This week we learned about the different forms of energy that sustain our lives from the varying types of renewable energies to fossil fuels. The main focus on the inputs was the benefits of renewable energy and how we can teach this to future pupils. We received 2 inputs one that detailed the specifics of energy and a debate arguing the benefits of having a wind turbine implemented.
The session outlined quickly that fossil fuels are limited and will run out within our lifetime and that as result we need to be able to rely on renewable energy in the future to survive. Interestingly the different types of fossil fuels will run out in the next 45 years for oil, 72 years for gas and 252 years for coal. The oil statistic is particularly striking and emphasises just how crucial it is that we depend more on renewable energy as it is sustainable and does not contribute to climate change on such a huge scale like fossil fuels. It was suggested to rely more on the likes of electricity generated from wind turbines or dams. Another potential way to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels is to find alternative ways to power vehicles. The hydrogen fuel cell was the most impressive sounding of those suggested as it has no carbon emissions, can be created from simply water and is very energy efficient.
The debate was a refreshing new way of learning a comprehensive view on a controversial issue. Originally in groups of four we researched different articles to find points that both covered for and against arguments. After we completed that we were joined with other groups until the class formed two teams where one was for wind turbines whilst the others were against. My team was against wind turbines which introduced a new sort of challenge as it required us to argue our point despite the fact we didn’t agree with the overall decision. I felt this improved my debating skills and got me thinking more strategically as I devised counter points that could be used if they made a good point. After our group noted down the different points that could be made we elected 4 people to present it and argue the debate for us. I felt my teamwork skills being used greatly as I aided in delegating which group member is best saying which point and how. The debate commenced and despite the other team making some excellent points that I personally fully agree with I felt that our team eventually won the debate.
The independent task this week was carried out on campus and allowed us to participate in 3 different activities that could be done in schools with pupils to help provide awareness about renewable energy. The first task we completed was to create an anemometer. This task was fairly straightforward although hole-punching the cups was more problematic than I first anticipated. Once constructed we tested outside and got little success with the wind but managed to record it as 4.8RPM. This activity I would do with pupils in schools as they are relatively easy to construct and can be tied in with other topics such as maths and science as to find the RPM you need to know the circumference and the formula to get it.
The next task we completed was the construction of the pinwheel which was made particularly colourful by more artistically gifted teammates. This task could also be excellent to do with pupils as it ties in with art and allow them to express themselves.
The final task we completed was contracting a kite made out of a bin bag which was a bit more complicated to create and therefore I would recommend for upper primary if done in class. The kite was however of varying success as it would gain flight so long as someone would run with it the whole time.
Recently we received an input detailing disasters. It covered the different types of disasters, how countries are affected by them and why they happen. The different types of disasters ranged from tsunamis to earthquakes with a micro-teaching task that assigned a disaster topic to groups who then would present on the information they gathered on that topic. My group were assigned typhoons which I covered the impact section of in our presentation. Our presentation I felt went very well as our quiz at the end most people answered 5/6 or 6/6 showing their clear attention to what we were saying. My colleagues section on how the typhoon called Haiyan moved across the country in a weatherman like fashion was particularly impressive. The other groups presented on the different disasters which were interesting with some groups focusing more on how the could be applied to teaching.
We also received a workshop that allowed us to perform multiple experiments. One of these experiments included hitting rocks in order to discover what type of rock it was. Another involved creating our own volcano which functioned when we added the correct chemicals. We also were able to see how air flow works in our atmosphere by using warm and cold water that were dyed red and blue respectively. We then submerged them both in a tub of water and watched as the blue liquid sank to the bottom whilst the red liquid rose to the top.
This week we were lucky enough to get a talk from the soil association and visit a dairy farm where we learned in depth the inner workings of a technologically advanced farm. The farm visit was very surprising to see how extremely efficient they were at milking the cows. The main barn was highly advanced with special curtains along the side of the barn to keep the temperature right and a unique robot that would dispense and push food towards the cows. This robot used a laser to measure the height of the hay and adjusted the food accordingly. The cows also were trained to enter a machine that would automatically seek out there udders and milk them. The machinery was very hi-tech and we were told it would cost around £100,000 to purchase. However even with all the hi-tech equipment the price of milk continues to be low making it more difficult for the business to be profitable. The cows heritage also plays a large part of how much it is worth as it its family tree is tracked back many generations. Interestingly if the calf born is male it is sadly not allowed to survive as it is not cost effective for the business. Only one bull was kept in the whole barn and was chosen specifically for the next generation. The farm also had a bank of frozen sperm that would detail the bulls characteristics which could be required to fix a problem in the next generation. e.g If one cow has a history of blood conditions a bull with a higher immune system that could perhaps prevent blood conditions in future generations.
We also received a talk from the soil association which discussed how to identify different types of soil, who the soil association are and what they do. We also learned how crucial soil is in our lives as 95% of our food relies on healthy soil. Perhaps the most surprising fact we learned was the fact that soil helps combat climate change greatly, whether it is through filtering our water and purifying our air to storing large amounts of harmful carbon.
I recently attended a lecture on climate change which was followed up by two workshops one which focused on the practical activities that could be performed to teach children about climate change and the other gave a more in depth look into how big an issue climate change is becoming. Firstly the lecture outlined how serious climate change is with and how it can be taught in schools to help encourage children to do their part in helping the environment. The workshop led by Louise was interesting and I particularly enjoyed the video clip showing the CO2 gas moving through the atmosphere. It changed radically at spring time as a result of the plants absorbing some of the gas, I found the visuals of the video engaging and quite shocking to see such a large amount in the winter months especially. This shed light on just how serious climate change is and what has been done about it so far such as the Kyoto meeting which has had issues with america not ratifying it sadly. However success in preventing climate change has been made with the Montreal agreement which implemented the 5p charge for plastic bags.
The practical workshop provided a variety of practical tasks that could be used in schools and included activities on making a tornado, creating snowflakes, constructing a thermometer and show the differences of water temperature characteristics. Another less practical task that was available was a debate about whether climate change even exists which could be a viable activity for upper school primary children that would allow them to improve their research skills. The creating a tornado task was enjoyable and easy to carry out making it good for even the younger years. Caution should still be taken however as they may try and drink the liquid which would be harmful. The creating snowflakes task could was enjoyable and could be related to maths with regards to patterning and tessellation. Supervision should be still be given as the scissors are dangerous if you used carelessly. The constructing a thermometer task however proved problematic from the start and I would not advise allowing the children to attempt to create their own. Although a class demonstration could be given where the teacher makes the thermometer instead.
Upon completing the carbon footprint quiz and receiving a score of 105% I reflected upon why I got this score and what i could do to improve this score. Firstly I discovered the largest contributors to this score were by Food and Travel at 39% and 36% respectively. Firstly the Food score is attributed mainly to the large amount of takeouts and lack of locally sourced food purchased on a weekly basis. However, this can be easily be fixed by ceasing eating out and purchasing fresher food that is grown in the U.K. As for the large amount created by travel which mainly due to my use of the car it can be helped by taking less car journeys and walking more. Use of local bus and train routes could also help to reduce my carbon footprint. This score was surprising to discover that it was so high as I was unaware of how detrimental some activities are to the environment. I presumed I was good at helping the environment as I always recycle my bins at home and keep healthy myself.
The environment I recently studied both on campus with the two workshops and the study task I completed recently. The first workshop I attended included searching the campus for types of birds, lichen and trees. I thought about how this kind of activity could be used in schools and analysed where they would be appropriate and why. For example the lichen task was the most difficult although informative regarding air quality so upper school would be a more appropriate setting for this activity. It could also be tied in with environmental issues like air pollution if a global warming topic was being carried out in class. The tree activity was enjoyable and found it quite educational and surprising on the variety of trees in such a small area. Using leaf types to differentiate trees especially if the leaves could be picked up and touched would be an excellent activity. It ties in nicely with the benefits of outdoor learning as well as good homework task could be to go home and document the trees near the pupil. Finally the tasks identifying the types of birds and bugs would be provide beneficial for letting the pupils experience nature in a more active way. It also requires them to be more active than the other tasks as they need to move rocks to find bugs or listen for unique bird sounds for example. The second science workshop focused more on activities you could do in the classroom setting. These whilst more theory based did provide interesting insights into environmental issues again. The growing your own only exercise could be especially fun for pupils as they get to see it grow over time.
The study task I completed required me to create a study on my local area Ayr. I found this task mostly straight forward as I am very familiar with the area as a result of the large amounts of walking, driving or even running I do around Ayr. It revealed to me that the service and retail sectors were most prevalent and the agricultural and manufacturing sectors were far decreased as a result. I was pleasantly surprised by the air quality being of relative cleanliness as found by the Ayr reading tool found online (www.scottishairquality.co.uk). I also learned that there are actually air monitoring stations spread around Ayr that I only noticed after discovering their existence online. However finding peri-urban space was rather difficult as I struggled with concept even after reading the EEA report. Eventually I settled upon an area down the beach that could be considered peri-urban. I intend on carrying out additional research on what peri-urban space is and try find examples of it so I can better identify them in the future. In conclusion it has been an interesting topic that I feel I could teach myself in schools particularly if outdoor teaching could be utilised effectively.
- Physical characteristics
- Including the types of building, organisation of roads, green spaces etc.
- My home is an upper flat in Barns street. The buildings along Barns street are large stone buildings with a range of both houses and other businesses such as solicitors and dentists. Ayr’s buildings vary greatly from the large sandstone buildings near the beach at wellington square to small brick estates.
- The roads in Ayr follow a one way system in the centre of town and allow for easy access to Prestwick in particular. The Whitletts roundabout (which is approximately 10 minutes from the centre of town) allows travel to Ayrshire’s smaller surrounding towns as well as Glasgow and Prestwick.
- Nearby there is a small park called Wellington square containing 4 monuments and is well maintained with well cut grass and flowers.
- There is also a beach nearby with excellent parking facilities.
- Ayr is a particularly flat town with virtually no hills which could be attributed mainly to it being located at the beach.
- The types of transport used and to what extent, any issues caused etc.
- Both buses and trains are available in Ayr with links to Glasgow and Prestwick being especially helpful from the train station. The buses are frequent and get special uses of lanes by the racecourse and allow for travel into the main town as well as out to neighbouring small towns such as Annbank.
- Air travel is also available from Prestwick airport (approximately 15 minute drive or Train journey from Ayr).
- Community spaces
- There is a college and university located in Ayr called Ayrshire college and The Univeristy Of The West Of Scotland respectively.
- There is a footbal field called somerset park near the racecourse that hosts games with the local team Ayr United.
- There are 18 schools located round Ayr ranging from Primary to Secondary.
- The council building is located in the centre of town and is a large stone building with a spire and Scottish flag at the top of it.
- The courthouse is located by the beach in a very large stone building with a large dome on top.
- Industry and Work
- The service sector is very prevalent in Ayr containing at least one of each fast food restaurant.
- The main town also contains a large selection of shops selling most items from clothing to furniture.
- There is a low amount of manufacturing present in Ayr although there is a manufacturer for salt called Peacock Salt by the harbour.
- Recreation spaces
- There is a racecourse available hosting highly attended races often bringing in large crowds of people. There is also a cinema and leisure centre called Citadel in town. There is also a recently renovated theatre open called the Gaiety theatre.
- There is also a large soft play are for children called Pirate Petes down by the beach and also offers laser tag.
- LA Bowl is another recreational venue containing a bowling alley and laser tag. There is also a bar and an arcade.
- Peri-urban space
- See EEA report
- There isn’t much peri-urban space in Ayr although down by the beach there are fields that are accessible to an urban estate nearby.
- Population Density
- 92 people per square kilometre
- Interestingly despite having the lowest population density in the UK we have the second highest population. This suggests that Scotland’s population is sparsely populated.
- Air Quality
- See charts below
- Ayr has a low air pollution amount which could be attributed to the low population density and therefore less car users creating harmful emissions