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?!?

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

 

X24 Testing speed

X24 students are continuing their expedition work in STEAM by looking at speed.  They were given some marbles and some track and were challenged to work out the speed of the marbles.  Students quickly designed their own experiments and decided how they were going to get to the answer.  This work builds their knowledge for their work this week designing experiments focussing on investigating ” a factor that affects the speed of an object “.

So far students have planned to measure the speed of Nerf bullets, RC cars, falling objects and toy cars on tracks.  We’re excited to read their reports when they’re finished next week!

X24 Fieldwork 2nd and 3rd April

X24 students will be out on fieldwork for two days next week.

On Tuesday 2nd April we will be travelling to Sheffield as part of the immersion for our new STEAM expedition.  The fieldwork will take place during the day so students should arrive at school at the normal time.  Lunch will be provided.

On Wednesday 3rd April we will be on Humanities fieldwork but will need to leave school at 8am and will arrive back at 4.15pm  Students will need to bring a packed lunch and should have coats and sensible shoes for walking outside as there will be a 10 minute walk from the coach stop to our destination.

MANTRA visits XP

We’ve been really lucky this week to have the MANufacturing TRAnsport visiting from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield.  On Monday and Tuesday this week, students from XP and XP East have been able to experience something of the future of manufacturing and engineering on this fantastic lorry!  We’ve handled objects, used AR to investigate an engine and tried out virtual MIG welding.  Congratulations to Kelsea who was the champion welder with an impressive 91% score for the quality of her weld!

We’re looking forward to working again with the team from the AMRC and would like to appreciate them for their hard work in setting everything up and working with our students.