Education

Earth Science Week 2012

We’ve been a bit quiet on our blog recently, but that’s all about to change. We’ve been busy preparing for another Earth Science Week, and here’s where to find the latest info!

Earth Science Week is organised by the American Geosciences Institute, and for the last two years we’ve been bringing it to the UK. Last year, we learned about geocaching, experimented with chocolate as a teaching aid and learned how to bring a volcano into the classroom. This year’s theme is Careers, and from 15 – 19 October we’ll be highlighting just some of the amazing places the study of Earth science can take you.

As well as this, all week at the Science Museum you can visit ‘Science on a Sphere’, organised in conjunction with the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Shows start at 1.30 and are happening every day, except wednesday 17th.
First up, we’re travelling all the way to the Philippines, where geoscience is helping people to understand the geological hazards on their doorstep…

Professor Fernando Siringan, University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute

Professor Fernando SiringanFernando says: “Looking at the prospects for jobs after leaving university, I chose to study geology. With a booming mining and petroleum industry in the Philippines, studying hazards and the environment seemed like a good career choice.

“I’m glad I did, as while studying for my undergraduate degree I became fascinated with learning more about earth history. I loved the subject so much that after graduating I joined the institute where I’d been studying as a lecturer, so I could teach others the wonders of earth science.

“A good background and knowledge in the classical fields of science – maths, physics, biology and chemistry – allows people to have a better understanding of the earth’s natural processes and how they link to the environment. For example, biological concepts help us unravel the history of the fossil record and hydrodynamic principles allow us to understand how rivers work.

“Earth sciences are particularly important, as they allow us to understand the present and predict the future, helping us to gain insight into what our human actions may lead to.

“This is one of the reasons I have been working with Christian Aid, to help the people they work with in poor riverbank communities understand their vulnerability to flooding and other related geological hazards.

“Using satellite images and field studies my team have mapped out, up to 84 manmade obstacles or constructions, which significantly hinder the direction and flow of Manila’s two biggest rivers.

“Our findings show that high walls, houses, slums, factories and commercial buildings built on the floodplain, are all contributing to the annual flooding problem, which washes away homes and claims lives every year.

“Now this research is being used by Christian Aid, and the communities it represents, as credible evidence with which to lobby the Filipino government for lasting solutions.

“While scientists like me are able to provide knowledge on the biological, physical and chemical processes, NGOs like Christian Aid are best placed to handle socio-economic dimensions and advocacy. By working together it allows me to help communities and make my science relevant.”

Professor Fernando Siringan features in Christian Aid’s new interactive documentary ‘Big River Rising’, which explores how Manila’s riverside slum dwelling community is using science to fight flooding.

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