Wicked Weather Watch (WWW) Arctic Extravaganza, University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol


And, what an extravaganza it was!  100+ youngsters and their teachers from 8 local schools, plus 2 home educators, representatives from the charity, Wicked Weather Watch, and freelance consultants, all descended on the Exhibition and Conference Centre at UWE for a day of Arctic-themed activities.  The overall aim was to use different mediums to relay the key messages about climate change and increase both children and adults’ knowledge and understanding of the Arctic region.

Following registration and a warm welcome given by Gill Johnson and Vicky Oram-Ahern from Wicked Weather Watch, pupils and their teachers were able to select three out of four sessions to participate in.

Introduction and welcome given by Gill Johnson, one of the key players at Wicked Weather Watch.

Sound Matters, a London-based company, very cleverly used music to explore the sounds of climate change.  They showcased how we can connect to this fundamental, global issue through sound, including the causes and impacts of climate change.

I brought along the Arctic Alive kit (a giant interactive map and accompanying resources loaned from the Canada-UK Foundation (http://www.canadaukfoundation.org/arctic-alive/) and delivered an abridged version of Lesson 4, which focused on Arctic ice and climate change.  After sharing the lesson objective with the children (to understand the effects of climate change on the Arctic and how this affects the world), we made use of the giant floor map and resources to enhance their place and locational knowledge of the Arctic.  Next, we addressed aspects, such as climate change, in more detail, mapped sea ice cover, discussed global warming and considered what the UK is doing to help.  During the plenary, students were asked to identify one thing that they had learnt about the Arctic region during the hour’s session.  Pupils impressed me with the detail they were able to recall and their willingness to participate.  I wonder if any of the youngsters will be future visitors to the Arctic region?

Kathryn Minchew, a former semi-finalist on MasterChef, and now a professional chef running her own company, Gloucester Studio (http://gloucesterstudio.com/), had the children doing a spot of cooking, investigating the source of the required ingredients, discussing their own carbon footprints relating to their consumption of food and food miles.  Kathryn is truly incredible … she turned a classroom into a make-shift kitchen in a matter of minutes!

Jukebox Collective, an NGO from south Wales, demonstrated how hip-hop can be used effectively to explore the Arctic environment and understand what it feels like to be melting, frozen, etc.

Experiencing the Arctic through the medium of dance.

In a way, it was a shame that I had three separate sessions to deliver; I would loved to have had a go at the other activities on offer!

Lunch followed, which was very much needed after such an eventful and exciting morning.  The children also had an opportunity to chat informally with some of the Polar Ocean Challenge (http://polarocean.co.uk/) crew and Professor Terry Callaghan, an Arctic scientist.

The plenary consisted of a keynote by Professor Terry Callaghan and time for further questions.  Terry projected some stunning images of the region and pitched his talk at exactly the right level.  Both pupils and teachers listened intently and were keen to quiz Terry about his research interests, recent findings and first-hand experiences of this incredible region afterwards.

A brief thank you and wrap-up was given by Gill and Vicky before all departed.

A hugely enjoyable, enlightening and rewarding day; I cannot wait to be part of another one in early 2018!

Well done to everyone involved!

Below are just a few concluding comments from pupils:

Putting their sticky notes on the polar bear.

“I’ve learnt a lot about climate change.”

“I learnt that there are four different places called the North Pole!”

Wow – I loved how they taught about dance and the Arctic.”

“Global warming = sad face.”

“I learnt lots of new facts that can help me with school and the activities were fun.”

“It was the best best day ever!”

“I learnt so much; it was so much fun.” 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.