Education / Events

Schools Geology Challenge 2019 Final


Students and teachers take a well-deserved break between presentations

From diamonds and gold, to supervolcanoes on Earth and Mars, via luxury wine, an extinct giant snake and…hemp plantations?

The road to the Schools Geology Challenge 2019 final was a rocky one (sorry), but arguably one of the best yet.

Following a record 12 regional heats held around the country, 80 students and teachers descended on Burlington House on the 28th March to compete in the final, battling it out to win the Schools Geology Challenge (SGC) trophy and a year’s student fellowship for themselves.

The rules

To compete in the SGC, teams of no more than 6 pupils must give a presentation and make a poster about a geological topic of their choosing. At a regional heat, they present both elements to a panel of judges before taking part in a quiz. The winners progress to the final, where a different panel of judges choose an overall winner, the presentation prize winner and the poster prize winner. The standard is always incredibly high and this year was no exception – the judges certainly had their work cut out!


The judges

This year, our panel featured 5 judges from all walks of geological expertise:

  • Rachel Cornah; Geology STEM ambassador and project manager in the Civil Service, with over 15 years’ experience in the mining industry
  • Pete Loader; chair of the Education Committee and chief examiner for A-Level geology
  • Kirstie Wright; Postdoc Research Associate with the Shell Centre for Exploration Geoscience at Heriot-Watt University
  • Joel Gill; International Development Geoscientist and founder of Geology for Global Development
  • Anna Morley; Engineering Geologist with Arup and expert in geo-hazard engineering.

Building off the success of last year’s final, we again asked each judge to give a short presentation about their work – and how they got there in the first place! Both Rachel and Kirstie in particular had slightly unusual routes into the world of geoscience and industry – you can see theirs and the other judges’ talks here.

Once again, the final was hosted by Paul Maliphant of Mott Macdonald, who was just as delighted as us to see so many students competing at such a high standard.


The competitors

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11 teams made it to the final, with one school having to drop out last minute due to mock exam commitments. We also welcomed representatives of three Regional Groups who entered for the first time: South East, East Midlands and West Midlands. The finalists were:

Bexhill College (South East)
Sheffield High (Yorkshire)
Truro School (South West)
Worcester 6th Form College (West Midlands)
Twycross (East Midlands)
Methodist College Belfast (N. Ireland)
Cirencester College (Western)
Whitchurch High School (South Wales)
Altrincham Grammar School for Boys (North West)
Aylesbury Grammar School (Home Counties North)
Radley College (Thames Valley)


And finally…the results!


The winning team from Altrincham Grammar School with their SGC trophy

Huge congratulations to Altrincham Grammar School, who became the overall winners with their dramatic presentation about Yellowstone. Even technical difficulties didn’t hold them back – an informative and entertaining presentation plus an excellent performance in the quiz finalised their win.


Aylesbury Grammar School with their prize-winning poster

Taking home the poster prize were last year’s winners Aylesbury Grammar School, with their brilliant investigation of the mysterious Titanoboa. A unique design and excellent technical content put them in the top spot.


Methodist College Belfast’s team took home the Presentation Prize

The presentation prize went to Methodist College Belfast, for their powerful and thought-provoking talk titled “Fuel for Thought”. Confidently and articulately delivered, their presentation examined sustainable energy options for mankind in the future, framed in fantastic design and an easy-to-follow layout.

All of the teams performed incredibly well and took something away from the event – whether it was career inspiration, advice from our judges, geological knowledge or public engagement experience. We’re already excited for next year so keep your eyes peeled for details on how to enter in 2020!

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