Mapping for the future

By Paul Turner, Head of Geography

Wednesday 15 November was World GIS Day, GIS is an acronym for Geographical Information Systems and along with Digital Mapping is increasingly seen as an integral skill for students in the modern world.

You might be amazed to know that 98% of the Ordnance Survey’s business is now digital mapping products rather than the traditional paper maps. The biggest player in this field is ESRI, a mapping company worth in excess of $1 billion. ESRI describes GIS as the ‘Science of Where’ and emphasises its importance in unlocking the potential of big data. As a school, teaching spatial thinking empowers students with the skills to understand and act upon the big issues facing planet Earth.

Steve Richardson ‘GIS Expert’ visited for a day last week to help run special workshops for geography students. This included activities mapping where the clothes on their back came from so that they could better understand globalisation and the global division of labour, and other students explored real time data of earthquakes and volcanoes. Some of the day was spent pouring over the department’s schemes of work to establish how we might best integrate these important digital skills into our everyday practice. Steve also worked one-to-one with 6.2 students assisting them to develop the mapping and data visualisation in their Independent Investigations worth 20% of their A Level. The Geography department has a strong commitment to building students’ digital and ICT skills.

Google Expeditions: from classroom to…

Google expeditions
By Paul Turner, Head of Geography

Virtual reality is purported to be the next “big thing” in education. Recently, Bedales was extremely lucky to be one of a handful of schools to have the Google Expedition Pioneer Programme visit for a whole day of Google Cardboard VR fun.

Across 18 sessions, 351 students from both Bedales and Dunhurst explored the world, the body and space. The day was an opportunity for staff and students to reflect on their normal classroom practice and question their potential use of VR.

The younger Dunhurst students were especially wowed by the experience. See a short video of the experience here:

…and a timelapse of how it might be integrated into future lessons here:

Extraordinary experiences in Iceland

Iceland 4  Iceland 3

The Iceland trip is viewed by many as one of the best of the year. This Easter was no exception, from visiting the Blue Lagoon recently titled as one of the 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic, to the National Parks situated all over the rugged and barren landscapes of volcanic overflow. Geographers learned about one of the many important new ways of creating electricity. Iceland is at the forefront of the geothermal energy business as warm water heated by the earth’s core is used for all aspects of Icelandic life; from heating water, creating electricity and melting ice on the roads. We visited Hellisheidi power plant which gave a greater understanding of how the Icelandic people are aiming to become an almost entirely green (renewable fuel sources) country. Iceland is a truly unforgettable experience for all; the temperature dropping to -7ºC is biting but with extraordinary experiences on offer one soon gets over it.

Iceland 5

As soon as you arrive you can see how the Icelandic people have adapted to the harsh landscape. With only 1% arable land, surprisingly, Iceland is still pretty much self sufficient, as they only fish for half of the year to allow fishing stocks to replenish, they are deeply in touch with their landscape.

Iceland 2

Waterfalls flourishing out of the ground pouring melted glacial ice and snow onto the ground. Huge waves crashing into the sides of the countries forming vast cliffs and jutting rock formations, and black sand on beaches from ash ejected out of the local volcanoes. All of this amazing scenery adds to Iceland’s natural charm.

View photos

By Tom Bradford, Block 4


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

Geographers’ beach trip

The Friday before last, 6.1 geographers went to the south coast as part of the A Level course to complete our data collection for A2 Geography. We have spent the last few weeks organising what and where to study, completing risk assessments and creating data capture sheets. Our aim on the day was to measure beach profiles and size of the sediment along the coast from west to east starting at Southsea and finishing on Hayling Island, with a view to seeing the features of a Low Energy coastline. Armed with ranging poles, and a clinometer and rulers, we were able to identify slope angles and sediment sorting whilst also seeing the major impacts of the winter storms on the shape of the shoreline. View photos.

By Kitty Hall and James Holt, 6.1

Geographers’ beach trip

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Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

Students attend US State Department’s webcast

Ocean acidification is a process that is threatening much of the flora and fauna in the world’s seas. It is closely linked to global warming (both being affected by increased CO2 emissions) and it is a massive problem. 6.1 biologists and geographers attended the Our Ocean conference webcast at the US Embassy last week and, once safely through passport control, joined a live streamed link to the US State Department and John Kerry’s keynote speech. A speech by Leonardo DiCaprio also served to highlight the urgent need for action. There was an entertaining Q&A session with US Ambassador Matthew W Barzun and academics from Imperial College discussed the underlying scientific issues. This was a great opportunity for students to see how the world is tackling a big environmental problem and to consider whether the responses will be effective. It was also an interesting opportunity to visit the embassy before it gets converted into a hotel!

By  Richard Sinclair, Head of Science

Our Oceans conference

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Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

The Bedales Drone Project

In his 1942 short story Runaround the science fiction author Isaac Asimov introduced his “Three Laws of Robotics”

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Robots are now an everyday part of our lives and new drone technology can be seen in mountain rescue, the deployment of weaponry and possibly even the delivery of books! As the relationship of mankind to our creations becomes more and more far-reaching and in every way intimate, there is much to reflect on: the technically possible “coulds”; the philosophical “whys” and “whats”; and the ethical “shoulds”.

Much inspired by last year’s Civics talk by Dr Dirk Gorneson from The University of Southampton on the topic of UAV’s (Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles), I was struck by the implications of this technology for the ethical theory we study in the PRE (Philosophy, Religion and Ethics) department at Bedales; such as in Just War Theory (A2 Level), and the Philosophy of Mind and Artificial Intelligence (studied for BAC PRE Creative Response Block 5). There was growing overlap between the theory and the real world issues emerging in the wake of the technology now available in the field of UAV’s.

Conversing with teachers and students alike it was clear that this was an area well worth exploring. So, with a huge thank you to the BPA for funding the initiative, and to Richard Sinclair and Jack Paxman for their consultation, I can proudly announce The Drone Project’s first acquisition – a quad-copter drone.

This, the first of two drones to be acquired, is well equipped to take steady aerial images and can be remotely piloted and can follow search patterns. The second can be programmed to be (to a certain extent) autonomous and will be able to be fitted with sensors which feedback information that can then be acted upon in real time. We already have a Quad Copter expert at the school, Edward Boyd-Wallis, who has designed his own drone as part of his A Level.

Proposals for upcoming projects include:

  • Philosophy – Machine Ethics Project (MEP)
  • Search and Rescue Project – The emphasis of this would be to consider the ethical judgements around prioritisation, resource distribution etc., alongside the practical applications. We hope to make links with existing rescue organisations, such as the RNLI, in order to participate with the wider community.
  • Science project – create an aerial map of the sand quarry in order to study the regeneration of plants (“succession”) year on year.
  • Geography – Block 3 project Orientation project and mapping of the Bedales site.
  • Computing – Artificial Intelligence programming.
  • Just War Theory – As part of the A-level Ethics course.
  • Design – Modification and implementation, 3D printing.
  • Sport – Analysis and documentation of sports events.

An aerial photo of Bedales taken by the drone:

Image taken by the Bedales Drone

By  Benedict Haydn-Davies, Teacher of PRE

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Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.

Geographers experience Marrakesh and Sahara

The start of Easter saw the return of BAC geographers to Morocco. We studied aspects of North African culture, religion and history before setting off to experience Morocco for ourselves. During eight days on tour, from the bustling city of Marrakesh to the remote sand seas of the Sahara, we explored UNESCO sites (Ait- Ben-Haddou), stepped onboard galleons from Gladiatorat the Atlas film studios, walked the fossil covered Dades Valley and slept under the Sahara stars. A highlight for our sports’ contingent was the UK v Morocco football match in the Sahara, (1-0 to Bedales boys!). With one of the longest camel caravans this century, the students packed a great deal in throughout the week, keeping journals of their experiences along the way. Follow @GBedales. View photos.

By Kirsty Layton, Head of Geography

Geographers experience Marrakesh and Sahara

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Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.