Geographical Society Lecture: London 2012 Games – What now?

bob_digby_geography_lecture_mrlyonBob Digby, ex teacher and author, and past president of the Geographical Association, outlined the legacies of past Olympic Games and explained how London, despite being underdogs, won the bid in 2005 on a promise of regeneration.

Fabulous images captured the environmental transformation from derelict warehouses and wasteland to a green, sustainable site. Measures even included importing worms to the site to clean the top soil. The proposed legacy was outlined and pupils were pleased to hear that they can swim in the Olympic pool for £3.50. The determination to provide a legacy was clear. The economic regeneration was evident despite concerns that east Londoners might be pushed out of the area because of inward migration. Although the amount of social housing was less than originally planned, Bob Digby remained optimistic about the Games’ legacy especially compared with other recent Olympics.

He hoped that our pupils’ generation would continue to talk about the 2012 Olympics and drown out those still harking back to the 1966 World Cup!

Year 12 Geographers investigate sand dune ecosystems on North Norfolk coast

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Last Friday a group of 33 lower sixth geographers visited the impressive dune system on the Norfolk coast near Burnham Overy Staithe. The weather was bright and warm which helped in the data collection on this otherwise wind swept and remote coastline. 

The dune system is part of the Holkham National Nature Reserve with the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The field research included surveying of the dune relief, identifying characteristics of the vegetation succession and recording the microclimate and soil conditions. This was a most enjoyable and productive fieldtrip in which the various groups followed transects from the strandline and embryo dunes inland to the dune heath.

The photographs show the entire group being briefed at the start of the investigation. Further images will be available on the College website.

Geographical Society welcomes Dr Geoffrey Griffiths

Unknown-3Last Tuesday evening, Dr Griffiths of the University of Reading Geography Department gave a presentation to over a hundred pupils, staff and parents on the issue of land grabs in Liberia. 

These are caused by the growing demand for palm oil in the developed world. Palm oil is used in many food items of our everyday diet yet the extensive clearance of rainforest to satisfy this production is having serious environmental and social impacts in West Africa. Dr Griffiths also told us how he monitored and mapped this loss of primary forest, working for an NGO; he has particular interest in the practical use of GIS.

Not only was his presentation intrinsically interesting and useful for geographical study, but it also gave insight into the style of lecturing and the fieldwork of a current university academic of the kind our pupils might encounter in further education.

Geographers evaluate effects of urban planning in Ipswich

On Tuesday, 30th April, a group of thirty-three Lower Sixth geography students were taken to diverse parts of Ipswich to study changes in the urban environment.

Unknown-4Mr Boatman’s group focused on Bridge Ward, an area of inner city redevelopment, and also the various suburbs of St Margaret’s Ward; Mr Kendall’s group studied the rural-urban fringe, the original Victorian planning of Christchurch Park, and also the Cobbold Street area.

Both groups ended up at the Docks, to assess the effectiveness of the much vaunted Waterfront Scheme.

Year 9 Geography Fieldtrip – Savanna and Rainforest Ecosystems, Colchester Zoo

Unknown-1Last Wednesday, all Year 9 pupils visited Colchester Zoo. The purpose was to collect data about animals and their adaptations to the savanna and rainforest habitats. 

A very important part of the day was the lecture given by the zoo’s education officer who explained the adaptations made in each zone by some of the animals, such as the African Elephant and the Orangutan. She also explained how certain species were under direct threat from human activity in their areas. The pupils then went out into the Africa zone and the Rainforest areas to observe these features. All the animals were impressive but surprisingly much attention went to the smallest of all, the leaf-cutter ant, a decomposer important in the rainforest. Other popular animals were the largest herbivores, giraffe and elephant. There were also carnivores such as hyena, cheetahs and yellow anaconda. Living in a specially created hot and humid rainforest climate, which we could also experience, was the iguana.

In all there was much of interest and all pupils will now use this information in their follow-up lessons on ecosystems.

Year 10 Geographers conduct fieldwork at Southwold

Unknown-3All Year 10 Geographers, in their first year of the GCSE course, are preparing a personal investigation for their controlled assessment coursework module; this requires collection of primary data in the field. 

To this end they visited Southwold yesterday to investigate the coastline, with the purpose of finding out what is so distinctive about this stretch of coast. In fact, as far south as the River Blyth harbour and as far north as the eroding cliffs at Easton Bavents, they measured and sketched the coastal landforms; they studied wave and wind processes of erosion and deposition; they evaluated the sea defences and they conducted questionnaires on an unsuspecting public – all in the aid of geographical research.

The photograph on the right shows some of the groups working on beach profiles and cliff sketching at Easton Bavents – one of the most rapidly eroding coastlines in the UK.

Geography fieldtrip to Stratford, London

image005Last Friday the Upper Sixth geographers visited Stratford to examine the planning legacy of the Olympic Park. 

We were fortunate that this fieldtrip was led by the current President of the Geographical Association, Bob Digby, who is an expert on urban issues in this part of London. Decisions to improve the quality of life in this relatively deprived area were evident in sport, retail and transport led developments.

A significant feature of the day was investigation of the contrasts in the urban environment. This required evaluation of Fish Island, unchanged for over a hundred years; the modern Stratford and Westfield Centres; the rapidly changing 2012 Olympic site, being redeveloped as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; and Crossrail. Each of these planning schemes will have a significant impact on the urban geography of East London.

Geographical Society – Forthcoming Lecture by Nick Crane

nick_craneNick Crane, presenter of the BBC Coast series, is to address the Geographical Society at an evening lecture on Tuesday, 12th February, 2013 in the Headmaster Porter Theatre at 7.00pm.

The talk is expected to be of interest to pupils and parents of all year groups and is entitled‘Filming Our Island Story’.

Nick Crane is well known as a geographer, explorer, writer and broadcaster and has written and presented four television series for BBC 2, including Great British JourneysMap Man, and Town. He is pictured below on the cover of his latest publication Our Island Story.

All parents, pupils, staff and OFs are warmly invited to join us and to meet Mr Crane informally after the presentation. Light refreshments will be provided.

Geographical Society – Forthcoming Lecture by Nick Crane

image006Nick Crane, presenter of the BBC Coast series, is to address the Geographical Society at an evening lecture on Tuesday, 12th February, 2013 in the Headmaster Porter Theatre at 7.00pm. 

The talk is expected to be of interest to pupils and parents of all year groups and is entitled‘Filming Our Island Story’.

Nick Crane is well known as a geographer, explorer, writer and broadcaster and has written and presented four television series for BBC 2, including Great British JourneysMap Man, and Town. He is pictured below on the cover of his latest publication Our Island Story.

All parents, pupils, staff and OFs are warmly invited to join us and to meet Mr Crane informally after the presentation. Light refreshments will be provided.

Upper Sixth Geographers Visit London Docklands and the Thames Flood Barrier

On Tuesday a group of twenty-five Upper Sixth geographers conducted fieldwork exercises at a number of locations in the east end of London.

First stop was Tobacco Dock, one of the less successful planning schemes of the docklands redevelopment. For many, an evaluation of the inner city area of Shadwell around Cable Street was a real eye-opener to the living conditions, communities and quality of life in one of the more deprived urban areas in London.

The work of the London Docklands Development Corporation was studied as we walked a transect through the Isle of Dogs, via Mudchute Park and Farm, and Millwall Dock, now teeming with office workers rather than dockers.

This part of the fieldtrip ended with a study of the highly successful urban planning developments at Cabot Square and Canary Wharf, the flagship area of the LDDC.

Finally, as part of our work on flood hazards we travelled further east to visit the Thames Barrier to assess its importance in protecting London from the effects of storm surges.

In all this was a most successful and enjoyable day, with students getting experience in the practical skills needed for the forthcoming Geographical Skills module in January as well as increasing their understanding of topics to be examined in the Global Issues module next summer.