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Advanced Higher Biology Field Trip to Blencathra

Twenty-three of our Advanced Higher Biology pupils travelled to Blencathra in the Lake District as part of their Organisms and Evolution topic.

The Centre at Blencathra is a first for our pupils and certainly did not disappoint. Nestled in the National park, the centre gave unparalleled views across Keswick and housed our pupils in its hydro-electric powered accommodation.

After arriving, day one saw pupils get kitted out with waterproofs and wellies, which they would need for their investigations across the three days, and then they wasted no time in getting started. Following an introduction to the sampling techniques ecologists use in investigations, small mammal traps were then set up in the woodland.

The second day began early with pupils taking great care when visiting their mammal traps and to their delight found that they had caught Wood Mice and Bank Voles. Quickly identifying the species and releasing them safely back into the woodland, their findings were recorded. The afternoon was spent in Brundholme woods which is on the side of Latrigg above the River Greta and about a thirty-minute walk from the centre. Pupils recorded abiotic factors and used quadrats to compare the biodiversity of an area that has been coppiced and an area that was left unmanaged. After lunch involved walking a further 200m up the side of Blencathra, to measure the affect that altitude has on bracken. Students recorded several factors such as light intensity, humidity, and wind speed, as well as the species richness and bracken abundance. They were rewarded with glorious views across the Lake District as the sun shone down.

Day three saw pupils make the hour-long trip to the coast to investigate the zonation of algae and animals on the rocky shore of St Bees. They collected lots of data on dog whelk size and abundance of different species of algae, barnacles, periwinkles and anemones. The warm weather and sunshine made for a very enjoyable investigation and a trip to the seaside wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory ice-cream.

On the final morning pupils investigated the distribution and abundance of freshwater invertebrates in a pool and riffle. Taking place in the vale at Low Bridge End Farm in St John’s Beck, pupils braved the downpours to collect their samples and measure abiotic factors, ever with a smile on their faces before making their journey home.

The trip was designed to meet requirements set out by SQA to develop fieldwork skills and provide opportunities for data collection in an outdoor setting. Through independent enquiry, teamwork and reflection, pupils developed their personal, learning and thinking skills.

Thank you to our Head of Biology, Mr Kerr, and Biology teachers, Mrs Macdonald, Mrs Wyatt, and Mr Dyer for organising and supporting this successful field trip. Also, a big thank you to all our pupils for their enthusiasm and curiosity, making this such a stimulating trip.

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