Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve

This is the Case Study of rainforest tourism in the Hodder OCR B Geography book.
I taught this last week as part of my drive to get the course finished by Easter and leave time for revision.

The Crocker Range is on the island of Borneo.

The official UNESCO description of the site, describes it as follows:

Situated south of the World Heritage Site Mount Kinabalu, the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve forms chain mountains with no distinct peaks in western Sabah. 
The rocky topography constitutes solely of mountains, hills and small basins dissected by deep river valleys. Elevation above sea level of the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve ranges from 6m to 2,076m. At the site, 105m above sea level, the highest temperature is 32°C and the lowest is 20°C. The area has around 3,000 mm/year precipitation on average and is home to a wide array of endangered species. This biosphere reserve covers an area of 350,584 ha, stretching approximately 120km north and south, and 40km east and west, encompassing rich biodiversity and tropical hill-montane landscape.

It is in the Sabah area, an area visited many times by Paul Baker, and Paul kindly sent me a few images. Here are a few of them. They are excellent. Paul has offered to share more.

Image copyright: Paul Baker


Booking tickets for Francis Pryor in July
He's written a new book on the Fens, and will be speaking in Ely about the Fenland landscape. It's another talk put on by the splendid Topping Books in Ely.

Francis Pryor, Time Team’s distinguished archaeologist, has lived in, excavated, farmed and walked the Fen Country for more than four decades. In  Fenland: The Silt and the Black, a journey spanning history, archaeology and personal recollection, Francis  reveals his great love for this most mysterious  of English landscapes.
The Fens are often regarded as a neglected backwater by those who don’t know them; Francis will offer a very different view: that of a prosperous and vibrant land, from its levels and drains to its often surprising architecture. This is an evening guaranteed to educate and entertain in equal measures.

Tim Marshall: Divided

Related imageOver to King's Lynn last night for the Tim Marshall talk organised by the local RGS committee.
It was a good evening, with a wide-ranging talk on the Divides of the world, and some possible futures.
Tim used this visualisation of major migrations in the last few decades to make a point about the general South-North direction of travel.

Also had an interesting discussion with a 6th form student in the interval.
We had brought a group over from school, and they were pleased to hear Tim speak.

For those who would like to hear Tim, he is contributing to the GA Conference in Manchester in 2 week's time.

Urban visualisation

This is excellent work by John Burn Murdoch

Watch the cities swap positions... has the largest version... scroll down a little to see the graph. The colour coding is very helpful to see how different continents changed in their dominance....

Laura Jayne Ward - a blog to add to your reading list

Laura Jayne Ward or Leading4Geog has a very useful blog which is worth adding to your reading list. She was the recipient of the Ordnance Survey Award for excellence in secondary Geography teaching in 2018.
Check out the Leading4Geography blog.

Break out... map style...

Stefano Bovio has coded a new map-based 'breakout' game. It's a bit tough to play, as the cursor moves quite slowly, so you'll need to anticipate the bounces... 67 countries to beat...

Tim Bird

21 pp web.jpgTimothy Bird is an illustrator, who has published a number of magazines/books/graphic novels.
I own quite a lot of them.

He has a particular interest in, and skill, in drawing architecture and I love his visual style. The illustration here is one of his commissions from the website.

He has added a new comic to the store recently called 'Asleep in the Back' which is about falling asleep as a child when heading for his grandparents' house which, it turns out, was in Wickersley where I grew up. There are some drawings of very familiar buildings.

Also check out Our Town, which looks at the links between place and memory.


Showed this very useful video earlier in the week, made by the Maersk Shipping Line.

This goes well with the activity on p.58 and 59 of the Hodder Geography 'Progress in Geography' textbook, which I use as part of my unit on Stuff...
It links to the location of the OOCL Hong Kong using the Marine Traffic website, following its route between China and Europe like a bus...

Image: Alan Parkinson: shared under CC license

SW Geography network - an idea to expand?

Was interested to read some details about a new project being developed by Simon Ross and John Davidson. I've worked with both colleagues several times over the years. Simon will be known to many for his numerous textbooks, and innovative CPD over the years.
John used to be the GA Branches support and liaison person for the GA when I worked for them.

On the OCR Facebook page, Eva Brock posted an interesting update earlier this week.

I went to a very exciting meeting last night along with some other SW teachers, where Simon Ross and John Davidson are in the process of creating a new geography related website. It is not an exam board or Key Stage specific website but rather one designed to positively support geography, geographers and geography teachers, and focus on the good geography of the south-west England region in a holistic fashion.
It will be for literally everyone, from teaching in the primary sector all the way to masters level, and those who have an interest in the subject. There will be SW related resources, case studies, tried and tested fieldwork ideas in the region, QandA section with Keith Bartlett and Steve Durman, articles, blogs, links to other useful websites, a market place, job section, CPD opportunities, university links, and a section for those who like to just get out and about in the region away from the tourist traps (otherwise known as hidden gems!)... ALL ENTIRELY FREE!

If anyone else would like to get involved in any way (great CPD opportunity), either by contributing ideas or photos, having an active role in the development of the website or even having your work published, or you have any questions, please email Simon Ross directly at

It really is a very exciting project to be involved with, and I can't wait to see how it evolves!

Looks like we might need an East Anglian version too in time... looking forward to seeing the site appearing.
Meanwhile, here's a picture from when I travelled down to the SW to work with Andy Brumby down in Cornwall a few years back...

Image: Whipsiderry Beach, Alan Parkinson - shared under CC license

Playful Learning

Regular readers will have noticed a lack of posts about 'knowledge-rich' this and 'Rosenshine' that on this blog... there are few illustrations of retrieval practice, and diagrams showing how working and long term memory interact. This is not to say that I don't teach knowledge, or have an interest in pedagogy of course. Those who've seen my recent presentations will have seen the owl which sums up my thoughts on research...
Ollie Bray has recently started a new role at the LEGO Foundation as their
Initiative Lead: Connecting Play and Education

My current interests are in narrative development and the idea of playful learning.

In this website of the LEGO Foundation, there is plenty to take away for every classroom in the area of Playful Learning, which I would much rather involve myself with. I've been lucky to attend a LEGO education session, including the 6 bricks duck challenge.

“There are many advantages to play in learning, both for children and adults. It is not simply an activity to help young children develop. It evokes creativity, imagination, and happiness. It also has life-long benefits. 
Playful learning has a focus on the process more than the outcome and allows for exploration of different issues from a variety of perspectives.”

There is also a recent blog post on the power of play, and the PEDAL project of the University of Cambridge which stands for Play in Education Development and Learning.

High Street

Another link for those exploring changes in the High Street. This is a fertile area for the NEA, for example.

Still in the Age of Stupid?

Palm Oil controversies

Iceland's Palm Oil advert which came out just before Christmas was endlessly shared on social media, and was presumably good publicity for the frozen food chain. It introduced people to the Rang-tan in the girl's bedroom, who was concerned about the impact of palm oil production in their home - linking to the threats facing Orang Utans from Palm Oil production.
You can see the video here.

Iceland said that they would remove palm oil from all their branded products.
Are all of Iceland's products now free from palm oil though?
And if we are starting in on the idea of sustainability and environmental impact then should we perhaps also look more closely at a wider range of products that we buy, and other ingredients beyond palm oil which also have an environmental impact, such as beef for example.

The Palm Oil quiz here on the National Geographic website accompanies an article which explores what the oil involves. There have also been some excellent recent articles in the Geographical magazine on the production of palm oil, and the different projects aiming to certify it.

There was also a story more recently which cast a different spin on the plans that Iceland had to remove palm oil from all their own branded products.
It appears that instead of removing the oil, they fulfilled their promise by removing the Iceland brand from the packaging instead?
As the article says:
Unable to meet the deadline, it then dropped its name from 17 palm products.

Iceland blamed technical issues, adding it did not want to "mislead consumers".

The retailer said it was pushing its manufacturers "hard" to remove palm oil from the items that had previously been own-brand, but now had no branding.

It added that it "was not possible to remove palm oil at a manufacturing level in these products by 31 December 2018", adding that it had been "transparent".

Remember that there are environmental consequences in producing beef and other products.
All of our food has some sort of impact, whether it is the water that is used to produce it, or the way that it depletes the soil or changes its structure by requiring a fine seed bed (crops such as sugar beet need this).
This article tries to unpick what is a complex story. You should be able to read it, but you are limited to how many articles you can read from this source.

What's clear is that Iceland is trying to do the right thing, but this is not always easy...

Curriculum thinking 2

This post is another that has been in draft for several months, and probably isn't quite finished, but let's get it up and out there in case anyone finds it useful...

There's been a lot of talk about the curriculum over the last few months, within the various social media circles I inhabit, and also within OFSTED, who seem to have a renewed focus on this in their new inspection frameworks, particularly the idea of curriculum intent.

Anyone's particular take on the curriculum is, for me, a combination of factors, which include their own particular context. In fact context is very important when planning a curriculum for your own school.
It's also important not to be put off by, or over-influenced by external points of view. Social media acts a lens which can amplify a particular issue within your own sphere, and it's important to take from that what you want, but not to feel that you have to do something because someone else is doing it.
I use the mute function on Twitter to filter out particular areas that can tend to dominate from time to time, and also unfollow accounts regularly which are counter to my general mood.

See my recent post on the special Curriculum issue of Chartered College of Teachers' journal: 'Impact'.
There is also the idea of curriculum making.

Eleanor Rawling, who I have had met several times over the years, and worked with on GA Working Groups has a lot to say on curriculum (download this GA ThinkPiece as a PDF)

And also this quote, which has featured in many of my presentations over the years:
"Curriculum development is a mixture of rational organisation and serendipity".

Another person to follow in such debates is Christine Counsell, who talks a great deal of sense on curriculum matters and in particular the link between  this and knowledge. The work of Michael Young has been influential in this area too.

For me, the GeoCapabilities project is one of the best places to go for an introduction to Curriculum making. and the role of curriculum artefacts.

The 3rd Phase of the GeoCapabilities project is underway, with some of the original partners and a few new ones.

If you are reading this shortly after it was originally posted, you may be able to access an article in the UCL's London Review of Education which is currently open access (there are other relevant articles you can find as well)
The editorial for a special issue on teachers as researchers was written by Professor David Lambert.
Click the link to download as a PDF

Another relevant thought on this comes from Sean Harford, who is part of the team trying to change the perception and approach of OFSTED. This idea that the curriculum is the progression model is one that has gained traction.
And to finish, here's Heather Fearn from OFSTED on Curriculum

 And some slides as well You're welcome
Curriculum Workshop from Ofsted

Oh, and here's another recent blogpost which I read.

And a quote on knowledge in the curriculum...

The curriculum is never simply a neutral assemblage of knowledge, somehow appearing in the texts and classrooms of a nation. It is always part of a selective tradition, someone's selection, some group's vision of legitimate knowledge. It is produced out of the cultura|, political, and economic conflicts, tensions, and compromises that organise and disorganise a people. 
(Apple, 1993)

And I think I'd better press publish and get it out there...

WRAP report on the impact of Fashion

I used a graph from this report today as a starter: check out p.34 of the report to see a graph on clothes purchasing habits of people. What does it tell you about our clothes shopping habits? What are the impacts of this?

Download the report as a PDF from here.

There is a good link with the Circular Economy, which we have been exploring too. Well worth a look.

Blue Planet Live Lesson

Next Tuesday, there is a Blue Planet Live lesson happening at 2pm.
I'm intending to take part with the group I'm teaching at the time.
Here's the details if you want to know more.

When and where

Date: Tuesday, 26th March 2019

Time: 2pm (approx. 40 mins)

How to watch:

(Simply visit the page on the day and look out for the promo that says 'Watch Live')
A marine wildlife mission with Blue Planet and Live Lessons

We're teaming up with Blue Planet Live to bring the wildlife of our blue planet into your classrooms!

Presented by CBBC's Naomi Wilkinson, this interactive programme for 7-11 year olds will look at the importance of the Earth's rich marine life. Guided by expert wildlife biologist Lizzie Daly, we'll explore what constitutes a healthy ecosystem and discuss the threats to our oceans such as plastics and overfishing.

We’ll hear from Steve Backshall live from the Bahamas throughout as he demonstrates what sharks can teach us about ecosystems, how human behaviour can threaten shark life, and how the UK is connected with animals across the world.

Linked to the Key Stage 2/2nd Level science and geography curricula, the lesson will also celebrate schools across the UK that have positively benefited the environment at home and abroad.

Come rain or shine

Would be of interest to someone perhaps...

Beermeet at the GA Conference

We are preparing for the 10th (we think) unofficial Beermeet at the GA Conference. Over the years, we've used a number of locations, and the numbers involved have grown over the years from the early days.

This year, the GA Conference is being held at the University of Manchester, and the BeerMeet will happen immediately after the GA Teachmeet on the Wednesday evening.

It will be held for the third time at the Lass O' Gowrie pub on Charles Street.

See you there... mine's a pint...

OCR Geography Consultative Forum

Over to Cambridge today, and the very swanky new triangle building of Cambridge Assessment for the annual OCR Consultative Forum. I've been attending these events for about six years now and they're always interesting, with presentations, discussions and a tasty lunch.

Met with a few colleagues, and heard interesting talks from others, including Gemma Pollard and Julia Thomson this time round.

I did a short input which is shown here if you're interested:

I also referred to my KS3 specification - an early version of which is shown below:
This has been updated since then...

Let me know if you have any questions...

Here is the Irish textbook that I referred to, published by Folens

New OCR A and B fieldwork

Andy Owen has apparently published a new book for OCR A and OCR B Fieldwork.
It will be on display at the GA Conference and I will try to get a chance to see it there and let you know more.

Here's some details from Andy's Facebook page:

I'm really pleased to announce the publication of a new fieldwork textbook written specifically to support GCSE OCR A and OCR B, published by Insight and perspective and endorsed by both OCR and FSC. The idea was to write a book that will support kids at every stage of the enquiry process. The assessment focuses on their ability to justify their choice of methods and evaluate any aspect of fieldwork - so the book provides kids with the skills they need to meet these challenging targets. 

For more details, check the publishers' website. 
There are fieldwork books already published for other specifications. 
You can download some sample page spreads from the other books.

Curriculum thinking 1

I've got quite a few blog posts lined up on the theme of Curriculum, as a way of shaping some thinking about some upcoming projects, and capturing some of the 'noise' on Twitter and tuning it to a signal ahead of the GA Conference.
I've seen many further daily additions which could have been mentioned here, but got the post to the point where I can press publish and see if anyone reads it. I've also had the opportunity during the development to attend sessions by Hywel Roberts & Tom Sherrington.
Lets start with a Ken Radical twitter post first...
This TES article explores differences between Primary and Secondary curriculum development, although for me there is less difference than some people think.

OFSTED have been doing some work on curriculum, with the publication of research reports, and a focus on curriculum, with their 'new' focus on Intent, Implementation and Impact leading to some schools getting very exercised in this area...
Their reports have been described here.

From the  OFSTED report, some bullet points:

We found some common factors that appear related to curriculum quality:
  • the importance of subjects as individual disciplines 
  • using the curriculum to address disadvantage and provide equality of opportunity 
  • regular curriculum review 
  • using the curriculum as the progression model 
  • intelligent use of assessment to inform curriculum design 
  • retrieval of core knowledge baked into the curriculum 
  • distributed curriculum leadership

OFSTED report:

More to come...

Fred Pearce - Scottish talks - for those who can make it...

Bee Wilson on the Food we Eat

I've been teaching a lot about food this year, and exploring all sorts of side avenues on the background to food. There's a sub-plot of course with the Brexit debacle which threatens our food supply chain (with 30% of our food coming from EU countries, and more coming from non-EU European countries...) and also price rises due to tariff changes.

I've also been exploring some work related to various organisations who are connected with food and farming.
This weekend's Guardian had an article which was an extract from a new book by Bee Wilson. It is called The Way we Eat Now, and I have a copy on order (of course)

It talks about the way that much of what we eat has been engineered over the years.

Grapes, for example, have become a piece of engineering designed to please modern eaters. Think about the fact that most of us will eat seedless varieties, created so that we don't have the inconvenience of having to take out the seeds.

Barry Lopez: personal geographies

Take the time to listen to this, and the patient way that Barry has experienced landscapes over the years... and the discarding of epistemologies as civilisations are built... and the power of geography.

Preparing for my session at the GA conference on narratives and curriculum, in less than a month.

A new piece on Barry Lopez and his new book 'Horizon'

The power of 4

Reading about the problem of Plastic Waste on the Global-is-Asian website, I came across this nice graphic and framework for solving problems. The Power of 4.

As the article says:

The public is therefore the most important party in this whole equation for managing plastics waste. Ultimately, we are the ones using the plastic, disposing of it, and contributing to the environmental damage if this is mismanaged. 
The mindset about using the material has to change in order to efficiently manage plastic waste.

Image credit:

Barry Lopez review by Robert MacFarlane

Back in 1986, while training as a teacher in Hull, I went to the University bookshop and noticed a striking book cover, and the title 'Arctic Dreams'. It was a book by the American author Barry Lopez, and it has been one I have re-read many times since.

I have all Lopez's books, and have been waiting for his next 'proper' book for many years. A few years ago, there was an amazing interview with him, which was published here.

I have used some of Lopez's work in my teaching, and also in my work with teachers over the decades.
Lopez finally has a new book out later this month, and Robert MacFarlane has written a review for this weekend's Guardian. It sounds as if it will be worth the wait...

Lopez’s writing throughout this book is pulled taut between his need to register the extreme urgency of the environmental crisis, and his long-held belief in time, patience and the careful observation of other cultures as the basis for a fix: “As time grows short, the necessity to listen attentively to foundational stories other than our own becomes imperative.

Here are several things you need to do:

1. Get a copy of Arctic Dreams and read it if you haven't.....

2, Order a copy of Horizon...

Watch this to see what I mean....

"If you're going to tell a story, tell a story that helps...."

I-USE - a previous Erasmus project

Next week, I have been asked to make a short input to the OCR Consultative Forum in Cambridge, along with other colleagues.

As the focus is related to geographical skills, I revisited the website of this ERASMUS project, called I-USE which I took part in at the start, and then created some resources for, and returned to at the end.
At the time, I was in my freelance phase. I responded to a request for help from a teacher called Karsten from Denmark, and with the help of Karl Donert, we managed to get project funding. It led to one of the more memorable ERASMUS projects.

It was at a project meeting in Bruges where I got an e-mail asking if I wanted some part time teaching at my current school, and I left the project team half way through.

The I-USE tool which turns spreadsheets into maps is still there and working.

The return of Carmen Sandiego

Carmen Sandiego was the eponymous character in an early computer game, which was based around a sort of global treasure hunt / mystery. It was launched in 1985, and reissued in 1992, and spawned various sequels.
Now Carmen Sandiego is back, and instead of 'Where on Earth' she is.. this time it's 'Where on Google Earth' is she?
You'll probably see the game option pop up if you use Google Earth close to the time when this blog was posted... if it's been a while, then the option may have disappeared.

Start up Google Earth on Chrome and give it a go...
You'll even see a little Carmen Sandiego icon in the main navigation area...

Climate Change Strikes by young people

Recently we have seen a series of protests and student strikes over Climate Change by young people, inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg. I showed Greta's comments to my groups who have been studying Climate Change some weeks ago, and they have now grown in scale, and global extent.
My niece was pictured on the front of the local paper taking part in one of the protests locally.
There was also an excellent cartoon by Ben Jennings on this theme.

Steve Brace wrote a piece on the importance of teaching (and learning) about climate change.
Another comment was made yesterday by the excellent Rebecca Solnit, in an opinion piece in The Guardian.

Don’t ask what will happen. 
Be what happens. 
Today, you are what is happening. 
Today, your power will be felt. 
Today, your action matters. 
Today in your individual action you may stand with a few people or with hundreds, but you stand with billions around the world. 
Today you are standing up for people not yet born, and those ghostly billions are with you too. 
Today you are the force of possibility that runs through the present like a river through the desert.

The UN Secretary General has announced a climate summit & Greta Thunberg has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Things are perhaps going to happen... and they need to...

What if?

On the day of the climate strikes around the world inspired by Greta Thunberg, here's an update on the film called 'Age of Stupid' (which the most excellent Daniel Raven Ellison produced the Education pack for back in the day....)

In a parallel universe, Fred Miliband, Carolyn Lukas, Zack Harries, Jon Snowflake, Kris Peckham, Jonathan Pie and the President of the Maldives battle to save the people of Earthly from suffering the same fate as "those poor people on Earth". This new film by the team behind The Age of Stupid is released on 15th March 2019 - ten years to the day since Age of Stupid launched at its green-carpet, solar-powered premiere. And also the day of the first ever *global* schools strike. Poetic indeed. The AGE OF STUPID will be broadcast on BBC4 in the next few weeks (exact date TBC), and is available now on iTunes, Amazon Prime (in English French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese) and Google Play.

How to find me...

New sign on my classroom door, which should help everyone find their way back here....

Ordered from the What 3 Words shop.

It's always interesting to check back in and see what additional partners What 3 Words are now working with.
These now include Airbnb, and others. They are being used to identify locations in countries where there may be issues with standard addressing systems, or extreme remote places which are off-grid.
Here's an example...


“On average, as a nation, we spend more time on the toilet than being active.”

Gina Radford, Deputy Chief Medical Officer

This was one piece of information gleaned from following the latest gathering of Ordnance Survey's GetOutside Champions, of which I am proud to be one. It was held at Shrigley Hall, and we welcomed a few new Champions at the event, who will join us through to 2019-20. These include the well-known Sport scientist Greg Whyte (whose most recent job was helping Tess and Claudia with the Comic Relief 24 hour Dance Marathon).

The BBC meanwhile shared the  announcement of the most popular places to start a walk according to the Ordnance Survey's Map app.

Edale is the place from which most people started their walk, and it's certainly a place I've started many a walk from over the years, along with the base of Stanage, and other areas around the Peak District.

The Ordnance Survey has also shared images showing the most trodden routes on their user-generated routes diagram.
Image: Alan Parkinson - diagram from my Y8 exercise book
Other image: Ordnance Survey

Maxwell Tilse

Little Cities is one of the many art projects of Maxwell Tilse.

He is an illustrator, and the representation of places and memories and place association is one of my current areas of interest and research, particularly the narratives which they create. See the examples here. I've recently engaged with the work of the House of Illustration, and other illustrators like Tim Bird (of whom more to come in a future post)

Book illustrators are so creative with the work they create, which is so varied in its nature and media.

Check out the Little Cities project for more of these wonderful little urban creations.

Image credit: Maxwell Tilse

GA Primary Membership changes

The GA's Primary Membership has changed a little.

Find out more by following the link below. 

The Primary Geography journal is excellent for Secondary geographers too.

Amazon - A to Z

This is a topic which we have been exploring with Year 8s.

The power of convenience to shape what we do, as well as the things that we purchase is behind the growth of the company, which has expanded dramatically from the original idea of an online bookshop.
How are your choices of what you buy affecting other people and places?

Comic Relief - Forced Migration resource

Comic Relief is coming up on Friday this week.
There has already been the climb of Kilimanjaro.

This year, they have been working with the DocAcademy to produce a set of resources on forced migration.
There is a toolkit (48pp download)
You can see more of the resources on the main Comic Relief page here.

Hurricane Man

Hurricane Man is a new series on Dave, which starts on Sunday the 24th of March.

It looks like it might have some good content to show the impacts of tropical cyclones. Watch out for the language though, as I haven't checked if there are a few sweary bits...

Ask the Geographer

Have shared this before, but worth a reminder.

A series of podcasts with expert geographers.

Eight Storeys

This is one of my favourite resources for introducing students to the shocking reality of the production of their clothes. It's a video made by Emily Yeung.

Eight Storeys from Max McLachlan on Vimeo.

“Eight Storeys” is commenting on the supply and demand pressures of the fashion industry, drawing on the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh that occurred on April 24th 2013.
Rana Plaza was built originally to house shops and offices. However bowing to the garment industry’s increasing demand, three additional storeys, accommodating heavy machinery and hundreds of workers, were illegally added to the structure.
This ultimately led to the building’s collapse, killing 1129 workers.

My project addresses both the demise of local manufacturing, and emphasises the need for transparency in supply chains.

There is more detail on Guy Keuleman's blog here.
Once I found this of course, there was more to follow, and Guy's blog links through to another project which connects with the ideas of consumption and the impact on others.

Smashed iPhone screens is an interesting project, e.g. this one on e-Waste and the linear economy.

No Natural Disasters

The No Natural Disasters website has now launched.

Weather Rescue

A new Citizen Science project.

This could be good for Science Week, which started today. Help Ed Hawkins and his colleagues.

Details from the website:
On 26th October 1859, the Royal Charter ship was driven onto rocks in hurricane-force winds and sank off the coast of Anglesey with the loss of 450 lives and a large insurance bill for gold cargo. As a result, the new Meteorological Office, led by Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy, was tasked with making the first ever forecasts of the weather, particularly to warn ships about approaching storms in order to save lives.
But to make a forecast requires data. The development of the electrical telegraph allowed FitzRoy to establish a network of weather monitoring sites around the UK whose observations could be sent to London and collated quickly. This data was used to make a daily forecast and to issue storm warnings if required.
The images you see in this project are the weather observations collated in the early years of this endeavour, written by FitzRoy himself until 1865, and by his successors afterwards. Each image captures the weather conditions on a particular day across the UK and north-western Europe. The Times newspaper published the detailed weather observations every day after September 1860 and the forecasts from August 1861 onwards.
However, this weather data cannot currently be used by meteorologists and climate scientists because it has not been digitised – it all still lives in the Met Office’s archives waiting to be discovered.
We need your help!
British Science Week will take place between 8 – 17 March 2019, and is the UK’s largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths. Every year, the UK public are asked to help tackle a problem set by the research community by getting involved in the British Science Week citizen science project – and this year is no different!
One of the biggest problems that researchers face is access to historical data sets. Before we had computers or the internet, early scientists would often write and collect their data by hand in books or papers. Many of these records have now been scanned or are held as an archive in libraries across the globe. However, much of the data within these books hasn’t been digitised – the most accurate way of doing this is manually entering the data into a computer.
Working with the University of Reading, the Natural Environment Research Council, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and the Met Office, British Science Week has identified two decades of important historical weather data that has never been digitised. All in all, we have over 2.5 million pieces of data that we need entered from this period – something that would take the research team years to enter themselves.
If we manage it, this will be the first time that climate scientists and meteorologists from around the globe will have had access to the raw data. This could mean not only that we have a better understanding of the climate from the past, but also could help us understand what the future could look like for us as well.

ESRI Earthquake Dashboard

Thanks to Rob Chambers for the tipoff to this new ESRI Earthquake Dashboard.
It shows earthquake information in 'real time'.

Surrey Network Meeting: David Wood

Brendan Conway runs the Surrey Geography Network meeting, and they have the new Government Head of Geography speaking next week.
David Wood
Speaker: David Wood – Government Head of Geography: a new government role.

The session will outline David's role in the civil service, the new Geospatial Commission and links with geographical education and careers.

Date and time: Wednesday 13th March, 2019 1.30pm (refreshments available from 1.00 pm):
Venue: Notre Dame Senior School, Burwood House, Convent Lane, Cobham, Surrey KT11 1HA

If you haven't been to the network meetings before, please please contact Katy Gill

Image: from David's Twitter feed

Tokyo 2020 Medals

As you can see from the diagram above, a project which was launched a few years ago in Japan is close to finishing.
All the medals at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will be made from metals recovered from e-Waste.
I am putting together a presentation on this for Year 8 students, and it will be shared when completed.

What 3 Words

My What 3 Words sign, made in South Africa, arrived yesterday. It will go up next week.

Check out the GI Learner website for the Year 7 Local Resource which makes use of What 3 Words.

Shackleton's Banjo

Well worth a listen.... "vital mental medicine", presented by Tim van Eyken.

As his ship was sinking through the Antarctic pack-ice, Ernest Shackleton allowed each member of his expedition to take 2lbs of possessions with them as they abandoned ship. One exception was made; Shackleton saved Leonard Hussey's banjo saying, "We must have that banjo. It's vital mental medicine." So it proved; when Shackleton set off in a small boat to sail to South Georgia to get help, he left behind on Elephant Island twenty-two men. 
They lived for months under an upturned boat and some old sails. Every Saturday the banjo-playing meteorologist mounted a concert. 
He composed songs and whenever they caught a seal to eat brought out his banjo. He played, the men sang - and anger and depression were kept at bay. Leonard Hussey survived, as did his banjo, now in the National Maritime Museum, its skin marked with a dozen signatures of members of the failed expedition to the South Pole.

It's worse than we think...

There are many predictions of how things are changing as a result of climate change.
Some writers go for the more optimistic stories.
David Alcock is preparing an optimistic session at the GA Conference, but I have a feeling that a particular book I am reading is not going to make it into that session.
It's a rather more pessimistic take on the future, and is by David Wallace-Wells.
It's based on a piece in the New York Times magazine.

I started reading it last week and it's fairly uncompromising.
Here's a review in The Guardian.

This article has an interview with the author.

GRIST article here is fairly useful as well.

Sleep well...

Belt and Road - yi dai yi lu

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a Chinese initiative which has had a lot of publicity over the last few months, including some Geographical magazine articles, and a book or two published as well.
The Guardian has a very useful interactive on this huge development.
Belt and Road has been described as the new Silk Road.

A recent New York Times in February 2019 had an excellent front page feature on the Belt and Road too, and several countries are now bidding to be part of it, including Italy, which can be seen on a shipping route on the map above.

China is also developing new shipping routes in the Arctic.

Graphic: Source:

Caves and tourism

One of the major news stories of June 2018 was the rescue of the Thai football team from a complex of flooded caves.
What has happened since then?
Tham Luang cave is the name of the cave system where the football team were trapped.
The cave area is now a major tourist attraction as people head to see the caves where the drama happened.

A Quartz piece too.

This could be argued to be an example of 'disaster' or 'dark tourism', as one of the cave divers died while involved in the rescue. 

Image: Alan Parkinson

Critical Thinking for Achievement - a new video

Critical Thinking for Achievement from The Geographical Association on Vimeo.

I am involved in this project, and am working in Cambridgeshire and the Fens in particular. If you think your school qualifies, then please get in touch so that I can work with you.

House of Illustration - new migration resources for Primary and Secondary

Down to London after school today for the launch of a new set of education resources to support the teaching of migration stories using illustration, and an exhibition of art, including some original pieces by Olivier Kugler, from his wonderful book 'Escaping Wars and Waves'.

The House of Illustration is part of the new King's Place / Granary Square development, which houses St. Martin's School of Art - my wife went there when it was housed in Long Acre.

We found out about the launch of their new education resources for Primary, with a talk from a teacher who had used them with her class - some really nice work had been created.
We heard about the importance of the visual language of illustration to go along with spoken and written word.
We had an introduction to the House of Illustration's materials here (all free to download)

We also heard from Emily from Positive Negatives, who had a Secondary focus.
We were shown a powerful animation they had created with an illustrator, and work of secondary educators - see a maths link up here that we were shown.

We were shown some excellent work, again all free to download.

We also had a talk from Karrie Fransman, who created this powerful animation North Star Fading.

This forthcoming event looks excellent: on the power of illustration too.

These are all well worth exploring....