The UK's Nationwide Geology Club for Children

Tips for competition entrants

Rockwatch Rockstar Competition (16 years and under)

Show us your creative genius:  your entry can be artwork, a book, 3-D modelling, a collage, sewing, knitting or crochet, a puzzle, writing, photographs, a computer project, but whatever, it must have a geological theme.

There’s also a Media Category and if you submit a video or film it must not be longer than 5 minutes.

Getting started

Inspiration can come from anywhere!  And when it comes, don’t loose the thought.  Start collecting the facts and materials you need to create your masterwork. Take your time – think about it and search for exactly the things you need to make your masterwork a winner!


You can enter a geological short story, a report of a day out geologising, a description of your collection, or an illustrated book you have made.  You may think of other possibilities.  Turn them over in your mind.  Try them out.


This could be a painting, a model, papier mache, wood carving, sewing, crocheting, for example. It’s a good idea to choose materials which can stand up to travelling to the Rockwatch office  (and back again) without damage.

Take time planning, designing and making your artwork.  First think about what medium you’ll use. Choose materials which will really express your ideas. Remember that if you use pencil for drawing, that your images may be competing with the much brighter medium of paints, pastels or even material, so make the soft quality of pencil work for you.

Plan your artwork – it takes time.  Let it fill the space you’ve given it – for example, curl the tail of a dinosaur so you can get the drawing of the animal bigger and fill the page better. Consider putting in a scale to show how large the real thing was.

Computer masterwork

Once your idea is born, check if you can make it happen with your existing software. If you’re creating a short movie, please keep the length below 5 minutes and create it in MP4 format.

Why MP4 Format?

MP4 files produce videos of a high quality in a compressed size and the format is compatible with most modern technology including mobile phones. This means it’s a good quality accessible format that more people will be able to see.

There are lots of MP4 players you can play your video files on including Windows Media Player, VLC, iTunes, QuickTime Player, RealPlayer.

 Top Tip – Change the Format to MP4 Before you Record

You can check the format settings on your recording device before you create your movie. That way you don’t have to convert it to MP4 format afterwards. To change the format on an iPhone from MOV to MP4 –

  1. Step 1: Got to Settings on your phone
  2. Step 2. Go to Camera and choose Format. Select Most Compatible instead of High Efficiency.
  3. Step 3. Your videos recorded on your Phone will be saved in MP4 format.

 What happens if I create my movie in a different format?

If you create your Rockstar movie in a different format (such as MOV which is the iPhone default) you can convert it to MP4 format using an MP4 Converter.

There are many MP Converters available including free versions for students, such as the Movavi MP4 Converter. You have the choice to use online tools or software that you download to your computer. Generally speaking, online converter tools are ideal for converting shorter files and desktop versions are better for converting longer files.

If you have any questions about movie formats please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.


One or two out-of-focus photos of even the most rare fossil are not going to impress the judges. Practice with the camera to get the best lighting and background.  This can take many hours until you are satisfied with the results.  Plan a theme for your photos.

Your collection

If your entry is about your collection, why not send in one or two of your prize specimens rather than the full collection.  You can send descriptions, drawings or photographs or make a film of you giving us a tour.

It’s clear to the judges that winning entries in the past have taken many hours of careful planning and execution.  Now it’s over to you to send us the very best you can do.

Good Luck!

Rockwatch Young Writer Competition (16-18 years)

Ideally word length should be not more than 1000 words, (1500 absolute maximum). It’s a good idea to include some photographs and illustrations that are relevant to your article.  We would also like a photograph of you which would be used alongside the article if you are the winner.

The winning entry is normally published in the magazine of the Geologists’ Association.  The quality of the illustrations will not be judged, but the editor of the GA magazine will want illustrations for the winning entry, which preferably are your own.

The judges are looking for something readable which relates to geology. So make your article interesting, exciting, or informative, or a mixture of all these qualities. Remember that the judges are either professional geologists, or long-term amateurs, so they know the basics, like how old the Cambrian is so don’t take up space explaining these. However, your readers may not know the geological details of the subject you choose so keep your explanations clear and precise.

How to find a subject?

Inspiration usually comes when you least expect it. Turn over ideas in your mind, and make some notes. Then get on with life for a day or so, and suddenly, an idea will arrive when you’re on a bus, playing football, having a maths lesson or something quite unrelated. Don’t let this idea escape your memory – it’s the one you want, so keep a small notebook handy to jot down ideas as they occur.

How to tell the story?

Look at what other writers do. Read newspaper and magazine articles critically. Look for styles and story lines which suit you and your story. Pick the best ideas from those writers. Don’t use long words unnecessarily; your readers will not be impressed, instead they’ll get cross, turn the page and read something else.


When you use geological information check it and re-check it for accuracy. If you use fossil names, remember to use italics for the specific Latin names. Run your text through the spell-check on your computer. Ask friends to check the text for spelling, misprints and so on.

Editing your work

All professional writers re-write many times, so don’t be timid about altering what you first wrote. It’s a good idea to leave the text for a week and come back fresh to it, when you may notice improvements you could make. Get your friends or family to read the text and ask them if they enjoy it; they may offer advice – but remember, you’re the writer, and you don’t have to take it.


At the end, you might wish to quote one or two authors’ works which you’ve used extensively in putting together your text. Or note websites which could be interesting to pursue your subject further.

Above all, enjoy writing – love and respect your work, and devote to it the time and care it deserves. This way you can become Rockwatch’s Young Writer winner for 2022.

Good Luck!

Rockstars Young Geologists’ Competition is generously sponsored by Anglo American Foundation.

How to Send us Your Entries

Send physical media to: Rockwatch Competition, Geologists’ Association, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J0DU.

For smaller digital files such as Word documents email:

For larger digital files such as movie files you may prefer to share them via a cloud based service such as We Transfer (this is free up to 2GB per transfer and very easy to use).