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Examining the Environment

Six Year 10 students have spent the day at the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute. We have had a very informative and enjoyable day. Leading academics and scientists led the sessions, each with a common theme of discovering the biggest environmental challenge facing Cornwall today. We started the day with some GIS mapping, looking specifically at the risk of flooding in Cornwall. The students soon discovered that Mounts Bay Academy is safe from flooding even if we see a 30 meter rise in sea level! We then moved on to assessing the risk of flooding using probability. The students had to decide whether to protect themselves against flooding by purchasing insurance. Unfortunately one or two risk takers lost their homes as the odds increased. In the first laboratory we visited, a demonstration showed the process and benefits of extracting and reusing the waste chemicals from old mining sites. Lewis asked some key questions about timescales and cost implications, we all agreed that this was a key area of research for Cornwall.

The day allowed us to meet some inspirational academics who lead worldwide research in their particular fields, as well as experience the university and scientific research facilities.

Other sessions throughout the day included politics and conflict management, studying seagulls and evolution, human responsibility and the role of the media. There was even a lecture led by an ecologist of pooh, during which he explained that his favourite part of being a scientist was that he was lucky to be at the frontier of exploration, with scientists often being the first to see or discover something new. He compared this to the European explorers discovering and laying claim to new places in the past.

After a pasty lunch the students were asked to vote for what they believe is the biggest environmental challenge facing Cornwall today, but not before Jamelia and Lewis took the opportunity to lead the feedback with their well-considered opinions.