C25: Out here in the fields

Our year 9 students were lucky enough to get out on fieldwork on the final week of term to complete work relating to their ‘Welcome to the machine’ expedition. Over the next seven weeks of the winter term, they will be working on their answer to the guiding question:

‘Do the benefits of industrialisation outweigh the costs?’

For their first STEAM case studies, students have been looking at conservation data, learning about how data can be collected and displayed using multiple representations. They have also been learning about specialisation and ecosystem management.

They visited The Hatfield Moors, our local nature reserve, to examine the extent of the fire damage from earlier this year. Students have been learning about the protected species that can be found at the site, particularly the adder, and how Natural England and the fire service prioritised safeguarding these species during the clear up operation.

While at the site, students conducted a series of sampling techniques, as well as collecting data on the wildlife. Sadly, due to slight delays in being able to visit the site, we weren’t able to spot any adders as they have likely gone into hibernation for the winter, however, students were still able to find other species key to maintaining and supporting the ecosystem at the wetland.

Students also conducted a number of tests on the site, in accordance with their two daily learning targets for the day:

1. I can estimate the population density of a species using random sampling techniques.

Students engaged in data collection of various parts of the site, using quadrats to provide increasingly accurate estimations of species numbers in the areas we sampled. We created a set of axes, used a random number generator to find coordinates to sample, and collected the data from those coordinates.

After collecting data in teams of three, we used all the data collected to calculate the predicted species number, based on scaling up the measurements to accommodate the size of the field. In debrief, due to a large range in answers, we went on to calculate the mean for those estimations, to create a more accurate estimation. We also discussed why using the random number generator was fundamental in keeping our research free from bias.

2. I can investigate the effects of abiotic factors using systematic sampling techniques.

Students then went on to conduct a series of pH tests on the wetlands, again using their quadrats placed along a transect, to link changes in species to abiotic factors of the wetlands. In debrief, we examined the data, looking for patterns relating to the abundance of the plant species and the abiotic factor recorded.

I feel incredibly fortunate that we were able to make it out to the site given the current circumstances, and I really look forward to hear how the work the students have done on this series of case studies will inform their guiding question answers over the coming weeks.

Very special visitors to X25 this week

In our case study ‘Snakes on a plain’, we have been learning about the adders at Hatfield Moor and how they have been so successful by occupying a niche in nature as a cold climate snake. In the coming weeks we will look at the fire at Hatfield, most likely caused by careless human action, and how the coordinated response from the Local Authority, Natural England and the Fire Service worked tirelessly to protect this important natural wonder on our doorstep in Doncaster.

To deepen our studies, this week students in X25 welcomed experts from Sam’s Safaris into school. Zoe and Joy brought with them some even more special guests. We met a range of reptiles, amphibians and mammals so that students could learn more about how they are adapted to their environments, how they are dependent upon other species and the impact that humans are having on their ecosystems (both positive and negative).

Some of the brilliant insights we gained into adaptations included the Jacobson’s organ in snakes, and how they are able to ‘taste’ the air. We also learned how chinchillas have adapted to their cold environment by having 60 hairs sprout from each of their follicles compared to just one hair per follicle in humans (or none in the case of some of our more veteran teachers). The mountain kingsnake was a particular favourite, with its bright colours mimicking a venomous coral snake to ward off potential predators.

We also heard about how deforestation – often to clear land for palm oil farms – was having a devastating impact on geckos, and how insecticides were causing damage to microbial ecosystems in the soil.

On a more positive note, our experts described how conservation work was helping to protect species, and how young people are more engaged than ever before in helping to protect the wonders of nature on which we are all entirely dependent.

Our experts were knowledgeable and showed great care towards the animals, helping some students (and staff) to overcome their fears too.

Almost everyone fell in love with Scrabble the chinchilla. Mr Doyle said his favourite was the gerbil though; what’s that about?!?

X25 Year 9 Fieldwork

Year 9 will be going on fieldwork on 13th October as part of their ‘Welcome to the Machine’ expedition. We’ll be leaving school at 9:30AM and returning at 3:00PM, so this will not affect their drop off or pick up times, however, due to the pandemic, we ask that all students have guardian consent for them to attend.

We’ll be visiting Hatfield Moors, to collect species data and conduct scientific tests on the peatland during the day. We will be maintaining the bubbles, and wearing masks on the coaches to minimise risk of transmission, and we will be outside all day.

As part of the precautions, we ask that you fill in the following google forms, granting permission for students to attend the fieldwork on 13th October:

This outlines that if your child falls ill with covid symptoms on that day, they would need collecting from Hatfield Moors (about 40 minute drive from the school).

They will need packed lunches (school will provide FSM pack-ups), a face mask, warm layers, decent shoes and a waterproof on the day.

If you have any questions about the plans for the day or concerns, don’t hesitate to email me (jnixon@xpschool.org)

 

X26 & X25 Coming Back Stronger!

It is wonderful to welcome back our students in Year 8 and 9 today, they have certainly returned with renewed energy and enthusiasm!

Today, is all about Crew.  Students have been spending their time today reflecting on the past few months, learning how to keep themselves safe whilst in school and most importantly reconnecting as a Crew.

I have had the pleasure of spending time in each of the Crew’s and it is great to see the students engaged, working collaboratively and happy!

What a way to start the year! #Comingbackstronger

 

8 Skipper’s oil pastel sky

Year 8 have been working hard this week on an Art assessment for their expedition “I’ve got the Power”.  Students have been experimenting with oil pastels, learning how to blend colours and create texture.  In this assessment they had to work from a photographic source to create their own image relating to power generation.  Here, you can see members of 8 Skipper producing beautiful work for their assessed pieces.

X25 Fieldwork to Oakham Castle

On Tuesday X25 went on fieldwork to Oakham Castle to enhance their understanding of the Medieval Period. Oakham Castle worked really hard to create an itinerary which built upon our learning in the classroom. Throughout the day we did a variety of interactive and thought provoking tasks such as taking part in a Peasants’ revolt role-play, playing a game called ‘Surviving the Black Death’ where groups of peasants had to battle to survive against all odds and participating in a debate over democracy verses dictatorship in the courtroom of the Great Hall.

We all throughly enjoyed immersing ourselves in medieval life. The students came back into school yesterday with a stronger understanding of the context and events of this time period. Which is exactly what fieldwork is all about! If you haven’t been before Oakham Castle it is certainly worth the visit!

X25 Fieldwork to Oakham Castle

On Tuesday 21st January, all of X25 will be going on fieldwork to Oakham Castle in order to further develop their knowledge and understanding of the Medieval Period.

This is going to be an important piece of fieldwork as it links directly to our new expedition which is entitled ‘I’ve Got the Power!’ with the guiding question of ‘How does power affect us?’ 

Students need to ensure they are at school by 8.15am as the coach will be leaving at exactly 8.30am. The students will then return to school at 5.45pm. 

As some of the activities are outside and involve physical movement, students will need to dress accordingly. Therefore, warm clothes that are easy to move in would be most appropriate.

Students will also need to bring a packed lunch that they can eat whilst at Oakham Castle.

We are aware that this is the day after the Presentation of Learning at CAST Theatre, so students maybe tired, however this is an opportunity that cannot be missed. So please help us to make sure that all students attend.

If you have any further questions about the Fieldwork next week please do no hesitate to contact school or the students Crew Leader.

 

X25 Presentation of Learning @CAST Theatre

Last term students in X25 studied the expedition entitled ‘Should I stay or should I go?’ with the guiding question of ‘Why should we care about Migration?’ 

Our final product for this expedition is a documentary that explains our answer to this question. The first screening of this documentary will shown at X25 Presentation of Learning next Monday 20th January at 5.30pm at Cast theatre, Doncaster.

Every student will be expected to attend on Monday with one ticket for one adult companion. Unfortunately, as the theatre has a full capacity of 130 people, students are unable to invite more than one person. Students need to make their own way to and from CAST theatre as transport will not be provided.

Therefore to allow students to showcase their hard work to more relatives/friends we are putting on another screening at XP EAST on Thursday 23rd January at 4.30pm.

Please arrive in enough time to be seated before the screening begins.

We look forward to sharing our expedition with you.

All Together Now in X25!

Students in X25 were joined by members of the Conversation Club on Tuesday afternoon where they hosted a variety of different board games.

We particularly enjoyed catching up with those we have met previously and showing off our more competitive sides!

We were keen to show the asylum seekers that they no longer need to feel ‘isolated’ like they had previously told us, because they are welcome in our community any time!

Some students were involved in filming aspects of our final product today too, capturing the action using the specialist equipment with help from our expert, Geoff Hewitt. We would like to appreciate Geoff for allowing us to have this opportunity.

Filming our journey throughout the expedition helped us to reflect on just how much we have learnt. Later into the afternoon students took time to silently reflect on their thoughts and feelings. Some were interested to see how they had changed, and we were all moved by what we had heard and learnt over the past couple of months.

We would like to appreciate those from the Conversation Club who took time out of their day to come in and see us! We would also like to appreciate Mr Jackson and Mrs Mawby for providing transport to and from XP which made this possible!

Above all, compassion.