The Thomas Hardye School

A Marine Science Fest, Southampton University & Kimmeridge Marine Reserve

Research vessel Callista

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The 22 Year 12 IB students have recently spent two inspirational days doing fieldwork at Southampton University with the National Oceanography Centre and Kimmeridge Marine Reserve with the Dorset Wildlife Trust, carrying out a collaborative project. The students were told that they were required to investigate the Marine environment and were given considerable freedom to formulate their own ideas and investigation.

All IB diploma students study at least one “Group 4” (The sciences) subject; they can choose to do a maximum of two sciences at either standard level or higher level. A requirement of the IB is that all students participate in a Group 4 project, with students from the different sciences working together in teams of 3 or 4 on a scientific topic with an emphasis on interdisciplinary cooperation and the scientific process.

Both days gave students the opportunity to gather data in the field and were blessed with fine weather. At Southampton, university staff and students presented a “Discovering Oceanography” session on board their research vessel Callista. Following a safety briefing, the students tested light penetration through the water, took measurements of temperature and salinity at numerous depths, recorded results and discussed conclusions. The crew then trawled a net system behind the vessel for animal and plant life on the seabed – the catch (including a sponge, seasquirts, crabs and oysters) was examined and discussed. Samples of mud were also grabbed from two areas in the estuary and compared in the context of local conditions including industrial activities. Finally a very fine mesh net trawled for plankton and the samples were viewed and identified using the onboard microscope systems. This was an excellent opportunity in which the students had access to an array of scientific instruments and equipment not normally available in the school environment. Not only did this give them the chance to gather their own data but it gave them an insight into what it is like to study Oceanography at University.

Whilst at Southampton, Dr Jon Copley a research Scientist delivered a lecture on his pioneering exploration into the distribution of extraordinary life forms sustained by chemical energy from deep sea vents on the ocean floor. This was a fascinating talk which prompted many questions from the students. After the lecture, one student remarked to Mr Whitbread (teacher in charge of the IB students) that 'this is what I want to do at university'.

The second day at Kimmeridge provided the students with an opportunity to gather extra data relevant to their investigation. Following a talk by Marine Reserve Warden Emma Rance, they mainly worked to sample and record the species distribution on the rocky shore.

Both project days were incredibly valuable and gave the students a real insight into the scientific process. All students completed the 10 hours of practical work required by the IB course and the teams will make presentations of their findings in lessons after half-term.

Marine Fest Gallery

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May 2010