Hover over and click on the blackened areas below to reveal captions and enlarged images of the children in action.
It was time for the first virtual multi-schools event of this academic year with Wicked Weather Watch (WWW), a charity based in Box, Wiltshire and keen to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change, particularly concerning the Arctic region. On board today were more than 230 Key Stage 2 pupils and teachers from five very different schools located throughout the UK, namely St. Paul’s C of E Primary School, Bolton (https://www.st-pauls.bolton.sch.uk/); Walsham-le-Willows C of E VC Primary School, Bury St. Edmunds Suffolk (https://walsham-suffolk.secure-dbprimary.com/suffolk/primary/walsham); Millbrook Primary School, Stalybridge, Tameside (https://www.millbrook.tameside.sch.uk/); Gwenfo Church in Wales Primary School, Vale of Glamorgan (https://gwenfocwprimary.co.uk/) and Latymer Preparatory School, Hammersmith, London (https://www.latymerprep.org/).
Over the course of the day, we explored the following enquiry question together: ‘What is so cool about the Arctic?‘. Talking about cold environments seemed appropriate given that the temperature has dropped quite significantly here in the past couple of days and we are now officially in the throes of winter.
After Rhianna Davies-Smith from Wicked Weather Watch had formally welcomed and introduced everyone, I took the opportunity to develop pupils’ (and teachers’) locational knowledge by using Digimap for Schools (DfS) to pinpoint where we all were. I then shared the learning objectives and format of the day so that our intentions were very clear; we had plenty to get through within the space of six hours! We swiftly moved onto the ‘starter’. I launched Google Earth Pro to transport pupils and teachers virtually to Svalbard in Norway and posed a number of questions to them relating to distance, direction, means of transport, cost, time and sustainability. Students were given the chance to access Google Earth Pro themselves and the historical imagery button on the toolbar to see how Svalbard has changed over time. I threw a few questions at pupils to gauge their perceptions of the Arctic, before showing a short movie clip about this fantastic region (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx8sDJ1LMHA). Pupils (and teachers) were also surprised to discover that there are actually four North Poles!
During the ‘main’ session, we looked at what the Arctic is like, zooming in on the tundra biome, identifying animals that live there, investigating what the weather was like in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, analysing and interpreting a climate graph for Longyearbyen, Svalbard and spotting changes to the Blomstrand Glacier between 1918 and 2022.
After a short break, we then considered what we mean by indigenous communities and how they rely upon the Arctic. In addition, we discussed how climate change is affecting the people that are living there, especially the people of the taiga. Pupils were shown three movie clips and were asked to imagine that they were one of the children within them. They were challenged to think and write down a short message that they might wish to convey to the rest of the world.
Teachers selected a number of individuals within their class to come to the front and share their messages with a wider audience, e.g. representatives from Wicked Weather Watch, myself and pupils and staff in other primary schools across the UK. Some of their messages were certainly very powerful.
In order to prepare for the session after lunch, students were invited to write down three intriguing and rather different questions that they would like to ask a ‘real life’ explorer.
The afternoon resumed with a visit from Nanou Blair Gould, who has travelled to the High Arctic Archipelago by tall ship. Among many extraordinary things, she witnessed the effects of global warming first-hand. Nanou was so invigorated by the adventure, e.g. the people, life outdoors, the sense of purpose, that she rejoined the ship, working among the small crew for almost four months. She talked about her Arctic experience and answered the youngsters’ questions confidently and comprehensively. When asked later if they wished to explore the poles, several said ‘yes’, clearly having been inspired by Nanou and appreciating the need to protect such fragile environments.
Before the plenary, Rhianna launched the sugar cube igloo challenge. As time was of the essence, it was suggested that this would be best attempted either tomorrow or on Friday. Rhianna proposed that pupils worked in small groups within their classrooms and, using the template and a box of sugar cubes provided, tried to construct an igloo. Some images of their creations can be viewed below. These will also shortly be uploaded to Wicked Weather Watch’s website to enable an online vote to take place. The winning design will receive some goodies from Wicked Weather Watch.
The event concluded with pupils contemplating how they might reduce their carbon footprint. We can all have a positive impact upon our planet. Sustainability is clearly important for the climate of the UK, the Arctic and the world.
Each class were also requested to complete a Google Form so that Wicked Weather Watch can gain pupil and staff voice about the day. Some of their thoughts/comments can be viewed below:
- Exciting and we learnt a lot.
- Fun; engaging; interactive and allowed deeper thinking skills.
- Interesting; educational – we learnt a lot of new things.
- Inspiring; educational; exhilarating; exciting; interesting.
- Interesting; thought-provoking; eye-opening; inspiring; new knowledge.
- Amazing; fantastic; interesting; super and informative.
- Fun learning; informative; interesting; point-proving; creative.
- Inspiring; factual; mind-opening; fascinating; inclusive.
- It’s been a really useful day and learnt a lot about the polar regions. Enjoyed listening to what other schools thought about the different topics. Very much enjoyed listening to the explorer – many children in class feel that they would love to follow in her footsteps.
- Thank you all very much for yesterday – the children really enjoyed the experience.
- Thanks to you and Emma for a fabulous day.
We are looking forward to our next virtual adventure to the Arctic towards the end of January. Subsequent events will be advertised shortly due to continued interest and demand.