Postcards from our Planet

Project aims:

• To combine earth and environmental science education with art and outdoor learning

• To engage and inspire young people in earth and environmental sciences through a fresh and accessible medium and hands on experience

• Deliver a comprehensive programme, supported with workshops and video casts, linked to the school’s curriculum and addressing the needs of teachers empowering them to follow through this project with confidence

• To encourage pupils to experiment with prose or poetry in support of their photography

• To highlight the broad reach of Earth and environmental sciences and their relevance to our lives today

Summary of activity:

Over the past year Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh has successfully delivered the Postcards from our Planet project which has inspired a wide range of people to engage in Earth and environmental sciences and photography and use this experience as a platform from which to explore the world around them.

The first stage of the project was to develop the Earth Matters workshop. This workshop formed an integral part of the project as it introduces the scope of Earth and environmental sciences and their relevance to understanding the everyday world around us. Five models depicting different environments were created. During the workshop participants are challenged to complete different scenarios using information relating to Earth and environmental sciences. E.G. the coastal model asks participants to complete a marine food web and work out the best place to go fossils hunting by thinking about rock types. All the information is provided within a context which will be useful to participants when out and about in their daily lives. The development stage of the project also included sourcing photographs, purchasing cameras for the photography element of the workshop and creating online resources to enable those not able to participate in the workshop to carry out some of the activities remotely.

In May 2012 the workshop was successfully trialled and subsequently advertised through several mediums. The workshop was a great success and over the year has been delivered as both an in-reach and outreach activity to a wide range of groups; from brownies and guides to community fun days and an adult mental health support group.

Following the successful launch of the workshop the associated competition opened at the beginning of July. This asked people to send in Earth and environmental science related photographs, along with some wording explaining their inspiration and relevance. Entries were streamed in four categories; 5 – 8 years; 9 – 13 years, 14 – 18 years and Groups. All those who participated in the workshop were actively encouraged to explore outdoors and utilise their new knowledge and skills to create an entry for the competition. The competition was open until January 31st 2013 and received over fifty entries from across the UK and as far afield as Sri Lanka and the United States.

At the beginning of February the panel of judges met to decide on the winning entries. These were chosen taking account of both the quality of the photograph and the accompanying writing. The 1st place prizes were the photography workshops and Geowalks. All of these took place over the month of March and were highly successful. The photography workshop was delivered by local artist Sarah Wakeford who explored environmental art and photography with the participants who all created some outdoor art during the workshop. The Geowalks were run by Angus Miller and took participants on an outdoor journey to discover first-hand the geological history of the Holyrood Park area in Edinburgh.

An exhibition of the winning entries, as well as those highly commended, was held in the entrance/reception space to Dynamic Earth over the February half term holidays. This enabled the entries to be shared with all of Dynamic Earth’s visitors over this period, hopefully encouraging them to go and explore the featured locations for themselves.

Evaluation approach:

What went well:

1. The workshop has been a great success and comments have shown that participants really enjoy the relevance of the learning experience to every day life. Setting Earth and environmental sciences within a context which makes the knowledge useful to learners enhanced engagement with the subject matter. It will remain on our education program for the foreseeable future.

2. The collaboration with a local artist to provide a prize that combined art and science was very well received. It was a valuable experience for both sides to explore different mediums through which to communicate science.

3. Several of the winning entries were from children local to Edinburgh and their involvement with the project has developed a lasting relationship with these children. They often come back to visit the centre and were especially thrilled to have their photos on display here.

4. The competition had a wide reaching affect attracting attention from all over the world which helped to promote the centre to people who might not have come across it otherwise.

What was learned:

1. For the competition aspect it proved difficult to get the message across that the science content of the photograph was just as important as its aesthetics. Providing examples seemed to help people grasp this idea and led to some very creative entries.

2. The combination of science and art used in this project worked really well and helped to appeal to a wider audience. It meant that those not usually interested in this area of science were able to relate to it through the photography medium.

3. It can take a long time for word about a competition to spread and there are ALOT of photography competitions out there. We really made alot of the writing element of the competition which appealed to schools as it was something a little different.

Top tips and advice for others




About this project


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Project type:

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Started (approximately):

April 2012

Ended: (approximately)

February 2013

Tags for this project:

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About the contributor

Anna Danby
Our Dynamic Earth

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