Unfortunately, due to X25 having to self-isolate over the last month, we are having to postpone the presentation of learning that was scheduled to go live tonight until the new year.

We’ll be sharing a new calendar event over the break to reschedule the online stream in January, we look forward to presenting the work that the Y9s have produced. Thank you for your continued support!

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.

Very special visitors to E25 this week

In our case study ‘Snakes on a plain’, we have been learning about the adders at Hatfield Moor and how they have been so successful by occupying a niche in nature as a cold climate snake. In the coming weeks we will look at the fire at Hatfield, most likely caused by careless human action, and how the coordinated response from the Local Authority, Natural England and the Fire Service worked tirelessly to protect this important natural wonder on our doorstep in Doncaster.

To deepen our studies, this week students in E25 welcomed experts from Sam’s Safaris into school. Zoe and Joy brought with them some even more special guests. We met a range of reptiles, amphibians and mammals so that students could learn more about how they are adapted to their environments, how they are dependent upon other species and the impact that humans are having on their ecosystems (both positive and negative).

Some of the brilliant insights we gained into adaptations included the Jacobson’s organ in snakes, and how they are able to ‘taste’ the air. We also learned how chinchillas have adapted to their cold environment by having 60 hairs sprout from each of their follicles compared to just one hair per follicle in humans (or none in the case of some of our more veteran teachers). The mountain kingsnake was a particular favourite, with its bright colours mimicking a venomous coral snake to ward off potential predators.

We also heard about how deforestation – often to clear land for palm oil farms – was having a devastating impact on geckos, and how insecticides were causing damage to microbial ecosystems in the soil.

On a more positive note, our experts described how conservation work was helping to protect species, and how young people are more engaged than ever before in helping to protect the wonders of nature on which we are all entirely dependent.

Our experts were knowledgeable and showed great care towards the animals, helping some students (and staff) to overcome their fears too.

Almost everyone fell in love with Scrabble the chinchilla. Mr Doyle said his favourite was the gerbil though; what’s that about?!?

Year 9 will be going on fieldwork on 15th October as part of their ‘Welcome to the Machine’ expedition. We’ll be leaving school at 9:30AM and returning at 3:00PM, so this will not affect their drop off or pick up times, however, due to the pandemic, we ask that all students have guardian consent for them to attend.

We’ll be visiting Hatfield Moors, to collect species data and conduct scientific tests on the peatland during the day. We will be maintaining the bubbles, and wearing masks on the coaches to minimize risk of transmission, and we will be outside all day.

As part of the precautions, we ask that you fill in the following google forms, granting permission for students to attend the fieldwork on 15th October:

This outlines that if your child falls ill with covid symptoms on that day, they would need collecting from Hatfield Moors (about 40 minute drive from the school).

If you have any questions about the plans for the day or concerns, don’t hesitate to email me (khaughey@xpeast.org).

Year 9 E25 Extended Study STEAM

Students in E25 Explorer and E25 Pioneer have three pieces of extended study, all due for Monday 28th Sep.

  1. Redraft answers to questions on adaptations in their Mastery eBooklet.
  2. Answer the comprehension and application questions on extremophiles, plant and animal adaptations in their Mastery eBooklet.
  3. Students have been set either: revision of keywords in Quizlet OR experimenting with a simulation demonstrating natural selection.

Full details can be found on Google Classroom.

YEAR 9: New birdwatching world record*

We have a new record in Year 9 for the most birds spotted in a single session.

Kyle in X24 spotted an incredible 60 birds from 14 different species, including a sparrow hawk and two herons.

Whilst we have not set any work for students in Year 9 to complete over the two week break we would love it if they continued with their birdwatching, bug hotels and bird boxes. Please remind them to send us lots of photos. We are in competition with XP for the most birds spotted. This means we need to up our game, as E24 are currently behind X24 in the leaderboard.

*not verified by Norris McWhirter

E24 – Closing circle hangout meeting

This afternoon at 3.00pm we will be hosting a hangout for all of Year 9 across both schools to find out how they have been getting on with their STEAM immersion challenges.

Students can join the meeting by logging into their school account and going to:

http://g.co/meet/c24steam

Attendance for the launch hangout was fantastic. Thanks to all of our families for your continuing support.

#wearecrew

E24/Year 9 How to build a rollercoaster workshops

Year 9 have been lucky enough to experience another fantastic day of fieldwork, helping them build background knowledge for their STEAM expedition, ‘Slow Down’. In a few weeks time, their learning will culminate in a final product that answers the guiding question:

What does physics and maths have to with saving life?

This Thursday, the year group visited Alton Towers’ education department to learn about how they assess the safety and functionality of their roller coasters. Students were briefed on how they might want to design their own roller coasters using the principles of physics and mathematics.

They also applied their knowledge of algebraic substitution by calculating gravitational potential energy, as well as velocity at each hill of their roller coasters and centripetal acceleration. Students were then given a workbook to fill out as we travelled through the park – they were able to explain why they felt so weightless during the drop on oblivion, and were able to calculate GPE on the coasters across the theme park using the knowledge gained in the workshops. Plus, we all had a lot of fun on the rides!

We will be picking up this new physics and maths content once we get back into school this coming week and applying it across the STEAM sessions.