The Pre-U Biology syllabus places great emphasis on the planning and analysis of properly controlled scientific investigations. There can be no more engaging way of developing these skills than collecting one’s own data and working it up under expert guidance.
No single habitat presents a greater range of conditions and biodiversity for study than the sea shore, so Mrs Matthews, Mr Simper, Mrs Fletcher and myself, along with technician Mr Stanhope, took the Upper Sixth Pre-U biologists off to the Field Studies Council’s famous marine station at Dale Fort in Pembrokeshire for “full immersion” in coastal marine ecology.
Dale Fort is a destination for schools and universities from around the world because it harbours a hugely diverse marine community both at the southern extreme of more polar species and the northerly extreme of more topical species.
Classroom sessions on sampling methods and analysis were each supported by a dedicated piece of fieldwork. Pupils chose individual project titles and were let loose on the rocky shore to carry out their own investigations, and after just two-and-a-half days their fluency in fieldwork and statistics was transformed.
Dr Morgan, Head of Biology