C25: Out here in the fields

Our year 9 students were lucky enough to get out on fieldwork on the final week of term to complete work relating to their ‘Welcome to the machine’ expedition. Over the next seven weeks of the winter term, they will be working on their answer to the guiding question:

‘Do the benefits of industrialisation outweigh the costs?’

For their first STEAM case studies, students have been looking at conservation data, learning about how data can be collected and displayed using multiple representations. They have also been learning about specialisation and ecosystem management.

They visited The Hatfield Moors, our local nature reserve, to examine the extent of the fire damage from earlier this year. Students have been learning about the protected species that can be found at the site, particularly the adder, and how Natural England and the fire service prioritised safeguarding these species during the clear up operation.

While at the site, students conducted a series of sampling techniques, as well as collecting data on the wildlife. Sadly, due to slight delays in being able to visit the site, we weren’t able to spot any adders as they have likely gone into hibernation for the winter, however, students were still able to find other species key to maintaining and supporting the ecosystem at the wetland.

Students also conducted a number of tests on the site, in accordance with their two daily learning targets for the day:

1. I can estimate the population density of a species using random sampling techniques.

Students engaged in data collection of various parts of the site, using quadrats to provide increasingly accurate estimations of species numbers in the areas we sampled. We created a set of axes, used a random number generator to find coordinates to sample, and collected the data from those coordinates.

After collecting data in teams of three, we used all the data collected to calculate the predicted species number, based on scaling up the measurements to accommodate the size of the field. In debrief, due to a large range in answers, we went on to calculate the mean for those estimations, to create a more accurate estimation. We also discussed why using the random number generator was fundamental in keeping our research free from bias.

2. I can investigate the effects of abiotic factors using systematic sampling techniques.

Students then went on to conduct a series of pH tests on the wetlands, again using their quadrats placed along a transect, to link changes in species to abiotic factors of the wetlands. In debrief, we examined the data, looking for patterns relating to the abundance of the plant species and the abiotic factor recorded.

I’d also like to thank our very own Marshall Jones, for taking his time on the day and spare time to create this amazing vlog documenting the day:

I feel incredibly fortunate that we were able to make it out to the site given the current circumstances, and I really look forward to hear how the work the students have done on this series of case studies will inform their guiding question answers over the coming weeks.