Comenius Lifelong Learning Project
Comenius Visit To Reepham, England
13th - 17th March 2013
The second meeting of the Comenius project “Energy for Life”, in which schools from the seven countries England, Finland, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Turkey are participating, took place in Reepham, England from 13 -17 March 2013.
Each of the planned seven meetings focusses on one aspect of energy for life and is the opportunity for each school to demonstrate what its Comenius group has worked on and produced on this one aspect. In Reepham the focus was on wind energy. The superb programme put together by Reepham High School colleague Tim Reeve included an expert giving a highly informative talk on wind turbines in front of a view of the North Sea with a giant wind park in the background, first-hand experience of the forces of howling wind on a boat tossing in the blistery conditions of the North Sea at Blakeney Point, a morning in international teams building and testing their own wind turbine models and an impressive formal debate in which young students from seven European countries took on the roles of politicians debating with conviction the pros and cons of wind energy. This backdrop of original, motivating, hands-on activities provided a highly effective setting for the latest Comenius meeting.
This core programme at a school which has its own wind turbine producing power for its buildings coupled with the many formal and informal opportunities for 15 teachers to exchange ideas and experiences both cultural and educational and the very positive experiences of the guests in the host families and at school resulted in an exciting and successful week for all the participants which along with the initiating meeting in December in Germany has set high standards for the two year project.
Cooperation, communication and mutual understanding were in abundance in a project that allowed colleagues and students to experience at first hand the positive benefits of working and playing together.
Wednesday 13 March 2013
The week started with arrival day on which the groups arrived in Reepham at various times and were immediately able to join in the school lessons with their partners. The ice was broken and the students and colleagues could settle in and enjoy their first impressions of England and the English way of life.
Thursday 14 March 2013
On Thursday morning the programme started officially with a guided tour of the school by the school’s business manager not only looking at the fine facilities and vast range of different departments but also hearing about how energy-conscious the school is.
Peter showed us not only the state of the art sixth form college with its high level of insulation, high-tech temperature and climate control and energy saving devices all designed to give the students an optimal learning environment but also the older less well insulated buildings where it is a high priority to replace them or bring up to a modern energy saving standard.
Visitors were particularly impressed by the school’s own wind turbine and the school’s electric minibus one of the first of its kind in the world.
After break it was the turn of the students of the seven participating countries to show what they had learned about this visit’s topic wind energy. The result was very good with presentations showing the development and present use of wind energy in the various countries, some with technical details, others with interviews recorded on the spot. The Turkish quiz with prizes for correct answers proved to be a popular and effective way of imparting information.
All in all, the students and colleagues were given an extensive overview of the types, location and extent of wind power installations as well as the advantages and also disadvantages of such an energy form.
After a typical English lunch of toad in the hole the students and colleagues set off to explore the local city of Norwich, the capital of Norfolk.
An interesting tour of the cathedral where the Archbishop of Canterbury was about to hold a church service was followed by a tour of the market, the shopping area and the shopping centres.
At 3.30pm, the official end of the school day, the students left with their partners to experience authentic family life in Britain while the colleagues departed for their first informal exchange at a carvery near Norwich.
A prayer tree in the cathedral
A walk down Elm Street, the oldest street in Norwich
Friday 15 March 2013
The day started for the students with a photo rally of the town specially devised to encourage the participants to communicate between each other and with the local villagers.
During this time the colleagues got together for an official planning meeting to discuss progress so far, the present visit and the future visits to Lithuania, Poland, Italy in 2013 and Finland and Turkey in 2014. The details of the meeting are documented in the minutes which each school has received.
The next activity was a hands-on group activity requiring the students to plan and build a wind turbine using wood and an electric motor. This activity encouraged the students to think intensively about the way wind turbines work and made them communicate in English with a variety of nationalities, a super Comenius activity. After 90 minutes the wind turbines were tested using a hair drier as a source of wind and a voltmeter to measure the amount of electricity each turbine produced. Lithuania produced the most effective turbine and were declared the winners.
Mara and Sebastian at work
After lunch a formal debate based on the rules of the Cambridge Union was held in which the proposal “This House believes that wind energy is the energy of the future compared with atomic energy” was discussed. After the initial speeches for and against wind energy by the proficient English team a very lively debate ensued in which members of all the seven countries put forward their views forcefully. According to the rules of the debate a summary of both sides of the argument is given before a final vote is taken. In the end the motion was carried with a huge majority of votes. The chairman praised the efforts of the debaters and the way they had made such motivated and interesting contributions.
The afternoon ended with the groups writing individual reports of the day’s events.
Saturday 16 March 2013
The freezing conditions persisted on Saturday but despite the bitter cold, the sleet and the biting, icy wind the team met at 9am to be whisked by coach to the northern part of Norfolk to the small village of Marston where an open boat was waiting to face the elements and take them to Blakeney Point to see the seals.
The trip was real first-hand experience of the strength of the North Sea wind which is exploited further down the coast to drive the 88 wind turbines at Sheringham Shoal. After the boat trip the group travelled to Sheringham, admired the huge steam trains in action on the North Norfolk railway line and then proceeded to the information centre of Sheringham Shoal wind park. Here they were given a very informative talk on the development of the wind park against the backdrop of the North Sea and the wind turbines just visible in the distance. There was plenty of opportunity for questions and the experts were proficient in answering the often critical queries of some of the young audience.
The day finished back at school at 5pm where the host parents were waiting to take the weary but happy students home.
Sunday 17 March 2013
After a day of activities in the family and a traditional English Sunday lunch the students met at Reepham School to say their sad goodbyes and to leave for Stansted Airport where the plane brought them punctually back to Cologne Airport, glad to be back but glad to have collected so many positive memories in such a short trip. The German team is very grateful to Mr Reeve is put in so much effort to make the visit such a valuable and enjoyable experience.