2017 National Schools Geology Challenge and Early Career Geologist Award


Amethyst and citrine trophies ready to be won

On Wednesday 3rd May the Geological Society hosted the National Schools Geology Challenge and Early Career Geologist Award Finals at Burlington House. A total of seven different school teams and six early career geologists from across the UK battled it out to win the coveted geo trophies.

Paul Maliphant from Mott MacDonald hosted the day for us and we had a selection of five fantastic geologists from academia, industry and education to judge the competition:

  • Flo Bullough – policy officer at the Geological Society
  • Pete Loader – chair of the Education Committee and chief examiner for A-Level geology
  • Nick Sampson – geology teacher
  • Helen Smyth – university outreach lead at Haliburton-Landmark
  • Alex Whittaker – senior lecturer in tectonics at Imperial College
Hall cross poster

Hall Cross Academy with their poster on ‘Geology and water supply’

For the schools competition, teams were formed of up to six students studying geology and/or geography at GCSE or A-Level. The teams, which had already been through rigorous regional heats earlier this year, presented a five minute talk on their chosen geology topic, prepared a poster to be displayed in the Lower Library and competed in a high-powered, competitive quiz round, kindly devised by Pete Loader.

Early Careers finalists delivered a ten minute talk with a five minute Q&A session at an appropriate level for the school students and general public.

Schools Challenge finalists:

Torquay Girls Grammar

Torquay Girls’ Grammar School presentation

• Altrincham Grammar School for Boys (North West Regional Group)
• Aylesbury Grammar School (Home Counties Regional Group)
• Bishop Wordsworth’s School & South Wilts Grammar School for Girls (Western Regional Group)
• Hall Cross Academy (Yorkshire Regional Group)
• Rathmore Grammar School (Northern Ireland Regional Group)
• Torquay Girls Grammar School (South West Regional Group)
• Whitchurch High School (South Wales Regional Group)

Early Careers finalists:

Ben Totterdell

Early Careers finalists Ben Totterdell giving his presentation

• Tom Critchfield, Mott MacDonald (South East regional Group)
• Jessica De Freitas, AECOM (East Midlands Regional Group)
• Sean Jefferson, Intégrale (Western Regional Group)
• William Kan, AECOM (West Midlands Regional Group)
• Huw Richards, Altus Strategies (Thames Valley Regional Group)
• Ben Totterdell, Atkins (Yorkshire Regional Group)

The Results

We had huge variety of topics presented by school teams from the effect of mass extinctions on intelligent life to tsunamis in the Atlantic Ocean to the geology of Mars and Venus! Presentations and posters were delivered to an exceptionally high standard by all school teams, however there could only be one winner… (drum roll)


Whitchurch High School winning team!

The winning team this year was Whitchurch High School with their poster and presentation entitled ‘Managing Risk: La Palma–geddon’ which adeptly discussed the possibility of a future mega-tsunami in the Atlantic Ocean. The team were presented with the citrine trophy for their school and each student was awarded Junior Candidate Fellowship to the Society for a year plus one of our sought-after geology hammer USB sticks! Congratulations go to all of the students involved  – a well deserved win!

Also up for grabs were the judges presentation and poster prizes. Altrincham Grammar School for Boys were awarded the poster prize for their eye-catching poster on the geology of Venus and the presentation prize went to the Aylesbury Grammar School GCSE team for their impressive talk on the different tectonics operating on Earth and Mars.

altrincham and aylesbury

Altrincham Grammar School For Boys (left) winners of the judges poster award and Aylesbury Grammar School (right) winners of the judges presentation award.


Early Career Geologist finalists from left to right: Jessica De Freitas, Tom Critchfield, Huw Richards (winner), Sean Jefferson and Ben Totterdell

The Early Careers geologist award presentations were equally impressive and interesting with topics including hydrothermal alteration in Georgia, dam building in Cyprus and slope stabilizing in Yorkshire.

Huw Richards was awarded first place for his inspiring talk entitled ‘Exploration 101: searching Morocco for copper and gold’. Well done Huw!

We would like to thank all of the students, teachers and Early Career finalists for attending this year’s event and for all the hard work they put towards the day. We would also especially like to thank all of our judges for offering up their time as well as Paul Maliphant for being able to host the competition.

If you are interested in applying for next year’s competition please see the website for details and rules or email Amy Ball with any queries.

3 thoughts on “2017 National Schools Geology Challenge and Early Career Geologist Award

  1. Pingback: 2017 National Schools Geology Challenge Quick Fire Quiz! | Geological Society of London blog

  2. Pingback: 2017 National Schools Geology Challenge quick fire quiz – ANSWERS! | Geological Society of London blog

  3. By reading through the the posters and labels, make me very interesting in taking geology and become a mining geology.

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