Open University Fieldschool for SXF206

A couple of weeks ago I was teaching in two field-schools for the OU Environmental Science module SXF206 for the Soils and Vegetation practicals.  I really enjoyed the week at the Field Studies Council (FSC) property at Preston Montford near Shrewsbury.  It was great to see some familiar faces among the students – those I had met at the Hydrology and Meteorology fielschool a few months earlier at Malham Tarn in Yorkshire – and the chance to meet new students too.

Over each school, the students expanded their toolbox of skills and knowledge in environmental science.  We visited multiple sites (with spectacular views) and students had the opportunity to learn new methods then practice and apply them.  It was amazing how much we could learn about the soils and vegetation at their specific fieldsites in that short time: observations were made, hypotheses developed, cores dug and examined, species identified, vegetation types classified, soil properties measured, statistics analysed, conclusions drawn.

As always, the FSC staff were great across the board, from the educators and tutors to the administrative and kitchen staff (home-made chocolate eclairs!).    I loved working outside for several days, but my favourite part was spending time with the students; teaching, answering questions, explaining statistics, finding out about their motivation and studies, and genuinely enjoying learning.