Each year after their final exams, Year 7 and Year 8 go on a series of trips as a reward for all their hard work over that year. This year the exciting visits were to Whipsnade Zoo, Bletchley Park and the Frogmore Paper Mill for Year 7, and the Black Country Living Museum for Year 8.

Whipsnade Zoo

When we first arrived at the zoo most of the animals were asleep because it was morning, but soon the animals came out to see us. We were able to see penguins, giraffes, rhinos and many other amazing animals before we had lunch. After lunch, we went to see the big cats of the zoo - it was exciting seeing all the lions and tigers. We also stopped at the butterfly house and got a look at a beautiful peacock.

Finally there was an awesome bird show that displayed a huge range of UK birds, from hawks to owls. This trip was great, especially because we had never seen most of the animals there before. Whipsnade is an amazing zoo - it holds 3,873 different animals and is the biggest zoo in the UK. Many of the animals that they have are endangered out in the wild. This was a great way to start off our activities week.

Frogmore Paper Mill

Our visit to the Fromore Paper Mill was truly facsinating. At the mill we learnt about the transportation, making and printing of paper, and many good facts about the canals. Not only that but we got to visit a canal that went from just outside London to the centre of London. This way goods could be transported faster and in larger amounts. The canal is quite long and would take a while to get from outer London to the centre, but on horse it would take 12 days and would be a much longer journey.

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Paper can be made out of many things, but is mostly made of organic material; if you tear a piece of paper you can see the cellulose fibres. Paper used to be made by putting these materials into something that would then blend them and crush them. After that it was put into water and all those small pieces would be picked up by a bit of nylon and left to dry. Once it had dried you would have paper. This was a trip where we learnt a lot.

Bletchley Park

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After our exams, we were fortunate enough to visit Bletchley Park: the location that cracked Germany's coding system in WWII. This trip was specifically chosen to teach us about World War II, and a bit about what people do in wars other than fight. We firstly learned about fascinating codes such as morse code. After that we explored the huts; long and thin buildings where people cracked the codes.

We discovered that Bletchley Park was the location where they cracked codes because it was between Cambridge, Oxford and London so well-educated people could easily reach it. This trip was one we won't forget.

Black Country Living Museum

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As part of activities week, we got to go to the Black Country Museum near Birmingham. It was an eye-opening experience and very interesting too. We got to see how people lived in the time of the Industrial Revolution as well as how the society worked.

The first thing we did was go into the mines. We saw all the jobs that people did as well as who did them. There were menial jobs such as loading coal from the mine, and also counting the amount of coal and working out the costs. There were also much more dangerous jobs such as mining in the depths below. Some people even had the job of collapsing the ceiling in order to get coal.

Back in those days, women's rights were not very prominent in society. On the site of the museum there is a union building. The union was for women's working rights but was also a hugely social establishment. Due to the creation of this union, women had a higher standing in society as well as more equal pay, better healthcare, and even the opportunity to express political opinion and attend political debates.

In the afternoon we visited the chain making workshop. The man demonstrating the chain making was heating the iron to extreme temperatures, before fashioning it into a horseshoe-ish shape, fitting it into the chain and closing the loop. The furnace was 1500 degrees centigrade!

It seemed no time at all until we got on the coach back to school. After a long and very fun day, we felt like we had definitely learned something valuable.