30,000 Rock Samples for Geography Classes

Posted on: 27 September 2005

The dedicated, unpaid effort of a Geology Lecturer in Trinity College Dublin, Dr. Ian Sanders, means that the 850 secondary schools in the Republic will each soon receive a free set of about 35 rock samples – 30,000 samples in total.

The 850 secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland are each about to receive a free set of rock samples. The sets are available thanks to the hard work of an enthusiastic group of students lead by Dr. Ian Sanders of the Department of Geology, Trinity College Dublin, and the generous sponsorship of Whelan’s Limestone Quarries Ltd., Ennis, County Clare.

Each rock set contains about 35 specimens, representing six different kinds of rock (limestone, mudstone, sandstone, basalt, granite and schist), and is accompanied by a booklet which explains how the rocks were formed, millions of years ago, and how they relate to the geological history of Ireland.

The project was stimulated by the new syllabus of the Geography Leaving Certificate, which now includes a core unit covering basic geology. The sets of rocks are being handed directly to geography teachers attending ‘in-service’ training at education centres throughout the country between now and the end of November. Only one set is available per school at this time, but further sets may become available next year.

The project was organised pretty much independently of the Department of Education – everything from the collection and preparation of the samples to the delivery of the sets to the 21 Education Centres around the country was undertaken by the Department of Geology, with costs covered by the sponsorship of Whelan’s Quarries. This work was carried out due to the belief that in order to teach a subject such as Geology correctly, it is necessary to have ‘hands-on’ experience. These samples and the accompanying booklet will provide students with an invaluable source of educational material that they would otherwise not have had.

The project will be officially launched in Trinity College tomorrow, Wed 28 th September, by Dr. Barry McSweeney, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Government.