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Department of Earth Sciences

Stuart Jones: SEA of the Year

(7 July 2006)

Stuart Jones Collecting Award

Dr Stuart Jones has recently become the Science and Engineering Ambassador (SEA) of the Year by SETPOINT North East. The award was made for his significant contribution to science outreach activities and his development of a new module called Earth Science into schools. SEAs (Science and Engineering Ambassadors) is a joint DTI, DfES and ETB initiative co-ordinated through SETNET & local SETPOINTs, which provides the opportunity for practicing scientists and engineers to work with and inspire young people. In the long term the SEAs programme aims to help make STEM subjects more accessible and more relevant to young people and ensure there is a flow of suitably qualified, well-motivated people into STEM industry and academia.

Dr Jones has worked extensively with local schools promoting Earth Sciences and research at Durham University, but more recently introduced a new level three module called Earth Science into schools. This has been developed to encourage Earth science and natural science undergraduates to consider teaching as a career, whilst providing valuable transferable skills developed in a classroom that would be of use in whatever career path is followed after leaving university. At the same time, the module provides teachers with a knowledgeable and enthusiastic assistant who is able to offer practical help and engage pupils in Earth sciences. This is now the second year of the module at Durham and the only Earth science department nationally that offers such an option. There has been no shortage of enthusiasm for the module amongst the students currently enrolled. The benefits of the module are becoming widely recognised in being able to offer key skills that are not attainable from other modules and also to be better equipped for future employment through consolidation of learning. Certainly several of the students have applied for teacher-training courses as a direct result of this module and it is a move in the right direction towards inspiring the next generation about Earth sciences.