Tallinn University of Technology

Young students are introduced to Geology, Mining and other Earth Sciences until university, because these subjects are not taught in K-12 schools. "We have to thank the geography teachers of schools for our incoming students," says Siim Veski, a professor at TalTech Geology Institute.

Geoloogia instituudi professor Siim Veski

"A potential geologist or a geological scientist starts as a child who loves to pick up rocks," says Siim Veski. "We simply came to notice them. Now it would be ideal  for this child not just to grow up into someone who loves to pick up stones, but at least that he or she is aware they can learn a profession that explores what is found on Earth and how to use it, ”says Veski, a lecturer at the Institute of Geology who also won a national research award this year.

There is no specialized Earth Sciences subject in Estonian basic education schools. Siim Veski comprehends this: “We need to understand the workload of students. Almost every teacher may justifiably argue that they should spend more time on their subject. But where can a student fit all these lessons? Besides, we don't have so many people who can teach Geology, even if it is just geographically, in general education schools. ” Earth Science is covered quite a bit in Geography lessons, and according to Siim Veski, the number of incoming students of the Geology Institute greatly depends on Geography and Nature Sciences teachers. "If they can get students interested in Earth Sciences during their lessons by encouraging students to participate in the Earth Sciences Olympiad and other activities that introduce them to the Earth's crust, then we can be sure that there will continue to be an increase of professionals in the field."

The Olympiad as introduction to Earth Sciences

The Earth Sciences Olympiad has become an important event that generates interest in the study of Geology. The top students of every edition advance to the international competition, from which Estonian students usually bring medals, so it can be assumed that the level of science education in schools is not bad at all. "The students who go to the Olympiad are really smart. We also have students who participate in Olympiads of different subjects and get good results everywhere. Anyone who is good at Physics, Chemistry or Geography will definitely be able to perform well at the Earth Sciences Olympiad and, if they wish to do so, later at the same field in university, ” believes Veski.

"The main thing is that students should discover the profession by themselves, and the Olympiad plays a key role in this. This is where interest begins. We also have cases where a participant in the Olympiad later turns to the Institute of Geology because he or she has had the idea to do their compulsory high school research on Earth Sciences. ” Siim Veski and other researchers at the institute have supervised several talented young students. One example is Rhea Kõivutalu, a student at Tallinna Reaalkooli, whose research on Estonian mammoth finds attracted the interest of the press. Another is Hannah Mikenberg, a former student of Tallinna Tehnikagümnaasiumi who is currently enrolled in the Earth Resources curriculum at TalTech, who studied the iron-manganese formations found in the Gulf of Finland. "Such young people are finally able to study Earth Sciences," says Veski before once again emphasizes the importance of Geography teachers⁠—the success of Tallinna Reaalkooli students at the Earth Sciences Olympiad and the growing interest in studying this field is largely due to the school's Geography teacher Piret Karu.

The future requires a new kind of Earth Sciences

From this spring, students can apply to the renewed curriculum "Earth Systems, Climate and Technologies" at the Taltech Geology Institute, the graduates of which can become green innovation and crustal engineers, climate scientists, marine scientists, geologists, environmental data analysts. “In technological development, we have reached the point where geological discovery is no longer needed in Estonia. Much has already been researched and discovered, and future research should be well-targeted and well-thought-out. At the same time, we are facing a global raw material crisis, climate change and a green revolution⁠—these new challenges already require a different kind of Earth Sciences, ”explains Siim Veski. "The strength of our university is that we can combine science with geological worldview technology. Of course, Earth Sciences are an important foundation of the curriculum. We cannot use nature without knowing its systems, we need to know how things have been for a very long time. So, we need to know the laws of nature to learn natural sciences! ”

A job that feeds anytime, anywhere

This year Siim Veski is the chairman of the jury of the Earth Sciences Olympiad, and  he hopes that the interest of some young people in the Earth's crust continues. The university supports this event by rewarding the best competitors with an expedition to the Institute of Geology of Central Europe. 

According to Siim Veski, the choice of professions and careers has become so wide that it is also difficult for young people to find out what to study. "They want an easier life, and for that is better to be a Youtuber than a scientist," concludes Veski. "However the satisfaction is more for every wise and eager Earth Science student. So, good Geography teachers in Estonian schools, if you have a student in your high school class who could be a future geologist or crustal engineer, encourage him or her to take part in the TalTech Earth Sciences Olympiad in April. As a result of our joint efforts, the world can later gain an much-needed expert and the young person himself a specialty in which he can find a good, well-paid jobs both in Estonia and abroad.”

Additional information:
TalTech Geology Institute
+372 53003098