BGS (Doors) Open for Business in Edinburgh

Murchison House

Gold panning

Dry stone wallers

Viewing fossils under a microscope

School group in 3D Visualisation Suite

Explaining groundwater to schoolchildren

The BGS (Edinburgh) Open Day for 2009 was held on the 26 September, and was another very successful event. 923 people, of all ages, visited us during the day and enjoyed a range of exhibitions and activities. These included learning about life on a scientific research ship, exploring the geology of the Glendoe Hydroelectric scheme, looking back in time at past periods of rapid climate change, and 'making' earthquakes! Informative talks spanned a range of subjects such as the L'Aquila Earthquake, the geological and engineering challenges for the new Forth Crossing, and gold mining in Scotland. If you missed it, why not visit us in 2010?

This is the 24th year that the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh opened its doors to the general public.

Science and Engineering Ambassadors

Outreach activities have been part of the Survey’s mission from its earliest days. In recent years, initiatives such as the Science and Engineering Ambassadors scheme and the UK School Seismology project has raised the profile of educational outreach activities within the organisation.

The BGS in Edinburgh has long recognised the value of presenting its work and activities to the general public in a more relaxed and informal way so the Open Day is seen as vitally important in bringing people, especially youngsters into contact with the work of the Survey and explaining its relevance in a rapidly changing world.

Edinburgh Doors Open Day

Initially a stand-alone event and then allied to the Edinburgh International Science Festival, the Open Day has now been a regular participant in the 'Edinburgh Doors Open Day' for the past 12 years. Moving the event from March to September also coincided with the Festival of Scottish Geology and tended to be more in tune with the academic and scholastic year.

Since 1985 there has been a steady increase not only in the number of visitors but in their level of interest. That interest has also been reflected in the enthusiasm of BGS staff to present their work, skills and passions to a wider audience — and all on their day off too!

Family event

The Open Day has always attracted large numbers of visitors and the organisers have always strived to make the event as family orientated as possible. Throughout the five floors of Murchison House, are hands-on demonstrations and experiments for visitors of all ages. Some of the many activities include plaster casting fossils, making your own earthquake, panning for ‘gold’ and re-enacting Cadell’s famous mountain building experiment — to name but a few.

The Open Day also provides a platform for invited guests. Over the years, many organisations have accepted invitations to be part of the day with regular contributors including Scottish Natural Heritage, Edinburgh Geological Society, Rockwatch, The BA, The Scottish Lapidary Club, Natural Stone Institute, the Drystone Walling Association and many others. The diversity of their exhibitions and demonstrations has added greatly to the quality of the event with many exhibitors returning year after year.

The Open Day, being one of the last events of the September-long Festival of Scottish Geology is often used to present prizes and awards to schoolchildren who have entered the festival competitions. The Rockwatch Challenge and Young Geologist awards have also been presented on the day.

Informal talks

Another popular feature is the series of informal talks held throughout the day. The diversity of past topics has included 'The Building Stones of Edinburgh', 'Ocean Floor Coring at the North Pole' and 'Space Weather'. With speakers from BGS and external organisations taking part, the talks have proved to be a popular and well attended addition to the day — and a chance to sit down!

As the work of the Survey progresses and moves forward to embrace new methods and techniques, so the technology behind those sciences also progresses. One new addition to the Open Day has been demonstrations of our 3D Visualisation Suite, where with the aid of active glasses, geologists can explore the geology of the UK in 3 dimensions. For the Open Day a series of programmes have been developed where visitors can explore landscapes and their geology in fully immersive 3D and take an inter-galactic rollercoaster ride too!

Following on from the Open Day, and taking advantage of the amount of display material on show, the following week is reserved for school and organised groups. These visits are more structured than the ‘drop-in’ event of the Saturday and with a guide assigned to each group and a programme of activities, the visits are usually well received and very popular. The list of groups visiting in the past have ranged from primary, secondary and special needs schools to university students, extra-mural and special interest organisations such as WEA, Probus and U3A.


Contact John Stevenson about getting involved in the next event.