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Geographers bring learning to life: IB Geography fieldtrip to Melaka enables data-gathering for coursework

Daniel Orr, Head of High School Geography, Dover Campus 
Kate Lewis, Teacher of High School Geography, Environmental Systems and Societies and TOK, Project Week Coordinator, UWCSEA Dover 
Nathan Hunt, Former Director of Sustainability, UWCSEA
05 August 2015

Geographers bring learning to life. IB Geography fieldtrip to Melaka enables data-gathering for coursework.

This was the case for the superb team of 46 Grade 11 Higher and Standard Level IB Geography students who recently spent four days discovering how theories taught in the classroom correlate with reality. Student Leila Fuerst explains the benefit to her learning as, “being a person who learns better kinesthetically, fieldwork is ideal as it allows me to study ‘out of the box’.” Pranav Bhardwaj agrees, “Most of the work we do in class is theoretical, so its good to leave the class and do hands-on work, making it more real and memorable.”

The residential field-trip to Melaka, Malaysia, focused on putting into practice Geography’s extensive set of skills. What better way to learn about rivers than knee deep in water? Isn’t it better to actually feel small-scale variations in climate to gain a deeper understanding of micro-climate variations and causes rather than simply referring to theory? Student Samay Bansal agrees, “Through fieldwork Bradshaw’s model of the river comes to life and is not just triangles on a page.”

During the trip the student teams scientifically recorded and analyzed data to uncover patterns and anomalies during three investigations in urban homogeneity, micro-climates and river characteristics. Each student will select one of their studies to develop into an examined IB coursework worth 20% of their final Geography grade.

The 21st Century skills of the Geographer are perhaps the broadest of any academic discipline - ranging from collecting, presenting, analysing and interpreting data; debating and role play; presentations; explaining and evaluating; interpreting graphics, maps, photos and cartoons; recognising human and natural features; putting the news in context; increasing global and local awareness and ultimately decision making and problem solving. All of these skills are related to an ever-changing pattern across the surface of our planet. Field trips bring these skills to life for students, as Oliver Kippax-Chui observed “it’s good to get out and practice - if you just learn the skills without practising them you may not be using them accurately.”

Being in the field provides the best possible learning environment, beyond the classroom, for students to develop, apply and reflect on their skills whilst forging friendships and understanding. In the process they become more socially and environmentally sensitive, informed and responsible citizens.

Learn more about UWCSEA's High School programmes - (I)GCSE, Foundation IB and IB Diploma here: East Campus | Dover Campus