Waste Week

The theme for Waste Week 2018 is the issue that is dominating news headlines: food waste and food packaging.  Click on the link to find out about some of the alarming facts. As a school we will be working hard to address the issues. Waste Facts



Tidy up time

Eco-squad have had a very busy day today getting lots of jobs done. Outside they have litter picked the wildlife area, cleared the pond and dug out some more raised beds. Thank you to Mr Yates for helping.

They have made a lovely display of their Flatford Mill trip and also had a meeting.

Eco-squad trip to Flatford Mill

Mrs Bicknell and Mrs Porter went with Eco-squad to Flatford Mill on Thursday to learn all about the wilds of Winter, how to survive a snowstorm and compare the weather here with the weather in Antarctica. We discovered the science and adventure behind polar exploration and discovered why we explore the polar regions. We also did activities to support our learning about sustainability and conservation.

When we arrived at Flatford Mill we were shown the house that we would be staying in – Valley Farm – a medieval Great Hall House with an impressive central fireplace and a lovely old oak staircase. Lydia was our guide, and very helpful to us during our stay. She explained the history behind the house and surrounding buildings to us and we did a fire drill to make sure that we would be safe.

Lydia is holding a small copy of a very famous painting by John Constable called ‘The Hay Wain’ which was sketched from the view we had from Flatford Mill of Willy Lott’s cottage. The steps leading up to Flatford Mill are made from a millstone. The Mill house has AC on the brickwork if you look carefully which refers to the previous owners – the Constable family.

The Mulberry learning room just beyond the library had all the surrounding sounds of Antarctica. We learnt about the Northern and Southern lights and then made cloud wheels which we would later use to identify the types of cloud. We also did a virtual tour of the Rothera research station on Antarctica. We liked the look of the games room and gym.

We went back outside to an area where they take weather readings. We identified cirrus and cumulus clouds using the cloud wheels that we made. We took measurements of rainfall in mm, the temperatute on a thermometer inside a Stephenson box and compared it to the temperature recorded in damp air from a temperature covered in a damp tissue ‘sock’. the Stephenson box has to point North so that the readings are not affected by the Sun. The wire covered patch of earth is used so that you can see how damp the ground is.

We dressed up ‘Sam’ as a polar explorer.

We split into two teams and made dens in the woods which were scored as to how windproof, waterproof and animal proof they were. You could use a tarpaulin if you liked but if you did you could only score a maximum of 3 out of 5 for being waterproof.

It was very close but the winning team (I’ve got a hexbug in my pocket) made the low den with coats as a waterproof covering. The other team (The Ginger Ponies) also made a very good den like a teepee and used a tarpaulin. They tried to animal proof their den using a low entrance, a leaf trap, a trip hazard and cctv!

We returned to the mill house and had a look at the sluice gates and Archimedes screw which is used to generate electricity for the mill. In 2012 Field Studies Council installed a reverse Archimedes Screw in the cavity that once housed a nineteenth century iron water wheel. The Archimedes Screw produces up to 11 kilowatts of electricity every day, enough to meet about 30% of the Field Studies Council’s current needs. 

In the learning room there were some interesting mountings of butterflies and moths.

We returned to our lodgings and then went out to collect some natural materials to make our Viking beards with. We had learnt about the Saxon, the Roman and the Viking invaders. We also made lanterns which were to celebrate the Winter solstice and to take out on our night walk. Some of us used glitter to jazz up our beards!

We had our pizza supper in the Mill and then went out for songs, dancing, stories, hot chocolate and marshmallows by the campfire.

In the morning we were up making sandwiches for our lunch at 7.30am, with a big variety of fillings, followed by bacon, hash browns, toast and beans at 8am.

After breakfast we headed out again. It was a bit colder today but luckily we knew what to wear.

Another school had set some traps for small creatures the day before using apple and hay in humane traps. We learnt about the sorts of small mammals that we would be likely to find, including shrews, mice and voles and about their adaptations. There was a vole found in one of the traps which was released and we saw it scurry away.

We were lucky to be the first school to work in the conservation garden. We made birdboxes and learnt that the size of the opening of the birdbox is important in determining which birds will be attracted to using them. We also made eco-messages on a section of log and made items to be added to the bug hotel.

We also made fatballs for the birds using pinecones, lard and bird feed.

Thank you to Lydia, Jo and Robin who helped us with the activities. We had a great time!

We have a flag bearer!

We have received this email from Samantha Buzzard about the flags for Antarctica that Eco-squad designed:

“Great news, your flags are on their way to Antarctica! They are travelling with David Mall from the Durham University who works on understanding how ice sheets have responded to past climate change with the aim of providing information that can help us better understand the future of the present day ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.”

We’re all looking forward to seeing the flags in Antarctica!

Antarctica Day

To celebrate Antarctica Day (which is on the 1st of December) we were given the opportunity at Chrishall of a live telephone conversation with a polar explorer. We were assigned Ben Keitch who is a meteorologist and electronics specialist, working for the British Antarctic Survey and he also had a colleague with him, who is a pilot answering questions too. Class Newton and Eco-squad received the phone call today in Class Newton at 10 O’Clock after having watched a short video message from a team of workers from Bird Island. (The link to the video is at the bottom of the page.) Ben and his colleague work at the Rothera Research Station.

Children from Class Newton and Eco-squad were well prepared and had many interesting questions to ask. We learnt such a lot – for example that the most common penguin there is the Adele penguin, that in Antarctica it is Summer at the moment, and that the temperature at its warmest there is about -4degC.

Camille asked whether they ate different things to us, and they do, because they have dried food which they re-constitute in water, but apparently it doesn’t taste too bad! They had recently eaten some biscuits that had been there since the 1970s, that tasted fine, but also some old meat had been found and they thought it best not to try that. The cold temperatures mean that the food is preserved for a lot longer.

Jack W’s question was asking whether they fly planes regularly – they do, and the planes have skis on the bottom, and it is quite difficult (and exciting) to land because you have to find a patch of ice large enough.

Amelia asked whether they would be spending Christmas there. Ben said that he and his colleagues would, but that they would celebrate but also be working on Christmas Day because they have to make the most of the time that they are out there.

Caitlin found out that they have to wear many layers of clothes when they go outside, and that the top layer is rather like a sleeping bag. It sounded very time consuming to get changed when they come inside, and they have to be careful not to get too sweaty when working.

Hettie asked which 5 things are important to take. Ben said that he had taken his mobile phone, but that was useless because there was no signal. He had also taken his laptop but that was also useless because he had forgotten to pack his adaptor. Both Ben and his colleague agreed that the most useful thing is to have sunglasses, and also some photos of family. Harriett asked the same question that she asked Tim Peake – does your nose get runny or is it dry? She found that your nose is mostly quite dry in Antarctica, although sometimes when you go outside it can run a little, and then that freezes so that you get crunchy nose hair! That sounded quite uncomfortable!

Makundi wanted to know why the ice caps are melting. There are many scientists in Antarctica working on that problem and many areas still to solve.

Elliott wanted to find out what the most interesting animal that Ben had spotted whilst he was there, and Ben had recently seen some orka (killer whale) and humpback whales, also penguins, terns, and elephant seals – which apparently don’t do much apart from making rude bodily noises!

William T wanted to know whether they had seen the Southern lights and was interested to hear about that. There were may more questions as you can imagine and these are just a taster.

As we finished asking questions we were all excited to see it snowing heavily outside. Ben was interested to hear why we wanted to know about Antarctica and he was pleased to hear about the flags that are being sent to Antarctica and that we will be working on the Polar Explorer programme. He said we should do the experiment about insulating properties. We will definitely be making sure we do that one, as it does sound fun and let him know how we get on.

Rothera Research Station_1