Dr Hazel McGoff, School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science


Year of activity: 2016/17


This project established a library of digital images of our key mineral and rock specimens. Annotated explanatory labels were added to the images to create a resource that can be used to help students familiarise themselves with the specimens before laboratory practical sessions and for reinforcement and revision afterwards.


The aim of this project was to establish a digital resource that could be used alongside practical specimen-based teaching and learning.


While students can handle and see (as well as sometimes smell and taste!) specimens in practical classes, gaining skills in mineral and rock identification takes practice and time. The use of annotated digital images allows participants to gain familiarity with the specimens and their key characteristics before each practical class, thus allowing them to use their time in the laboratory more effectively.  Relevant modules include GV1DE Our Dynamic Earth, GV2GRE Geological Resources as well as some Archaeology teaching.


Three students and a photographer were key to the success of this project.  George Biddulph, a Part 2 Geography student selected specimens to be photographed and we were able to have a large number of high quality digital images taken by a semi-professional photographer. Two final year students Emma Warner (Geography) and Chloe Knight (Environmental Science) used Powerpoint to add annotations and explanatory labels to the specimen images.


This activity was successful in terms of producing the images and using Powerpoint to add labels and annotations. These will be used in 2017-18 taught modules. The project has also been useful in ‘kick starting’ the use of the collections in modules such as GV2MPL Summer Microplacement and also setting up volunteer sessions one afternoon a week during term. These give students the opportunity to identify and catalogue more of the collections.


This project will be used in teaching in 2017-18 so additional reflection will be needed later in the session. Due to time constraints the photography of the specimens was contracted to someone outside the University. Ideally this would also have been allocated to a student.


The information will be made available on Blackboard later in term. Selected specimens are being featured on the Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Reading Facebook page.


Example image of rock sample

Example image of rock sample