology Challenge

The National Schools Geology Challenge is a competition where students showcase their interest in geology, learn more about the way geoscience impacts our lives, and put their teamwork and presentation skills to the test!

Participants don’t have to study geology to enter – the competition is open to any interested students who are currently studying geology, geography or science A-levels (England/Wales/Northern Ireland), or Advanced Highers (Scotland).

The 2021 Challenge took place entirely virtually, and was won by The Alice Smith School. The runners up were The Tiffin Girls School and Cirencester College.

We also welcomed finalists from:

Chelmsford County High School For Girls

William Howard School

Torquay Boys’ Grammar School

Ermysteds Grammar School

Sheffield High School

Reading Blue Coat School

Wells Cathedral School

Congratulations to all our winners and finalists. 

Our 2021 Winners - The Alice Smith School

two girls sat in front of a laptop

India Kolb and Emily Chong, from the Alice Smith School, had this to say about their experience:

" We came across the National Schools Geology Challenge, whilst searching for ways to broaden our geological knowledge within practical applications. The two of us had just finished our mock examinations and we thought that this would be a great opportunity to stretch ourselves outside of our geography A-Level. As we both enjoyed physical geography, we decided to submit a video explaining paleomagnetism. We were absolutely thrilled to have been selected into the final 10, yet slightly nervous as this was our schools first time competing.

During the final, we faced an applied geological problem-solving challenge, where we had to choose a location to build a hydropower dam for a sustainable future, using the resources provided, paired with our own geographical knowledge. We initially decided to create a Spearman’s rank-esque system, establishing a set of parameters that we felt were integral to the construction of our dam, including factors such as angle of strata dip, glacial meltwater and potential for tourism. Through this application, we were able to determine that building two hydroelectric dams would be the most appropriate response. After this, we created a budget for the costs, as well as a proposal detailing the reasoning behind our decisions and any extra add-ons we wanted to implement along our hydroelectric dams. open laptop on a table with a girl writing on a notepad

We won £200 to further geoscience education at Alice Smith as well as a 1-year membership each to The Geological Society and a trophy. Our teacher Mr. Williams is planning to use the £200 to purchase geological teaching resources and is keen to procure a school rock collection to facilitate a tactile learning experience.

This was a thrilling experience and we enjoyed the challenge immensely! It was a very exciting approach to learning beyond the curriculum, and we thoroughly enjoyed applying our knowledge to real-life scenarios, problem-solving and meeting people with such accomplished and diverse careers."

Runners up 2021 - Tiffin Girls School

Students who participated on behalf of the Tiffin Girls School describe their experience of the competition:

"We decided to enter the competition because we were all interested in geology and wanted to learn more about it. We also thought it would be interesting to learn about it in a competitive environment - and we were not disappointed. During the challenge we enjoyed learning about the real world applications of geology, we all found the investigation extremely interesting and hope to relay this knowledge back to the rest of our peers. We are currently looking at the different options into which we will invest the money, but we are probably going to go down the route of more equipment, or perhaps a geographical model that will benefit a large amount of the student body. In the final, after we collectively decided on the dam placements, we split our team, with one group focusing on the budget, and one focusing on the implications of the dam placement. The challenge was very enjoyable, and we saw a noticeable improvement in our team work and time management skills, both of which will be valuable for other experiences in our school career."


Competition winners receive:

  • A trophy
  • A certificate for each team member
  • £200 to use towards geoscience education in their school
  • A year’s Fellowship to the Geological Society

Runners up receive:

  • A certificate for each team member
  • £100 to use towards geoscience education in their school

Stay tuned for our 2022 competition!

You can also keep updated on further competitions and education news from the Geological Society by signing up to our Schools Affiliates Scheme.

Teacher Resource Pack

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Fancy tackling the finalists’ problem-solving conundrum? Download the full teacher resource pack to run the activity in your classroom