Free Classroom Poster - Volcanic Case Studies

At the beginning of October, with the help of geography teachers David Rogers and Simon Ross, we sent every secondary school in the UK a free classroom poster providing a cross section of an active volcano, as well as featuring two volcanic case studies: Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland and Capelinhos in the Azores.

Front of free classroom poster

Capelinhos in the Azores was a submarine eruption that was one of the most intensely observed and documented eruptions of the 20th century. In 1957, scientists from all over the world flocked to the island of Faial, with the nearby lighthouse providing the perfect viewing spot. Over a period of 13 months, the resulting ash and lava had added 2.5km² of new land to the island.

The case study on the poster looks at how the Capelinhos eruption impacted the Azores on a local and global scale, highlighting in particular the impacts the eruption has had on the tourism industry.

The second case study on the poster looks at the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland, which famously resulted in the cancellation of 90,000 flights. Although Iceland briefly experienced reduced tourism numbers shortly after the eruption, the media exposure helped to put the country on the map. With Iceland's beauty finally being unveilled to the world, tourism figures boomed.

The poster highlights the effects the eruption has had on Iceland and the rest of the world; from local settlements to international tourism and the aviation industry.

Further resources on these eruptions can be found at
If you have not received this poster and would like a copy then please email


Posted on October 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | E-mail this

Visit the Holuhraun Eruption & Experience a Glacier from Within

Ever wanted to see a live volcanic eruption? Or experience a glacier from the inside?

Well now you can take your students to see either with the Discover the World Education new Holuhraun suggested itinerary and Ice Cave Experience.

As experts say that the Holuhraun fissure eruption at Bardarbunga could last for several years, a new itinerary has been created enabling students to experience and see first-hand one of the most geographically awe inspiring events on the planet – a volcanic eruption. In the event that the volcanic activity ceases, then students will still be able to explore the magnificent North Iceland whilst seeing new lava flow and learning about the affects the recent volcanic activity has had on the local area. The suggested itinerary also includes visits to Dettifoss, (Europe’s most powerful waterfall) the stunning volcanic region of Lake Myvatn, the Blue Lagoon of the North as well as many of South Iceland’s top attractions. To see the suggested itinerary please click here.


From May 2015, students and groups will be able to experience a truly unique insight into how a glacier is formed with Iceland’s newest and most significant attraction – The Ice Cave.

The Ice Cave project and concept began five years ago with extensive study, planning, modelling and careful preparation by top engineers, as well as expert advice from renowned geo physicist – Ari Trausti Gudmundsson.


The Ice Cave is a truly remarkable destination and offers the opportunity for students to become part of a very select few to experience the inside of a glacier. Students will also benefit from first-hand experience of the following curriculum links:

• Glacial landscapes and processes
• The consequences of global warming
• Glacial erosion landforms
• Tourism
• Human activity in glaciated areas

For more information about the Ice Cave, click here

Posted on October 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | E-mail this

Using Technology to Keep Track of Events

By David Rogers

Twitter and Google provide more than copy and paste shrapnel and celebrity selfies. Used effectively, they both offer features that can enhance the geography classroom. It’s even possible to track events in real time whilst providing several points of view, something that is often holding back young people from achieving well in our subject. In this article, we explore two uses of technology: Twitter and Google Alerts.

Twitter has been described by many as excellent teacher CPD, and I’m not going to disagree. With careful use it’s possible to avoid most of the irrelevant stuff and home in on useful advice and ideas. What many people don’t use Twitter for though is within the classroom and many more schools have unblocked the site for staff. There’s no need to worry about internet safety either, as these tips don’t require any young person to have their own account. I’ve been using Twitter in lessons for around six years now and it has won me several awards, including Microsoft’s Innovative Teacher.

If you have a Twitter account, visit this list. I’ve included a dozen accounts that talk about Iceland, including fantastic images and information. This alone can spark new pedagogic ideas and provide starter images for lessons. However, we can go further. By using the search function, it’s possible to investigate a country through Tweets. You’ll end up with something like this:


The search will be updated in real-time and will be a mix of images and anything related to the country. I’ve used this to provide an overview of a place, especially when looking for different perspectives and points of view. A word of warning is that the Tweets could be about anything so sometimes it’s worth checking beforehand!

It’s possible to delve deeper here by using specific terms. It’s worth experimenting here. Here we use ‘Katla’ as an example. A simple search reveals some interesting Tweets:


Although these aren’t necessarily from credible sources (although they often are) this serves as a useful overview and perspective for students to start exploring the issues. Why not start a lesson with an Icelandic Tweet and ask students to hypothesise about its meaning?

Of course, we aren’t all lucky enough to be in Iceland when a volcano erupts and this is where Twitter comes in even more useful. You can read a more detailed account of how to use the website to track real time events here. The 2010 eruption demonstrated the power of social media (for example see this news article) in providing information about events. Hashtags can be used to explore such events (for example #ashcloud or #ashtag during the 2010 eruption). This is where we can develop young peoples’ digital literacy, getting them to critically assess information. Whether used live in the classroom, or to curate a collection of tweets, I’ve used this method many times for investigating far flung places. Couple with translation tools and it’s possible to really explore local peoples’ views of a country and compare them with tourist ideas.

I’ve also used this visualisation tool that creates simple graphics to explore a country. For example, are tweets about Iceland more, or less, positive than ones from the UK?


The second tool I’m going to write about is under used in classrooms by geography teachers. It’s very good at providing concise summaries of information about a topic that is taken from the web. Once you set up a Google Alert, an email is sent when new information is published online. You can further specify whether you are interested in news, blogs. I would recommend that you opt for weekly emails though to save your inbox filling up!

I’ve used this to keep track of importanty events, case studies and places of interest. It’s well worth setting up these alerts for any places that are included in your curriculum. And helps stop geography from being fossilised and keeps it dynamic.


Posted on October 17, 2014 in Geography | Permalink | Comments (0) | E-mail this

Azores - leading the world in sustainable tourism

The Azores have become the first ever destination to be awarded the Quality Coast Platinum Award, retaining their title as the world’s number 1 sustainable tourism destination.

Since joining the largest international certification programme for sustainable tourism destinations, Quality Coast, in 2009 the Azores had received four consecutive Gold Awards, thrusting it to the forefront of the sustainable tourism field and culminating in being named the world’s No.1 sustainable tourism destination for 2013-2014. However, the islands have gone one better for 2014-15 in becoming the first recipients of Quality Coast’s highest possible honour, the Platinum Award.

An international panel of coastal and marine management experts examined the islands across a wide range of criteria including nature, marine life and coastal areas, landscape, clean water, blue flags, culture, hotels, environment, socio-economic factors and identity/ community in reaching a unanimous decision to recognise the islands with the Platinum Award. 

Sete Cidades Trail

The archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean and is renowned for its volcanic features including craters, beautiful lakes, mountain vistas, cones and domes, caverns, grottoes and thermal springs plus its stunning sea, phenomenal biodiversity and huge variety of marine life.

Less than 5% of the islands' landmass is taken by urban areas and such low levels of development help define the Azores. Its main industries include agriculture, dairy farming, livestock ranching, fishing and tourism, which is becoming a major service activity, whilst around 28% of the islands’ energy currently comes from renewable sources (the target is 75% by 2018).

The islands are autonomous and the local government has been proactive in promoting the sustainability of the islands via a strong focus on the environment throughout the educational system and by introducing a number of regulations and protected areas within the region, including an ’eco school’, and a variety of natural heritage sites and protected marine life, some of which are UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. 

The Azores were certified as a UNESCO European Geopark in 2013.

To find out more about the study, visit

To find out more about educational programmes in the Azores, visit 

Capelinhos Volcano, Faial

Posted on October 8, 2014 in Azores , Conservation , CPD , Geography , Geology , Science , Study Trips , Travel Stories , Volcanoes , Volcanos , Waterfalls , Wildlife | Permalink | Comments (0) | E-mail this

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