At the core of learning Earth Science is the opportunity to get hands on, whether that is in a lab with specimens or in the field seeing rocks and taking measurements in their natural context. Practical sessions are vital not only for the student but also for the industry to ensure that graduating students have all of the skills necessary to enter the workforce.
Geology and COVID-19
The global pandemic that has swept across the world has had many impacts, not least within education. Classes are cancelled and switching to online formats and travel is suspended. This is leaving course instructors with the question of how to deliver the content and skills training so as to not effect the overall educational performance of students.
Below BC can help
Below BC has found that through the use of existing technology we have the tools to help fill the gaps and provide online resources for lecturers and students to make use of in lieu of field work or practical labs.
Our online "digital museum" currently has over 500 rock, mineral and fossils specimens from around British Columbia, complete with vital information relating to the specimens. These have been captured using our "360-Rig" which allows the viewer to manipulate the sample on screen in an interactive format.
Below BC also has a Gigapan Camera for ultra-high resolution imagery of sections in the field, often those used in the classroom. During the spring of 2020, we developed in-house code that allows a user to collect information such as size and angle measurements. The gigapan allows the student to zoom in on fine details whilst retaining the context of the section. We can also use the same technology to scan drill core and produce high resolution imagery for core logging instruction.
Supporting BC Institutions
We have been asked by several British Columbian universities to assist in producing content that will support courses in the Fall and beyond. This includes University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Douglas College, British Columbia Institute of Technology and the College of the Rockies.
We are specifically looking at what work we could complete over the summer and have ready for the Fall / Winter semesters. The following are a list of the proposed routes:
- Sea To Sky Highway: volcanic, structural and igneous geology
- Hazelton Arc (in conjunction with Smithers Exploration Group)
- Princeton / Oliver Field Schools: field mapping exercises, sections, engineering
- Tumbler Ridge Geopark: Sedimentary geology, dinosaurs
- Georgia Strait: Accretion geology, sedimentology, minerals, aggregates
- Sparwood: Coal deposits, energy, fossils, sedimentology
These online resources are not just useful during the pandemic, but will form an integral part of course material going forward, broadening the availability of useful data for students and instructors to access.
Putting A Price on Education
Currently each trip is set to cost between $7,000 to $15,000 to produce. Costs are to cover the wages of the digital geoscientist and student to attend the sites* and collect data, processing of information into an online format and expenses for travel (i.e. hotels, vehicles etc).
Each trip will generate:
- high-resolution, interactive imagery of rock / suite specimens collected in the field or held in onsite collections
- gigapan imagery to allow students to collect field data in an online format
- chip sample libraries representing all rocks seen in sections which will then be photographed using our macro camera for detailed online viewing
- field measurements that can be used to generate maps
- provision of basemaps and other material to support instructor delivery
- some sites will generate thin-sections and other statistical data for analysis.
We are hoping to raise funds to cover at least two trips to be completed in the near future so we can be ready for the fall.
(*Travel will all be completed as per our in-house COVID-19 guidelines and under directions of the Health Authority)
We fully appreciate that times are tough but are hopeful that we can tackle this issue and help universities in the fall.
Everything helps and no matter what we raise, it will be put towards creating relevant online content. If you work for a company and are interested in corporate sponsorship or which to talk about one of the trips in particular, then please reach out to use directly and we will be happy to help!
Below BC Website
Kitsilano Virtual Field School
Below BC 2020 and 2021 Plan
About Below BC
The Below BC Geological Association is a non-profit organization and was established in 2015 to provide outreach and education opportunities in Earth Science. Since 2018 (when we started counting) we have had over 25,000 face to face interactions with the public all over the Province through a range of shows, pop-up events and supporting the minerals industry in communities.
Below BC is run by a passionate team of geologists, educators and communicators who are all active within the Vancouver mining and exploration community. We also have an army of volunteers and provide work experience opportunities to students.
- Alex Davidson
- Christopher Smith
- Jessica Stewart
- Mona Forster
Fundraising team: Below BC 2020 - 2021 (2)
Raised $400 from 3 donations
Raised $75 from 1 donation