Cross curricular learning at the living laboratory

Date Posted: 11/12/2015

Students of all ages can learn at the Centre for Alternative Technology.

School Travel Organiser takes a look at the benefits of booking a visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), Wales.

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is situated in mid Wales providing schools with an environment where students can learn about sustainable living.

A visit can have benefits for students in Key Stage 1 through to Key Stage 5 in subjects such as Geography, Physics, Engineering, Biology, Design & Technology and Literacy. Encouraged to learn through practical, hands-on sessions, students will discover the issues and potential solutions to sustainability.   

Pupils are led by experienced guides on topics such as climate change, biodiversity loss, finite resources, sustainable buildings, renewable energy, and Zero Carbon Britain.

The seven-acre visitor centre provides programmes to suit both day and residential visits and teachers can liaise closely with the educational charity to ensure the sessions fit with specific curriculum requirements and that they complement the work they being done in the classroom.

Day visits programme

The CAT day visits can be arranged to include a variety of talks, tours, and workshops. 

The hands-on Energy workshop, which looks at wind and solar power, runs for 60 to 90 minutes. It involves pupils discovering how electricity can be generated from renewable energy resources by creating their own wind turbines or solar powered inventions, which they subsequently test and adapt. 

Once again this session can be adapted to cater for a range of ages from Key Stage 2 through to 5.

Tina Parkes a Geography teacher from Eirias Jigh School in Conwy, north Wales said: “Students being able to see technology working is an experience no classroom can simulate. It was a really valuable day that allowed them to see their STEM subjects working alongside their Baccalaureate; this is a fantastic step forward for us.”

Other workshops include The Story of Water, and Construction, a practical workshop investigating sustainable building materials.

For further information on the full range of activities for different key stages go to learning.cat.org.uk/index.php/en/tuition

Residential

The CAT site is run as a ‘living laboratory’; water is collected in the centre’s upland reservoir to be used for hydro power, the water balanced railway and drinking. Sewage is treated via on-site reed beds. The organic gardens and an orchard contribute food to the vegetarian restaurant and throughout the centre sustainable products and methods of living and working are used.

Student can experience the ‘living laboratory’ themselves as part of a residential trip by staying in the sites’ eco-cabins. In them electricity is provided by a small renewable power system which uses wind, solar and water power and hot water comes from solar water panels and a wood stove.

For more information on CAT’s residential experiences visit learning.cat.org.uk/en/residentials.

Further benefits 

One Key Stage 5 pupil said of her visit: “It has taught me to think about the next generation and how to be more energy efficient”. As well as supporting academic subjects, CAT provides a setting for learning and personal development and encourages children to consider their lifestyle choices and impact on the planet.

All of CATs interactive sessions encourage the promotion of team building skills and the development of confidence through having new experiences and challenges.

Popular sessions include sensory activities in the CAT woodland where pupils follow a well-marked rope trail blind folded and learn to develop their senses and connection in a natural environment.

Teaching Resources

CAT provides resources to facilitate the teaching of sustainability in the classroom and to help follow up activities from a visit.                                    

For more information or to book a day visit contact 01654 705983 or e-mail education@cat.org.uk. For residential stays call 01654 705982 or e-mail cabins@cat.org.uk.
 

School Travel Organiser's Guide