Oct 132013
 

The single most complex thing I ever made – a virtual tour of a local CBD to illustrate the physical improvements (for the AQA GCSE Geog A spec.) There’ll be no more of this kind of thing – the equipment cost a four figure sum and I never made much back from donations so the fisheye lens and panoramic tripod head have been sold to make way for a travel camera. It took about 3 weeks of work to program the tour itself!

The full scale lesson is at Juicy Geography, though I doubt that many departments ever worked through the whole thing – still might make a nice extension activity for the most able?

Nov 242012
 

My Year 7 don’t find this essential Geography skill easy so I created a little learning resource and homework combination for them. Starting with a little “thunk,” they go on to learn an approved “Juicy Geography TM” method for describing a place. The exemplar photos are from the Racetrack Playa, Death Valley. There’s a home learning activity to complete as well.

Describing Place

The homework task:

Homework Describing Place

Dec 162010
 

The concept of History Pin from We Are What We Do and Google is beautifully simple. Young people spend time talking with people of an older generation about their old photographs and associated memories. The photos and stories are uploaded to the History Pin website, where they can be viewed through Google Maps and Street View. A little piece of history is created.

Here’s a short video explaining more:

It took a little while, but we finally persuaded some wonderful older people to visit a small group of Year 8 & 9  in our Student Support Centre. Over the course of two sessions, the students found themselves asking dozens of questions; in fact the original purpose of discussing photographs was quite subverted by the quality of the dialogue itself. In the end we only got to add one photo to the History Pin data base, but we’ll certainly run future sessions and try and expand the project further. History Pin is my discovery of the year!

Apr 162010
 

Probably the worst 360 I’ve made yet but there were considerable issues involving an incident with a wave, high tide and a “courting” couple. Also my camera settings were out of whack since it was the first time in a long while that it has  been used in daylight. It’s an image of the arch at Langstone Rock Dawlish. I selected it because of the variety of structural and erosion features evident, and I’ll probably re-make it again next time I’m down that way. Click the image for full-screenness.

_DSC9611 Panorama

Feb 182010
 

Developing brownfield sites is generally held to be a “good” thing (at least GCSE students are programmed to think so), however at times it’s worth considering that buildings such as power stations represent a substantial part of our industrial heritage. Hams Hall was a series of three coal-fired power stations at Lea Marston in Warwickshire, constructed between 1928 and 1968. Demolition of the last of the stations took place under cover of darkness in 1993

Hams Hall power station

photo Wikipedia transferred from Geograph. Copyright Tim Marshall

The only building that survives is the control room of Hams Hall substation. The exterior is vaguely reminiscent of a mosque, though guarded with razor wire and liberal coatings of anti-climb paint. Indeed on my first visit, late on a stormy November night, the place was less than welcoming, and I failed to get inside.

Hams Hall substation

Thanks to information from some helpful locals, I was able to return for a closer look. I knew what to expect; a circular control room with an extraordinary glass “flower” roof.

Hams Hall control room

I planned to make a 360 degree image to show the room properly. The floor is covered in glass and it’s extremely dark inside, meaning that the exposures had to be lit with a torch. Here’s the finished panorama on 360 Cities:

Hams Hall substation control room in England

I’ve published the image as a full screen, high quality panorama on a personal page as well, since 360 Cities is getting a little cluttered . Click the image below:

Hams Hall control room

Decrepit old buildings can hide all kinds of fascinating secrets. I don’t believe this building is protected in any way, although it is very well sealed up. Maybe it should be listed? Either way, it’s an important part of the local built environment, and a pretty special place. Perhaps we should get students to think more critically about the value of certain brownfield sites? The substation would make a really great local studies classroom, or some other kind of publicly-accessible building, where the unique roof and control panels could be protected from further damage.

Jan 172010
 

Since August, I’ve pushed blogging and other forms of time-wasting activities firmly to one side and dedicated myself to a series of adventures in hidden places. Every weekend has been a new experience, learning new skills and going deeper and further into the hidden parts of the built environment that surrounds us. It’s a simple, yet hugely fulfilling activity, filled with remarkable characters and stories, risks and rewards. This Flickr River stream randomly serves up a taster of some of the places I’ve been:

psychogeographer - View my 'psycho-geographical investigations: a taster' set on Flickriver

The hobby has benefited both History and Geography lessons. This weekend we visited a hidden deep shelter, built to house 2,500 people during WW2. It was a surreal time walk:

1939 returning

I made this video for a local teacher (I had the song going around my head while exploring the shelter) Others might also find it useful:

Oct 112009
 

This is a huge brownfield site near Fleet in Hampshire. Owned by the government, the National Gas Turbine Establishment facility was used to test jet engines until decommissioning a few years ago. The machinery and buildings are unique, but following the inevitable planning arguments, Tesco’s will be converting this extraordinary example of our industrial heritage into a warehouse distribution centre.

I’m delivering some INSET courses coming up in the next few weeks, which is the reason why there haven’t been any posts here for a while. I’m hoping to manage a few surprises!