Monday, 31 January 2011

The Final 4B post!!!!!!!!

Yes, the final one!!! I am working on some awesome volcano posts, you are going to hear all about my favorite volcanoes, thoughts on eruptions that could affect us and even the bizarre complaint from evacuees from Merapi last year (Bizarre doesn't really cover it - more on that later).

Anyways, here goes, the key things to remember to tomorrow:

1) This is a Skills exam - use your skills (data analysis) just like in the Lower Sixth, you need to refer to data, not necessarily just the one they refer you to but perhaps to others as well if its relevant to the question

2) Remember the timings - 1.5 minutes per mark, don't go too far over as there will be long answer questions and you need to budget your time

3) Read the whole paper before you start, and don't worry about the stats test if its there, remember the key meanings and work through it

4) Remember to take everything with you and to the right room - H104/5 and 203/4 or E5, you need black pens, you each need a calculator

5) If you are given new data, remember to use it!

6) by 3 tomorrow afternoon its all over until the summer session, time to go back to tectonics!

See you all tomorrow, there will be a workshop in B21 from 1020 onwards, it is an Upper Sixth Lesson, but open to all classes.


Sunday, 30 January 2011

The 11th Hour Review

Dear All,

My Sunday movie this week was "The 11th Hour", Leonardo DiCaprio's feature length environmental documentary. Although the film benefits from Leo's impassioned voice and sensible approach to the environmental issues, I have to say that have not enjoyed this one at all!

The film starts with a sequence of images that is a strange collection of burning forests, cyclones, babies and volcanoes, I think this may have been what put me off from the start, the images weren't new, they were clearly stock images from a range of natural disasters and news reports, and it is the same throughout the movie. It doesn't cover any new ground in terms of arguing a case for climate change, or any other environmental issue, instead it tries to cover too many at once, linking climate change, financial crises, declining fish stocks, desertification and the fate of humanity all in one, is a little too much. The film jumps between issues, with no clear link between some of them, and a collection of interviews with some very varied people, well known and respected National Geographic Explorers, such as Sylvia Earle (What an awesome job) and religious leaders.

What the film does cover well is this notion of this "Convergence of Crises", the idea that we have caused too much change, and that global climate change has such a delayed effect, that we will only soon be feeling the impact of the carbon released during the industrialisation, and that the potential ecosystem collapse will have a significant effect on our future as a species.

The one point the film makes which i think is worth repeating here, is that we often mistakenly label Global environmental change as a planetary, or environmental disaster, when in fact, the planet is 4.6 billion years old, we have been around for a few million, developed for the last 200 at most, we are a planetary blip and the geological record shows us that the planet has seen many changes more extreme and catastrophic than the current anthropogenic one, its just that when these changes happen, they are normally accompanied by mass extinctions, the planet survives, but the species don't. For instance, the end Permian, the Cretaceous Tertiary Asteroid Impact

The graph above is an example of the decline in number of species the planet has seen in the past, who is to say we wont be the next dip?

Which brings to me a small mention of my rant of the week last week, as I was discussing with some of my Upper Sixth, I redecorated my kitchen last week and when i was buying paint i noticed a crown "22% less embodied carbon". Similar price, a couple of pounds more, but not extortionate. If it is possible to make paint, for the same cost, with a range of colours, with less carbon, why on earth is it not a legal requirement for all paint sold to be 22% less embodied carbon, why isn't all paper recycled, all bags made from corn starch not plastic! I could go on, but it strikes me that until we see competitively priced Eco-friendly alternatives to everyday items, and the element of choice for like for like (Eco to non-Eco) is removed from some of the worst offending items, change is going to be hard to integrate into the average shoppers mind.

Rant over, look forward to seeing you all tomorrow, remember, one day left to Belfast, and back to normal post exam lessons with some very interesting new topics!


Friday, 28 January 2011

3 days to go on Belfast

Dear Upper Sixth,

I know many of you are counting down to Tuesday, so this post is another quick reminder of what to do this weekend, and the key meanings and formats for hypotheses for the stats tests we have been working through this week.

Believe me when I say the blog will become super interesting and more relevant to geography as a whole after the Tuesday exam, I have lots of ideas to share for the tectonics module and the final one on climate, but until Tuesday it's Belfast all the way!

So, starting with arguably the hardest thing to maintain interest in, but possibly the easiest way to get good marks, your stats tests. You need to be able to work, use and interpret four key tests, and the basics such as IQR, mean, median and mode.

1) Spearmans Rank - used to test the relationship between two variables and gives three possibly results.
A) a positive correlation - as one goes up, the other goes up (Close to +1)
B) a negative correlation - as one goes up the other goes down (Close to -1)
C) no correlation (close to 0)

Key checks
The answer should not be outside the range 1 to -1
The most common error is the last stage of the equation which is subtracting the result of the division from 1
You need to comment on the relationships strength (closeness to 1 or -1) and its significance, which will be given to you in the table along with the formula

Hypothesis - There will be a significant positive correlation between the number of X religion and the income deprivation of areas in Belfast

2) Standard Deviation - tests the spread of results from a set of data around the mean
A) a high number in comparison to your range of data indicates there is no clustering of results around the mean, and the data is widely dispersed
B) A low number in comparison to your data range indicates most numbers are close to the mean, or are clustered

Key Checks
Make sure you remember to square root the final answer

Most people in Ward X will fall within the age range of 18 to 25

3) Chi Squared
Tests to see if the observed data from counts in an area is different to that expected. For instance, the number of people employed in different sectors of industry in four different wards. If the result is positive, it means there is a statistically significant difference between observed and expected, you then need to refer back to the raw observed data to analyse the table and find the reason

Key Checks
Your grand total should be the sum of all your rows or your columns which should be the same number, don't add the two together
Go to 2 decimal places, rounding up from the 3rd for all your calculations
When calculating the degrees of freedom in order to read off significance, be aware it is calculated by
(rows -1) x (columns -1)

There will be no difference between observed and expected frequencies of users of community centres in the four regions assessed

4) Mann Whitney U
This test is normally done for frequencies or values across two data samples, often surveys or results for two different years. It shows whether or not there is a statistically significant difference, you have to work out if it has increased or decreased from one to the other

Key Checks
You add up your MWU values for each row and take the lower one as your answer
This is the only test for which your value has to be lower than the significance level
You can have different amounts of data in each data set
Significance is read off on a table to give you an accurate number for N in both rows

Due to regeneration work in Belfast, there will be a significant decrease in hate crimes in regions that have been targeted by the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy

Hopefully this helps a little,

Keep reading the AIB,  come up with your suggestions for the city, be aware of Liverpool and the Docklands for comparative case studies, remember your geography words - Geographerise each sentence and be synoptic!

One final weekend to work then it is all over and we will be back to Tectonics!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Cove

Already discussed in the Fish Fight blog, this was intended to be our cheery Christmas movie, but the snow got in the way and we lost too much time! (I blame global warming - sorry - Global Climate Change). This movie is now in the Library and especially if you are doing Environmental Science as well as geography, this should be a key film to watch.

Written and produced by the man who trained the original Flipper Dolphins, Ric O'Barry, whose aim is to expose the brutal killing of thousands of Dolphins in a Cove in Japan each year. The Dolphins are driven into a closed of cove, the best quality females are trapped and taken for training in dolphin sanctuary's and facilities across the world.

Whale Hunting is a part of Japanese culture, and the discussions surrounding the issue are well covered online, however, the slaughter of Dolphins depicted in the movie is shocking and it seems unnecessary. Dolphin meat contains high levels of mercury (Dolphins are apex predators and hence bio-accumulate mercury), it is donated to the school system, and few ocean populations can survive such significant hunts year after year. The Killing method in particular is brutal, and there are few reasons as to why the dolphins not captured are not just released instead of killed.

The movie is designed to stimulate its watchers into action, and it does so very effectively, there is some controversy around the information used and the people portrayed in the film, you can read about the reported controversy at wikipedia.

So why is this a good geography movie? It covers some key themes from the development module, the demand for holidays where you can swim with dolphins, visit theme parks with dolphin and whale displays etc is a product of both development, Westernisation and Globalisation, it is a high end holiday, a mark of being a developed nation with big tourist drawing power.

The trade in these dolphins is made possible through the spread of media, the Internet. exporting TV shows like Flipper, and the advent of cheap flights to where these facilities are. I am by no means saying that all dolphins in captivity have been selected in this manner, and certainly not advocating we release all cetaceans back into the wild, conservation through captivity is an important part of preserving our marine heritage, but this film does so accurately depict that the side effects to rapid development and significant economic gain are that some of the more humanitarian and environmental issues are readily overlooked when there is a market. The slaughter of dolphins can be done more humanely, those not wanted can be released. Japan is a developed nation, they do not need to rely on Dolphin meat to feed their population so why continue with such an aggressive capture and kill programme?

There is a positive to be drawn here that does relate to your geography studies, we are now in a position to bring issues like these to the forefront of global media, a positive to globalisation is that it is far easier now than ever before to expose practices like this and to effect change through social pressure. There are a number of websites that allow you to show your support, any one from any country in the world with access to the Internet can get involved ( ), Westerners can access areas of the world like Taiji for research and protest purposes, the need for countries to maintain an eco-friendly public image is increasing by the day and using popular media like film to expose issues is becoming a powerful tool (see also "An Inconvenient Truth", "The 11th Hour", "The age of Stupid", "Sicko" etc).

So the Library staff emailed me on Monday to let me know we now have a copy, I will try and set up a viewing in a classroom on a timetable collapse day, but it is difficult, so check it out of the LRC, watch it and let me know what you think by posting a comment below!

Monday, 24 January 2011

One Week to Go!

Dear Upper Sixth

You are no doubt as relieved as the staff that there is now only one week to go before the Belfast exam, one week is not long, and today's post is a reminder that that this week really needs a final push, you need to keep your interest up and stay on top of the key tips for doing well, so as a written reminder, here is a summary of what you need to be doing:

1) Keep reading the AIB - I know it has been three months, some of you have almost learnt it by heart, but you need to get to the point at which you know it well enough not to have to search for information during the exam to refer to it too much

2) Get on top on the stats tests - you have all done the basics, there are more worked examples coming your way soon, using actual data rather than some made up numbers, you must make sure you question me endlessly until you understand these!

3) Prepare for the questions we know might be coming - the fieldwork (EQA), the most effective part of the regeneration scheme to date, what will have the most significant lasting impact, what are the suggestions for the future (Thank you to the student blog for some "outside the box" thinking on this one!)

4) What are your thoughts - prepare some, they could be almost anything - we have discussed lessening the divide through art, sports, possibly music, media (remember the film) come up with something original and practical that takes into account the history/culture of the region.

5) Remember your words - Geographerise - there are some terms we have used in the sessions on the AIB and the mock that need to form part of your language if you are looking for a top grade - see the brief glossary below - it is by no means exhaustive.

6) Remember that although this is one of the last exams, and I know you are all probably reaching the limit of your motivation to revise and your ability to keep researching, but this is the exam you don't want to retake (it will be an entirely new topic) and with suitable preparation you can do very well in this paper.

Soon we will be back to tectonics, and kicking back of with some comparative volcanic case studies from the last year, Iceland and Merapi, and for earthquakes Haiti and Chile.

So, Statistics....

The ones you need to be able to do
1) Spearmans Rank
2) Mann Whitney U
3) Chi Squared
4) Standard Deviation
5) Inter Quartile Range
6) Averages (Mean, Median and Mode)

You can look at the data and work out what kind of test the data you have lends itself to. You have the websites to get more data, if you have a hypothesis, test it, we will be working on a few in class.

Lastly - the words you need to work into your vocabulary for the next week:

Index of Multiple Deprivation
Inter-Generational Deprivation
Peace Walls
Urban Regeration
The Multiplier Effect
The De-Multiplier Effect

My final word for tonight, is an article I stumbled across on segregated cities, truly excellent and a really good read for a summary on the issues in Belfast. I will attempt to condense it tomorrow, but in the meantime do some research!

Hope this helps, and get your stats heads on for the next few days!


Friday, 21 January 2011

Re-Imaging Communities Programme in Belfast

Dear All

This afternoon while the AS groups were in their exam, I did some research into initiatives having some success in Belfast with reducing the amount of division in the most deprived communities. I came across a scheme I feel are well worth discussing with reference to 4B - the Re-Imaging Communities Programme, set up by the Arts Council.

This programme started in 2006 and was created with a view to address the problems faced by Belfast in terms of the sectarian symbolism, from both sides that is clearly evident across Belfast today. Indeed we have discussed on many occasions in class that having such a vivid and public display or loyalty to one cause or another, or a mural designed to commemorate specific events from the Troubles, could lead to further feelings of segregation and separation within neighbourhoods. However, the murals are an important part of Belfast's past, and many do not want them simply white washed and removed from the streets. Furthermore, as the Student blog so accurately points out, progress cannot be made by simply eradicating culture and tradition, or the history of an area, no matter what that history is.

It can easily be argued however, that many of the murals were antagonistic, and could be viewed as aggressive or oppressive in nature, and in a community struggling to overcome its troubled past, many of these murals could be redesigned to portray a more positive and inclusive side to the city.

 This Shankill region Mural was redesigned with artist Ed Reynolds, who worked with Lower Shankill Community Association’s human rights group to create a mural that has contemporary relevance to all

Enter the Arts Council, they have now provided £3.5 million in funding for what has now become a collection of 123 new murals. The project has been community based from the start,  and is designed to make it accessible to all backgrounds and groups within Belfast. There are a number of organisations involved, including the  DFSD, NI Housing Executive, The Police and the Arts Council. The grants have been awarded to projects proposed that address the issue of community relations in some way, encourage cross-community or multiracial interactions and this has led to a number of new relationships being formed. 63% of the projects have been community managed, and have involved 6,893, with a further possible 2000 artists, consultants and volunteers.

The Executive summary of the review of the work can be found in the summary through this link

Here are some other examples taken from the review of the project in the Guardian

Before: a common paramilitary image of two silhouetted gunmen commemorates the Scottish Brigade of the loyalist UDA force

After: the new image by Tim McCarthy represents an event in July 1969 in Christopher Street when children digging in the rubble of the then demolished ‘Scotch Flats’ discovered a hoard of gold sovereigns

This is an excellent example of the new message that communities are trying to spread to the current generation, peace and co-operation over fear and segregation.

An excellent description of the project from the New Zealand Herald can be found here

The murals are also now a major tourist attraction in Belfast, see this website for a link to tours of the walls and some examples of the murals. This companies website has lots of photos of murals and outlines the arguments for not getting rid of them.

And finally a show uploaded to YouTube discussing the differing views on marching season and a tour of the walls

Part 1

We will watch part of this show in class next week if we have time, it is worth noting that this was part of a series called "Walls of Shame" and Belfast is by no means the only divided city. Check out some of the other episodes to look for parallels we can draw and other solutions. Remember there is no right or wrong answer, its all about justification!

We have now come up with two mediums to unite communities, the sports and the arts hold great power by making a public symbol of unity, as do organisations like NICIE. You need some suggestions for solutions, this would be a good start!

Happy reading and only 10 days left to go!


Thursday, 20 January 2011


Dear Geographers,
As discussed in my workshop today with my lower sixth, here are some of my top tips for geographerising your language (once again, apologies for the appalling abuse of the English language, but I'm hoping it might catch on).
This is a collection of words that i have most commonly seen being misused, by misused I mean used in place of the correct terminology you have been taught and should be using!
Bendiness – sinuosity, the term to describe how bendy a river channel is. It is calculable, you can measure the actual channel length, and the straight-line distance next to the channel and then divide the actual by the shortest distance, if the answer is close to 1 the channel is straight, the higher the number, the more sinuous (bendy) it is.

Sticky - Cohesive - clay is cohesive, that is why it requires more energy to entrain into the flow of a river than is required for a particle of a much larger size. This is why the Hjulstrom curve has an anomaly for clay sized particles on the mean entrainment curve.
Older British generation - The Baby Boomers! Those born after the end of World War Two, currently reaching retirement age
Velocimeters/water meters/spirometers - Its a flow meter people! An essential bit of kit for any rivers fieldwork, the limitation is that we cant afford the really accurate ones as they cost thousands!
Rage poles/red and white sticks/poles - There are an infinite number of names that this department has read over the past few years, but no geography trip would be complete without our trusty Ranging Poles
Bouncing along the bed - This is actually reffered to as Saltation! And it is part of the Bedload of a river (which also includes Traction - not particles "Being dragged along the bed")
Dissolved stuff - If it is dissolved, it is part of a Solution, therefore is Solute Load.
Big rock/small rock/muddy stuff - Use your grain sizes! Clay, Silt, Sand (Fine/Medium/Course), Gravel, Pebbles, Cobbles and Boulders!
How a river changes over a year - The River Regime
There are always marks awarded for the correct use of terminology, particularly for the fieldwork sections, getting the names of the kit right, and describing in detail gets you the marks, remember that if I picked up your answer on data collection, I should be able to go and do it myself using your instructions!

Thats all for now as I need to plan a stats lesson for my Upper Sixth!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Environmental Quality Assessments

Dear All

Today and yesterday the focus of my lessons has been the fieldwork options for the 4B paper, both of my A2 classes have been working on the same question, which was focused on primary data collection options. Although I did photograph the board with my iphone, and i have uploaded it (see below) to my blog, and the link will be on the Facebook page (I am always suprised by where IT has taken education since I left college - and thank you so much to the student who pointed out today I was probably educated with a chalk board), the photo actually wasn't that clear, and it appears some of you are overly reliant on IT as opposed to making notes for yourselves!

In short, the key points for a question on fieldwork were as follows:

1) Justify and explain your choice for data collection - we don't have the time to organize time off from college, staffing and to research a trip for this paper, the information is only released on the 1st of November and it takes time to sort out a trip for an entire year group. Also, we are dealing with a sensitive issue, and questionnaires need careful wording and experience of using them to be effective, sending them out without incentive for return will not yield results, and sending out poorly worded or potentially offensive questionnaires would not reflect well on any school or college they are linked to.

2) The Environmental Quality Assessment (EQA - not use of full name first, then subsequent use of abbreviation for the rest of the article/answer). Why have we chosen this method? Mostly because with the advent of advanced forms of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) that are also free - ie Google Earth - and provide us with up to date, high resolution images from the air, and in some cases a three dimensional image from ground level if Google Streetview is available. The EQA works by the user forming a set of criteria by which to assess quality, this needs to be defined clearly, You form five usable criteria, such as the quality of green spaces within the area, and having been in the lesson with the Ipad this week, you have all seen what kind of data we can get from Google earth. Some of the best suggestions from the two classes were the quality of the roads, the quality of green spaces, quality of housing and gardens. This is not necessarily enough to secure full marks, remember, all the marks come for JUSTIFICATION AND EXPLANATION - there are very few absolute right and wrongs in this paper, reasonable suggestions are all creditworthy as long as there is a suitable explanation! The very best answers include a sentence such as "for example, in order for green spaces to receive the highest score of 1, it should demonstrate a clear purpose, be accessible to the local population and clearly be well maintained, whereas a score of 5 would be awarded for areas that are unkempt, potentially dangerous with rubble or partially destroyed buildings and serve no clear purpose".
By doing this, you are demonstrating to the examiner that you actually know how to do an EQA! You know what is reasonable in order of gaining primary data from a secondary source such as Google Earth, and perhaps you have been prepared enough to try doing it!

3) Now you know what you are doing, how are you going to decide where to do it! Systematic, Pragmatic, Stratified or a Random sampling methodology? (Does anyone else always think of the song in the car workshop from Grease - It's systematic / It's hydromatic / Why it's grease lightning!) Again, there is no right or wrong, just a justification of which you think and an awareness of its limitations (see "What I learned in Geography This week" blog via Richuish Geography). You can link them together, ie perhaps a grid lain over the wards to be sampled on a scale of 500m between grid lines, and the the central point can be assessed, or the nearest point to that for which streetview, or a photograph on Google Earth would be available, a Pragmatically Systematic sampling methodology. Any answer is valid, just explain why!

4) You finally need to demonstrate that you have not just learnt a good answer and read a textbook, but that you  can think for yourselves and have a good idea on presentation, you have your skills booklet from last year, you could graph the results, map them and draw Isolines, draw proportional symbols on the map, divide into grids and shade in (a chloropleth for those of you who remember!).

Do remember, you don't have to do one point on the map, but could assess a small area,

The example EQA from the wednesday afternoon class was useful, I have retyped it below:

Green Space (Houses)
1 = Front and/or back gardens, well kept, no rubbish/rubble and well maintained borders
5 = Evidence of damage, rubbish/rubble clearly evident around the houses, lack of gardens

Community Green Space
1 = Purposeful, well used, well manicured, close proximity/easy access for population
5 = Unkempt, evidence of fly tipping, damaged structures, poor quality scrub vegetation

1 = Good Surface, clearly marked, no plants growing in the roads
5 = Potholes, unmarked edges and central lines, overgrown roads and pavements

Quality of Housing
1 = Solid, well maintained roof and intact windows on all buildings, garages and/pr parking clearly available
5 = Collapsed or damaged roofs, evidence of vandalism/damage, empty properties

This is not meant as something for you all to learn, and i certainly would not expect you to repeat all of it in an exam, but it provides a useful template for developing your own ideas and EQA.

Once again, your language needs to be geographical, for those of you that struggle, forgive the poor language (and appalling spelling - sorry the Ipad is pretty but it doesn't automatically spell check!), but you need to "geographerise" you answer, think what you want to write, then think what words you have learned that are of relevance to the answer and try to work them in.

Hope this helps, tomorrows post will include my finalized list of essential words you need to work into your answers.

As discussed with some of you, and mentioned in my blog on Tuesday, my geography film of the week was "the age of stupid", partly chosen as we will soon be starting our final (sob/eek!) module - climate - and partly as Pete Postlethwaite, one of my favourite actors, passed away recently.

The movie is an alternative to "An Inconvenient Truth", which I know most of you have seen at school (if not, its in the library - check it out), but it is a very factual movie, and does of course have a political slant to it (surprising that). "The Age of Stupid" is set int he future, 2055, and is one man (Postlethwaite) taking a retrospective slant on why we were so blind to the signs of environmental change (note the new terminology - global warming is too confusing - go figure) that are happening with ever increasing frequency. Postlethwaite has access to all archive footage from news channels (all real) that portray the worst climatic events of our time, and the increasingly regular occurrence of extreme weather events. He reviews the NIMBY's who "care" about climate change but dont want a wind farm in their village, the oil industry worker who lost everything in Katrina and the family "doing their bit" in the countryside. Was it enough? No. Postlethwaite's world is post-apocalyptic, we are flooded out, starved, out of resources and out of time to find new ones.

I enjoyed the movie, it didnt break any new ground in terms of the science, and is by no means a replacement to learning the theory, but as an introduction to the issues and to give an excellent view of "different perspectives on the issue" (something our exam board are exceptionally keen on - take note), it cant be faulted. Why are we so reluctant? Because we like our lifestyle, other countries want our lifestyle (Westernisation/Americanisation of culture), the only way to get it, is to use fossil fuels. They took millions of years to form, their formation changed our climate into the nice low carbon one we know today, and yet we burn through this resource like we can make more of it when we want to. Wake up folks, we cant! But that's a discussion for another module!

Overall, well worth the 90 minutes it lasts for, I doubt that we will have time to watch it in class, but there is certainly enough time for you all to check it out of the library for a night or watch it in a free period in the library - that is of course after I remember to return it tomorrow!

See you all in class!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Fish Fight

As many of you have also done over the last week, tonight I watched the full Fish Fight series (available on YouTube shows until the end if January). Although I was already aware of the issue from some other films and reading about the issues surrounding fishing in thus country, the footage shown of by catch and discard was truly haunting. Hugh's enigmatic, passionate and informed discussion of these issues is enough to make anyone think twice before buying fish, and to make sure we read the labels.

You will all soon be catering for yourselves, you are the next consumer generation, we have a responsibility to show retailers that we want sustainable food in our supermarkets.

Hughs Programs are available on YouTube Shows, but for those of you who havent discovered this growing area of YouTube yet, the campaign video is here

Links to the shows are found through the link here to the series which is available until the 12 of february

In addition, there are some other fantastic movies that are on a similar theme, perhaps more useful to students who are taking Environmental Studies as well, but if you were disgusted by the Shark finning on Gordons "Shark Bait" last ngiht (link here: though you must confirm you are over 18 as there is, of course, explicit language), you really should check out "Sharkwater", useful for looking at the downside to rapid development and globalisation of trade, this movie documents the Shark Finning industry in Costa Rica, ending in an armed chase away from the coastline and public outcry at this truly shocking treatment of our oceans predators.

On a similar note, "The End of The Line" narrated by Ted Danson is another excellent expose of just how dire the situation in our oceans is, with scientists predicting a significant collapse of the fishing industry by2048 unless we take action now

Lastly, every been swimming with Dolphins? Ever watched Flipper or been to an Aquarium with a Dolphin show? This movie is written and directed by Ric O'Barry who trained the original Flipper Dolphins, be warned, it is not for the squeamish or fainthearted, but is essential viewing for any doplhin lover.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Monday Morning Lessons

Today's lessons were mostly the follow up to the Belfast Mocks we set last week, there were some great answers in the room today, and the key to this paper seems to be justifying every decision you make, follow it uo with some sound synoptic reasoning and using your geography words.

On that last point, I am going to introduce a new word to the English language, it is a verb, to "geograherise" you answers, too often students loose critical marks for not using the correct terminology. We wouldn't teach it to you if it wouldn't help you to use it!

Do remember the dictionary on the noodle is there for you to download and fill in as we go through the next two modules and for the last inelegant, it is lengthy (11 pages) but well worth taking the time to familiarize yourself with.

Other key points for today, we weed discussing the way forwards for Belfast in column two, and comparing the ethno-religious conflict to the situation in Siuth Africa before the end if apartheid. One of the biggest sporting events held last year was in South Africa, the football world cue, and it was a widely heralded as a sign of an integrated population that had made great strides in conquering the massive divides that existed until 1994. Belfast has a comparable time scale, and it has been suggested by a number of students that the way forwards may be to try and host something if equal significance that could bring the two groups closer together.

The issues the have historically affected Belfast have always been echoed in Glasgow, with the two rival football teams Celtic (Irish Roman Catholic) and Rangers (Protestant) particularly in relation to the two teams playing each other in what ar know as the "Old Firm" matches, during which admissions are to casualty are reported to have risen ninefold. (source: wikipedia the issue raised its head again cast week when Cektic manager Neil Lennon reportedly received bullets through the post along with player Niall McGinn (

On a completely different note, todays news story that caught my attention was the current investigation into the Marianas trench. Scientists from Japan, the UK and Germany are part of a new mission to explore the deaths of the oceans. The investigation is focusing on the importance that trenchs (a tectonic feature) play in controlling the worlds climate. Apparently they play a disproportionate role in carbon capture and storage, and once fully understood this will considerably enhance our understanding of deep ocean processes and make our climate models more accurate when it comes to predictions. (

I think thats it for today, tonight I will be watching "The age if stupid" a film starring the late and great Pete who takes a look back from the future and asks why we didn't stop global warming when we had the chance. Good question really, review to follow tomorrow!

Check out this video on YouTube:

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Welcome to my Geography Teaching Blog!


This is the first of what will hopefully be a read-worthy blog for the rest of the academic year, it is linked to my Facebook Page - Richuish Geography, and for those of you who havent sussed it yet (hopefully that doesnt apply to my students) I am a Geography teacher!

This blog will be filled with updates on what I hope i have achieved in me A-Level classroom this week, and interesting things I read and think about geography and geology as and when I read or think them! This week, is the final week of the Skills exam for my lower sixth, and the Belfast unit for my upper sixth, who have had their pre-release material since november, and only have to immerse themselves in Belfasts history and development for another two weeks! I feel sure many of them are counting down the days - if thats you, attend the event on the facebook page and share your feelings about Belfast, and preferably any exciting links or resources you have found

This weekend, what has mostly been fascinating me is the new eruption at Mt Etna (see above), I do love my Sicilian volcanoes, and Etna is one of my favourites, i have been many times, three of them with college (we have an unfortunate/fortunate habit of stopping volcanic eruptions by just arriving in the country!), and this weeks NASA Earth Observatory Photo was just stunning (Takes a while to load - The video foottage showed some fabulous fire fountains, and once again the Sicilians show they are well on track with volcano management, close the airports, divert the flights and then clean up!

Lovely stuff, almost as good as the footage from Vanuatu last year, but I'll save that for another blog. Also on my reading list this week, the horrendous flooding in Brazil, Australia and Sri Lanka. The La Nina effect is in full force this year, shame it is not on the syllabus, but unfortunately we no longer cover El Nino/La Nina oscillations.

Lastly, is a small whinge on my part, if i hear one more person tell me that it was so cold this winter global warming clearly is happening I will start a public service of street lectures on why they are so wrong! Students, climate is our next module, and we do have a lesson called "skeptic bashing" which is a game where you score points for effectively countering common misinterpretations on global climate change - get your best response to that one prepared!