Archive for the 'Year 8' Category

Ms Richards New Pet OWL

Yes I have a new pet OWL.  Not quite as feathery as you would imagine but it’s very smart.

This has found its way to my household via a trail from Project Genie which is a project set up to produce educational materials, resources, information and support for children, teachers, parents and carers, to explore the implications of climate change and what everyone can do to minimise the harmful effects.

Project Genie lent us this little gadget to trial and shows how much electricity my household uses at any one time and calculates the cost in pence per hour as shown below or in greenhouse gasses.  This has been quite usefull as I can work out how much pocket money to stop for wasted energy usage! (Lights left on in bedrooms!). 

It has made all of us think how much energy we are using.  The second image shows the read out when I switched on the kettle.  A good way to cut down on the boil time is to only boil the amount of water you need, not a full kettle.   I have also noticed a difference with different types of lights on.  Most of my house runs on energy efficient light bulbs but in the kitchen there are some halogen bulbs which use a lot more energy.  You can see the OWL read out with the halogen bulbs on below.  We will definatley  be looking into replacing them.  We have also taken to switching off all appliances that are on standby at the wall and again this has made quite a bit of difference.

This shows the amount of pence spent per hour with the lights on in the kitchen before the Kettle is switched on.

This shows how many pence per hour when the kettle is switched on.

This was the value with the halogen lights on.

This is the value when we switched them on a normal set of lights would be below 1p

Below shows the electricity reading with the TV and video on standby

You can see it is around 1.3pence per hour.  Below shows the reading when it is switched off.

When we switched off the appliances at the plug the value went down to 0.9p per hour. 

Apparently cutting your base energy usage by 1p per hour will save around £85 per year.  The Owl even shows your greenhouse gas emissions, optimum temperature and humidity also.

We were lent ours but they can be bought on the highstreet in shops such as Peter Jones and John Lewis or just search for them online.  (They should sell for around £30)


The wireless display unit is fed via a simple to fit transmitter which   clips around your electricity supply.  You set up The Owl by telling it how much your electricity supplier charges per kilowatt hour from your most recent bill.

You can buy your OWL from






Y8 Deforestation for Palm Oil

Ever heard of palm oil?  do you ever use it?  do you know where it comes from? 

Palm oil is used by virtually every one of us in one form or another.  In its basic form it is used in processed or prepared foods such as bread, cakes, breakfast cereals and ready meals, as well as ice cream, margarine and crisps.  Unlike oil seed rape and sunflower oils palm oil is valued because it is solid at room temperature.  Palm oil is also cheaper than other types of oils. 

The vast majority of the worlds palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia  where the expansion of the industry has destroyed millions of hectares of rainforest.  This deforestation is said to be far greated than the rate of deforestation due to logging in the Amazon rainforest. 

In the past the majority of palm oil production has been for food and cosmetics but now the European Union have agreed to cut greenhouse gasses by 20%  by 2020 we are having to find a new source of fuel for our transport.  The answer is said to be bio-fuels however this will mean that Indonesia and Malaysia will produce more palm oil which will result in further destruction of some of the most valuable rainforest on the planet. 

The effect of this destruction will mean that many species of plants and animals that live in these rainforests  will be lost forever.  Examples of species that will be lost are the Sumatran tiger, Asian Elephant and the Orangutans of Borneo.

The FOE (Friends of the Earth) have highlighted how the palm oil industry is having a devastating impact on the orangutans of Sumatra and Borneo.  The orangutans like eating the palm oil fruit in the plantations and the farmers don’t like this so they have been killing the orangutans even though they are protected under national laws.  The rate of the forest clearance along with the killing of the orangutans by farmers is happening so quickly it is said that orangutans could be extinct within 15 years.  98% of the Indonesian forest is expected to be destroyed by 2022.  At the moment there are between 55,000 and 60,000 Orangutans in Borneo but 5,000 to 10,000 orangutans are killed each year.


The weeks homework is to find out which products in your home have palm oil in them.  This is quite difficult because often it is not labelled as palm oil but vegetable oil and it is often called numerous names.  Below are some of the names Palm oil goes by.  Download the worksheet below to help you collect your findings. 

  Click here to download the homework sheet

 Click here to open up a google earth file to show where Borneo is and also some overlays showing distributions of Orangutans in 1930, 1999 and 2004.  You can also watch the youtube video below in google earth.

 Names under which palm oil and its derivities appear.

Cety alcohol
Dicetyldimonium chloride
Elaeis guineensis
Isopropyl palmitate, octyl palmitate, potassium palmitate, retinyl palmitate.
Vit A Palmitate
Palmitic acid
Palm kernel oil
Palm kernelamide DEA and MEA
Palm oil
Palm olein vegetable oil
Steareth-2, Steareth-20
Sodium palm kernelate
Vegetable oil

Find out more

Below are some other links that will help you with next lessons task

Palm oil biofuel of the future – guardian article 

Friends of the earth link for more info about palm oil

Born to be wild – a web site looking at the impact on the orangutans

Roundtable on sustainable palm oil -this is an organisation that aims to promote the use of sustainable palm oil use.  Many companies and supermarkets are now signing up to this.

Watch this video to find out more about the impact on the forest

A sky news report on the effects of Palm Oil production on the Orangutans


The big garden bird watch 08


 The RSPB are holding a big garden bird watch this weekend for the whole country.  All you have to do is spend one hour recording how many birds you see of each species.  You can download the official counting sheet here

counting sheet this is a pdf file

I know there are a few birders out there so get twitching.

Here is a warm up for you can you identify these birds native to UK

This bird is famous for its aerial displays in large flocks. It is a common visitor to British Gardens.

This is a very common bird to be found in a garden.  This is the male of the species, the females are brown.  It has one of the loveliest of all bird songs and likes fruit such as grapes.

This small bird and has a distinctive black cap and grey back.  This bird often visits peanut feeders.

This is the second most common breeding bird in the UK.  It is usually heard before it is seen and can be found mostly under bird feeders.

 Good luck and leave a comment to let me know how you got on with your bird count.

Y8 Favela Marcos

This month we are starting our year 8 project Favela Marcos Must Go. You can find all the video’s used in class and worksheets available for download here. Remember this is a levelled piece of work which is teacher and self assessed.

Here is a picture of what one of the houses looks like that you can buy in Google Earth.  If you want you can put your houses into google using sketch up and plan your site in 3D if you wish. 

  This will open up an example of the types of houses you can build in google earth you can fly around it and have a look inside.  If anyone wants to I can give you a copy of this building file and you can plan your whole settlement using sketch up.  See me for more details of how to do this.

Example of a new house

Download all the documents here (950kb)

Here are some video’s to explain further the different aspects of the report

Video 1: This reminds you why you had to leave the Caatinga in the first place and move to the city.

Video 2: This shows you what a housing plot looks like and what you can and can’t do with it, it also shows you what you get for your money

Video 3: This shows the type of basic amenities you can buy such as water, electricity and sanitation. This clip also goes through how you work out your total costs and also information about roads and street lights. Video 4: Explains about the large 1000 unit schemes. You must make sure you chose only one scheme, this gives you more information about each one.

Here are some links to inspire you.

In Caracas in Venezuela shanty towns are known as Barrio’s this BBC photo story shows how the residents in this place have improved their Barrio, many of the ideas from this place could be implemented into your development proposal.

Click here to go on a tour of a favela

Read about how violence is on the increase in Sao Paulo’s Heliopolis favela

Google Earth Files to Download

click on this icon to download a set of map tacks and information to show the places you have lived.

Y8 Looking for China Girl

This week year 8 have been focusing on China’s population.  Below is a link to the information from the BBC about the video we watched ‘looking for china girl’. Click on the image to find out more and you can download the transcript from the video to help with the homework set for this lesson.


More information about the controversial one child policy can be found by looking at these news articles and watching the video

BBC Article China fears Bachelor future

BBC Article Chinese given perks to have girls

Guardian Article – Home Alone

This is a good video to explain the one child policy right up to the effects today


The Demographic Transition Model

Here is a screenshot of the interactive DTM we used in todays lesson. Hope this helps you to complete your living DTM’s

Vodpod videos no longer available.

UK’s ageing population

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 Impact of an ageing population worksheet to download.

Here are a few web sites to help you answer this weeks classwork and homework.

link to BBC article on ageing populations

A BBC interactive guide to help show how the UK’s population is changing

National Statistics Latest on ageing (lots of facts and figures)

Lots on populations in MEDC from bitesize (still useful for KS3)

The Wellcome Trust has lots of information on ageing populations

October 1st was the first every national day for older people. This is designed to challenge peoples negative views of older people in society and make people aware that older people have a lot to offer. Here is a little reminder of how being old can also be a little ‘rock and roll’


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