GlosGeog’s first event of the academic year 2023-2024!


Our first event of this academic year was kindly hosted by Sir Thomas Rich’s School in Gloucester ( Dr Harry West, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of the West of England (UWE) offered to give up his time to speak to GCSE and A level students and their teachers, both virtually and in situ. His talk, entitled ‘A Tale of Two Rivers: The water cycle and what affects river catchment hydrology‘, was one that I had heard during geography southwest’s annual secondary conference last June, and it had delegates and myself whole-heartedly engaged. Harry’s specialism is within the field of applied spatial analysis, geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing, so this was bound to feature within his slides! He has a particular disciplinary interest in hydrology and water resources management, the latter of fundamental importance given the impacts of climate change that we are currently witnessing and a source of future employment for many young people today.

Harry provided the following overview in advance of the session:

‘The flow of rivers is affected by several different and inter-related characteristics and processes, including rainfall, land cover and geology.  This lecture will be built around a case study of two neighbouring catchments in southern England – the River Ock and River Lambourn.  Whilst these two catchments are neighbours and share lots of the same characteristics, they have wildly different flow regimes. The Ock is quite flashy and dynamic, whilst the Lambourn is baseflow dominated and non-flashy. So how can two catchments which are so close together have such different flows?

Using GIS and spatial datasets, we will work through the water cycle at a local scale, exploring the various factors which influence the hydrology and flow regime of catchments to investigate what causes the large differences in flows we see in the Ock and Lambourn.

This talk will be relevant to any teachers and students who study the water cycle and catchment hydrology in their GCSE and A Level specifications.’

After I had formally introduced our speaker, Harry spent the next 45 minutes taking his audience through an enquiry (based on a Story Map that he had created – before a Q&A session. Students were keen to answer Harry’s questions throughout his talk, which reinforced much subject-specific vocabulary too. Several questions were posed to him afterwards, both from those in situ and others who were watching from further afield via the chat feed. Teachers were asked to complete a Google Form towards the end of the speaker session. Staff (and pupil voice) are incredibly important to us; not only do they facilitate our future planning, but they help ensure that we are able to seek the financial support that we are eligible to from the Geographical Association (GA).

A few of their ‘concluding comments’ can be viewed below:

Many thanks for organising today’s lecture – I’m sure our students will benefit from it enormously.

Thank you, Emma.  I really appreciate the link.  We can’t get approval for all these amazing talks, but I can get students to watch them as part of their independent study/ homework.  I’m doing exactly this topic with my Year 12 this week, so it’s just perfect!

Many thanks to Dave Gowler, Head of Geography, and the ICT Team at Sir Thomas Rich’s School for the smooth running of today’s event, and to Dr Harry West for sharing his extensive knowledge and expertise with us all. A recording of today’s event can be found here in case you were unfortunate to miss it in real time:

Do join us for our next event/s if you can. These will be shared via e-mail and posted on social media feeds.

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