Isle of Wight Geography Trip

London F44

On 25th-28th April MPW’s 24 A2 Geographers along with Paul Turner, Elizabeth Ryan and Michael McGrath packed their bags and headed to the (not so) sunny Isle of Wight, to put the theory they had learnt in the classroom into practice. This annual geographical pilgrimage forms part of the Geography specification which requires pupils to conduct real fieldwork in preparation for a skills paper. This trip provided pupils not only with a chance to develop skills in geographical fieldwork, but also to build upon softer skills in the form of teamwork and responsibility. Most pupils found this personal development useful as they look towards university next year. There was even a bit of free time after classes in the evening to relax, play cards, pool or other games.

Once over the Solent, the real work began. After a filling dinner of spaghetti Bolognese and sticky toffee pudding, we headed to the classroom where Keith (one of field centre staff) introduced us to the geology of the island and the issues, management, and mismanagement occurring along the coastline. This was excellent revision for those sitting the F761 exam.

The first day in the field was spent investigating the characteristics of the River Cal Bourne, in order to assess whether it adhered to Bradshaw’s theory as studied in class. After attempting to conduct field sketches in chilling winds on the ridge overlooking the drainage basin, we headed to the upper course of the river where thankfully the sun finally came out. After some trepidation about getting in the river – several pupils worrying they may be soaked or just get a bit wet, despite the low flow – we got down to some serious geography. Changes to cross sectional area, wetted perimeter, hydraulic radius, velocity, discharge and pebble size were investigated across 10 sites, before an exhausted troop headed back to the minibus. After dinner, another plentiful meal, an evening was spent conducting statistical analysis, creating graphs, and interpreting our results until 9.30pm.

The second day was spent along the coast, at Ventnor and then Freshwater Bay, looking at coastal management schemes and assessing beach gradient. Many pupils preferred this day – if only because we found a little café and all had fish and chips for lunch! Paul Turner even ate some of the Wealden clay, demonstrating how to test for sandy material.

The next morning, after our third huge fry-up breakfast of the trip, we headed back towards London. It had been a jam-packed fieldtrip including over 26 hours of geography but all the pupils entered their third and final term with a new-found set of geographical skills, and ready to sit the F764 skills paper in June. 

Elizabeth Ryan

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