Biology: Upper Sixth Students Undertake 5-Day Field Trip

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Over half term, Bede's Upper Sixth Biology students embarked on a field trip designed to develop their ecology skills and enable them to collect data for their project coursework.

Accompanied by Head of Biology Mrs Tilling, Head of Upper Fifth Ms French and Mr Hodges, the group was taken by luxury coach to Nettlecombe Court Field Studies Centre in Somerset and started their trip with a tour of the Elizabethan manor house.

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Nettlecombe Court lies in a secluded valley at the eastern edge of Exmoor National Park and is a striking example of a Tudor and Georgian country mansion. Within its grounds, the Centre has excellent access to the Somerset coast as well as Exmoor National Park and The Quantocks 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'.

As the A Level Biologists were informed during an introduction from expert resident tutor Jo Transect, Nettlecombe is the first field centre in the world to be awarded the Geographical Association's 'Centre of Excellence' award.

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Once her introduction was finished, Jo took the group outdoors to take part in a small investigation as to whether water content affected the distribution of field plant species like clover, buttercup and yarrow.

The data the students collected led to an evening of "kite diagram" drawing accompanied by a delicious dinner served in Nettlecombe's Old Ballroom.

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Day Two consisted of an all-day visit to remote Exmoor. As well as seeing deer rutting (extremely educational!) the students engaged in freshwater kick-stone wash sampling at five sites, counting and identifying water invertebrates as they went.

During the third day, the pupils were split into groups for more detailed skills development of plant sampling which served as an introduction to the concept of the pilot study. The students used quadrats and abiotic meters and walked around the grounds, identifying all the possible independent project topics.

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Six pupils meandered with Mrs Tilling, seven headed to the churchyard and local stream with Ms French and another four ventured to other areas around Nettlecombe with Mr Hodges, including a jaunt to some local woodland.

The next day was spent collecting data, during which the students were, according to Mrs Tilling, "superb and very easy to manage."

Following the pattern of day one, the evening was then spent in analysis of data and soil.

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For the final day, the group started their write-ups and completed their statistical tests. Later, the Biology department held a small prize-giving ceremony in the sunshine, accompanied by packed lunches.

Everyone received a prize for something silly, but the real stars of the show were Bekah Canby and George Sillett who were both praised for being the "Best Ecologists".

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All in all, the field trip was extremely productive and took place in a stunning place. Some outstanding team spirit was demonstrated and the pupils gained some valuable insights into the life of an ecologist.

 

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