Under the surface

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 

 

Tutors: Claire Rault, Remi Laxenaire, Audrey Bonnelye/ geologists, Sylvain Bernard/ cosmochemist, Eva Moreno/ paleoclimatologist

Project manager: Mathieu Marion

 

Objectives:
Back in the day, a famous poet declared that “the deepest thing was skin”. And what if this is true of our planet to understand its past formations, the forces that shape it and its current resources? The classes are given a series of core samples collected from various sites in France. This is the starting point for an inquiry that has students draw a portrait of the ground using a series of experiments, observations and analyses in class.

Workshop: 
The ground beneath our feet
What is the ground with regard to the Earth? Which substances and elements is it mainly made up of? When and how was it formed? Using pictures, diagrams and samples, the contributor explains how geologists study soils, their differences and characteristics. This phase is devised to introduce the students to simple yet fundamental questions for the rest of the course.

Getting the stones to talk
This phase is based on the comparative analysis of 4 geological core samples from 4 different regions. The geologist shows the students how to understand the evolution of modern-day landscapes and how to reconstitute certain elements of their past history. The core samples read differently according to the substance from which they were taken: analysis of strata, sedimentation and looking for traces or remains of organisms that lived in the past are part of the programme. The data gathered are compared with the broader information supplied by the geological maps and digital tools developed by the BRGM (Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières).

The Earth seen from the ground
This phase is based on a day of experiments and fieldwork. In small groups, the students have to describe the site: collecting samples, taking notes, photographs, sketches, etc. Back in the classroom, the students undertake the task of sorting through the collected data, then analysing them (showing the layout of minerals, structure of the rock, order of crystallisation, etc.). This is then combined with the studies carried out on core samples to show the ground’s role in the life of the Earth.

Outcome:
From 5th to 21st June, 6 showcases were set up in the middle schools. Thanks to a selection of objects and rocks on display, the students shared their approach and what had fascinated them with the educational community.  

 

Outings (selection):
- MINERALOGY GALLERY, NATIONAL NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
- TOUR OF THE MAP LIBRARY, NATIONAL NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
- FIELDWORK IN CLAIROIX (OISE)
- FIELDWORK IN THE QUARRIES IN VIGNY-LONGUESSE (VAL D’OISE)
- FIELDWORK IN MONT GANELON (OISE)

Participating schools:
- Class 4, Collège Jean Vigo, Epinay-sur-Seine
- Class 5, Collège Anatole France, Les Pavillons-sous-Bois
- Class 4, Collège Madame de Sévigné, Gagny