The sixth-form biology students travelled to Kindrogan field-studies centre in Perthshire, Scotland, for a weekend of fun – or so we were told.
The centre provides informative and enjoyable opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to discover, explore, be inspired by, and understand the natural environment.
Our experience began with a quick tour and introduction of what the next four days would entail – statistics!
However we were lulled into a false sense of security with a practical to start us off, which allowed us to analyse succession in a pond.
This entailed using a systematic sampling technique and a quadrat to identify the different species of grass from 0 metres (the middle of the pond) to 75 metres(the edge of the forest). Needless to say this resulted in us getting wet! By collecting soil samples and using light readers we were able to clarify what pH level the different areas were and how light affected the species present.
The late afternoon was spent calculating data and working out statistics while drying out. The next day we were told how we were going to spend the morning – in a polluted river.
Covered head to toe in waterproofs we headed down to the offending waterway.
Our task was to catch organisms present in the polluted river and compare them to organisms that inhabited the fresher water upstream, endeavouring to see if the pollution has a high impact on the organisms in the river.
We discovered two things-that the pollution had no effect on the organisms and that we got wet again.
The evening entertainment involved digging pit fall traps to see what insects we could capture in different sites around the area. What better way to spend a Saturday night?
On the third day we used a random sampling technique to compare a grazed and non-grazed site.
We identified the many different species of grasses and measured their sword height to compare the eaten area to the untouched area.
After heading back to the classroom, we collected all the data and analysed our results. More statistics!
The creepy, crawly contents of the pit fall traps were catalogued and then the insects were released back into the forest to torment us humans again. Later on in the evening we continued with our entrapment theme and headed out once again to set up Longworth live traps which are like mini hotels for voles and forest mice.
The next morning when we examined the traps we had actually managed to catch two voles and a mouse which were released, unharmed and quite happy, back into the wild.
As a final treat for all our hard work and efforts, or so they told us, we spent the final morning testing our ‘head for heights’ on the leap of faith and high ropes course.
It was, apparently, a relaxing break after the packed weekend full of stats and fieldwork.
The four days were enjoyable, learning new skills and methods that will be extremely useful for A2 biology.
I would fully recommend the biology students in the next academic year and indeed any students who are planning on taking biology to go on this trip.
They will, without a doubt enjoy themselves – even with all of the learning.
Nina Samra, Year 13