Geography Camp

#geographycamp14 – John Muir Award

We have been working all weekend to meet the John Muir Award Level 1. As well as to have fun of course.

John Muir was an explorer and loved the outdoors, he wanted to protect it and share it with other people so they could enjoy as well.

We have met the award in different ways. Here:

Discover: we have discovered the woodlands and hills around Juniper Hall on the Box Hill estate. We discovered new habitats we hadn’t seen before compared to Portsmouth. We discovered small mammals of field mice and voles. We discovered minibeasts in the woods. We discovered water bugs in the pond dipping. We discovered what the sky looked like at night with all the stars, and what an owl sounds like in real life. We discovered that there is a special snail that lives here that is the biggest one.

Explore: we have explored lots. We explored all over the grounds doing orienteering. We explored the Ha Ha and woods to see what creatures and plants live there and why. We explored the woods to see what they are made of and how they are different to parks at home or to the rainforest we have studied. We explored Happy Valley and why it is a valley. We explored the woods to make shelters and national parks. We explored the big muddy puddles! We explored the grounds and found different plants – and some very weird looking vegetables we had never seen.

Conserve: we conserved by working on the dead hedge project. We cut down bits of dead fallen tree and shrubs and recycled these into a dead hedge like weaving. This makes the area neat and gives a habitat for small mammals and minibeasts. Also it helps store carbon which means less greenhouse gases and global warming trouble. We also conserved when we made shelters in the woods because we only used fallen material and put it all back to how it was before we started. We heard we should ‘take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints’. We also conserved our environment inside and out because we kept the gardens and house clean and tidy.

Share: we have shared our work with the world through twitter and the blog. We have also told our families. And back at school we will share with our friends and will be doing an assembly to other year 8 and year 7 all about what we did and learnt.

We also had some fun meeting the award by doing funny missions from the Mission:Explore book. Things like ‘Nature’s symphony’ where we made music to match our natural surroundings and only used natural items. We did some percussion on the tree trunks and using sticks and branches to make a rhythm in the woods. We also did the ‘Act like a Victorian’ mission – although we didn’t have a blanket. But we did find some pond life creatures and then we imagined what we would name them if we were the first people to discover them. We did this before we looked at the real name. So we had the ‘invisible flipping worm’ instead of the midge larvae. We made ‘National Parks’  in miniature in the woods. Different groups made different things like rainforests, lakes, fishing parks or climbing trees – using only natural materials and on a small scale. We did lots.

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#geographycamp14 What is live blogging?

We’ve been learning new skills this weekend. For me, Jabed, I have learnt how to write blogs. It’s been good as I’ve been documenting what goes on over the weekend, along with other people. We’ve used the Windows8 tablets, the iphones and the flip cameras to record what we are up to and share with the world. On the Windows8 laptop we’ve been doing live blogging. This is when you blog right at the very moment of doing something. I’ve used the centre wifi or Ms Debens phone to get internet and then it means I can write about what we do and share photos straight away.

We’ve blogged from the woods during shelter building, from on top of the hill, from the campfire, wherever. Anywhere. It means parents and teachers and people from away can see our work and our fun.

Also, we’ve been tweeting out pictures through the @priorysouthea and @priorygeography twitter accounts. Miss or Sir checks we are being safe and what we are uploading, and we make sure we don’t break e-safety rules but it’s good.

It’s really exciting knowing other people can see what we do and it makes us proud when we get comments back or if people read the blog or favourite a tweet. So I’ve learnt something new.

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#geographycamp14 Conservation challenge

As part of the Geography Camp weekend we are working to achieve our level 1 John Muir trust award. This is where we do different activities to follow in the footsteps of John Muir who was an explorer who discovered different wilderness places and tried to tell people about them and how to look after them. We have done different experiences to Discover, Explore, and Share a place so the last thing to do is to Conserve.

Conservation is where you look after something or protect it. Like with the rainforest when you need to conserve so that it is not all destroyed. The opposite is when you exploit something (like when the rainforest is all cut own to plant palm oil trees or something). Or you can do sustainable development which looks after resources for the future in a balanced way.

A few years ago Priory started a conservation project at Juniper Hall where students did coppicing and trimming of woodland to help it grow and flourish. Then they used the waste materials to recycle to build a ‘dead hedge’ fence. This is like a hedge but is made of dead bits of tree that are all cut off like twigs and small branches. It is good to recycle materials as it means the carbon isn’t burnt but stays stored away, which means there’s not so much greenhouse gases to make global warming. Also it’s good for the little mammals like voles and mice or minibeasts that can build homes under it or in it.

So we went to work to make the dead hedge bigger and neaten it up and to build some more around the centre. When Priory started this about 3 years ago there was only one hedge, and now there are 4 big ones around the centre.

We got to work with some different tools to do this, like loppers and saws. We had to be really careful and work carefully together as teams to supply materials and build the hedge. It looked really good by the end and I was proud to help.

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#geographycamp14 Day 3 – Team building games

Today we completed some more team games. The purpose was to build our confidence and social skills, to work with people we haven’t done before and make new friends, to communicate better and to have fun. We did lots of different games like orienteering.

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year 8 construction work

year 8 constrution work

As you can see year 8 are working really to help out Jason the instructor to build a tree wall

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geography camp fire.

Year 8 students are sitting around the camp fire sharing story and telling, what they have learnt of the weekend. Did you know? That on Box Hill there is the largest slug at a size of 38cm.


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camp fire

camp fire

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#geographycamp14 Day 3

Today we started with a nice breakfast of pastries and boiled eggs. Then we went to check our small mammal traps and feed these then release them. We found some voles and field mice. Then we did team games. Like egg drop challenge, races and orienteering. Lots of fun and learning to work together and communicate.
We went and saw the area where we will do our conservation challenge. This is to meet our John Muir award. We will carry on the dead hedge that Priory School started three years ago and will be keeping this up.

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#geographycamp14 Today’s Games!

After a long and eventful day of learning, exploring, and creating, the students participated in two interesting and fun games.

Invertebrates vs. Mammals was a fun team game which brought out the predators and safety-seekers in our competitors. Students were divided into the two categories, and creatures were called out at the start of each round. If it was a mammal, invertebrates had to chase them down, and vice versa. Once captured one would transform into the other type. Memorable moments were from students who would habitually run away preferring safety instead of danger – even when they were the attackers, and students who would run headfirst into battle without a care whether they were the predator or the prey. The game as a great way to reinforce the concepts and creatures we had learned about through the day.

To end the day, students participated in their first ever Mini-Olympics! Six teams participated in events like long jump, high jump, team relay, javelin, and shot put… but each with a twist! Long jump saw a new Juniper record of 3 meters 54 cm with tiddlywinks! High jump tested how high students could hop on one foot – to a three way tie! Students had to count seconds as accurately as they could while jogging on the spot in relay and team relay – harder than it looks! Javelin and shot put replaced the standard tools with straws and sponges to see how well students could manage their aerodynamic properties. Teams cheered on their comrades and opponents alike, and a fantastic effort was put in by all. In the end, team “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” reigned supreme.

A great effort and good fun to end another action packed day!

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#geographycamp14 Day-hike to Happy Valley

Today after we finished building our shelters we hiked through the woods of Box Hill to a great place called Happy Valley. We stopped here for lunch (mmmmmm mmmm) and sat in the sun eating sandwiches we made ourselves this morning. It was such  a great place to spend some time because to get there we had to walk down a really steep side of a valley. By the time we reached the bottom we were definitely in a valley and we were definitely HAPPY! 😀


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#geographycamp14 MiniBeast trapping

#geographycamp14 MiniBeast trapping

Tyler shows us how its done by proudly displaying the mini mammal he trapped earlier today. Go Tyler!

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#geographycamp14 MiniBeast capture & release

photo 2

Early today we checked the traps we had set overnight to see if we had caught anything. To our excitement we caught FOUR mice! They were so small but we made sure they had enough food and straw in the traps to make them feel safe and warm. We all huddled around and showed each other our MiniBeasts before letting them go. It was amazing to see how quickly they moved across the ground, and we discovered they have learned to do this so they don’t get caught by predators. We have set our traps again this afternoon in a different part of the Juniper Hall gardens, hopefully we will catch even more mice and voles tomorrow!

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#geographycamp14 Getting up close with scary creatures!

We were able to meet some exotic creatures this afternoon. It was all very interesting and we could choose to have a close look, or a stroke of some creatures like cockroaches and snakes and to see the Chilean spider as it came past.






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#geographycamp14 pond dipping for water creatures

We collected some items to catch invertebrates and pond living creatures. We went to the pond in teams and used nets to fish out the animals. Once we had got some we came back to the classroom and looked at them under microscopes.

We found midges, midge larvae, flies and water woodlice.

As part of the weekend we are working to gain the John Muir Trust award which is when we learn to discover, explore, conserve and share a place. We are doing this by getting outdoors and by completing Mission: Explore missions.

One Mission from the John Muir book is to imagine you are the first discoverer of something. If we had been the first person to discover the midge larvae we would probably have called it a Lightning Spasm Worm because of the way it moves.

Team #Octopus

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#geographycamp14 shelter building

We worked in our teams to create shelters in the woods. Ideally these should be wind and water proof. It was tiring and hard to make them solid and strong. We had to demonstrate our shelter and explain our design. Then we tested them with water!


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