AS PART OF THEIR GEOGRAPHY TOPIC ON WEATHER YEAR 6 WENT TO THE ABERDARE MOUNTAIN RANGE OF KENYA TO EXPERIENCE AND DISCUSS THE UNIQUE CLIMATE AS WELL AS LEARN WHAT A MICRCOLIMATE IS AND THE FACTORS THAT CAN AFFECT THESE.
Departing on a fine morning from The Banda, 38 children from Year 6 were excited. Kenya has been experiencing a significant drought and whilst wet, cold and windy conditions might be expected: in fact the sun shone and for the most part it was warm and very pleasant. This however, would not deter us.
Situated at the base of the Aberdare Mountain Range we stayed at El Paraiso campsite. Having an alpine feel the camp has a few bandas and a dining room / classroom. On arrival we had lunch and set everyone up in the bandas. The children then made themselves comfortable and prepared their own beds.
That afternoon we went for a walk into the forest reserve, which buffers the Aberdare National Park. The reserve is harvested on a cycle of about 20 years and laid out in patches of forest of different ages. The local people are able to graze animals through the forest and plant crops in nearly cut and reforested areas. We then came across the rhino ark fence line, our guide told us some stories of before and after the fence line and we discussed the benefits and problems of the fence. This was an opportunity to consider conservation. The 400km Aberdare electric fence is a conservation tool put in place to help resolve multiple challenges facing the Aberdare Range ecosystem. So many of our children, our parents and our community from The Banda are involved in events that have facilitated this project including the Rhino Charge and Hog Charge. It was good for the children to grasp an understanding of this: witnessing the end-results of their support and commitment.
On our second morning we introduced the topic of weather and climate. We came up with a definition of what weather is and then identified weather elements and how you might measure and describe these.
The key weather elements we were expecting were: temperature, precipitation, wind strength and direction, cloud type and cover and visibility. We spent some time measuring these and experienced how they changed over a short period of time. We then played a game where the different factors, their definitions and the equipment to measure each were written on different small whiteboards, which were hidden around the camp area. The children had to find the boards, write down what they found and match up the key terms with the definitions and the equipment.
We then moved on to climate: discussing how it is different to weather and that it is actually what we expect based on the last 30 years. We then discussed microclimates and the four main factors that affect these: surface, shelter, buildings and aspect. We then played a game whereby the children had to run to areas that were affected by these factors. In groups the children then acted out freeze frames of the different factors.
Our children were aware that a microclimate is a smaller area within a general climate zone that has its own unique climate. We noticed that the lack of rain and the higher temperatures affected this microclimate currently, but discussed with the rains ‘around’, that the microclimate could recover.
On our final morning and after a huge cooked breakfast our pupils tidied their rooms and packed up and we set off for our return journey to school. Our children were fully engaged throughout the trip and behaved exceptionally well.
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