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It's a rocky road on the GeoBus

Scientists are on the move in a bid to boost pupils' know-how. Julia Horton reports

Scientists are on the move in a bid to boost pupils' know-how. Julia Horton reports

An eruption of one of Scotland's most famous brews provided an explosive launch for a new Earth sciences education project.

The GeoBus began its journey at Buckhaven High in Fife, where geologist and TV presenter Professor Iain Stewart sprayed staff and pupils with Irn Bru at the opening celebration - ably demonstrating "de-pressurisation" of the familiar drink.

Over the next few months, the mobile science unit is travelling to secondaries across Scotland to support teachers delivering Curriculum for Excellence.

The project was developed by Dr Ruth Robinson, a senior geology lecturer at the University of St Andrews, who began raising money more than two years ago after realising it could help meet shortfalls in the teaching of geology and Earth science in schools.

"Earth science teaching is poorly supported in secondary schools in Scotland," she said. "Higher geology will be removed from the curriculum by 2015 and future curriculum changes in Scotland mean that Earth science and geology teaching will be covered by science teachers.

"GeoBus will help to plug this gap by bringing educational resources to schools across Scotland and will support the delivery of Earth science teaching for teachers who do not necessarily have an Earth science background. Earth science is the ultimate applied science, and a unique and innovative aspect of GeoBus is that the teaching resources are developed for science teachers by enthusiastic and inspiring young science researchers."

The project will also create new links between schools, industry and academic institutions, in the hope of encouraging more young people to consider a career in geology or Earth sciences.

It is based on another outreach project at St Andrews, the ChemBus, which has successfully boosted learning and teaching for chemistry teachers and pupils in Fife and Tayside.

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