This week our Year 13 Biologists set off for the Pembrokeshire coast to visit a Field Studies Council site at Dale Fort. The fort was originally built in 1856 as a defensive site, but was turned into a field studies site in 1948.

We arrived early Monday afternoon and got straight to work. Waterproofs allocated, we headed to Castle Beach to investigate the size of rough periwinkles on the exposed and sheltered sides of the beach. Then back to the classroom to analyse our data and carry out a statistical analysis. The students were then asked to design their own experiment to investigate the following day, choosing which organism to study and which variables would be involved.

Tuesday morning, after another classroom session, we walked to the local salt marsh which is designated an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). After a few ‘Bambi’ impressions trying to navigate a gully of mud, we set up to collect our data on plant species that could survive in the high salt concentrations and their adaptations to this extreme environment. Back in the classroom, we collated our data and could clearly see the succession of species.

In the afternoon, it was back to castle beach for the students to undertake their planned practical (this is an integral part of the A-Level course and goes towards their CPAC qualification). We then worked into the evening writing up our findings.

The last morning we had another required practical to complete which was on the preferred environment of sandhoppers, which are invertebrates that live under the rocks on the beach. Having collected the sandhoppers ( with a lot of laughing and a few screams!) we then set them into ‘choice chambers’ and waited to see which conditions they selected.

Andrea Garner-Thorpe, trip leader, said: “The weather held for us (cold, but dry), the students were exemplary, the site and the tutor were amazing and it is a trip we will not forget in a hurry!’