W/c 12th April 2021
During the Easter break, pupils receive a press release from the National History Museum in London. It reads:
“We have today been informed by the Ecuadorean authorities that the search for the missing research science team has been called off, following two weeks of fruitless search and rescue efforts in the South Pacific Ocean.
Thirty-two of the country’s finest natural history scientists, who were sailing from Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands where they were to collect samples for our Darwin exhibition here in London, remain missing at sea following an unexpected and extreme weather event.
The profession mourns the loss of these esteemed colleagues, and we send our heartfelt condolences to their families at this difficult time.”
An accompanying letter from the teachers explains that unbeknown to anyone, we (the team) have managed to stay alive by drifting on a life raft at sea and have found ourselves washed ashore on an island. Pupils are asked to bring with them on the first day of term an item which they may have managed to keep with them, or an item found on the beach where they are washed up. Our first priority is clear: We need shelter.
Using the space outside the classroom, we spend time creating our camp. Using a mix of found and natural materials, the shelters emerge. Some begin to think about other elements of our survival and begin to fashion tripods for boiling water on, a spit roast, and a food storage area. The camp will continue to evolve and be adapted throughout the term as needed.
Out of role we begin to look at how classification and use this specialist information to create our employee profiles which detail our specialist areas and career highlights. The team is comprised of specialists in echinoderms, coelenterates and myriapods. There are also experts in Phoenicopterid and Delphinus, as well as Salientia!
Using dramatic convention, we wind back the clock to our arrival on the island. We imagine ourselves arriving at nightfall. We speak our thoughts. Many comment on their sensory experiences:
“I feel the soft warm sand between my toes… The soft buzz of the crickets tickles my ears…. My blistered and sunburnt skin is burning…”
Others comment on their emotional responses:
“This is too good to be true… I look to the trees, thinking about where I can shelter… I feel fear even thought this seems like paradise…”
We fast forward to imagine ourselves alone in our shelters in the middle of the night, where many are left unable to sleep. Harry comments that he feels he is not alone and that he is being watched. Others speak of their exhaustion, and their fear. Some even question whether it would have been better to have drowned. Many comment upon the noises coming from the undergrowth which surrounds us. Using a Dictaphone, we create a soundscape of the sounds of the island at night.
We begin to map the Island, using our bodies and drawing around them to create the coast. Together, we are starting to construct our context as questions and observations about the island emerge:
Are we at risk? Whose were the fresh footprints in the sand when we arrived? What kind of island is this? Are we alone here? What is inside the cave? Are we being watched? Do we need weapons? Lookouts? How can we attract attention? Are there food sources here?
Out of role we explore perimeter and begin to think about how we might measure the scale of the Island. We also write newspaper articles detailing the disappearance of the team, and learn about tropical storms and how they are categorised.
W/c 19th April 2021
With some of the class out completing their ‘Bikeability’ training, we work on establishing a timeline of events between leaving Ecuador and washing ashore on the Island. We create still images and short films of these moments.
Out of role we continue our work on classification; producing a large-scale chart which we will use for reference as we discover and collect animal species during our time on the Island. We conduct research into Charles Darwin, and the significance of the Galapagos Islands.
Modifications to our shelters are ongoing. Spit-roasting equipment, clothes drying areas and a water boiling system are designed and constructed.
We complete our newspaper articles, following research into tropical storms and how they are formed and classified. Through this process we decide that the storm is named Grace, and it was of category 5!
W/c 4th May 2021
We conduct our planned experiments relating to our drinking water supply on the island, investigating the following questions raised by the team:
Can the salt be removed from sea water?
Can you filter fresh water and make it fit to drink?