Open Morning 2023

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Advanced Higher Geography Lochranza Field Trip

Our Advanced Higher Geography pupils took their learning outside the classroom to spend time at the Geopark on the Isle of Arran.

Leaving last week, pupils took the ferry from Ardrossan and made their way to the Lochranza Field Centre which would be home for the next three days to continue their learning beyond the classroom environment. After arriving, the first day saw pupils conduct coastal surveys where they measured beach profiles and the movement of sediment across the beach caused by longshore drift.

On day two they turned their hand to rivers and compared the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the Glen Chalmadale and the Gleann Easan Biorach. Pupils measured a wide range of variables such as velocity, cross sectional area and biotic activity to name but a few. After identifying the presence of stonefly and mayfly nymphs, they concluded the water was clean and of a high quality. Safe in the knowledge of their findings, pupils drank the fresh water to quench their thirst after what had been another glorious day. Following lunch, the students took to the hills and conducted soil and vegetation surveys. They enjoyed using soil augers, pH probes and quadrat sampling to investigate how soil properties and vegetation species change along the catena.

On the final day, our students studied the glacial landscape putting their Higher knowledge to the ultimate test. Together they correctly identified the rich tapestry of glacial features from U-shaped valleys and corries to moraines and eskers, as well as the different rock types. They learnt that the economy on Arran has shifted from farming to tourism. A double-edged sword as tourists are very much encouraged to visit the island, because their spending creates income for many residents, who work in shops, golf courses and hotels. However, it can lead to land use conflicts, which require careful management and further investment such as repairing eroded footpaths along popular hiking routes. Like all good Geographers we could not resist taking time to draw a detailed field sketch of Glen Ranza valley before heading back to the centre for lunch.

After each day in the field, pupils freshened up for dinner and then spent the evening analysing their data, plotting graphs, and calculating statistics. The days were busy and long, but pupils enjoyed their evening downtime with the facility pool tables, played card games, and even held a ping pong competition. Additionally, not only did pupils luck out with the sunshine but were fortunate enough to spot a golden eagle, see a red squirrel and come back tick free!

Overall, this field trip has helped to prepare our pupils for their SQA exams as they will now be able to reflect and draw upon their newly learnt data collection techniques. The next step for our geographers is to bring their experience back into the classroom and apply it to their chosen coursework, which constitutes 40% of their final Advanced Higher grade.

It was an informative and interesting trip for all involved, thank you to Geography Teachers, Mrs Prentice, and Mr McDougall for organising, and to all pupils for representing Hutchie with enthusiasm and the utmost respect in their outdoor pursuits.

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