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Grade 12 - Field Studies Centre Millport

Early September 2023, a group of 23 Grade 12 students studying the IB Diploma (IBDP) in Biology and Environmental Systems and Societies courses took part in an ecological fieldwork residential trip.

Guided by our dedicated teachers, Mr. Budd and Dr. Carmichael, the adventurous group set out to explore the wonders of nature and deepen their understanding of the environment. Over three days, the students ventured to the Field Studies Centre (FSC) Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae.

Located on the West Coast of Scotland in Northern Ayrshire, to reach their destination, took a three-hour drive away from Aberdeen, followed by a picturesque 10-minute CalMac ferry ride from Largs to Cumbrae.

The main objective of the field trip was to equip students with essential skills for conducting ecological investigations into environmental issues affecting Aberdeenshire's natural world. Relying on the knowledge gained at their IBDP Biology and Environmental Systems and Societies courses, the students were eager to put their theory into practice.

This trip provided the opportunity to develop a profound appreciation for the delicate balance that exists between all species and the pressing need to conserve our natural world for future generations.

The heart of this educational journey lay in ecological investigations spanning diverse ecosystems, from terrestrial to freshwater and marine habitats. Famous for many a holiday destination, Cumbrae is home to one of the UK’s first marine science laboratories since 1885, FSC Millport which served as the base of operations and learning hub.

There, ISA students were taught the techniques they need to undertake their own ecological studies when back in Aberdeen. The students collaboated in teams to sample and collect data from a range of ecosystems including rocky shores, freshwater ponds and grasslands. They also delved into the fundamentals of ecological research, from the basics of using a quadrat and transect to sample plant populations, to the intricate techniques of marking and releasing mobile organisms in their natural habitats.

Students immersed themselves into exploring key ecological concepts such as succession and zonation, gaining a deeper understanding of the landscapes they call home.

Fieldwork is as much about the experience as it is about the results, and our young scholars embraced the hands-on approach. They learned by doing, not just from textbooks, enriching their knowledge in ways that traditional classroom settings cannot replicate.

The feedback from these Grade 12 students speaks volumes about the success of their fieldwork adventure:

  • Edoardo Di Laus - "Very organized, and I learned a lot about practical experience of the subject I am taking."
  • Mobina Gilani - "Doing the practical activities was hard to avoid slipping on algae!"
  • Jamie Angella - "Enjoyed getting to do some practical work, preparing experiments in the field. I also enjoyed just getting to explore and the good weather!"
  • Thibaut Stevens - "I liked how hands-on it was, 90% of the time it was practical, and being able to physically do the science rather than being told."
  • Ziah Vixamar - "Enjoyable experience, just fun all of us being together, forced to bond with others, no one felt out. I liked always being in groups and learning together, and being hands-on - I learned better that way."
  • Lachlan Lindsay - "New experiences give us more confidence in our abilities."
  • Oyindamola Shote - "I liked doing the hands-on stuff; it was fun, doing it rather than being told about it."

ISA's fieldwork adventure to the Isle of Cumbrae was a resounding success!

It fostered a love for ecological studies and provided students with valuable skills that will serve them well in their academic pursuits and beyond. This trip was an opportunity to connect with nature, collaborate with peers, and cultivate a deeper understanding of our role in preserving the planet for future generations.

These Grade 12 students returned home with a newfound appreciation for the natural world, armed with the knowledge and skills to make a positive impact on our environment.

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