In what is hoped to be the first of many, the inaugural Challoner’s Geography Festival was a sure-fire way of getting Year 12 geographers excited for their Year 13 course. The event was hosted at DCGS but also attended by students from local schools Chesham Grammar and Dr Challoner’s High School. The morning consisted of three seminars, each relating to critical aspects of the Year 13 syllabus.

The first of this series of seminars was from Professor Martin Evans of the University of Manchester, who talked about about the effect humans have on the carbon cycle, in a very interesting talk. What made it more relevant to us was when he used the UK peatlands, which are in grave danger, as an example. 12% of the UK is covered by these vast carbon stores yet 80% of them are in a poor condition due to both human and physical factors.

Next to talk to us was Dr Annie Ockelford from the University of Brighton, whose area of expertise is on the storage not of carbon, but of water. She told us about the change in the global water balance and what has caused this shift over the past few years. She also emphasised the importance of water in our everyday lives in some surprising ways, most notably the fact that it takes over 1300 gallons of water to produce a 12 oz steak.

The final seminar of the morning was delivered by Dr George Adamson of King's College London. His subject was El Niño, a sporadic weather cycle in the Pacific which often impacts climate across the world. He summed up El Niño perfectly in a fascinating lesson focusing on the history of the mysterious event.

In the afternoon we split into smaller groups for workshops on specific topics we wanted to find out more about, including talks on careers in geography and life at university.The morning lecturers, as well as Dr Richard Walker, also stayed to go even deeper into their subjects of expertise in workshops. With Dr Adamson we analysed specific El Niño data and made our conclusions about the climate for certain years, while Dr Walker’s workshop involved a crash course in glacial landforms.

This was a great day for pursuing geographical interests, learning new concepts and preparing for the challenging Year 13 course. Thank you to Challoner’s Geography Team, the geography departments from the other schools and the lecturers for making this a fantastic day of learning. Also thank you to Mr Abbas for contributing his high quality photographs to this article.