Saturday, 22 December 2007

A White Christmas?

Just spotted this great site on Val Vannet's blog... Click on the picture to create your own snowflake!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Work for Friday 7th December

First of all, the markscheme for the exam question that you did on Wednesday is here - on Tuesday, I will want your answer, marked by you (in a different colour)...

I would also like you to investigate the following:
- nutrient cycling
- primary and secondary succession
- biomass

These are things that we will be looking at properly later in the year, but that you will need to have some idea about for your skills paper... Let me know if there are problems with this!

I will try and put a summary of the statistics work on the blog over the weekend so that you can refer to that if you were finding some of that difficult.

Have a good weekend...

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Earth - The Power of the Planet

Hopefully, you will have just finished watching Earth - The Power of the Planet. Tonight's spectacular programme was the first of a new series on BBC2, and looked at volcanoes - "the most important force in the creation of the planet as we know it today"...

If you missed the programme, and didn't see Dr Iain Stewart abseiling into a lava lake, then it is repeated on Sunday at 6.oopm - make sure you are watching!! (You can also pre-order the DVD of the series from the BBC Shop... I wonder if Santa reads Geogtastic...)

Sunday, 18 November 2007


How exciting!!! This was the view from my front door an hour or so ago...

Weather warnings are in place for parts of the Midlands, Wales and southwest England. Have a look at the Met Office website to find out more and see what you make of the pressure charts.

River Features...

A quick reminder of what you need to include in your lessons...

- what the feature is
- how the feature forms
- how the feature develops/changes over time
- where the feature occurs (stage of the river, conditions, where in the world)
- a case study

Remember, there are lots and lots of ideas and teaching strategies that you can use - ask if you need some help. BUT copying and pasting into PowerPoint is a big no-no! (And reading out a PowerPoint is even worse!!)

As well as the textbooks, there are lots of websites that might be of use... Check out and as a starting point.

Make sure that you are ready on Wednesday, and let me know in advance if you need to use the flume, need anything photocopying, or need any special resources/equipment.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Witches' knickers?!

If you're a regular Geogtastic visitor, you will no doubt already know my feelings about plastic bags... I've written about them a number of times - and Yr8 did some fantastic work on plastic bags last year... But I've never, until this evening, heard them referred to as "witches' knickers"!! According to an excellent new article from the BBC though, that is what they are called in Ireland (where, by the way, they'll cost you 9p each in a supermarket).

Councillors in Brighton and Hove recently voted on a bag ban, asking shops to stop handing them out to customers, and the village of Modbury in Devon have been pleased with their bag ban trial and have just made the ban permanent.

Check out the BBC article to find out more - including 10 arguments FOR the plastic bag... And a great video of A Day in the Life of a Plastic Bag...

Here's a picture of the superb plastic bag collage that 8HCh (now 9NSq) produced last year...

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Geogtastic Photo Competition!

A few more excellent entries for the Geogtastic Photo Competition have arrived in the past couple of days... If you haven't got yours in yet, you have until the end of school on Friday (2nd November) to email it or bring it to me in the Hums Block on a CD or memory stick...

Don't forget - the competition is open to all SHS students, staff and parents... No theme - anything Geogtastic goes! (Don't know if I really want ten versions of a scree slope in Lathkilldale though...)

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Atlas Schmatlas!

Well, my intentions of doing lots of work have been thwarted yet again by the arrival of a parcel from Amazon containing Atlas Schmatlas... Only had a quick look so far, but it looks fantastic! I'm particularly liking the Climate Map of the World (we live in an "Umbrella now and again" zone) and the story of the was between the penguins and the polar bears...

Not very happy at all about the ridiculous amount of packaging it arrived with though...

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

UK population to hit 65,000,000 by 2016

Amongst the many geographical stories in the news today (more of which later...) was the estimate from the Office of National Statistics that the UK's population will reach 65 million by 2016 - an increase of 4.4 million - if current trends continue.

Have a look at this article from the BBC, and at the ONS website.

What are the causes of this increase? What will be the consequences? What will need to be done in order to cope?

Jurassic Coast Weekend...

A selection of my Jurassic Coast photos... And my first attempt at using Animoto...

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Could you be a Climate Change Champion?

"Are you passionate about the environment? Could you spread the message about climate change and represent England?"

Then visit the Climate Change Champions 2008 website and find out more about what sounds like a fantastic opportunity!

Some ideas to get you started here... But you'll have to get your skates on - the closing date is 9th November!

Britain's greenest city is...?

This one, according to a news article that my sister's just sent me! Do you know where it is??

Study Geography

If you're considering studying Geography at university (or even if you're not...) have a look at this new website from the RGS.

There is lots of really useful information about the benefits of studying geography, different geography courses, writing your application, taking a gap year - and plenty of career profiles to debunk the myth that the only thing you can do with a geography degree is be a geography teacher (not that that's not a great career choice, obviously!!).

Fieldwork Photos...

All my pictures from Wednesday are now on Share, but here's a little selection for you...

Hard at work...

Sub-standard Sainsbury's satsumas...

Curbar... and blue sky!

Moments from disaster...

If you have any other good pictures that you'd care to share, email me them, or bring them in after half-term. And don't forget to enter any particularly good ones in the Geogtastic Photo Competition!!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007


Erm... an interesting day!! Frozen peas not doing much for my ankle... Photos will follow (not of my ankle!) when Yr11's Burbage drafts are marked...

However, in the meantime... The Peak District Education Service have some good factsheets on their website about various Peak District locations, geology, vegetation, etc.

Remember that we compared two valleys - Bar Brook, in the Dark Peak, and Lathkilldale in the White Peak. We talked about the landscapes of the two areas, the features and characteristics, the vegetation, the human activity, and how all of this links to the geology.

The rock type in the Dark Peak is millstone grit - a mineral sedimentary rock... And in the White Peak, limestone - an organic sedimentary rock (as we saw from the shells and fossils in the overhanging cliff near the beginning of our walk).

A virtual tour of Lathkill Dale (the SSSI!!) here... Might have been a better option for me!

Thank you again to all of you for fantastic behaviour/attitude and lots of hard work - and especially to Laura, Amy and Tom for looking after me!! See you on Friday (I hope!)

Last week...

On Wednesday, we had a look at the anagrams (which, as usual, were not mistake-free, but have now been corrected - I hope!).

We talked about the fact that rivers have ENERGY, and as a result of variations in energy, they can ERODE, TRANSPORT and DEPOSIT material.

Processes of erosion:
- attrition
- abrasion (corrasion)
- hydraulic power/action
- corrosion

We also mentioned VERTICAL, LATERAL and HEADWARD erosion.

Processes of transportation:
- solution
- suspension
- saltation
- traction

We then had a look at the Hjulstrom Curve - some nice bits about that here (don't forget to click Next Page and have a look at all the info on there).

Don't forget about COMPETENCE and CAPACITY as well, when you are thinking about a river's load.

And a nice game of Sink or Swim (thanks to Alan P of GeographyPages, GeographyJazz, Cultcha, etc. fame for the idea!)

Monday, 15 October 2007

Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day - the aim is to get bloggers all around the world posting about the same issue - THE ENVIRONMENT.

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

We hear stories about the environment every day in the news... melting sea ice, carbon footprints, renewable energy, extreme weather events, resources running out, deforestation, animals becoming extinct, food miles, packaging, the list goes on... Many of the posts on Geogtastic have been about environmental issues and we're increasingly being told that we should be recycling, composting, walking to work/school, buying British food, switching off lights, etc.

So... over to you... Leave a comment about the environmental issues YOU'RE concerned about... ARE you concerned about the environment? Which issue worries you most? What do you to to help the environment? What else could you do??

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Population news stories...

Couple of articles from the BBC that might be of use/interest for your population work:



Geogtastic Photo Competition!

If you are going away at half-term (or even if you're not), make sure that you have your camera with you and that you are taking plenty of geographical photos!

The third Geogtastic Photo Competition is open to all SHS students, parents and staff, and the closing date will be Friday 2nd November. Entries can be brought to me in the Hums Block on a CD or memory stick, or can be emailed to (make sure your name - and form if you are student - is included).

There is no theme this time, so anything goes, as long as it is geographical... Happy snapping!!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Does New Zealand exist?

A Geography teacher friend of mine, Dan Raven-Ellison, has issued his Yr7 students with the challenge of proving that it does!!

Click on the picture above to link to the blog that Dan and his students have started, and look at the evidence that they've come up with... The comments also make for interesting reading...

And then, come back here and prove to me that New Zealand exists!!

Or how about making up your own country... What factors would you need to consider? If you were going to create a website for your country, what would it need to include...

Thursday, 4 October 2007

And just as I was typing that....

Don't know where they were going or what they were doing... They didn't hang around long!

South Georgia

Not directly related to what we are doing at the moment, but the South Georgia webcam is well worth a visit...

South Georgia is an island in the South Atlantic, about 1400 km east of the Falkland Islands.

As South Georgia is in the Southern Hemisphere, summer is approaching, and it will not be long before the return of the penguins! At the moment, there is a seal on the beach....

Who will spot the first penguins?!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007


As I said, I will not be with you on Friday afternoon as I am very lucky to be going off to do some fieldwork in Dorset.

On Saturday, I will be visiting a number of places that I've taught about lots of times, but never managed to see for myself... Prize for the first SHS person to leave a comment telling me the names of the landmarks shown in the pictures... Bonus points for explanations of their formation!

In my absence, I would like you to work out the following key terms, and find some definitions for them...

snorieo; snatprotantio; postideion; snabriao; tintrioat; cladruyih rwoep; nolustio; latsniota; nortiact; punsesnsnio; greeny

Don't forget, also that you need to make sure that your presentation on the flooding in Africa is ready for Tuesday p1!

Test! And infiltration rates....

At last!! Today was the day of the long-awaited test... Not had chance to have a look at them yet, but I have a feeling from your reactions that some of you were more confident than others!

I also gave you back your write-ups of the infiltration practical we did... On the whole, not bad. There were some good, clear graphs, and some well-written aims/hypotheses. All of you need to work on your explanations of your findings - lots of you used your Analysis section to describe your graphs, but very few people actually explained the patterns that their graphs showed. It is also important that investigations are written in the third person, and that key geographical terms are used - your writing will sound far more professional and sophisticated than "I collected the equipment that I needed and then I went and chose a site and stuck the drainpipe into the ground....." and you will sound far more as though you know what you are talking about!!

Exam Question...

Last Friday, you had a look at an exam question comparing two drainage basins, and looking at how the hydrographs of the drainage basins might differ...

River Regimes

On Wednesday last week, we talked about River Regimes...

A river regime basically shows variations in river discharge over time. We looked at the short-term, medium-term and long-term reasons why discharge might vary temporally (i.e. over time), for example, in the short term, glacial melt would cause an increase in river discharge.

We also thought about how river regimes might be expected to vary spatially (from one place to another), largely as a result of variations in climate. You compared 4 different river regimes - a river fed by a Canadian glacier, a river in Portugal, the River Thames, and the River Congo.

There's a very good set of notes on the Wycombe High School site about River Regimes... well worth you having a look!

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Flood hydrographs

On Friday, we had a look at flood hydrographs - composite graphs that show changes in river discharge in relation to storm events.

You (well, some of you!) plotted graphs with time in hours on the horizontal axis, and two vertical axes - one for precipitation and one for discharge. You plotted your precipitation as a bar graph, and your river discharge as a line graph. Most of you managed to label the peak rainfall, peak discharge, lag time, rising limb and falling limb onto your graph.

If you need a reminder, go back and revisit the BBC Scotland site that we looked at before:

We also had a quick look at factors that affect the shapes of hydrographs - e.g. geology, antecedent weather conditions, drainage basin size/shape, vegetation, relief, drainage density, etc. Make sure you can talk about each of these factors, and that you understand how each one would affect the shape of the hydrograph.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

River Discharge and Storm Hydrographs...

Wednesday's lesson...

The BBC Scotland Rivers website, which I would like you to have a look at before Friday, is here.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

The Hydrological Cycle... in Playdough...

The "we're not kinaesthetic learners" group do the water cycle with playdough...

The sun...

Rather large raindrops... But the river has some nice tributaries!
The finished product....

What did they do well?? What needs work?? (Be gentle, bearing in mind that they had about 5 minutes to do this...)

And for the audio learners amongst you, check out The Water Cycle Song and other musical masterpieces!

Friday, 14 September 2007

Infiltration Rates

For Tom's benefit (and a reminder for Laura who was too busy practising her long jump skills to worry about geography...) - a quick summary of this afternoon's adventures...

First, we thought about the factors that we thought might affect rates of infiltration - they included:
- vegetation cover
- the compactness of the soil
- antecedent weather conditions
- current levels of soil moisture
- the intensity and duration of the rainfall event

You then decided how you would measure infiltration rates, and formulated your hypotheses.

You should now have a complete set of results for your group and the next thing is to write up your investigation.... Remember:

Aim - what you are trying to find out.
Hypotheses - predictions about what you think you will find. Make sure these are specific.
Method - describe what you did. This should be clear and concise, with enough detail that someone else could go out and replicate your experiment. (It shouldn't, however, be written as a set of instructions!)
Results/Data Presentation - in this case, this will be your graphs. Precisely what you are plotting will vary slightly depending on how you measured your infiltration rates. However, they should show clearly how the infiltration rate at each site changed over time.
Analysis - what do your results show? Start with general patterns and trends, and then explain in more detail. Do your results show what you expected to find? Are there any surprising results/anomalies? If so, can you explain them?
Conclusion - return to your aims and hypotheses, and sum up what you've found out.
Evaluation - how successful was your investigation? Are there things you could improve if you were to repeat the investigation? How could you extend/develop the investigation?

As I said this afternoon, the experiment we did was by no means perfect - the main aims were to get you thinking a bit, working in groups and developing some skills, and getting used to the idea of writing up a geographical investigation.

Whilst I am expecting a decent piece of work from everyone, I am not expecting pages and pages - it should be clear and concise!

Your completed work is due in on WEDNESDAY. Don't forget to come and see me or email if you have problems - don't turn up without the work!!

Thursday, 13 September 2007


Because I am feeling kind and generous, and because we will probably need the whole lesson to do our infiltration investigation, we are not going to have the test tomorrow... But you can expect it at some point in the next few lessons!

You will need to know:

- key hydrological cycle terms (precipitation, evapotranspiration, surface run-off/overland flow, throughflow, groundwater flow, water table, baseflow, interception, stemflow, river discharge)
- concept of a system (closed and open... inputs, outputs, stores and flows)
- factors affecting the key processes we've talked about (eg infiltration rates varying according to amount of vegetation, etc.)
- water balance equation
- actual and potential evapotranspiration - differences between them and factors that affect them
- soil moisture budgets

Remember to keep your glossary of key words going as we go along... And don't forget the ideas for learning key words and ideas that we talked about on Tuesday - mind maps, post-its, etc.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Family Contact Day...

An interesting - if somewhat bizarre - story from the BBC which will link in nicely with some of the Population work you'll be doing with Mr Bradley!

Russian "sex day" boost births...

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Multiple Intelligences

As promised... This one is slightly more complicated than the VAK test we did this morning... However, the results are likely to be interesting!! Prize for the first person to leave a comment on this post, telling us their preferred and least preferred learning style!

Sunday, 9 September 2007


A quick reminder of some of the reading I suggested...

Obviously if you are reading this, you are on the right track already. Don't forget about Geogtastic as well.

Another blog that you should pay regular visits to is Val Vannet's HigherGeogBlog. Val is a geography teacher in Scotland, so the course that she teaches is not quite the same as ours, but there is plenty of overlap in terms of the content.

I also mentioned Geography Review - a magazine written specifically for AS and A2 Geography students, with articles about key topics, fieldwork, exams advice, useful websites, etc. It is published 4 times a year, and if you order through school it will cost you £12.50 for the year.

I have a fair few copies that you have have a look at (including from when I did my A levels!) and we will sort out an order next week.

The book I mentioned was the Complete A-Z Geography Handbook. There is no obligation to buy this, or any other book, but if you do want to get hold of a copy, there are a few second-hand ones on Amazon at the moment and a couple of copies on that well-known auction site!

Lesson 1

So, a good first lesson!

We looked at the concept of a system - you need to know the difference between a closed system and an open system. (The global hydrological cycle is a closed system, the drainiage basin cycle an open system.) Make sure you know what inputs, outputs, stores and flows/transfers are.

The Wycombe High School Geography Department have an excellent set of notes - they don't do the same specification as us, so not everything there will be relevant to you, but it is worth you having a look at the Drainage Basins as Systems and The Hydrological Cycle notes. The Drainage Basins one has a quick test for you to do to check all those key words!

Remember, there are lots of key words to learn - you are much better off learning them as you go along, rather than panicking in summer!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Earth Portal

Earth Portal looks like a really useful site with loads of information about anything and everything geographical... You can search the Encyclopedia of Earth by topic or location, and there is also an Earth News section and an Earth Forum.

Saturday, 11 August 2007


The Geography Department at the University of Lancaster have a series of excellent posters designed for A level students... You will be seeing them in lessons, but it is worth having a look - particularly at the Physical Geography: Surface Water Systems, and the Environmental Geography: Water Resources Management (below) which will tie in nicely with our first unit.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Your Climate Your Life

Have a look at this excellent new website from the RGS - Your Climate Your Life. It looks at climate change, but focuses particularly on how it is affecting our lives, in terms of what we buy, where we live, what we eat, and so on, and there is a specific section for A level which is well worth checking out...

Thursday, 12 July 2007


Welcome to geogtastic6! This blog is to support students who are studying Geography at AS/A2 level at Swanwick.

If you have any ideas for things that could/should be included, let me know!