Curry Fund Certificate of Excellence

The AntarcticGlaciers team is absolutely delighted to announce that this website has been awarded:

Curry Fund Certificate of Excellence in Geological Education.

The Curry Fund celebrated thirty years of existence in 2018 and, in order to mark this event, the Curry Fund Awards Committee decided that for every following year they would award a Certificate of Excellence acknowledging the geological project that, in their view, represented best the aims and objectives of the Geologists’ Association and the late Professor Dennis Curry.

Competition for this certificate is stiff and the committee enters considerable discussion each year regarding the merits of those projects completed during the preceding year.

In 2020, our project, supported by the Geologists’ Association Curry Fund, was awarded the Certificate of Excellence for Geological Education.

Support from the Curry Fund

The Geologists’ Association Curry Fund supported the website in March 2019 with £2972. These funds supported the employment of two part-time science writers (Andy Emery and Jacob Bendle) and the production of numerous high-quality webpages on subjects relevant to the A-Level Geography and Geology curriculum. Guidance was provided by the teacher-led Advisory Board, and new resources were made freely available to all.

The Advisory Board, in conjunction with focus groups and interviews held with teachers help to guide website development by highlighting the needs of teachers and ways in which they can be best supported.

Discussions with teachers have highlighted the need for more case studies, particularly of the British-Irish Ice Sheet, and data and activities related to the A-Level syllabus were particularly requested.

Summary of AntarcticGlaciers.org

AntarcticGlaciers.org was set up in 2012, and has been highly successful in promoting public understanding of glaciers and climate change over the last 8 years. This outreach endeavour, motivated by a desire to publicly communicate the risks that climate change and rising sea levels pose to our world’s glaciers and ice sheets, has evolved into one of the premier sites on this subject.

Crucially, Dr Davies writes broad explainer articles on a range of concepts, including articles directly relevant to the school curriculum, rather than just simplified versions of her own research, as is often the case in science communication websites.

The website now also covers process explanations, glacial geology, ice sheets beyond Antarctica, and disseminates cutting-edge research for public and educational use. This website aims to inspire young people and school children with geology and geomorphology, and specifically targets teachers to supply them with engaging, original content and teaching resources for use in lesson planning.

The website currently has 211 webpages and 89 blog posts, ranging from introductory to in-depth. It was developed following consultations with school teachers, the Geographical Association and the Royal Geographical Society, and includes teaching resources, student projects, explainers and study skills. These resources are regularly used by teachers, lecturers and students.

Measuring Impact

We have identified 3 criteria to measure success:

  1. Website traffic associated with the access of new A-level teaching resources hosted on www.AntarcticGlaciers.org
  2. Focus groups and interviews with teachers at pedagogical conferences to assess the uptake of teachers delivering the ‘Glacial systems and landscapes’ theme;
  3. The uptake of students selecting glaciology themes for student independent investigations, as assessed by our advisory board and feedback from teachers.

Observed changes in website traffic

Google Analytics provides information of traffic to the website. This shows that web traffic is increasing steadily. Since its launch (July 2012), the website has received received >2.9 million page views from >1.5 million visitors located across the globe.

The website has been cited by diverse news outlets including The Guardian, the BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, The Conversation, Sky News, National Geographic, Nature, Huffington Post, The Independent, and NERC Planet Earth magazine. It has been cited by organisations such as NASA Earth Observatory, JPL NASA, National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), American Geophysical Union, Royal Geographical Society, Geologists’ Association and RealClimate.org.

The website is also used as a teaching resource by numerous universities and schools, and the Geographical Association. Resources from the website have been used in textbooks for GCSE and A Level Geography, and in several MOOCs. Analysis of Google Analytics data shows that a substantial portion of the website audience are engaged in the education sector.

Previous successful funding applications

Over the years, AntarcticGlaciers has received funding from, variously, the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR), the Curry Fund of the Geologists’ Association, the British Society for Geomorphology Outreach Fund, the Quaternary Research Association and Royal Holloway University of London Impact Fund.

These funds have:

  • Funded the attendance of the team at the 2019 Geographical Association Annual Conference, to allow promotion of the website to teachers, and improve engagement and dialogue with targeted end users of the website (BSG Outreach Fund);
  • Funded the employment of two science writes (Dr Jacob Bendle and Dr Andy Emery) on a part-time basis over the last two years;
  • Funded original development and the new and innovate updates and developments on the website over the years;
  • Funded domain name acquisition and hosting services since inception and for the next four years.

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