Tuesday, October 31, 2006

We're all dooomed !

...as Private Frazer used to say in Dad's Army.
A major report on Global Warming was published at the weekend and it contains some alarming figures for the future of the planet. The Independent newspaper today had a major feature on the report and you'll find a lot on all the major news sites. Try searching for "Stern Report" and "Global Warming".... This would be a useful source to quote in your coursework task.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Geography and Coursework

Today (31st October) Mr. Parkinson's groups should be doing Task B. Sorry I can't be there, but I'm speaking to the 'next generation' of teachers at the University of East Anglia as part of a session on creativity in Geography...
If you don't have a copy of the task with you, there should be plenty of spares in the plastic box file in the unit in B3 (the cover teacher will also know this...) or there is a copy on this blog...
You need to really concentrate today. You only have 1 hour and you really need to have got this task finished today, or at the very least well underway. You will have some more time to spend on your posters later this week...
Can I remind you again that:
1) This needs to be YOUR OWN work, you can't work with someone else...
2) You musn't just CUT and PASTE. None of those sections will get you credit.
3) You MUST persuade the examiner (not just me) that you know what you are talking about, and use the appropriate words in the right places
4) Don't waste time on formatting and font and things like that - there are no marks for worrying about that at this stage - get your work on the paper
5) There is a 500 word limit - don't go over !
Good luck with the task...

I had another busy half term 'holiday' and had quite a lot of Polar and Extreme connections through the week.
The Pink Footed geese started flying over my house again and spending the day in nearby fields then heading out to the Wash in the evening. These geese are part of the Greenland / Iceland group, but there is a second group, who over-winter in Netherlands and Belgium and these are called the Svalbard group because they breed on Svalbard in the Spring.
There is an interesting article HERE and another one HERE.
I also spent 4 days of half term attending a conference in Scotland at the SAGT (see image above) where I spoke to over 150 people about Google Earth. On Friday night, there was a reception on board the Discovery: a ship used by Captain Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton on Polar expeditions. It's a wonderful historical vessel with an Extreme Environments connection. Just outside the building are lots of model penguins - will post a picture soon. Perhaps they could be friends with Tony's penguin.
There was also a demonstration of the Royal Geographical Society's DISCOVERING ANTARCTCA website, which I wrote some of the teachers' materials for.

Tony Cassidy's blog will be quiet for a few days. He's in Berlin on a trip. I'm sure he'll post about the trip when he gets back. Hope you have / had a good trip Tony!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Smell the Coffee

Geography and Coffee

Black Gold Movie
A new movie which looks like being useful for Geographers... Looks at the coffee business. Can you spot the inequalities coming up ??
This looks like being useful for the People as Consumers Unit.

Channel 4 also sent me a flyer yesterday about a new DVD they're offering which looks at the Culture of Consumption. May be worth checking out...

Task A, and some more answers...

OK. So today we started to do Task A - remember that you need to convince the examiner as well as me that you appreciate the possible futures for Svalbard. This means researching information which is expressed in your own words and not just cut and pasted. The exam boards don't like cutting and pasting and neither do I.
Some of the pieces of card looked worryingly empty of actual details - I'm sure those will be produced in the next 2 weeks, and be added once we return.
In the meantime, have a good half term !

And now some more answers and images...


When you first visited Svalbard, was it what you expected it to be ?

We had previously been to Iceland, so I think we were expecting that Svalbard would be similarly mountainous with plenty of spectacular scenery and lots of ice. We weren’t disappointed. The scenery is breathtaking – everywhere! Also there is no pollution so the atmosphere is very clear and if the weather is good you can see for great distances.

Do you take extra precautions when travelling around Svalbard ?

We were travelling in a small ship and our shore expeditions were by Zodiac (see pictures - the zodiacs are the large inflatable boats with outboard motors). You have to have the appropriate clothing for the weather, of course. For example, in Kongsfjorden there are 21 glaciers flowing down from the ice-cap, so the air can get a bit chilly. We were very fortunate in having very good weather on both our trips with no chilling winds. Nevertheless, you do have to wrap up properly.

Going ashore, we wore life-vests in the Zodiacs and dumped them on the beach when we arrive

d. Our guides and the Russian crew were very safety conscious at all times. Ashore our guides carried rifles in case we inadvertently came across a polar bear.

The rifles were intended to scare the bear off and it’s also illegal to shoot polar bears. However, as a last resort it would be better to shoot one than be eaten by it!

Fortunately, for us and the bears, the rifles were never required.

Have any of your family visited Svalbard and if so are there opinions different to yours ?

No, we’re the only ones in our family who have visited Svalbard.


What animals did you see ?

We did see long-tailed skuas, Brunnich’s guillemots, little auks and ivory gulls, all of which aren’t seen in the UK. We didn’t see many whales apart from a few Minke but we did see walrus up close, bearded seals, reindeer and arctic foxes and lots of polar bears. The polar bears were the most exciting.

Did you see the Northern lights ?

No! You only see them in the winter months when the sky is dark. In the summer at these high latitudes there is daylight for 24 hours a day.

What is the climate like in the summer ?

The summer weather is very pleasant – cold, but with lots of sunshine. On both our visits we were lucky in that we had no poor weather – well, only one afternoon on our first visit, and one morning on our second trip.

Luckily, we had almost no wind since that would have created quite a chill factor. We had calm seas, lots of blue sky and sunshine, and some occasional cloudy days.

Further north, (we got to about 475 miles from the North Pole), it’s a lot colder in among the sea ice – even with the sun shining.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mister P in the paper

As posted earlier, I was featured in Tuesday's Lynn News as part of one of my many outside projects in the field of Geography.
This particular one is to do with the Give Geography its Place Campaign.
Before the article disappears off the Lynn News website, here is the text.

KES teacher joins national campaign
A LYNN geography teacher has added his name to a national campaign to highlight the subject's importance and call for its greater recognition.
Head of geography at King Edward VII School, Alan Parkinson, signed a letter and petition along with more than 100 leading geographers, which will be sent to Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
The letter is heavily critical of the media for not giving enough recognition to the subject, and warns that a strong geography education is vital if topics such as national disasters, climate change and poverty are to be fully understood.
"It would be great if other teachers in West Norfolk could add their support," said Mr Parkinson.
"We are also looking for parents to add their voice. Geography is essential for an understanding of the world we live in today, and the one we are going to inhabit in the future."
The campaign, called Give Geography its Place, says national TV stations, including the BBC and Channel 4, have no commissioning editors for geography as they do for science, history and other subject areas.
"Rarely are geographers chosen to present distinctively geography progammes such as Equator, State of the Planet or Journeys into the Ring of Fire," it says.
Both the letter and petition call for the media to employ geography editors and to produce labelled geography content for broadcast, in print and online.
The letter adds that if the media "does not acknowledge the expertise of modern geographers it is increasingly putting society at risk from a wide range of environmental, social, economic and political threats."
Further information is available at www.passion4geography.co.uk
17 October 2006

Coming soon, Mister P in 'OK' magazine...
I'm also going to be involved in a series of exciting Pilot developments. Watch this space!

Croaky Mrs. Clarke

Thanks to Mrs. Clarke for struggling through the lesson today despite her croaky voice. Get well soon - in fact after tomorrow you can all take a week off school ! Remember that the information on melting ice in the Arctic will be a useful focus for the work on Global Warming.

The fences in the previous picture are avalanche fences, to help prevent avalanching snow on high mountain peaks.
More on the Clangers, Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog poser after the weekend.

End of Half Term Review

So tomorrow you have the first of the coursework tasks: TASK A (see the relevant posting below)
Good luck if you're reading this - and if you're reading this instead of getting on with the task - stop wasting time you've only got 1 hour !

That will bring us to the end of the first half term of the course.
Tony Cassidy is asking his students some questions about the course so far. I decided that it might be a good idea if we did that too...
What have been the best bits ?
What would you like to see more or less of ?
How has it been for you ?
Please add comments below as appropriate.

Another answer..

Here's the next in the continuing series of answers.


Was it windy – what does the wind feel like at low temperatures on your skin ?

No, we were very fortunate that we had very little wind indeed. Some of the cold air descending from the large ice-caps can make it feel a bit windy and it’s very important to wear appropriate layers of clothing.

At times any bit of exposed skin can get cold very quickly, eg., ears.

Does it hurt ?

If we had experienced any strong winds then I’m sure the wind-chill factor would have been severe. Again, I’m sure exposed skin would hurt.

What is the weather like there?

We were lucky enough to have lots of blue sky and sunshine, even though we were often surrounded by ice. We had some cloudy days, but very little rain. Cloudy, overcast weather seems to be not unusual in the summer, but there’s also plenty of sunshine.

The Gulf Stream helps to keep the west coast mild and relatively free from ice, but the situation is different to the north and east where sea and fjord ice are more common.

I’ve never been to Svalbard in the winter, but I’m sure it must be quite severe – lots of snow and low temperatures.

Below is a picture of sea ice, about 475 miles from the North Pole. This was a brilliant part of the trip, very bright and sunny but also very cold!

I recommend looking for a repeat viewing of the Incredible Animal Journeys programme following Aurora the Polar Bear and her cub. Lots of geography and no anthropomorphism!

I was particularly impressed by the graphics showing the Polar bears route and very envious of the presenter, although those walruses looked a bit scary...


How long did to take to get there ?

From Scotland the journey involves flying from Aberdeen to Stavanger in Norway, and then another flight from there to Oslo. We then had an overnight stay in Oslo before flying to Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen. The first flight is just over an hour, the second just under an hour, and the final one is about three hours depending on whether the flight stops en route or not.

What makes it longer is the time spend waiting in airports and, given the restrictions on schedules, the whole journey takes about a day and a half!

What was the worst part of the
journey ?

Hanging around airports, after check-in and waiting for departures.

What was the best part of the journey ?

I enjoyed the flight from Aberdeen to Stavanger. We had chosen to fly with a company called Wideroe which operates smaller turbo-prop planes.

The journey is slightly longer, but much less of a ‘cattle market’ than flying by jet.

The other part I enjoyed was the descent as we approached Spitsbergen, when we had our first view of the mountains and ice-caps.

The actual sailing part was terrific. Our ship was a small ice-strengthened vessel which allowed us to sail into the fjords and through the ice flows. The accommodation was great and we were kept well fed! There was also a well stocked bar.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Another answer, and some Global Warming sites

It goes without saying that for your Futures task, you will need to visit my website: the Geography Pages Global Warming Page will be particularly useful.

Here are some more answers from the Svalbard questions that I sent - more later.


How high does the temperature get in summer?

Sorry, I can’t answer this – you might try Google.

Also try Svalbard.com, and the CIA World Factbook at

While I was there, in July 06 and August 04, daytime temperatures were in the range 00 – 60C. There were brief periods when the temperature was higher, probably around 140C. In the picture you’ll see plenty of blue sky and sunny weather
What’s the highest mountain on Svalbard ?

Newtontoppen 1,717 m. You can check this out using the CIA World Factbook.

Does Svalbard have its own language ?

No. Svalbard is a Norwegian territory and so the main language is Norwegian. Most of the inhabitants are either scientists or are employed by the Norwegian Mining Company.

Like most Scandinavian countries, many people also speak very good English.

Also watching Incredible Animal Journeys: Steve Leonard following Aurora the Polar bear and her cub in Svalbard. Incredible landscape and the effects of ice. About 3000 Polar bears are thought to live in Svalbard, which means there are more bears than people... They are known as Ice Bears in Norwegian. He's just turned to the camera and said "See, Geography can be exciting kids!.."

The answers to your questions

Steve Johnston has certainly been busy. Although I only expected him to answer a sample of the questions, he has not only answered ALL the questions, but has attached some wonderful images to all the answers. It will take me some time to print them out, but you will hopefully get them for your next lesson. For those who do get a reply, I think it would be good manners for you to thank Mr. Johnston for his time, and for providing a personal illustrated reply to you all...

Please do that by adding a thankyou as a comment on the blog posting where they appear. You need to click where it says Comments at the bottom, and add your comment then fill in the word verification box.
Here is a sample set of answers: they are the answers for Aaron's questions.


How long was the journey to Svalbard ?

From Scotland the journey involves flying from Aberdeen to Stavanger in Norway, and then another flight from there to Oslo. We then had an overnight stay in Oslo before flying to Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen. The first flight is just over an hour, the second just under an hour, and the final one is about three hours depending on whether the flight stops en route or not.

What makes it longer is the time spent waiting in airports and, given the restrictions on schedules, the whole journey takes about a day and a half!

Did you see the Northern Lights ?

No! You only see them in the winter months when the sky is dark. In the summer at these high latitudes there is daylight for 24 hours a day. The picture below was taken about 11.30pm, and you can see blue sky and how high the sun is.

(What a great picture and one of many to come...)

What kind of unexpected wildlife did you see ?

We weren’t really sure what we would see. We expected to see some different types of seabirds and hoped that we might see whales and, of course, polar bears. We did see long-tailed skuas, little auks and ivory gulls, all of which aren’t seen in the UK. We didn’t see many whales except a few Minke (and 1 dead beluga), but we did see walrus up close, bearded seals, reindeer and arctic foxes and lots of polar bears. The polar bears take the prize! Our captain ran the ship onto the ice flow and it was very exciting when two families of bears came to investigate. They have a terrific sense of smell and they’re always on the lookout for something to eat. Their main diet is made up of seals, but basically they’ll eat anything that moves! For this reason, whenever we went ashore, our guides carried rifles for our protection, (luckily not needed!).

See photos below :

Click for a bigger version of the photos - they really are very special...
ALL the questions, answers and images will be added, but they will trickle in over the next week or so...

The Challenge of Svalbard

Here is the sheet you had some time ago which made use of the Cape Farewell pack, and looked at how humans have responded to the challenges of Svalbard, and how the archipelago (remember that this is the name for a group of islands) also offers opportunities for the people who live there.

Preliminary task

Complete the climate graph from last time, save in folder and

hyperlink to it.

Open graph, and use Paint to create a JPG copy of the graph using Paint

– save in Pilot GCSE folder as “graph name” (where name is your own name)

  • Insert the CD Rom
  • Open Portal
  • Choose People on Svalbard to open menu bars as shown on left of this page
  • Need to investigate 2 uses that people make of Svalbard from the choices below:




  • Use the CD ROM as a starter – do NOT use the Internet before you have explored this fully.
  • Complete the GRAPHIC ORGANISER diagram called a KWL diagram for 2 areas listed above.

K = What you know

W = What you want to know

L = What you learned

Useful websites

http://www.hurtigruten.co.uk – tourist company

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/905956.stm - useful BBC article

http://www.svalbardmuseum.no – information whaling


If you find others, let me know and we’ll add them to the blog!

Extension Task

  • Choose one of the 4 excursions from the Hurtigruten Site.
  • Download and save the PDF dossier to your folder and hyperlink
  • it to your e-portfolio
  • Produce a PMI diagram for the effects of this excursion on the islands.

P = Plus (positives)

M = Minus (negatives)

I = Interesting (things you thought were quite interesting and might want to find out more about)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Puzzle

What has this got to do with your coursework ? You may need to ask a grown up who will remember. There is a link with the Guardian newspaper here too.
Also, what are those fences for in the previous puzzle ? Answers soon...

Top 10 on the Web for Geography

Teachers TV programme I was the consultant on is now featured on the Teachers TV website.
Why not watch it, and take a look at some of the recommended links and sites.
There's one notable absence of course...
Watch out for my name in the credits...

also, Mrs. Clarke is currently working on the MY PLACE Scheme of Work.
We shall share the details shortly with you.
In the meantime you can be thinking about what you would class as your HOME area: the area you know the best...

Extreme Environments Coursework & Global Warming Websites

Here is the handout for the coursework which tells you how to improve it to an A* standard, and also the MARK SCHEME which we shall use to mark it.
Please try to use this to guide your work. Look at what we are expecting you to do, and try not to make us disappointed ! Use the half-term wisely to get a good folder of images and text to use for your finished product.
Remember that there will be 3 x 500 word pieces of coursework this year, which we will make into a portfolio which we will mark, and which will then be moderated externally (we will send some samples off to someone appointed by the exam board to check that we have marked them correctly...)

Don't copy from the Internet and cut and paste - we WILL be able to tell and will not give you marks.
Credit any sources that you have used

How to make your coursework into an A*

Try to make your work match the descriptions below. This is what teachers will be looking for to award an A*!

Tick them as you achieve them. We will give you a printed copy of the sheet...


  • Show good knowledge and understanding of Svalbard.
  • Show you understand the concept of ‘possible futures’.
  • Give arguments to support your view of a possible future.
  • Present interconnected / linked ideas.
  • Make your interpretation of the future detailed.
  • Develop and show the complexity of your personal view, including how it will affect you
  • Justify your personal view.


  • Develop an appropriate technique to present your ideas.
  • Use particular skills to communicate your findings
  • Focus on clear communication to your intended audience.
  • Make sure that you communicate appropriate information

Remember that there are marks for the quality of your written communication. These are obtained by:

  • Presenting relevant information in a form that suits its purpose
  • Ensuring text is legible
  • Using a suitable structure and style of writing appropriate to the task

And here is the cover sheet which we shall put onto the work...




TASK A: Concept map of Environmental Change on Svalbard

TASK B: Global Warming on Svalbard

Futures: possible ideas in the context of Svalbard

Applying understanding to particular context of Svalbard

Expressing personal views of the issue which is being explored

Basic – one option

1 mark

Lacks confidence in applying what they know to Svalbard

1 mark

Limited personal comment

1 mark

Sound – at least two options

2 marks

Can apply what they know to Svalbard

2 marks


own views

2 marks

Detailed – more than 2 options, and options compared

3 marks

Shows the way in which Svalbard is linked to other places

3 marks

Complex and linked views

3 marks

Total (12)


There is also an ICT section to add:

Using ICT for clarity in presentation and to aid analysis

ICT used for presentation only

1 mark

ICT to support analysis and presentation

2 marks

ICT used appropriately and sources quoted

3 marks

Here are some possible websites to get you started on the Global Warming task:

http://www.svalbard-images.com/spitzbergen/climate-change-a.php - some images from Greenpeace showing coastal retreat - note that these are copyright images. You should always check whether you have permission to use images and ideas...

In August 2002, Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior travelled to Svalbard to study glacier's decline.

Greenpeace took photos of Blomstrandbreen, a glacier in the King's Bay area (Kongsfjorden) to illustrate a retreat of the glacier of approximately 2 km in the past 80 years.

The glacier was connected to the peninsula Blomstrandhalvøya (halvøya means peninsula) until 1992 but now there is a passage of nearly 1km between Blomstrandhalvøya, which is now an island, and the glacier's front

Since 1960, the average retreat of that glacier has been about 35 m a year, accelerating in the last ten years. Greenpeace says other glaciers in the area are showing an overall retreat.

Extreme Environments Coursework

Extreme Environments Coursework Planning...
We started to do the planning for the first piece of coursework today.
Remember that you will have a 2 hour time limit on this, but that there will be opportunities for coursework improvement as we go through the year. I am also waiting for a few samples of coursework from one of the other centres who offers the Pilot to act as modelling.

The coursework is adapted from work originally produced by Paula Cooper and made available on the Geographical Association website. Many thanks to Paula and her colleagues at KEGS.

So the schedule is:
Homework from today's lesson: prepare for Task A
Next lesson (Friday): in B1: Task A
Homework from Friday's lesson and half term: Prepare for Task B
Lesson on Tuesday 31st October: Task B

It's important that you get the preparation done appropriately, as I will not be there on the Tuesday 31st October as I'm lecturing at the University of East Anglia.

Here is the resource you received today:

Pilot GCSE: Extreme Environments

Year 10 coursework

What Does the Future Hold for Svalbard?

Global Warming and Svalbard


In this coursework you will be asked to consider how global warming and associated environmental change might affect Svalbard. You must apply your knowledge and understanding of this extreme environment and link it with what you know and understand of global warming to present your view of a possible future for Svalbard.

You will have one lesson and private study time for each of the following tasks.


Produce a concept map OR any other diagram of your choice/creation to show your full understanding of how global warming and environmental change might affect the extreme environment of Svalbard.

You must demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the current landscape, ecosystems, climate and human uses of Svalbard.

Follow the ‘Top Tips!’ below and the ideas over the page to help you create your diagram. Your diagram may be up to A3 size, with scope for going up to A2 if you really need to.

Top Tips!

  • Refer to specific places on Svalbard
  • Show how the different aspects of Svalbard and global warming are interconnected e.g. wildlife, landscape, people, buildings
  • Be creative!
  • Include appropriate detail to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding.
  • Use geographical vocabulary.
  • Try to describe (the aspects of Svalbard) and explain (how global warming might affect them).
  • Plan your diagram.
  • Keep your diagram organised on the page.
  • Be concise!
  • If you have taken information from a webpage you must credit the source by including the URL (i.e. http://www.svalbardstuffonglobalwarming.com)


So what do YOU think the future holds for Svalbard? What human and physical changes might occur as a result of global warming? What is your vision for a future Svalbard?

Write a 500-word report to describe and explain your view of a likely possible future for Svalbard.

You may choose to take an overview of the human and physical characteristics of the Islands


You may focus on one broad aspect such as the landscape

OR you may even like to refine your report and focus on one aspect such as ecosystems or even polar bears.

Your intended audience of readers is a group of KES geographers from Years 10 to 13. You may wish to write for another intended audience, consult your teacher.

Folow the ‘Top Tips!’ below to help you.

Top Tips!

  • Incorporate the idea of sustainability within your answer: the idea that we need to use resources in such a way as to allow them to remain viable for the future
  • Show you understand likely future changes on Svalbard
  • Describe and explain these changes.
  • Refer to who might be affected by the changes.
  • Refer to human and physical changes.
  • Refer to local, regional and global implications of this change.
  • Present and justify your own view.
  • Include diagrams, maps and photos to support your view. At all times make sure that you credit your sources.

Possible aspects to include on your concept map or diagram:

Oceans around Svalbard.

Climate of Svalbard.

Glaciers and ice caps on Svalbard.

Landscapes, landforms and processes of Svalbard.

Land-based ecosystems of Svalbard.

Ocean-based ecosystems of Svalbard.

Human activities on Svalbard.

Culture and peoples of Svalbard.

Scientific exploration of Svalbard.

You could focus on some or one of these in your report.

Good to see some of you adding comments to the blogs. Why not start your own ? I can show you how...

More details on Coursework to come later today...

Give Geography its Place in the News

Made the papers today (no, it wasn't the Court Report...)
Page 2 of the Lynn News has a report with the headline "KES teacher joins national campaign".
It's about the Give Geography its Place campaign.
To find out more visit http://www.passion4geography.co.uk

The actual article is now on the paper's website too:

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bookshop open and the Phone Box answer

OK, so you want to buy some Svalbard related books or perhaps some Christmas presents. Now open is the new GeographyPages A Store in association with Amazon.

And a few days ago, I showed you someone in a phone box made from ice.
That was taken in the Ice Hotel: a structure constructed each year from ice extracted from the Torne River in Arctic Sweden, and made in a place called Jukkasjarvi.
Check out the ICE HOTEL WEBSITE for more details. The place looks spectacular, and I watched a National Geographic programme on it last week while recuperating from my illness.
The rooms are made of ice, and the temperature is around minus 5 degrees Celsius. The bar serves drinks in shot glasses which are made from ice which melt, and the whole structure melts away at the end of each year. It is full of carvings and art made from ice. Do a search on a photo site like FLICKR to find more (FLICKR is unfortunately banned by the school filter...) There is also a shop selling groovy fleece garments which look to be reasonably priced.

OK, another chance of a prize (I've only given away one so far...) - this time it's to do with the Ice Hotel. My birthday is the 29th of December. How much would it cost for me and my wife to stay in a room in the Ice Hotel overnight - don't worry about travel costs, I just want to know how much it would be. Put your answer in a comment (KES pupils only...)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Don't fence me in...

OK, so I'll answer the phone box question tomorrow.
In the meantime, here's another question.
What are these fences for ? Are they to keep something in ?
Why are they linked to Extreme Environments ?

Thanks to Andrew Stacey, a colleague from Suffolk for the excellent image, one of many on his site.

Aurora Borealis

Here is a You Tube video (you won't be able to see this at school...) of the Northern Lights: something you might be able to see if you go to Svalbard at the right time of year.

and here's another one, featuring images from books and music by Enya (floaty floaty!)


There are 5 key concepts in the Pilot GCSE, and they spell out the word FUGIS. All students need to be aware of these concepts, and they have a copy in their exercise books and we keep referring to the specific ones which relate to the work that we are doing.

No more humans ?

We are looking at extreme environments and the impact they have on humans (and vice versa) - but how long would it take for the planet to recover if humans were to be removed from the planet ?
This diagram from Times Online gives some suggested time scales for the recovery of certain environments.

A rubbish Christmas present ?

How many shopping days until Christmas ?
We are going to investigate the issues relating to the consumer madness of the festive season nearer the time.
In the meantime, check out these possible gifts. What are they made of ?

Just a few hours left to claim the prize relating to the phone box posting.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Extreme Weather

Got Google Earth ?
It shows the locations of some extreme meteorological events...
Just one of hundreds of thousands of useful Google Earth files to be found at the Keyhole Bulletin Board.

Fancy a cigarette ?

I recently went to Dublin and the no-smoking law in pubs meant that they were all pleasant places to sit without your clothes smelling when you got home. If people wanted to smoke they had to go outside. As someone once said: "having smoking and no-smoking areas of a bus / restaurant is like having weeing / no weeing sections in a swimming pool"...(or something like that)
But as Svalbard is subject to Norwegian law, the no-smoking law in pubs that applies in the rest of Norway also applies there.
The only difference is that if you step outside a pub in Dublin you're not likely to be attacked by a Polar Bear or get frostbite.
There's a useful article from 2004 on this story on the BBC News website.

Earth Album

This is a site which has appeared on the scene recently. It is what is called a 'mash up' which means that it combines the functionality of several other sites.
Go to the EARTH ALBUM site and then click on a country and you will be shown a row of thumbnail images which are likely to be stunning landscapes and geographically related. As you can see, there are unfortunately no images in the Svalbard section. Oh well...
Why not explore some other extreme places and see if you have better luck!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Do you need it, or just want it ?

An idea for the People as Consumers unit which we shall be doing a small unit on either side of Christmas 2006.
Just been reading 'Wasted': the newsletter which is handed out by an organisation called Waste Watch. It's been hanging around in that big Sainsbury's 'Bag for Life' which I carry around and try to work my way through when I get a moment (which isn't very often!)

They have an activity based around a day called BUY NOTHING DAY.
This is being held on Saturday November the 25th 2006. The aim (of course) is to buy nothing ! More on this in November.
If you do want to buy something for Christmas, you could perhaps get something from Christian Aid's PRESENT AID website. This could be a goat for example, which is one of the best sellers.
It's worth noting, though, that there are issues relating to this type of gift. Apart from anything else, would you be OK if someone said "I bought a goat on your behalf" or would you be saying "OK, that's fine... now where's my present ?"
Saw a great lecture at the GA Conference this year by Professor Peter Jackson from Sheffield University which explored some of these issues.

The idea of Christian Aid's site is to produce what are called VIRTUAL GIFTS. This description is taken from the Christian Aid website.
Virtual gifts are a revolutionary new kind of retail philanthropy. Put more simply, they're unusual gifts that have the power to transform lives. Ranging from a can of worms to clean water for an entire community, you can buy a virtual gift for friends, relatives, or even yourself. Of course we won't send the worms to you. You'll get a lovely card to present to the ones you love. The worms will go to someone who can really use them
We're all concerned about wastage and corruption when making charitable donations. We want to know that our gifts are not going to be squandered along the way. The advantage of virtual gifts is that they allow you to choose how your money will be spent in the fight against poverty. For example, if you buy a goat your money will be spent directly on livestock and agricultural projects throughout the developing world. Purchase a tap and your money will go to clean water projects that fight disease and make crops grow.

Another resource I received today was also from Christian Aid, which is called "The Same Old Pants ?" and also looks at the idea of whether what we want is actually what we need.. A good poster and assembly ideas as well as lesson resources.
Worth investigating.
And if you're one of those A* students, you should be aware of the ideas on the Geographical Association website on People as Consumers.

Extreme Phone Calls

This looks like an extreme place to make a phone call.
But where is it ?
Just been watching documentary on National Geographic channel on the construction of the building where this phone box is housed...
Add a comment with your answer for the chance to win a prize (KES pupils only...)

Can I also suggest you visit Tony Cassidy's blog - check the link on the right - to see his lesson on the reasons why the Polar regions are so cold, plus a chance to download one of Ollie Bray's Geocasts on the impact of latitude on temperatures.

Also, a former pupil of mine was presenting the weather today in the Sky News room. Lucy Verasamy did 'A' level Geography at KES about 6 years ago now (?) , including the Meteorology option of course... That was in the days of the Lake District fieldtrip with Mr. Francis. Are you reading this Mr. F ? Get in touch !
Who knows where your Geography will take you...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Work for 10th October

This is my cover work for today's lesson, as I'm on A level fieldwork.
You need to follow the advice at this webpage:
Also check out a few websites:
The Cape Farewell website (the original journey which the CD ROM pack you have was based on...)
We have a copy of the Burning Ice book that is mentioned. Ask me if you want to take a look.

Using the links from my Global Warming page, collect 10 pieces of evidence that Global Warming is happening.
Think about how Global Warming is likely to affect:
a) the landscape of Svalbard
b) the wildlife of Svalbard
c) the people of Svalbard

For section b) I recommend you visit the Greenpeace THIN ICE website, which looks at the effect of thinning sea ice on Polar Bears.
For more, read the cover work. Good luck ! Work hard !

Also keep an eye out soon for Mrs. Clarke's first postings on the blog.

Frost Shattering

Last week we were looking at FROST SHATTERING as one of the processes that are at work on Svalbard. This is shown below in a series of pictures which dramatically show the sequence which shatters rocks into smaller pieces.The pictures are used with the permission of Chris Durbin, who appears in the first picture above. He used to be a Geography adviser, and also worked at the BBC on the Bitesize resource and some Geography programmes which you've probably seen, and was one of the people who launched the very successful SLN resource, which is used by a large number of Geography teachers, and who now works in Hong Kong. Chris e-mailed me earlier in the week from Hanoi - can you find out where this is ? - to give me permission to use the pictures here. They show a sequence by which a rock has been slowly broken apart by water freezing and then thawing in the cracks. This produces the rocky landscape which can be seen in the later images.

Notice how the bits that break up just fall to the ground. This means that the process is called WEATHERING. If the bits of rock were removed by water or wind or ice, this would then become EROSION, which involves movement.
These loose rocks will pile up to form what is called a SCREE or TALUS.