2016, Fieldwork, FSC, geography, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Coastal geography development

By Rowena

New specifications are coming for September, and we’ve been very busy putting together brand new days for them…

It’s a long way down to the coast from Juniper Hall, about an hour and a half to Newhaven or Pagham each, so we split it over a couple of days. Coasts is coming back in a big way to geography, so we headed down on Wednesday to update our fieldwork techniques and collect some secondary data (and some pokemon! Newhaven has loads!)

Newhaven is one of those places that seems to be always windy, but the beach is pretty nice when the sun finally comes out. The tide was really far out, so we explored down past a wooden groyne at the end of the beach, and the rockpools below the pebble beach. We also checked out a few information signs about the area for background information- along Seaford these were most helpful, showing a cross-section of the beach defences underneath the beach that’s been built up. Apparently there are 3 different sea walls hidden under there!

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Investigating information boards

While we were at Newhaven, we had a go at some beach and cliff profiling, collecting some secondary data for groups to use and compare their own data to in the future. Out with the clinometers and the ranging poles!

Cracking out the ranging poles

After Newhaven, we headed down to Seaford, for both chips on the beach (lunch!), and a look at the terminal groyne. This prevents longshore drift removing all the sediment from the beach (ie, the whole thing).  We measured the beach profile beyond the terminal groyne as well, to give a bit of a comparison to Newhaven- which is in front of the harbour arm, so a little different. Did a spot of bird watching as well- lovely fulmars flying round the cliffs, and cormorants drying their wings on Seaford’s stack.

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360 view from Seaford’s terminal groyne

Next we headed off to Birling Gap, famous for its slowly-diminishing number of houses. There are only four left now after they knocked the fifth down a couple of years ago, and it’s a really good example of what happens when there’s no coastal management along a piece of coastline.

We had a quick stop off at Cuckmere Haven on the way back to look at the meanders, before hitting the road to get back to JH for the weekly Stepping Stones quiz!

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Juniper Hall’s education team (Missing Denham D:)

2016, Biology, Fieldwork, FSC, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

New Bio Spec – Immersion into Ecology

As discussed in one of Rowena’s recent blogs, South Eastern training took place at Juniper Hall shortly after our much needed Christmas break. One of the topics presented to us was an ‘immersion into ecology’ session at the begining of Biology residential courses. This idea was shared by Head of Centre at Flatford Mill, Jo Harris. It is designed to provide a really exciting and inspirational start to Biology courses and to get students thinking for themselves right from the start! The education team here at JH thought that it was such a brilliant idea that we decided to tweak it to suit our environment and landscape and use it in our courses. Exciting times!

Inspired by Jo Harris’ presentation at training I made it my mission to observe the first one of these sessions in action at JH. Taught by one of our tutors, Michelle, the session was tried on seven year 12 Biologists from St.Orleans school. She opened with the simple question “why are you here?” The reponses were “to conduct field research” and shouted out from the front of the class “BIODIVERSITY!” This was the perfect start to the course as you could tell that this was an incredibly keen group who were ready to immerse themselves into Ecology!

In my last blog I think I highlighted that the last Biology lesson I had was in my years as  a GCSE dual Scientist, so I was already expecting to be out of my depth. Michelle opened up proceedings with a quick quiz on key Ecological terms in which I scored, what I thought was a fairly respectable, 4/7, considering my last Biology lesson is now a distant memory! So I thought it would be a good idea to write this blog from the point of view of myself, as one of the students – at least it will give me an excuse for all the spelling errors!

We were asked to write down in groups what factors influence the abundance and distribution of organisms. We were given 90 seconds to do this and then organise the factors into 2 categories – Biotic and Abiotic. Then as a class, we made links between all of these factors, and I soon learnt that this is what Ecology is, the relationship between basically all biotic and abiotic factors.

The top of Lodge Hill was the location from which we would complete our Field Sketch.

15 minutes later we were outside and enjoying the great February weather…

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Despite the wind and rain, still a brilliant view of The Burford Spur, Denbies Vinyard and a fraction of Dorking- Lodge Hill

This photo doesn’t do the dreadful conditions justice…

The relationship between Biotic and Abiotic factors came into play here as there were endless opportunities to note interactions. For example, the field sketch shows the relationship between biotic and abiotic factors over time, including human intervention. With the growth of Dorking into a town with a population now of over 11,000, changes have been made to the local landscape. Town development obviously has caused transport routes into the town such as railways and main roads have developed. Therefore plant and species diversity has lowered, due to transport links breaking up habitats into patches. This has resulted in the need for humans to manage the woodland for example. Monocultures, with one dominant species in an area and little biodiversity, means that genetic variety has been reduced, therefore making the same species more susceptible to disease.

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Artistically gifted – this is my attempt at a Biology field sketch. I was pretty proud of the annotations too.

The “Classification Scavanger Hunt” followed which encouraged immersion and the use of exciting technologies.We were given 15 minutes to explore Templeton woods, find and take photos of as many of the “5 Kingdoms of life” as we could. To do this we used the app Popplet. Popplet allows you to create a classification diagram, including pictures, links and labels- a really visual and interactive way of learning.

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Fungi are so distinct from animals and plants, they have been allocated their own “kingdom”

A session that sums up what the FSC is all about. I definitely gained a lot of environmental understanding, thanks to the education team for creating this programme and to Michelle for the excellent delivery!

by Rory

2016, Biology, Fieldwork, FSC, geography, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Top 5 fieldwork apps

By Rowena

I said I would eventually get round to writing a blog post on the apps we use here at Juniper Hall, and here it is! As we’re not always in classrooms (as expected, as we are field studies tutors, after all!), tablets are really valuable resources for recording data in new and interesting ways. They’re even better in the rain, as they don’t disintegrate like paper does- and before you question, “don’t Ipads die in the rain?”- yes they do, but not with Lifeproof covers on them!

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They’ve even been dropped in the river before and survived!

I’m not going to mention all of the apps we use, just because there are so many, but here’s a top 5 of my favourites.

 

  1. Freezepaint: Remix the world around you with FreezePaint – the easiest way to create fun, strange, impressionistic or beautiful compositions.

Coming in at number 5, Freezepaint is fantastic for making layered photo collages in the field. When up on the Burford Spur or the Woodlands, we use it for showing the difference in vegetation across a gradient, or between two different areas. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would be useful, with its smiling dog logo, but it’s actually a great way of visualising change where it might not be instantly obvious there’s a difference!

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  1. Dropbox: Dropbox is the place for your photos, docs, videos, and other files. Files you keep in Dropbox are safely backed up and you can get to them from all your devices. It’s easy to send large files to anyone, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account.

Dropbox is so useful from day-to-day! It’s not quite as fancy and exciting as the other apps, but it’s so helpful, I just had to include it. Cloud storage is super useful, especially in this line of work, as it means you can get resources out in the middle of nowhere (if you have the mobile data for it). Pretty great if you forget something! The best bit for the teachers about cloud storage is they can access files from school once they head home from Juniper Hall.

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  1. Popplet: Popplet is the simplest tool to capture and organize your ideas. With Popplet you can quick jot down your ideas and sort them visually.

This is my favourite new mindmap generator. The app costs a little money, but there’s a free web version as well. You can add text, pictures, lines between as many boxes as you can possibly think of… videos as well! If you’re really clever with it, you can turn it into a presentation as well, which is a bit more exciting than using another powerpoint…

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New astronomy resources using Popplet

  1. Night Sky: Just point your device to the sky to identify stars, planets, constellations and even satellites!

Although I’ve not used this much in teaching yet, Night Sky is a fantastic little app that I instantly downloaded onto my phone. It projects loads of information onto a phone or ipad; constellations (with pictures!), stars, the planets… sometimes you see the International Space Station whizz past as well. I’ve been developing some new stargazing resources for night walks, and this is an app that’s definitely making an appearance. It can tell you all about the different things in the sky, and there’s a pretty nifty “red light” version that you can switch to so you don’t ruin your night vision.

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Ursa Major, the Great Bear

  1. Skitch: See something that sparks an idea? Use Skitch to snap it, mark it up, and send it on in an instant. Your bold ideas stand out even brighter with Skitch.

Skitch is definitely my favourite app out there. It’s a really simple way of creating annotated photos, which are great to have in coursework. There are loads of different things you can add to a photo- text, stickers, highlighting- so it’s really versatile. You can also annotate a map of wherever it is you find yourself, or a webpage or PDF if you really wanted to. Makes it useful for studying, as well as for using out in the field.

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Not the best annotated photo, but it’s speedily done

So there you go, some really great apps you should all download. Enjoy!