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Promotion of Earth, Space and Environmental Sciences in Senegal

At the end of April 2019, the Association des Jeunes Géologues et Environnementalistes du Sénégal presented Earth and Space Sciences in a middle school and two high schools in the country.

From 25th to 30th April 2019, the first edition of the Days of Promotion of Earth, Space and Environmental Science Education has been held. It took place in middle and high schools in three localities in Senegal (CEM Mamadou Diaw in Thiès, Lycée El Hadji Abdou Hamid Kane in Kaolack and Lycée Chérif Younouss Aidara in Tanaff).

This project of the Association des Jeunes Géologues et Environnementalistes du Sénégall (AJGES) in partnership with the American Geological Union (AGU) is part of the Presidential Council's Directive 1 on national education, which aims to redirect middle and secondary education towards science, mathematics, technology and digital technology, for the development of scientific culture among students. These scientific days were attended by the administrative authorities, the entire teaching staff of the high and middle schools, as well as several scientific students.

The aims of this scientific event were to:

  • raise awareness among young people about the interest of Earth and Space Sciences;
  • encourage young people to discover Space sciences;
  • develop Space sciences to encourage young students to enrol in science courses, particularly in the fields of Earth and Space sciences.

More than 1,000 students and teachers have effectively participated in all activities in the targeted schools, thus helping to achieve the objectives set by the association.
The format of the event was established with panels (oral communication), workshops (with manipulations) and exhibitions (rock samples and posters) to better share with students and teachers the opportunities offered by Earth and Space sciences.

The themes discussed were intended to show the importance of earth and space sciences in a country's socio-economic development.

AJGES Elèves

Panel 1: Geology and its interesting opportunities

This panel was presented by Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Niang, PhD candidate in planetology IFAN/Toulouse. Niang, very pedagogically, briefly described geology as the science concerned with the study of the Earth since its formation, and its applications in the fields of mining, civil engineering, construction and public works, and hydrogeology. He then presented the different training courses in the field of Earth sciences and the career prospects available to young Senegalese people: to face the challenges facing humanity, society will increasingly need geoscientists.

Panel 2: Senegal's mineral potential (mines and quarries, oil and gas)

This panel was jointly presented by Boucounta Cisse, a PhD candidate in geology at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar (UCAD), and Pap Malick Faye, exploration geologist and PhD candidate in geosciences at UCAD.

B. Cisse showed the students that Senegal's soil and subsoil offer a great diversity of mineral substances distributed in the two major geological areas of Senegal: the Senegal Sedimentary Basin and the Precambrian Basement ("Kédougou-Kenieba Buttonhole"), including precious metals (gold), base metals (iron, copper, chromium, nickel), industrial minerals (phosphates, industrial limestone), heavy minerals (zircon and titanium), decorative stones and building materials, etc. B. Cisse indicated, for each resource, the geographical location of the mining sites; its importance and use in global industry; and its impact on the national and local economy.

P. Faye focused his presentation on recent oil and gas discoveries. The first step was to explain to the students the process of forming oil and gas, from organic matter to hydrocarbons. He also talked about the geologist's work in the oil and gas industry.

Panel 3: Artisanal gold mining and environmental impacts

This panel was presented by Marame Ngom, PhD candidate in geology UCAD/IFAN/UnivMontpellier. She made a presentation on remote sensing applications and gold panning in Senegal. Her first aim was to show the different stages of artisanal gold mining and the impact of this activity on the environment. Then, she proposed a methodology combining field work (geology) and the use of satellite data (remote sensing) to help governments monitor gold panning activity and thus reduce environmental impacts.

Panel 4: Climate change and coastal erosion

Joint presentation by Omar Baldé, PhD candidate in Geology/UCAD, and Jean Marie Bah, hydrogeology engineer.

O. Baldé began his presentation with an introduction on climate change, showing its environmental, social and economic consequences. The case of coastal erosion, which affects the Senegalese coast, has served as an example of climatic hazard.

Jean Marie Bah moderated the panel on water salinization, which is one of the consequences of climate change, referring to Kaolack, an area much affected by this phenomenon. JM. Bah gave an update
on the water resources available in Senegal (surface and groundwater) and then on the causes of groundwater and soil salinity.

Panel 5: Geotechnics and valorization of local materials (aggregates, clays)

Joint presentation by Khadim Faye, PhD candidate in geotechnics at the University of Thiés, Mamadou Diakhaté Gueye, hydrogeologist and geotechnician, and Doro Niang, PhD candidate in geosciences, also expert in environmental monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions and president of the AJGES.

K. Faye devoted a large part of his presentation to geotechnics and the profession of geotechnician. He tried to make students understand what geotechnics is, its methods, its relationships with other fields. He especially stressed its importance in the economic and social life of a country through its achievements (roads, dams, construction). According to K. Faye, the emergence of a country is synonymous with quality infrastructures and for this it is necessary to train high level geotechnicians.

Khadim Faye

M. Gueye completed the chapter on geotechnics by talking about some materials used in buildings and public works, especially about aggregates. He described the origin of aggregates, the types of aggregates in Senegal, aggregate production, aggregate testing and use.

Mamadou Gueye

D. Niang made a significant contribution about the recovery of local materials, particularly clay and laterite. According to him, the use of these materials would make it possible to solve the problems of temporary shelters in schools but also to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals in terms of eco-construction or bioclimatic construction.

Panel 6: Astronomy and astrophysics

This panel was presented by Salma Sylla Mbaye, a PhD candidate at the Institute of Nuclear Technology. S. Mbaye explained to the students in very simple terms what astronomy and astrophysics are, their fields of application, as well as the interest in this branch of science.

Salma Sylla

Workshops

Workshops were also offered, including telescope and computer manipulations, and observation of the Sun with special glasses.

Exhibition

Earth and space science tools (telescopes, rock samples, GPS, hammer etc.); research posters.

Atelier

Results

  • Students and teachers are more aware of the opportunities offered by earth and space sciences in Senegal
  • Tools and manuals offered by the AJGES are available to high schools (telescopes, space maps, catalogues of Senegal's mineral resources, etc.)
  • Samples of rocks stored in boxes are made available to students for lithological recognition
  • Teachers are better informed about best practices for the transmission of knowledge on Earth and space sciences with the provision of tools previously mentioned for practical work
  • Gifts were also given to the best students who distinguished themselves in scientific fields.

Acknowledgements

The AJGES would like to thank the AGU for its efforts to promote Earth and Space Sciences and the Institut de Recherches pour le Développement (IRD) for its support in covering some costs, as well as the institutional support of the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Mines and Geology of Senegal. These acknowledgements also go to the administration of CEM Mamadou Diaw de Thiés, Lycée Elhadji Hamid Kane de Kaolack and Lycée Chérif Younouss Aidara de Tanaff.

Special mention to David Baratoux, Research Director at IRD, for his constant support to the AJGES.

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