GlosGeog successfully collaborates with local charity, Wicked Weather Watch!

ConsultancyGlosGeogWorkshops

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GlosGeog, Gloucestershire’s local GA branch, seized the opportunity to work with Wiltshire-based charity, Wicked Weather Watch (WWW) (https://wickedweatherwatch.org.uk/) to offer a virtual multi-schools event to the Arctic for Key Stage 2 pupils and their teachers.  On board today were over 270 Key Stage 2 pupils and teachers from seven schools located both in and beyond Gloucestershire, namely Coalway Junior School in Colefold in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (https://www.coalwayjunior.co.uk/); Stow-on-the Wold Primary School near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire (https://stowprimaryschool.co.uk/); Temple Guiting C of E School near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire (https://www.templeguiting.gloucs.sch.uk/); St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Nympsfield, Gloucestershire (http://www.st-josephs-nympsfield.com/); Bromley Heath Junior School in Downend, Bristol (https://www.bhjs.org.uk/); Glendale Community Middle School in Wooler, Northumberland (http://www.glendale.northumberland.sch.uk/) and West End Primary School in Elgin, Moray, Scotland (https://westendprimary.co.uk/).

On their arrival into the Zoom meeting, each school was given the name of a well-known Arctic explorer and their ‘claim to fame’ explained.

Over the course of the day, we explored the following enquiry question together: ‘What is so cool about the Arctic?‘.

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.  Otherwise, they could watch my screen to observe the changes and then add their comments to the chat feed.  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!

Pupils at West End Primary School engaging with different types of maps.

Using the historical imagery tool within Google Earth Pro to discover how Svalbard has changed over the past 16 years.

Many facts and statistics were shared here, which pupils managed to recall accurately throughout the day too.

Watching and listening intently.

During the ‘main’ session, we looked at what the Arctic is like through a continuum line and true/false activity, zooming in on the tundra biome, identifying animals that live there, analysing and interpreting a climate graph for Longyearbyen, Svalbard, as well as investigating what the weather was like in Longyearbyen, Svalbard today and how it was similar/different to our location and the reasons for this.

A change of state always works wonders!

Ten out of ten for many schools!

Learning to analyse and interpret a climate graph and table of data for Longyearbyen on Svalbard, Norway.

After a short break, we attempted to spot changes to the Blomstrand Glacier between 1918 and 2022, firstly by detailed observation and later via a think-pair-share task.

A spot the difference activity … with a difference! 5Ws + how questions also posed to pupils to encourage higher-order thinking.

 

And, what a consensus to my second question!

Next, we considered what we mean by indigenous communitieshow they rely upon the Arctic and how climate change is affecting the people that are living there during ‘trios’, an oracy activity.

Pupils at West End Primary School embarking upon the ‘trios’ task.

Pupils then had to imagine they were one of the individuals in the projected image and were challenged to think and write down a short message that such a person 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 the 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.

Just before lunch, Rhianna launched the sugar cube igloo challenge.  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 the children in action and their creations can be viewed below.  Photographs of their designs 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.

What a challenge! Could be steep competition bearing in mind the number of schools and groups involved today.

On their return from lunch and whilst registers were being taken, 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.

What an experience to have had, and on more than one occasion too!

A sustainable means of travel to the Arctic.

As an artist, Nanou truly appreciated the colours within the Arctic.

Challenging misconceptions; the Arctic is not all white!

The reality, unfortunately. Rubbish gathered from two small beach clean-up operations, later recycled by artists to create pieces of art.

Serious implications for wildlife and the indigneous people.

The sad, but telling signs of our actions.

The highlight of Nanou’s trips to the Arctic; witnessing the Northern Lights on many occasions.

Nanou remained unphased by the numerous questions the children posed to her!

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.  Others were a little more reluctant, being put off by the cold conditions and feeling of sea-sickness.

Pupils were very willing to answer Rhianna’s rather challenging questions.

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 certainly important for the climate of the UK, the Arctic and the world.

Pupils raised some very valid points here. They suggested many, often quite simple, actions that could be taken, which would have the potential to make a significant difference if completed by everyone.

Some of our favourite quotes from the day were:

Why is the Arctic so appealing?

  • There are a lot of new things to discover that you cannot see anywhere else in the world.
  • Because it is untouched.
  • It is a challenge.
  • So we can explore changes; there is lots to investigate.
  • We want to see it before its gone.

Humans are contributing to global warming because we are burning fossil fuels.

Climate change will continue to happen because humans are not changing quickly enough.

We can fight to stop climate change, like Greta Thunberg.

What was most surprising from Nanou’s talk?

  • That the walruses were not scared.
  • That it is illegal to shoot a polar bear.
  • The amount of rubbish found in the Arctic.
  • That she went to the Arctic in a wind-powered ship.
  • That she managed to touch a reindeer.

Would you want to travel to the Arctic?

  • No, because I want to stay with my family.
  • No, because I am afraid of water and sailing.
  • No, because I might get sea-sick and it is far too cold!
  • Yes, because I could see animals that are not in the UK.
  • Yes, because every morning there is something different to wake up to.
  • Yes, to swim in the glacier pools.
  • I love climbing mountains and I would love to experience the glaciers.
  • I would like to discover new things and have more knowledge about the area.
  • Yes, so I could educate other people about what is happening there and how we can make a change.

What can we do that would be better for the environment?

  • We can stop polluting oceans, use greener modes of transport, stop killing animals and recycle.
  • Stop fast fashion.
  • Plant more trees, stop burning fossil fuels, stop cutting down trees and stop polluting.
  • Have a set amount of vegetarian meals a week.
  • Use clean, renewable energy.
  • Use reusable sandwich wraps.
  • Look after animals.

Some of their ‘concluding comments‘ can be found below:

Intriguing; interesting; children have taken and remembered new knowledge.

Educational, fun and exciting!

Very informative.  The children have learnt a lot and it has given them the opportunity to discuss and think about a very important subject and what they can do personally to help.

Well organised, excellent communication and very informative.

Great to have expert knowledge shared with the children.

Thank you so much for everything today.  We have really enjoyed our day!

Thank you for a fantastic day!

It was a really good event and the children got lots from it. 

We really enjoyed it.  This was recommended by one of our parents so we were quite late on board.  I would run this as part of a topic as there wasn’t much chance to brief children beforehand, but that’s for me in future.  Very well organised.  I found the preliminary briefing very useful as I knew exactly what to expect, so thank you.  Children enjoyed Google Earth Pro, the sugar cube igloo challenge and chatting to the explorer.

The next virtual adventure to the Arctic is scheduled for Monday 15th May 2023.  Do get in touch if you wish to be involved; it would be great to have you on board (contact Rhianna Davies-Smith: schools@wickedweatherwatch.org.uk).

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