Living next to Mount Pelée
View of Mount Pelée from my grand-parents house.
Geoheritage: Living next to Mount Pelée
This project aims to promote geosciences by highlighting our geoheritage. I chose to talk about my own geoheritage as I am from caribbean descent.
By talking to caribbean middle school students and having them involved in the conversation, this program will change their perspective on geology and have an impact on their mindset.
By presenting my education path to the students and showing them that we come from the same place, I hope to serve as a role model so that they can realize science is not off limits to young caribbeans.
My Design Process
As a child, I spent 3 years on the island of Martinique where I attended elementary school. Every morning, I woke up to a view of Mount Pelée. The history of the volcano is fascinating to me so I wanted to reach out to students of the small town I spent my first educational years in and learn from them. I decided to reach out to the principal (Mrs Daniel Marie-Julie) of the Eda-Pierre middle school in Morne Rouge. She was delighted by the idea of me talking to the students as not only I could talk about geosciences and geoheritage but also show that it is possible for someone with a similar background to pursue higher education.
Target Outcomes and Impact
I was able to talk to 28 8th graders about geoscience and geoheritage. I served as a role model so that they realized that it is possible for Caribbeans to pursue higher education and be a geoscientist.
I used my own background to show these students that I am like them. I did not give up so they can do the same. I made a presentation introducing who I was and about my background. I then went on to talk about geosciences and geoheritage.
I will most likely continue the reach out to the students of the EDA-PIERRE middle school. The school is located in an area with limited opportunities to meet geoscientist especially someone like myself who has a similar background. I plan to give them more of my time to let them know that they can do whatever it is they set their mind to.
A bit of history ...
In May 1902, the city of Saint-Pierre is not only the economic capital of Martique but is also considered a cultural center. It is a vibrant city, which is considered the "little Paris of the Caribbean", with close to 30000 inhabitants.
Moreover, it is the main French port in the Caribbean, providing access to the Americas.
In May 1902, we are in the middle of an election campaign and amid the signs of volcanic activity, the thick smoke and street full of ashes; it is believed that it is just a phenomenon that will pass.
May 8th, 1902, Mount Pelee erupts. The "nuee ardente" descend on the city coupled with pyroclastic material. In a few seconds, the inhabitants of the city are no longer, 40 boats are destroyed, the distilleries are on fire and the city is destroyed.
Although, the city will be rebuilt, this tragic incident remains in Martinicans collective consciousness. Saint-Pierre will never be what it once was. It's the end of a chapter for Martinique, however it was a catalyst for deepening our understanding of explosive volcanism.
This YouTube video shows the dramatic eruption of 1902. L'explosion de la Montagne Pelée - YouTube
Find the site of the museum Franck A. Perret: memorial of the 1902 catastrophe here
The National Park Service website also provides information on America's geo-heritage.