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4th Form trip to Harcourt Arboretum, Oxford

Oratory Science 4th Form students visited Harcourt Arboretum on Wednesday 26 June to complete aspects of their Biology fieldwork. 

An important aspect of the Biology curriculum is the understanding of the role of conservation in biodiversity and how scientists are able to practically assess biological diversity. Students began the day with a brief talk by Dr Lauren Baker whilst standing in the shade of some of the arboretum’s beautiful trees. Building on teaching in the classroom, students were directed in science class groups to the sites beautiful expanse of wildflower meadow where they plunged into the long grasses and orchids to survey biodiversity. Their challenge was to identify all of the species within small frames, called quadrats, placed at random points on the meadow and then to count and record how many of each species was present. This was no easy task: there were over 30 different species in the meadow to identify! Following a well-earned rest in the shade, and an ice-cream or two, students went back in their groups to investigate conservation projects in place at the arboretum, involving collaborative growing projects from species all over the world.

Morgan in 4th Form says, “In the morning, we started by pacing out into the wildflower meadow and placing a quadrat in a random location, here we counted out all the different types of flower species and types of grass that we might usually not find anywhere else. After lunch, we walked around the historic parkland and woodland area where we observed all the diverse types of endangered species from around the world, including a giant red wood and veteran oak trees. What was interesting was how some of the larger trees had small cones, but smaller ones had larger cones. It was especially interesting to see the Monterey Pine and how the cones radiated around the branches.”

Another student writes: “On the biology trip we learnt how to use the quadrats and how to record the results. It was interesting to see the variety of flowers and grass at the site. And it was cool to see the different types of trees they look after.”



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