We were very lucky with the weather – the sun shone the whole way through and the temperatures during the day were very comfortable. During the trip itself, we engaged in many different activities, such as water testing, invertebrate sampling, quadrat testing and soil testing. A photo competition was also introduced to us, concerning the theme of ‘Hidden Biology’, which every group had to enter; the winners would be entered into the global Young Photographer of the Year Award run by the Royal Society of Biology. We also incorporated a CAS element into the trip, which was to collect rubbish along our way to the various river sites. Finally, a group of ten students set some traps on the first evening, in the forest nearby, to see if they would catch any insects within the following two days.
On the first day, after our arrival, we checked in and went straight to our first activity, which was to practise some water sampling – using a kit we had never used before, but following the instructions allowed us to learn the methods very easily. A short hike was also included on the first day, which allowed us all to take beautiful photos of the Mt. Longwangshan scenery. In the evening everyone was quite tired, but we still managed to get 2 hours of work done – we wrote up the results from the water sampling and read through the booklet to prepare for the next day.
Sunday was very busy. We woke up at 7 (for most of us this was earlier than on a school day!), and after breakfast, went straight to the river where we were going to collect data. In our groups of four, we split the work to allow 2 of us to do ‘kick sampling’, which consisted of using a net to collect invertebrates, identify them, take some photos, and release them. The other pair carried out the water tests – the ones we practised on day 1. By lunchtime, having completed 6 sites, we were all exhausted and needed a short break. Many students had completely soaked wellies, socks and trousers, and quite frankly, a lot of us struggled to feel the nerves in our feet since the water was so cold! But there wasn’t much time to rest, since we carried on not much longer than 1 hour later, to do another 4 sites (we were told). By around 16:30, everyone was quite fed up with the activities but all of us persevered through and could finish the 5 remaining sites with a positive attitude. When we got back to the guesthouse and everyone was showered – a few of us suffering from sunburns, headaches and sore throats - we had dinner followed by another final two hours of work. Overall, Sunday was very successful as we found various types of organisms, and took some very interesting pictures too.
On the last day, we only went out into the field for about 2 hours, to carry out some quadrat testing as well as soil sampling. Our objective was to find out whether there was a grand difference in plant species, coverage as well as nutrient quantity in managed and unmanaged soil. After having again split the work, taken many pictures, and written down a lot of percentages and figures, we finally finished our data collection and returned to the guesthouse to pack, freshen up and have lunch.
Right before we left, the teachers thought of awards they could give to everyone on the trip, which all of us found simply adorable. All in all, it was a great trip, and we all had a lot of fun laughing, dancing and singing the whole way through, thank you to the Biology department!
Vivian Graf, Year 12 Student