Thursday, 28 January 2010


Tomorrow is the big day...

Remember, read the questions carefully, answer the question that you're asked, use the evidence from the booklet to support your answers, allow enough time (1/2 hour) for the decision question...

GOOD LUCK - I know that you will do brilliantly!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Muaitheabhal windfarm gets the go-ahead

Those of you who've had a look at the Moorland Without Turbines website will have seen the news that the 33-turbine Muaitheabhal windfarm on the Isle of Lewis (further south than the 181-turbine proposal that your decision is likely to focus on) was given the go-ahead on 14th January. Here is the press release from the Scottish Parliament...

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Year 11 - DME

A few more links...

I am not sure why I didn't have this one - Moorland Without Turbines - on my original list. It is (hopefully obviously!) the website of a group opposed to the development of windfarms on Lewis and the other Western Isles, and there are lots of useful/interesting bits and pieces including photos, media coverage and the group's response to planning consent being granted on 14th January 2010 for the 33 turbine Muaitheabhal windfarm in the south of Lewis. There is also a number of maps detailing the various windfarm projects on Lewis and Harris.

You might also like to have a look at this .pdf document that I've just come across on the Lewis Wind site... The first paragraph of the Executive Summary reads:

The key objective of the study has been to help the Western Isles to deliver economic and community benefit by identifying renewable energy potential, including the role for different scales of energy generation compatible with environmental obligations. A second objective has been to identify other opportunities for sustainable development initiatives across the Western Isles.

At 133 pages, I wouldn't necessarily expect you to read all of it, but there are some interesting points made... (Note that this study was commissioned by Lewis Wind - the company who are proposing the windfarm developments.)

Some of you were asking the other day about crofting... The Scottish Crofting Federation website has lots of photos and a FAQs section.

If you want to know more about peat, then you could do worse than to visit the website of the International Peat Society. Also, this Guardian article looks at the Isle of Lewis crofters who are returning to the old tradition of cutting peat to use as a domestic fuel - and considers the environmental impacts of peat-cutting on the protected peatland areas.

The Explore Scotland site has a range of information about the Outer Hebrides, including a tourist guide with maps of the area and a Lewis Virtual Tour.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Frozen Earth

Not a brilliant response from Year 10 to the snow challenges last week.... However, I was extremely impressed with Grace's effort:

Year 11 - DME

Lots of links here that will be of use/interest:

Energy Gap Links:

Britain facing large energy gap (BBC News article, Nov.05)

Britain 'faces power cuts threat' (BBC News article, Sept. 08)

Energy gap means nuclear power is a must (Telegraph, July 09)

Energy entrepreneurs can plug the gap in our energy supplies (Telegraph, Nov. 09)

Closing the energy gap (Greenpeace/WWF summary paper, Sept. 08)

The Energy Gap (Guide from Sense about Science)

Launch of £100bn wind energy programme (Guardian Jan. 2010)

General Wind Energy Links (how it works, etc.):

Energy Kids - US site explaining how wind energy works, types of turbine, etc.

BBC Video on How Wind Produces Electricity

BBC News - Government sets 2020 renewables targets (video clip)

Pro- Wind Energy Links:

British Wind Energy Association


Proven Energy includes energy calculator and allows estimate of energy production

Dept. Energy Wind Speed Database online and downloadable database that links to GIS.

EcoTricity - why wind energy?

Wind Power Works - part of Global Wind Energy Council, various facts & figures, including 12 wind farm case studies from around the world.

Anti- Wind Energy Links:

Fairwind lobby group for Ardnamurchan, Morven and Mull

Isle of Lewis Wind Energy Links:

Lewis Wind

Google map link to Pentland Road Site, Eilean Siar (Isle of Lewis)

BBC News (video clip) about Lewis proposals

BBC News (video clip) about opposition to Lewis proposals

RSPB report about Lewis Windfarm proposals

Scottish Government News Release - decision on Lewis windfarm planning application

Scottish Wildlife Trust - response to planning application decision

Also, some of you were having trouble finding the Teachers' TV video - Electricity for the Future. It's here. I believe that some of you have watched it in Science, but it'll be a useful reminder of how electricity is generated and might provide you with some evidence to support the decision you make in the exam next week.

Year 10 - Worldmapper, Urbanisation and Google searching...

The excellent maps that we started this morning's lesson with are part of Sheffield University Geography Department's Worldmapper project. Click on the image below to go to the website:

I also intended to tell you about the BBC's Urbanisation Interactive, which is part of their Urban Planet In Depth report and is great...

Also check out Google Timeline, Google Wonder Wheel (search as normal, and then click Show Options) and Google Squared...

Friday, 8 January 2010

£100 bn for offshore windfarms

Very timely for the DME is the announcement today of a £100 billion programme to build thousands of offshore windfarms in the seas around the UK.

Couple of articles here that you ought to have a look at:


Good idea? Leave a comment on this post with your thoughts...

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Year 10 Geographers.... SNOW!!!

Hopefully you will have spent some of your time off over the last few days keeping an eye on the snow news, and looking at the weather forecasts (including deciphering those pressure charts with the big high pressure area over Greenland...).

You are most welcome to do some research and reading about changing shopping patterns and out-of-town shopping centres (and Meadowhall being closed early because of the snow!) and also make a note in your diary to watch Slumdog Millionaire (Wednesday 13th January, Channel 4, 9pm) and Slumming It (Thursday 14th January, Channel 4, 9pm).

However, your official work while we're not in snowy Swanwick is.... to do AT LEAST four of the following (hopefully interesting and fun) Geography Snow Challenges. You must provide some evidence for each challenge you complete - this can be in written form (ideally a comment on this blog post, but email will be fine either), photographs (emailed, or uploaded to Flickr - send me the link or leave a comment on here with it), video (emailed, or uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube - again, email the URL or leave a comment here)...

The challenges are for my group and Miss Bradford's, and can be completed individually or collaboratively. If you are leaving a comment, make sure that you include your first name, and the initial of your surname if there's another Year 10 geographer with the same first name as you.

I'd also like you to have a think about why it is that we're struggling so much (as a country) to cope with the conditions - and leave a comment here with your answer.


The Geography Snow Challenges:

1. Measure the depth of undisturbed snow on grass.

2. Collect a cup of snow... Bring it inside and let it melt. How much water does it produce? Is this more or less than you expected?

3. If you have a thermometer at home, keep a record of the temperature... How does it change? Why? Keep a record of the times when it’s snowing... Watch the sky and how it changes... How do the temperature, the weather conditions and the state of the sky relate to each other?

4. Choose a particular spot – somewhere in your garden... or out of your bedroom window. Take a photo every hour. Put them together in MovieMaker to make a timelapse movie... (Email me the finished product, or upload to Vimeo or YouTube and email me the link.)

5. Wrap up warm and put your wellies on... Then go for a walk. Put together a snow/ice/cold weather hazard map for your local area.

6. Find some black paper and freeze it. When it snows again, take your frozen black paper outside and catch some snowflakes. Look at them carefully (with a magnifying glass if you have one). Describe them. Have a go at taking some photographs of them.

7. Make a glacier... Send me photos and/or video...

8. What does the snow look like? Feel like? Smell like? Sound like? (Taste like? H&S!!)

9. Make a geographical sculpture... The Eiffel Tower? The Taj Mahal?

10. Make some icicles or freeze some bubbles...

11. Something else!!! Can you come up with your own interesting educational snowy geographical challenge?

ps There might be a prize or three for the best (most interesting and creative) responses...

Year 11 - DME Preparation

Good evening Year 11. Hopefully you are enjoying the snow - and keeping an on the forecasts and the news reports...

We will most likely be back on Monday so that you can have your DME booklets and we can get started properly with the preparation for the exam on 29th January. In the meantime, however, it's worth you having a think about the energy crisis, alternative forms of energy, wind energy, and the Isle of Lewis. I've gathered quite a few links together which I will post tomorrow. Had we been in yesterday afternoon, however, the plan was for us to watch this Teachers' TV video which looks at the production and use of electricity, the impacts of our energy use, and considers where we'll get our energy from in the future. It would be very useful for you to watch the video, note down any key words, and then to do some research around the topics mentioned earlier. If you find any particularly useful websites, email me the URLs, or leave a comment here with the link.

And when you have done so much work (!) that you need to go play out, have a go at one or two of the activities in the Year 10 post... Have fun!