Sharpening skills and getting creative on climate change – together!

Sharpening skills and getting creative on climate change – together!

Some of QE’s youngest pupils met up with their counterparts at a leading girls’ school for a day-long academic symposium on climate change.

Twenty-four Year 7 boys made the trip to independent North London Collegiate School, where they got to grips with climate change data and practised the skills needed to make a persuasive presentation advocating for climate action.

QE extra-curricular enrichment tutor and Science teacher Xiangming Xu said: “This trip was a great opportunity for students from both schools to work collaboratively on tackling environmental issues that we are facing currently within society.

“By the end of the morning session, all of them had managed to sharpen their skills on graph interpretation and data interrogation. The afternoon session was more ‘creativity’-based, with small groups producing a short presentation on the subject of What is the climate crisis and why should you care? Overall, it was a very successful event.

“Such partnership events with top girls’ schools stretch our pupils academically, boost their subject knowledge and enhance their oracy and presentation skills, while also giving them valuable opportunities to work collaboratively alongside girls, thus preparing them for a co-educational university environment and for their later careers.”

The day began with presentations from Science teachers aimed at familiarising the boys and girls with the issues involved and at providing the knowledge and scientific language with which to talk confidently about them. During the presentations, the pupils learned about: the use of data; scientific observation based on objects such as ice cores and fossils; greenhouse gases, and negative & positive feedback loops.

The pupils were arranged into groups of six – three boys and three girls – and encouraged to discuss the science behind the climate crisis. “Students from both schools engaged well with the teachers in this activity,” said Mr Xu.

One of the boys involved, Arin Gupta, said he had enjoyed, firstly, the session led by NLCS teacher Mr Dave, which covered both climate change itself and the vocabulary used to talk about it. “I really liked this session as it challenged some of the assumptions that I had made previously about climate change and persuaded me to change them.”

After that, Mr Xu addressed the pupils on how a picture can be worth a thousand words, with a simple photo, diagram or sketch being a powerful way of conveying emotion. Arin said: “We looked at different graphs, which gave us a lot of insight into what could be done about the climate crisis. For example, I was shocked to learn that eating no beef for a year would save water equivalent to leaving your kitchen tap on full blast for six days straight.”

The main aim of the day was for each group to make a compelling pitch to specific audiences –such as a business, a politician or a group of primary school children – setting out why and how they needed to change. Accordingly, the pupils next studied a range of rhetorical and literary devices which they could deploy as tools for their own presentations. They considered a speech by Greta Thunberg and also looked at poems warning about the peril faced by the planet.

“There was great variety in the final presentations,” said Mr Xu, “with impactful, passionate speeches, poignant poems, stimulating sketches and even catchy advertising jingles.”

The symposium proved popular with the boys, whose comments afterwards included:

  • “It was a trip I will never forget.” Eshaan Anil
  • “I had a wonderful day at NLCS and I learnt more than I could’ve imagined.” Arun Chopra
  • “All of us got along quite well – especially the last part of the day where we all did our plays and poems (this was the best part of the day)! As a team, we all made the speech and this was inspirational. The second-best part was the tour around the school, and it was M-A-S-S-I-V-E.” Dhruva Bejugam
  • “It greatly enhanced my critical thinking skills and I learnt, not only how to interpret graphs, but also to critically analyse them and to find their flaws…On the whole, I absolutely loved the NLCS trip and found it a fascinating, fun and insightful educational experience, where I could meet new people and learn new things.” Afraz Khan