2017, Biology, Fieldwork, FSC, geography, Uncategorized

Best geography & ecology resources

By Rowena

Over time, I’ve been collating a list of websites that are some of the best (or coolest) resources for geography, biology and ecology.

Geography

Datashine  -The 2011 census, geolocated and mapped for multiple different census datasets.

NullSchool  -Mapping of the world, showing meteorological flows and ocean currents.

Ventusky  -Similar to NullSchool, although on a flat projection. Generally slightly easier to use than NullSchool.

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Windy.com  -Weather patterns emerging over the next 5 days, with forecasts and animated maps.

CO2 levels  -Looks at atmospheric carbon dioxide and the change over the past ~260 years.

Fairness on the 83  -Fascinating human geography on inequality in Sheffield, and the changes in life expectancy over the route of the 83 Bus.

GeoLibrary  -365 days of geographical books, covering all topics geographical!

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London Tree Map  -London’s trees mapped, by species.

Made with Padlet

Ecology & Environmental Science

ISpot  -Citizen science project to identify and map species.

Hunt the Moth -A fun game where you have to find the camouflaged moth as fast as possible.

Cloud Atlas -An international atlas of different types of cloud, by the World Meteorological Organization. Used to describe and define different types of cloud.

And finally, data presentation…

Episode #58: The Financial Times Graphic Desk - Policy Viz

FT Interactive  -Visual vocabulary, but interactive!

2017, Fieldwork, FSC, geography, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

A day at Juniper Hall

By Rowena

The other day I was talking to a friend and they asked me “I’d really like to know what you actually did at work every day”, because I’ve  got interesting new stories every week. Well, as I run the blog (as much as I can, inbetween teaching), I thought I’d write up a standard day at the River Tillingbourne, where I spend most of my time.

A day at the River with a (big) GCSE group

8.45am– Turn up to the tutor’s office for our morning meeting. Check where everyone’s going (100 at the river? Fantastic.) Listen to Jack crack out some amazing jokes and have everyone laugh.

9.00am– Set up classroom with whiteboards, booklets and check equipment. Put morning tunes on the SmartBoard. Check in with other tutors they’re happy with the day & plans.

9.25am– Check school have arrived in the main office. Photocopy nominal roll and check numbers.

9.30am– Meet teachers & group. Try and organise 100 GCSE kids into 4 class groups. They get distracted by the goats fighting. Finally get them sorted with waterproofs and wellies in the cellar.

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10.00am– Introduction to the river in the classroom, using ArcGIS and whiteboards and booklets. Give out equipment. Students get confused over hydroprops. Give out lots of pencils.

11.00am– Coach to the river. This is either 20 minutes of quiet, or utter raucous noise.

11.20am– Arrive at Crossways Farm. Give safety briefing and walk down road. Students scream at the muddy entrance. Horses sometimes try to escape. Give introduction to fieldwork and set students off.

11.45am– Stop horses from eating hydroprop. Watch student fall in river after attempting to jump across. Pick up 6 hydroprops from where they’ve been left discarded on the ground. Field sketches using SNOTT (Scale, Notes, Orientation, Time/Date, Title).

12.00pm– Coach to Abinger Hammer. Fieldwork first. Stand for 10 minutes watching last group mess around while rest of groups eat lunch.

12.30pm– Eat lunch now last group have finished. Hope nobody is dropping litter. Hope nobody has abandoned equipment in the river.

River

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1.15pm– Fish tape measure out of river. Coach to Gomshall 2.

1.30pm– Fieldwork at Gomshall 2. Students get completely soaked as it’s the last (and deepest) river site.  Find lamprey. Students scream more.

Mist on the river

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2.30pm– Return to Juniper Hall on coach. Students have break. Wrestle with data and printer. Also return waterproofs.

3.00pm– Methods game & methodologies in classroom. Give out more pencils. Students forget how they measured width. Remind them.

4.00pm– Cake break. Enjoy sunshine for 10 minutes.

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4.20pm– Teachers announce they want to leave early at 4.30. Quickly wrap up.

4.30pm– Put away equipment in cellar. Send through data to school on Dropbox. Answer emails. Print for tomorrow- another rivers’ day? Great! Perhaps get a cup of tea (finally).

5.45pm– HOMETIME! Perhaps drop by the kitchen for some dinner if it’s something good. Chocolate pudding? Don’t mind if I do…

 

And then we do it all again tomorrow!

 

2016, Biology, Fieldwork, FSC, geography, Uncategorized

Conference 2016

By Rowena

I’ve not written a blog post for a while, because it’s just been incredibly busy! But I’ve got a little bit of time today. 2016 was a pretty intense year, but finished up by one of the most exciting events of the year- FSC Conference, this year at our very own Juniper Hall.

FSC conference is held every year for staff, to share ideas, meet people from other centres and have a bit of fun to celebrate the end of a successful year. I’ve never been to staff conference before- last year I was teaching!- so it was quite something to see it go from start to finish. First thing to arrive was the tent, and all the decorations had to be put up on monday…

Let there be lights

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The decorations were handmade, those on the trees by our amazing groundskeeper Sarah.

#christmas decorations

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When tuesday afternoon rolled around, suddenly JH was teeming with people as staff from other centres flooded in. We happily met friends from Malham Tarn, Rhyd-y-creuau, Flatford Mill, Slapton… And the activities began!

The main event was day 2, when we all dispersed into groups to visit different places in London and the surrounding area to look at sustainability. One of the FSC’s core values is sustainability, so we wanted to look at companies who were doing this really well and how we could improve. Groups scattered to London Zoo, the Natural History Museum, London Wetland Centre, Marks & Spencer, the Crystal, Bushy Park and Leatherhead Youth Project. I went to Leatherhead Youth Project, as I’ve worked with them before, and we met staff there to discuss their values and how they share them. Their passion to make a difference to young peoples’ lives was inspiring, and we took a lot away to share back with the rest of conference the next day.

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The evening of day 2 we had a barn dance in the tent out on the front lawn- the theme was “dress to impress”, and some of the costumes sure were impressive… and so was the dancing!

Spiral dance

Thursday was a quick morning roundin up our findings and what we wanted to take forward into the new year, then it was suddenly all over as we were waving goodbye to our new friends from all over the country. Till next year!

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, FSC, geography, Juniper Hall, Uncategorized

Real Family Holidays – Nature Walk

On Thursday afternoon, Ruth and Zoe led a Nature Walk on Box Hill as part of our Real Family Holidays program. Fortunately I was luck enough to ‘tag’ along and learn all about the nature that exists on the door step of Juniper Hall!

Zoe making a good point

The route we took passed through Charlottes wood, up to Broadwood’s Tower, across Lodge Hill, up Juniper Top, across to Salomons Memorial and down the Burford Spur…and breathe! Overall the walk took 2 1/2 hours, over timed on the 1:30-3:30 Real Family Holiday afternoon activity slot, but we weren’t too concerned about spending an extra half an hour in the great outdoors.

First up, Ruth introduced the families to the Holy Leaf Miner, which is a type of fly whose larvae burrow into holly leaves. The leaves turn brown in colour thus the process of photosynthesis in the leaf is restricted.

Holy Leaf Miner larvae have turned a patch in this holy leaf, brown.

Next, we came across the Box Tree. Now, the the small leaves on a Box Tree smell like Cat Urine to around 50% of people, depending on genetics. So on smelling the leaves we got some funny looks from a young girl who actually claimed that the leaves smelt of rotten shoes! I hadn’t heard that one before…To me, the Box Tree smells fresh and leafy. Back to the facts, interestingly, 40% of Box Trees live on Box Hill – hence the name!

Box Tree!

 

“What is this tree called?…It sounds like you, and you, and YOU!” The Yew Tree also lives on Box Hill and is 1/5 of Britain’s evergreen tree species. They can grow up to a height of 40m. Yew wood is said to be very springy, and was used in Medieval times to craft bows. Mysteriously often found in church yards, Yew trees are poisonous except for the berries that they produce. This is perfect for their reproduction as it means birds eat the berries, but dispose of the poisonous seed allowing for seed dispersal.

 

Mixed into the fun facts were also tribal calls conjured up by Ruth and facial markings from the the wet mud on Box Hill. We really looked the part and the kids loved it!

A new look!

When walking up Juniper Top, not only were the views stunning (despite the cloud), but we got the pleasure of being introduced to a Yellow Meadow Ants’ mound. These mounds are constructed by ants to live in and to also attract shelter seeking caterpillars. In exchange for their ‘hospitality’ the ants collect the nutritious syrup deposited by these caterpillars. The mounds also provide an excellent resting spot for rabbits. Rabbits poo on these mounds providing them with a vantage point meaning that they are more aware of their predators and less susceptible to attack. I found that to be the most interesting fun fact of a really enjoyable afternoon.

As Real Family Holidays have come to an end today, I consider myself lucky that I get to call afternoons such as these as work.

Dorking looking great – Currently my favorite view in the Surrey

Thank you to Ruth and Zoe for their facts, and thank you to the families for being so infectiously enthusiast!

Rory

2016, FSC, geography

Lowland Leader Training

By Rowena

It’s been a really busy week, so I’ve only just managed to get round to writing about this now! Last weekend, from the 26th to the 28th February, Ruth and myself travelled to Orielton Field Centre for three days of training in our Lowland Leader Award. It’s about a 5 hour journey to Orielton by car- to use their tagline, it’s not as far as you think! It wasn’t too bad in all honesty. The worst bit was that we had decided to travel over that morning, so we found ourselves with a 5am wake-up call.

IMG_20160226_0733427am at the Severn Bridge

Obviously, the instant we got to Wales it started to rain, but by the time we had got to Orielton (which is in Pembrokeshire), it had amazingly stopped! What was this, a weekend in Wales and no rain?! Somehow, the impossible came true, and we had barely a speckle of rain at all.

After being introduced to the course, the first thing we did was plan our walk for the afternoon with trainer Chris. Tom and Steve had come over from Dale Fort Field Centre (about a 45 minute drive from Orielton) to also attend the course, and knew the area much better than we did, so suggested we went for a 6km walk around Stackpole. There was a picture on the wall of some of the coastline, but it was even more amazing than it looked in a photo.

Barafundle Bay and Stackpole cliffs

Orielton are really lucky to have perfect coastal formations right on their doorstep. It’s very different to the Dorset coastline I got used to living by the sea for a few years. Also fantastic, the birdlife we saw- a kingfisher, goosander and (most excitingly), a pair of chough perched on the clifftops.

Returning to Orielton, we planned our walks for the next couple of days, up in the Preseli Hills. We chose a slightly longer walk for Sunday of 9km, and a walk up the highest hill in Pembrokeshire on Saturday, to the top of Foel Cwmcerwyn. Most of my photos from Saturday are on my camera (perhaps I’ll upload them another time), but I have a few from Sunday, when we went for a walk to Carn Ingli, an old hill fort with spectacular views.

Planning our route

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, as it was amazing to see. The weather was perfect- very cold, especially being up high, but so clear you could see over to the mountains in north Wales.

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Looking towards Newport from Carn Ingli

Steve, font of all knowledge of the area, told us the story of Carn Ingli while we sat in a sheltered spot behind some rocks for a cup of tea before moving on. Who would want to live up so high?!

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Carn Ingli

The weekend was really awesome, and I for one learnt a lot about how to plan routes, how to pace a walk and how to use a compass to measure distances. I’ll be putting my new knowledge to use when leading groups out back at Juniper in the future- there was lots of consolidating time on Monday to make sure I knew everything inside out on my 7 hour train journey back to Surrey. Thankfully, I had a spare hour before heading to Pembroke station to run and find a geocache local to Orielton though…

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Treasure!!