26 July 2020

Start making a virtual fieldtrip

Fieldwork is one of the things with which Ocean Sciences distinguishes itself! We like taking the students on the Ocean Sciences research vessel, and onto mudflats, and into glacial valleys, and many other places. But we can't, now! We had to truncate the fieldwork season when the pandemic struck. And next year? 

We have moved all fieldwork-heavy modules to the second semester. The practical-heavy ones too, but that's not what this blog is about. We hope that by then, things have got better and we can just move students around in buses without having to worry about it. Not sure if that will really happen but I hope so. 

I have several modules in the first semester. One of them has a day in the field. That one day wasn't enough for the School to move the module back! But I needed to do something with it. We would have some 50 students; I thought the chance would be close to zero we could do that trip. So what then? I figured it should be possible to have a virtual field trip. Just go there, do the spiel there, document all data sites, give the students the data, and hope they got enough of a feel for the site. That would involve filming and a lot of video editing, but that's OK; we have technical support for that.  

I picked a nice dry day for it. And it evidently was after Snowdonia had reopened! Otherwise I couldn't have gone. But that meant it would be busy. The parking lot we needed gives regularly updates on whether it's full or not, but they only start at 8AM. And then they're full in times like these. So I had suggested meeting there at 7. That should be OK, right? Well no, it wasn't. That's the disadvantage of a day with good weather I suppose. Long story short: that place was quite full at 6:30 already, but with a bit of a parking-related delay we could start collecting footage. 

The way to the parking lot if you didn't find a parking spot there

I did a bit of a spiel at the gate to the miner's track. And every time we passed a rock with either what the trip was about (glacial striations) or anything that could be mistaken for them, I did another little spiel. And then the lake where the real action takes place came into view! I did my general spiel, and then I had to find all locations the students had taken measurements the previous year. I wrote a north arrow on all locations, and the site number, with chalk. And the photographer then photographed them.  There were twelve locations so it was a bit of a job! And finding out exactly what blob of rock was a location was a bit of a puzzle. But I did it. 

I suppose the north arrow and location number only show up in full screen mode

At some point I sat down with coffee and a sarnie. It was a nice day and I enjoyed that! I had feared it would be searing hot but it wasn't; it was jumper-and-jacket weather the entire time. Which suited me fine. And a view on Llyn Llydaw, and Lliwedd looming behind it, is an excellent backdrop for coffee and sarnies! 

My break view - could be worse

It was done around noon. I had had no idea how long it would take. This was OK as far as I was concerned! And now basically my work on this is done. I will now await the photographer presenting the (preliminary) results. I hope it will work out! 

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