Sunday, 22 November 2015

Currently, the G20 contributes over 450 billion US dollars a year towards the oil, coal and natural gas industries, a figure which should be decreasing after it promised to phase out such incentives in favor of cleaner energies. In the UK however, the opposite is happening, with around $10 billion given to fossil fuel production last year, almost twice the amount given to renewables. In a time where environmental preservation should be a priority, why is the government going back on its promises?
According to them, they aren’t. This is due to a stricter definition of what a subsidy is: government action that lowers the gross price below the international average. Because of this, the UK technically doesn’t give subsidies to fossil fuel companies. This flawed definition means that the government can get away with supporting dirty energy while slowing the development of cleaner sources; while not strictly unethical, it does nothing to help the environment in its time of dire need.
This is by no means a call to eliminate these subsidies overnight, as doing so would be disastrous; hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost along with a plethora of other negative effects. The industry claims that subsidies reduce the financial risks in a highly-competitive market, which isn’t a complete lie. Though there needs to be urgency, the UK government should focus on changing priorities over time. Instead, it seems to insist on keeping oil, gas and coal at the top of the energy agenda
As the need for decarbonisation grows, the political stance continues to be one of ignorance; surely the problem will solve itself? Of course it won’t. Governments across the world need to acknowledge in full the potentially devastating effects of global warming before it’s too late. If we can’t work together with them, we will never find a solution. This is the first of an ongoing series of posts investigating the G20’s fossil fuel subsidies.
If you would like to share your ideas, or have any information, be sure to leave a comment down below or tweet us!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Offshore Windfarm
Yesterday, following a recent deal with Associated British Powers, ScottishPower Renewables announced that the port of Lowestoft will be used as its management base for construction for the East Anglia One offshore windfarm from 2017 when building starts.
This deal will result in the creation of thousands of new jobs in the local area as well as around £25m investments in upgrading the port and surrounding harbour in order to make it more suitable for the 30-year lifetime of the project.
Jonathan Cole who is managing director of offshore windfarms for ScottishPower Renewables has said that the East Angla One windfarm is just one of a series of projects building up to the eventual goal of having the world's largest offshore windfarm off of the UK's east coast.
“These projects are so big, the benefit will be spread around,” he said. “Today we are announcing something positive for Lowestoft but the plan is for other areas of East Anglia to also benefit.”
As well as being of huge benefit to our local area, the town of Lowestoft, where thousands of jobs are being created, this is also of huge benefit to the country and world overall. With the huge investments in renewable energy we are one step closer to reducing our carbon emissions to a sustainable level.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Eco Group at The Benjamin Britten High School consists of a range of students, from year 8 (12 years old) up to year 11 (16 years old), all of whom have either been there from the start of the group running under its current format, or have been picked up along the way.

The earliest members who are still present and active in the group today were recruited in September of 2012 by Mr G Champion and joined into a group which was purely focused on raising money for solar panels via 10:10’s Solar Schools Project. Unfortunately, the launch for our project didn’t go as well as anticipated but we didn’t let that affect our motivation as we continued to push for donations and help towards our goal of getting a solar roof. This project was interrupted however when our school signed up to the government’s free solar panel scheme which allowed the school to have solar panels fitted for free which produce energy to be fed back into the national grid, giving the school a discounted energy bill.

Fortunately, this meant that we now had solar panels and we hadn’t had to spend a penny of our raised money which meant we could spend it on other projects. This then led to a spectrum of potential projects being thought up. Although some of them seemed viable, others may have seemed a bit ambitious but we still managed to get through them! One of these projects was the Eco Group website ( which was originally planned to be hosted by a solar powered Raspberry Pi microcomputer and contain “learning resources” including information about different environmental issues, etc. Unfortunately, we found that the Raspberry Pi would not be powerful enough to host this website so we had to make a compromise and use an online hosting service instead. This however did mean that we now had a spare Raspberry Pi which we could use for alternative projects.

Another project which spanned from our budget being directed away from solar panels is the solar garden project, which would contain a vertical garden, chicken coop and solar panel stand. As of now, the chicken coop is complete following many months of construction by the students, with help from local carpenter Andrew Stanley. We currently have four chickens living in the coop, all of whom are happy with their new homes following the departure from their previous ones including battery farms.

Both the vertical garden and the solar panel stand are underway and we aim to have these completed by the end of the academic year which would then complete our solar garden which has been at our main focus point over the past few years, where we have dedicated our own spare time to working towards the projects – including after school and half term time.

The vertical garden will be constructed from recycled plastic bottles containing plants, and the solar panel stand is set to power a Raspberry Pi camera which will eventually provide a live video feed of the chickens onto our website ( These finishing touches to our garden will make it a truly amazing place and it will serve as a reminder as to what students can truly achieve through passion, perseverance and determination, with minimal help from teachers and other adults. The garden will be a great legacy of the current Eco Group, located in the heart of the school, and will hopefully remain maintained by younger year groups in the coming years who will be able to continue the projects and create new ones just as amazing. 

Through our hard work and perseverance of projects, we were recognised by those behind the Bernard Matthews Youth Awards who suggested we enter the education category of the awards. Following this, I filled out an application form detailing what our group is about and what we’ve achieved over the past few years. Not only were we lucky enough to be shortlisted, we actually won the category and were presented with our award at the awards event in OPEN, Norwich, which was presented by actress Dani Harmer and TV presented David Whitely. We are thrilled to have won the award and look forward to using our £1000 prize money towards finishing our current projects as well as starting new projects to be completed by the future eco group.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

'Be the change you want to see in the world'
After months of hard work, BBHS Eco are delighted to announce their success in winning the Education award for environmental work at the Bernard Matthews Youth Awards on Tuesday 27th October.
The awards took place at Open in Norwich, and consisted of awards in eight categories:

  • Food and Farming
  • Sport
  • Charity
  • Arts
  • Bravery
  • Education
  • Community
  • Hero
The group won £1000, which will be used to construct a vertical garden, and pay for a chicken cam and specially adapted battery which allows the group to create a 24 hour live feed from the chicken coop to the website. Watch this space for more!

BBHS Eco would like to thank Bernard Matthews, the Eastern Daily Press, Open Norwich and The Garage for a wonderful evening. Although being student led, it is vital that credit also goes to our wonderful teacher and fellow environmental enthusiast Mr Champion who helped make our project possible!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

On behalf of the Eco Group, I am pleased to announce that we have been shortlisted for the education category of the Bernard Matthews Youth Awards!
In the summer holidays, I was both surprised and delighted to have received an email from someone behind the awards, recommending that I enter the eco group into the education category after she had come across our website and was evidently impressed! Last week, we heard back from the people behind the awards who gave us the great news that we have been shortlisted and invited to the awards ceremony in Norwich on the 27th of September. We feel very privileged to have been invited to this event and we are still thrilled to have been shortlisted. You can read more about the other finalists in this article on the EDP website.
So what are these awards? The Bernard Matthews Youth Awards have been running for seven years and were set up by Bernard Matthews to reco­gnise and award young people aged 11 to ­18 living in Norfolk and Suffolk. There are eight categories within the awards, these are:
  • Food and Farming
  • Sport
  • Community­
  • Charity
  • Arts
  • Bravery
  • Education
  • Heroes

As mentioned earlier, we have been shortlisted for the education category. The winner of each category receives a cash prize of £1000. This would prove to be very beneficial to the Eco Group in completing ongoing ­projects as well as ­funding a whole new generation of projects which could hopefully get our younger members more involved with the group to prepare them for when the majority of the eco group leave the school in June and they become the leading force of the eco group!
Evidently, this award is a fantastic opportunity for our group and would a­llow us to achieve the vision we have wo­rked towards since its founding. We hope­ to share some good news with you soon!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Picture this: your family has gone shopping in town and you’ve been left home alone. After several hours you begin to worry; they’ve still not returned. Eventually, though it may take a while, you will starve as no food is brought back to the house. In real life, you would simply leave the house and go find food, but for queen honey bees this is rarely an option when a vast majority of her workers simply leave. This is the horror that is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
CCD is an increasingly worrying phenomenon where a majority of the worker bees abandon the hive, leaving behind the vulnerable queen, brood, nurses and stores of food. The disorder has contributed to massive drops in colony counts across the world, ranging from 30-80%. CCD is especially noticeable in countries such as the United States and Spain, while Australia has seemingly been unaffected. What is causing these bees to leave so suddenly, and why does it only happen some places? We don’t know, but we have an idea.
In the past half-century, several factors affecting the decline of hives have either come into existence or have worsened. The most serious of these are:
  1. Parasites: in recent years, parasites such as the Varroa Destructor and Acarapis Woodi have become more aggressive, attacking colonies with greater frequency. 
  2. Pesticides: the introduction of Neonicotinoids (currently the most widely used pesticide in several countries) may have had an effect on hive numbers, the scale of which is disputed. 
  3. Poisons: chemicals given off by industry kill worker bees while they’re out of the hive, causing colonies to die off. 
  4. Pathogens: several bacterium, viruses and fungi which can weaken or kill worker bees have become increasingly common.
Several other factors do exist, such as increased stress, radiation, genetic bottlenecking, climate change and malnutrition, though these are seen as major contributing factors. The most likely culprits are the Varroa mite and the use of Neonicotinoids, both of which have been shown to cause bees to suddenly leave their hives. No matter what the cause is, CCD is still a scary prospect.
Winter Losses shown in relation to Neonicotinoid use. [source]
It is, however, important to consider some of the myths regarding CCD which exist on both sides of the argument. The most common of these is the idea that Colony Collapse Disorder is a sign of the disappearance of bees as a whole. Though the US winter hive mortality rate has doubled from 15% to 30% since 2005, the population has actually grown worldwide. We should view the CCD phenomenon as an eye-opener; a taste of what could happen if we continue on our present course. Other, less widespread myths exist, including:
  1. Neonicotinoids aren’t harmful to bees: Though its exact lethality is unknown, it’s clear these pesticides do at least a little bit of harm. 
  2. Colony Collapse Disorder is all about the death of bees: the presence of dead bees around a hive is not necessarily a sign of CCD; the disorder causes the colony to be almost completely abandoned. 
  3. Honey production and pollination have been severally affected: Honey and pollination have only decreased slightly as a result of CCD. 
  4. The upcoming ‘pollination crisis’ will be apocalyptic for humankind: No crops we rely heavily on for food are pollinated by honey bees, thus humans wouldn’t face extinction as some people claim.
That being said however, we shouldn’t ignore the threat CCD could pose. After all, if we became complacent bees could actually face the fight for survival, a battle nobody needs. As much as 40% of our foods are pollinated by them, and without those people would starve and industries would collapse. Plants we use to feed livestock, such as clover and alfalfa, would disappear, having a huge effect on those animals. The drawbacks of honey bee extinction would be far spread and disastrous for both people and business.
CCD is not a major threat on its own, but rather a symptom of something larger. [source]
This begs the question: is Colony Collapse Disorder the first sign of something more sinister to come? Maybe. Until then, there are plenty of things you can do to make the honey bee’s future bright. Here are five easy ways you can help starting today:
  1. Turn your garden into a nectar farm: by planting nectar producing plants in your garden, you provide an alternate, non-toxic food source to bees nearby. This could reduce the amount of pesticides local bees bring back to the hive. 
  2. Support the war against unsustainable farming: show your support for companies and groups promoting causes such as ecological farming, pesticide toxicity research or replacement, bee health research, etc. You could do anything from simply signing a petition (an excellent one by Greenpeace can be found here) to joining a protest or rally. 
  3. Get an education: read further into Colony Collapse Disorder and other similar topics (here is a good starting point). After all, knowledge is power and the information will be important in the fight for the honey bee.
  4. Give an education: no one can save a species by themselves, let alone the entire world. Teach everyone you can about the importance of honey bees, the dangers they could soon be facing and how they can live sustainably. 
  5. Buy local, buy organic: organic farming and honey production methods are completely free of pesticides, one of the suspected main causes of CCD. By both supporting and buying from these producers, you can show that these processes can be completely sustainable.
These methods are only the beginning; if you want more of a challenge, become a beekeeper (check out the guides and courses here if you live in England). No matter how you chose to help, every effort moves us a step closer towards our goal: to protect the honey bee. We’re marching (buzzing?) right alongside you.
Have an idea on how we should be controlling CCD or honey bee conservation in general? Be sure to leave a comment below and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, 29 June 2015

In a new law passed in March this year, the French are set to join Germany and Australia in yet another environmental advancement: green rooftops.
Passed by French government officials, the law rules that buildings in commercial zones of France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels. The law has less scope than the original plan put forward by environmental activists to completely cover rooftops, and was made less onerous for businesses by ruling that only part of the roof be covered in greenery, and giving people the choice of installing solar panels to generate electricity instead.
The green rooftops have an isolating effect, meaning that they help reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a house in the winter and keep it cool in the summer. The panels and greenery also retains rainwater, and - according to ecologists - aids biodiversity, as well as giving birds a place to nest.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

After months of planning and construction, the chicken coop and run has finally been installed into BBHS Eco's ecological garden! There are five chickens currently in the coop, two of which are rare breeds. The coop is painted in pastel green and blue and acts as a home and nesting box to the chickens. We hope to sell the eggs produced to members of staff, the kitchen and eventually other students in the school!
Following this, the group aim to work on the other gardening projects like the vertical wall and the ecotech project which involves the erecting of a solar panel stand in the garden. Check back soon for more information surrounding these projects!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Here at BBHS Eco Group, mobile phone recycling is something we hope to encourage throughout both the school and local community. We wish to do this by asking ask you to donate your old mobile phones to us. Although most wouldn't think to recycle old mobile phones, research has shown that metals we use in everyday life are not disposed of correctly and therefore put to waste which obviously has a detrimental effect on the environment. For perspective on how much we use nowadays; one hundred years ago barely 12 materials were widely used, these mainly being wood and clay. Nowadays, however, over 60 elements are found in the common computer chip.
An example of a rare element sitting in your unused smart phones is Indium. The Indium industry is expanding constantly to keep up with demand, however it is rare. You will find Indium in your touch-screen devices as well as many other electronic devices. The BBC, as well as many other sources say that Indium will have been exhausted as early as 2017 and therefore new phones and tablets may be getting very expensive or even non-existent. This isn't the whole truth however. Although Indium is running out, trace amounts can be found in soils and by-products of other refining processes. Furthermore, others reporting say that Indium won’t run out in 2017, but it will run out very soon. 2025 for instance is another estimation of when Indium could run out. Although that seems a long time away, it is sooner than you think and if Indium were to run out and research into substitutes for Indium with carbon nanotubes, etc. turned out to be rubbish, we may have to revert back to big clunky, non-touch phones and TVs and I doubt many will be joyed to hear this! This shows how big a need for phone recycling is as we could re-use ITO (Indium Tin Oxide) used in mobile phones for the production of newer phones whilst we find a viable replacement.
Indium isn't the only rare element in your phones, however. Another extremely rare metal is primarily found in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is called Coltan. Saying Coltan is important in phones is a huge understatement for it is used in a much larger spectrum of electronic devices. However, phones use Coltan after refining into Tantalum to make small Tantalum capacitors, which are a crucial component to make our handhelds smaller and holing more power. The average phone contains about 40 milligrams of this stuff in it, and it is used so widely due to its natural corrosion protection and high capacity in small volumes. Furthermore, Tantalum can also be used to help improve sound quality in mobile phones and Tantalum capacitors also have an extremely small failure rate. It's not that rare there can be complications when trying to obtain it, however. Much of the extraction and obtaining financed a civil war and wars between Rwanda, Uganda and the Congo because of the high usage and dependence of this material in the modern world. Lots of mining operations were carried out illegally by rebels and militias to be sold on the black market as its ability to hold and move electrical signals and its conductive ability in extreme temperatures make it ideal for smart bomb guidance controls. (read about these conflicts here and here).  There’s not much to be done about this, however. Governments have looked at geo-tagging the Coltan in order to control conflicts. This would be no use however if the governments in China and India did not comply. As mentioned previously, the reason for recycling phones to obtain this material is not purely based on amount, but also to help properly develop the Democratic Republic of Congo to prevent more civil wars.
Other materials to think about when thinking about recycling your old phones include Lithium. The battery in your phone almost certainly contains Lithium however there aren't currently huge concerns regarding availability, especially considering Tesla’s plans to make more Lithium-Ion batteries annually in one factory than were made worldwide in 2013. Research into smaller and more efficient batteries is constantly being carried out, but who knows when we might need an abundance of Lithium in the future?
Once again we do urge you to recycle old unused phones, as this could really make a difference, not only in the technology industry but also to lessen terrible conflicts and improve life for all.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Recently, we received a cheque from with a value of £20. This may not seem like a lot but with your help we can still raise more. The best thing, it technically doesn't even cost you a penny!
We interviewed our top donor about why and how she donated and when asked why she donated, she said:-
“Once I’d installed, it asks if you want to donate every time you make a purchase, and I thought why not donate?” 
Simply put, if you buy something online the browser extension will ask if you wish to donate to the charity of your choice. It doesn't cost you a penny extra though! Instead, some of the money you pay for your purchase is donated in your name. Although it doesn't donate huge amounts, if you were to use this every time you shopped it would certainly increase!
Our interviewee told us it worked with most of the sites she used, such as:
  • Amazon
  • Marks & Spencers
  • John Lewis
  • Argos
  • Ebay
  • Tesco Direct
So why are we talking about this website? Well as we mentioned before we received a small cheque recently however we want people to help us raise funds by using this site. You can read more by clicking here and follow the below guide to help raise money for BBHS Eco.

How to get started with

Step One

Click here and type "Benjamin Britten" into the input box for the cause you wish to support. This will cause a box to appear below with suggested causes, ours should be at the top of the box and is called "Benjamin Britten Solar School Project - Lowestoft", click this.

Step Two

You will now be prompted to fill in some basic information about yourself, such as your name and email address. 

Step Three

You will now be asked if you would like to install the donation reminder if you're using a web browser which supports add-ons. (Most modern browsers do). If you install this then you'll be reminded to donate whenever you buy something from a supported retailer online. For more information about the extension, click here.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

When we talk about renewable and 'clean' sources of energy, we generally think of solar panels and wind turbines. Some people, however, have other ideas about renewable sources of energy; poo!
The UK's first 'poo bus' hit the road last September and is powered entirely by human and food waste. The actual fuel for the bus is the biomethane gas produced by the poo. One tank of this allows the bus to travel up to 186 miles!
Poo Bus
Recently, a poo-powered bus from Reading has been in the news following setting a new land speed record for buses, reaching 77mph at the Millbrook Circuit in Bedford. This is a huge step for poo-powered vehicles and will hopefully influence an increase in poo-powered buses and cars. Who knows? In a few years we could all be driving poo-powered cars to the cinema to see Vin Diesel's new blockbuster film - The Fast and The Faeces!
Mohammed Saddiq, general manager of GENeco (the company behind the poo-powered bus), said:
“Through treating sewage and food that’s unfit for human consumption we’re able to produce enough biomethane to provide a significant supply of gas to the national gas network that’s capable of powering almost 8,500 homes as well as fuelling the Bio-Bus.
Gas-powered vehicles have an important role to play in improving air quality in UK cities, but the Bio-Bus goes further than that and is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself.”
Poo-power isn't just limited to vehicles though; GENeco also became the first company to inject gas generated from human and food waste into the national grid last November, showing that one day it is possible for our country to be powered by poo!
Bristol sewage treatment works processes around 75,000,000^3 of sewage waste and 35,000 tons of food waste each year. A total of 17,000,000^3 of biomethane is generated each year at the plant through a process known as anaerobic digestion, this is enough to fulfil the power needs of 8,300 average UK homes!
Some people are already powering their homes by poo and following the recent media coverage of poo-powered vehicles more people will hopefully jump on board with the concept of poo-power and join the campaign to make poo-power mainstream!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

After the recent election held on the 7th May the Conservatives won the majority votes, meaning the parliament isn't hung and Conservatives will be in power of the country until the next election, but, how will this affect our environment? David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party, unveiled his manifesto a few months prior to the election, which includes a variety of environmental policies. 
Onshore wind farming is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, with over two and a half thousand farms around the United Kingdom. Asides from its questionable aesthetic, many argue that wind farming is not used to its full potential when based on land. The Conservatives plan to "halt the spread of onshore wind farms.” However, the party has angered green developers by confirming the plans to end the development of any further onshore wind farms in the UK, even if the method often fails to win public support.
Furthermore, as Prime Minister, David Cameron pledged to support the UK Climate Change Act (2008) which hopes to reduce emissions by at least 80% by 2050. Another part of the manifesto stated to provide support to poorer countries when facing the ever changing climate. As well as this, it is said that more will be done to tackle air pollution, clean rivers/lakes, plant eleven million trees and protect the Green Belt.
‘Fracking’ or shale gas extraction has always been a controversial topic, yet the party’s manifesto says that they “will continue to support the safe development of shale gas.” While it still has significantly less carbon emission compared to coal and is a readily available source; huge amounts of water must be transported to the fracking site, which comes at an environmental cost. Potentially carcinogenic chemicals are used, which if escaped will contaminate groundwater around the site. Asides from Fracking, the Conservatives have also committed to support the development of the North Sea oil and gas industry.
Other smaller claims which have caused less disagreement include £500m to be dedicated to ensure almost every car and van is a zero emission vehicle by 2050. The party also plan to boost the number of journeys made by bicycle, to encourage this, over £200m is said to be spent on establishing safer bike routes.
As mentioned earlier, some of these policies fail to win the vote of environmental advocates, this may be because the bold claims put forward in the 2010 election have yet to be put into action. So, can we trust this government with our environment? 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

With just under a week until the election, most are concerned with a change in deficit and Ed Balls as a possible chancellor, but politicians are missing one vital point- climate change. At the current point in time, most political parties have some form of environmental policy or organisation, for instance Labour has the SERA campaign, and the Liberal Democrats have bought forward the prospect of 200 million new green jobs. The Conservatives, well - their policy is not as green as their logo.
According to recent comprehensive studies, we are on the verge of a sixth mass extinction, with an expected one in six species set to be near exanimate by the turn of the century.
The threat is being accelerated by climate change, in particular habitat loss and greenhouse gases. A study conducted by Urban claimed that 'if greenhouse gases were capped and temperatures rose a couple of degrees less, then the extinction threat would be nearly halved.'
So what can be done? Saving the 3.5 billion year-old biodiversity that inhabits Earth is no easy task, and it could take many years. Larger animals are at higher risk- they populate less, and need larger grounds to live on.
Overall it seems that the sixth mass extinction is relatively low on politicians' list of changes to the country- but it shouldn't be. Follow this space for more.
(Below: A diagram of extinction risk in both land and in water, and the predicted causes of it.)

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A new renewable energy record has been set by the Central American country Costa Rica after an extended period of heavy rainfall. The weather conditions have facilitated extensive use of hydroelectric power plants which have provided energy for its population of 4.8 million for 75 days in a row. Currently 94% of Costa Rica’s energy is provided by renewable sources, with no fossil fuels having been burnt in the country since December 2014.
The Costa Rican Electricity Institute has also been pushing for the adaptation of other sources of renewable energy such as geothermal power, with several such plants in the currently in the planning stage. Each geothermal power station will provide 55 Megawatts of energy, able to meet the demands of 55,000 homes across Central America. Jake Richardson, an author and analyst at CleanTechnica, has called this “good news,” stating that Costa Rica should not become too dependent on hydroelectric power, the effectiveness of which fluctuates depending on the flow of water and weather conditions. The Costa Rican government has pledged $958 million to construct the geothermal power stations around the country.
The country aims to become entirely carbon neutral by 2021.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

In a beautiful display of how form and function are not mutually exclusive when talking about green power, energy firm Urban Green Energy has installed a par of vertical axis wind turbines within the metal structure of the Eiffel Tower. The twin turbines will provide enough energy to power the entire first floor of the tower which features restaurants, shops and informative exhibits and displays.
The turbines are only 17 feet tall but use an innovative triple-bladed design to maximise energy generation without the ugly mechanical look of other such structures. The design also keeps noise levels at a minimum and the turbines are equipped with vibration dampeners, eliminating concerns about sound pollution when constructing wind turbines in occupied areas.
Project head Jan Gromadzki hopes that the turbines will “make a visual statement” and demonstrate how renewable energy technologies “that can be easily integrated into the daily lives of people around the world.” It is estimated that two of these turbines would be enough to power the average Western household.

Friday, 6 March 2015

A few weeks ago, this website turned one year old and it got me thinking about what I originally had in mind as my ambition for what I wanted this site to be after a year. To my surprise, I haven't really managed to get a lot of the things done to the site that I would have liked to have had done in the past year. With that, I present to you my manifesto for for the next few months!

Learning Resources

One of the main things we set out to have on the site right from the start was a "learning resources" section which could be utilised by our school as well as other schools in geography lessons. Unfortunately, we faced a few problems at school with our site being inaccessible via the school's network and this obviously obstructed the project slightly and forced it lower down our to-to list. It's now at the top of our task list and we will complete the learning resources section of the site within the next few months.


Yes, the Raspberry Pi live garden cam. The one we told you was near completion a few months ago. We backtracked slightly. We had it working fine but then something went wrong along the way and we're now struggling to get it working. We have, however, got one of the Pis set up to take timelapses and we plan on taking advantage of this function when the newly constructed structures and chickens are being put into the garden. The timelapses produces will be shared on this site when they're complete but for now, enjoy this timelapse I made with the Pi when testing the function!
Once everything is in place in the garden, we will definitely crack on with the livestream project and get that up and running in the coming months. We might even get a chicken cam set up for you! 
As well as providing a source of entertainment for you, the audience of this site, this feature will also prove useful for ourselves to monitor the activities of the chickens and the garden when we aren't in school.

Energy Monitoring

This wasn't part of the original plan, however I do hope to get it up and running in the next few months though. This feature will allow you to monitor the energy output of the solar panel in the solar garden which we'll be using to power the Raspberry Pis streaming the garden as well as any other electronics in the garden. Hopefully, the result of this project will be something like this. I have contacted the creator of that site and am still awaiting a response but I'm hoping he will be able to assist us in recreating his project via the internet!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Recently, my friends and I joined the BBHS Eco Group and were astounded by the amount of effort and thought put into making these promising projects a reality. Over the past few weeks, our group have built the chicken coop and are almost ready to accommodate some chickens! This exciting new project should bring a new element to the group and attract some of the younger years to join in in this awesome project.
Hopefully, over the next few months we will begin a gardening project using recycled musical instruments and other items that would usually be thrown away, adding an inventive and imaginative element to our many plans. For more information on this gardening project, see the blog post by Mr Champion which will be published in the coming days!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Last week, myself and another member of the eco group interviewed Miss Wisker, the school's textiles teacher who has been using upcycling with her GCSE students. Here's what she had to say:

What is upcycling?
The process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value, or in my words; taking something old and making it into something fabulous!

Why do you use upcyling?
Firstly, it’s environmentally friendly and saves a lot of money as well, it also means we don’t have to buy things in, we can use things we’ve already got.

What sort of things do you use?
Bed sheets, duvet covers, pillow cases and curtains which are basic expensive fabrics. We can also use old clothes such as shirts, jeans and even socks!

What is made from the materials?
We can make all sorts out of them: skirts, ugly dolls, drawstring bags, sock aliens. Although, nothing ever goes to waste as the scraps are used as tests for the sewing machines or weaving

Who gets involved?
Mainly the students that take textiles are the ones who donate materials, but we have had a lot of support from teacher, they mainly donate old baby clothes!

How does it benefit the GCSE students?
Part of the year 11 AQA exam board is to create a product out of recycled materials, they’ve all really enjoyed this project as they got to use old materials to craft a patchwork quilt.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Artist's Impression
The UK is set to pioneer an innovative new form of energy generation known as “lagoon power” in a billion-pound scheme recently unveiled in Wales. A series of 6 artificial lagoons constructed for £30 billion could provide up to 8% of the UK’s energy consumption. The constructions would capture and use sea tides to turn turbines, thus generating energy. One such lagoon with a cost estimated at £1 billion is currently in planning in Swansea.
The proposed plan would involve artificially constructed walls stretching miles out to sea lined with tidal generators that use the natural and reliable ebb and flow of the tide to generate energy. The design allows tides to pass through the turbines four times per day.
Locals have expressed concern that the wall would disrupt fish activity around it, but the project heads claim that it creates a natural reef that encourages biodiversity in the area.
Despite the high cost of the project, those behind it are confident that after the initial investment further constructions of these lagoons would become cheaper. Ed Davey, the UK’s energy secretary, has expressed an interest in backing the project.

For more information, visit the project's website.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Last Tuesday, during the half term, members of the Eco Group gave up their day off to come into school and work on their projects. Despite some setbacks involving an unforeseen power test and various technical difficulties, each group made a lot of progress on their projects. We'll let these pictures tell you the rest. Enjoy!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

On Tuesday, a large portion of the Eco Group were excused from their regular timetable in order to work with Mr Stanley, our guest who is helping us with the practical aspect of the Solar Garden. Last week, he visited us to help us plan the garden and this week we began to construct the actual physical elements of the garden such as the chicken coop and chicken run!
In the morning, we revised the plans we had drawn up last week and after break we got in to the DT rooms and began work on the chicken coop. We split into 4 teams and each team constructed a certain element of the coop. It took the rest of the day for us to reach near-completion of the structure however it was to a very good quality and we're all proud of the product.
The EcoTech team were not a part of the construction and stayed in to make further plans for the solar panel and its stand which will be constructed in the weeks to come. Some of the modules required for the solar panel to work were broken so some members of the group got onto the phone to the Solar Energy Alliance and ordered some replacement items which were delivered later on in the day. The EcoTech group are now fully prepared for the mounting of the solar panel and will now be focusing on getting the Raspberry Pis set up to do what we want them to do when we set them up permanently with the solar panel.
Next week, we hope to get some more structures completed for the garden and we hope to have it up and running by the end of this term. Be sure to check back for more updates in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Yesterday, we discussed the overall plan of the Eco Garden with a visitor to the school who will be helping us with the more practical aspect of the Solar Garden project. Katie and Allannah calculated the amounts of material (wood) we would need to begin the construction of our chicken coop. We also priced up some of the items. When we can get the materials we will begin the creation of the coop, on top of which the solar panel stand will be situated. We spent several hours using mathematical equasions to work out optimal positioning of the solar panel in order to be most efficient. We hope to get the solar garden up and running by the end of this term so keep your eyes peeled for new content on here as well as our twitterour facebook and our Instagram.

Monday, 26 January 2015


Today has been a day of progress for the Eco Group. We had previously contacted someone to come in and help us with the construction of the various elements of our Solar Garden project and after a series of setbacks including delays, debates and discussions we finally received permission from the head teacher to take the day off of lessons to work with our guest to finally start making our ideas a reality.

Each group from the EcoTech project to the Chicken Group worked hard, producing a manifesto for their projects along with various documents and drawings. The groups made use of their mathematical and DT skills to design the equipment needed for their projects. Of particular note was our resident recycling expert Jack Hill who used his understanding of trigonometry to calculate the exact dimensions of the roof of the chicken coop. 

Today was likely our most productive day as a team, with each person pulling their weight and contributing something to the group. Be sure to visit the other posts on the site written by each group about their work today (to be uploaded in the coming days).