Geography Awareness Week June 2015

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Geography Take-over

19 June 2015

Skiing to the North Pole, landscaping the Olympic Park and testing Geographical knowledge were all part of  this year's Geography Awareness Week. The week also had a charity focus, raising over £1,000 for the Nepal Earthquake Disaster Fund.

Trip to the North Pole, talk from Ken Michie

Students from Years 7, 8 and 9 were enthralled by a talk from Year 8 parent, Ken Michie, about his recent adventure to the North Pole.

“Skiing to the North Pole is the toughest journey on the planet!” Mr Michie stated as he began his talk to years 7 and 8, during Geography Awareness Week. It took two years in the planning and fulfilled a lifelong ambition.

Plenty of mental preparation was needed for the trip, researching the conditions that he would face and the experience of others who had gone before him. Less than 900 people have achieved this journey. He then had to find a company who organised such an expedition. This turned out to be an American company and he went with three other men.

The team met in Svalbard, a group of islands near the Arctic Circle, to undergo 5 days of physical, mental and medical tests, to check they were fit enough to take part in the expedition. Training followed and then the correct gear had to be purchased. Plenty of food surplies were required – from dried meal packets to lots of sweets!

The expedition took place in April this year – starting out from Svalbard, by plane, to a temporary fully heated camp on the ice, flowed by a helicopter ride. The only polar bears spotted on the expedition were seen from the air – a rare sighting of adults and their cubs.

The skiing distance to the North Pole was 80 miles. The team had each to drag a sledge weighing 40 – 60 kilos, transporting the gear and food necessary for the trip. They had not only to cope with very low temperatures of -25˚c (and a -50˚c wind chill!!), but also the pressure ridges of snow (15 feet high and 20 feet wide), which had to be crossed, by working together as a team, to haul the sledges up and over these ridges. At this time of year there was 24 hours of daylight – so the time of day became insignificant, but timings of tasks was vitally important. Skiing was interrupted by breaks to have a snack and to take off warm clothes (you can’t sweat, as you don’t want ice to form inside your clothing!). there were also stretches of open water, which had to be skirted around.

At the end of the journey, there is no monument or scientific research centre to greet you as at the South Pole), just frozen snow! As you rotate in 360˚, you face south in every direction. The bad weather at the Pole, meant the team were stranded for 2 days, before being rescued by helicopter.

In summary, Mr Michie said that there were three things necessary for survival: food, fuel and shelter. You also needed a strong sense of motivation, a clear mind and the ability to work effectively as a team. He now wants to go to the South Pole.

Life as a Landscape Architect, talk by Jennette Emery-Wallace

Year 10 enjoyed a fascinating illustrated talk by a  landscape architect – Jennette Emery-Wallis on Friday 19th June, as part of the Geography Awareness Week activities.

Jennette studied Geography, Art and English at A-level and then did a specialist degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of  Greenwich. She has been involved in projects ranging from The Eden Project in Cornwall to a play area in the Olympic Park in east London. She also has worked with the National Trust at local Scotney Castle near Tunbridge Wells.

She explained that Landscape Architecture comprised of three areas: design; management and planning. The work involves collaborating with people in an array of different professions. The aim of landscape architecture is to examine how the environment works and making each place unique. Jennette illustrated her talk with a wide range of case studies from London squares and parks to regenerated housing areas in Docklands.

The main focus of the talk was a project Jennette was recently involved with at the Olympic Park in London. The Tumbling Bay play area, near the Velodrome, is part of the 30 year master plan for the park. 70% of the scheme was made from waste materials. Children can climb elaborate wooden structures, become aater engineers diverting and damming rivers, and make bricks from the sandpit, as well as experiencing a wide range of biodiversity amongst the flora and fauna.

Nepal Disaster Fund

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Nepal Earthquake Appeal, by wearing the colours of the Nepalese flag on Friday, baking and buying cakes and attending the Friday Night Social with Tonbridge School.

Inter-House Geography Quiz

Finally, congratulations to Miontreal, winners of this year’s Inter-House Geography Quiz.