What Of The Future?

It has to be admitted that the idea of a Geological Garden was something of a dream on the part of Jack Whitehead. Two years ago he had described a way in which classes could construct from waste offcuts of stone and pieces salvaged from demolition, panels which would illustrate granites, marbles, or limestones. The end result was rather like a framed picture to be bracketted on to a convenient wall. The work would form a class project and could be repeated every year.

Provide a framework of walls, make those walls themselves a demonstration of different stones and it has grown into the scheme which was taken to RTZ as a serious proposition. To their credit, they saw a merit in the idea alongside their sponsorship of outdoor sculpture in another inner London school in North Westminster and offered to fund it. Funding allowed the engagement of a firm of architects to develop the design and ensure the necessary safety of the standing structures.

What followed was a sequence of appeals for materials from stone firms and a measure of purchase of high quality polished slabs in order to show the fullest range of materials which figure in the National Curriculum. Specimens of building materials from historic sites were provided by a friendly museum. Space remains for further additions, including the panels prepared by classes.

In its finished state, the Geological Garden now stands as an example of what might be done in other schools and community centres. It can also be seen by local and national firms as another means of helping the fuller understanding of the materials of the earth's crust and the built environment. Not the least bonus must be the sense of pride which it has engendered in the school involved.

The idea is very much for export and has already won interest in an American mining company in Nevada, concious that it could create a similar project in Las Vegas as they seek to promote awareness of another role for mining and extractive industries.


Other Examples

While the RTZ Geological Garden stands as a novel experiment in the educational landscape, around the country, anyone who is observant will come upon similar initiatives which have been backed by industry, business sponsors, or local authorities. There follows a short list which may serve as a taster:

In the town of FROME in Somerset, the local College won EEC backing to mount the European Community of Stone (ECOS) with representative monoliths given by the then twelve member nations of the Community. Completed as an impressive amphitheatre, the project won the Duke of Edinburgh award for the College.

On Motorways and busy roads, roundabouts have been capped with stone circles of selected natural sytones to good effect. NEASDEN in North London, on the route to Wembley, has its' own Stonehenge.

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