Recently, Year 6 went on a residential to Longtown which is located on the Black Mountains of Wales. As this was such a contrasting landscape and environment to what we are used to we decided to do some scientific experiments to test the differences. We decided to use the OPAL tests to complete the criteria for a John Muir Award so linked some citizen science with our residential too!
Discover a wild place,
Explore its wildness,
Conserve a wild place,
Share your experiences.
And the area around Longtown was certainly a wild place!
One of the four tests was the Species Quest survey. We observed a patch of land and tried to find as many micro-habitats and bugs as possible without damaging any land. We had to handle bugs gently as they are delicate. We were looking for 6 specific minibeasts which are of particular interest to the scientific community.
Another test was the air survey where we had to complete a number of activities high up in the air. Activity one was to find and look at different lichens around the area. Lichens grow on trees, walls, branches and on the ground. They come in six different forms: moss, crusty lichens, leafy lichens, green algae, orange algae and bushy lichens. Then we aimed to discover as many tar spots of sycamore as possible. Their name is the tar spot of sycamore because they only grow on sycamore leaves. These two activities give us a clear indication of air pollution in the area. As we predicted, the air around the Black Mountains is very clean.
The third activity was the soil and earthworm survey. We tested the soil type and condition of the earthworms. Firstly, we climbed to the top of the Cats Back Mountain and dug a soil pit. We brought the soil sample back to the centre to do some tests on it. We identified the type of soil, the water content, the pH and other important factors.
The final test was the climate survey. We examined plane contrails and reported what type we saw. Then we note types of clouds and wind direction at cloud level. We then did a fun experiment using bubbles to find out wind direction and speed at ground level.
We really enjoyed doing science on a residential trip as it made us observe the surrounding area much more closely and it was interesting to see how the different ecological features had shaped the landscape. Even the instructors became more interested and were telling us all about the science of stalactites and stalagmites during caving and we had a small fossil hunt in the caves too! We will be uploading all of our results to the OPAL website and we think we might be the only people uploading data collected from the Black Mountains!