Grand Designs

GQ: How healthy is our relationship with nature?

Expedition lead: M. Said
Curriculum: STEAM, Humanities and Arts
Phase/Year group: Secondary, Year 7
Delivery date: Summer 2017

In the summer of 2015, our Year 7 students embarked
on our ‘Grand Designs’ learning expedition to investigate ‘What in nature inspires us?’ and ‘Is there a design
to nature?’

We started the expedition by looking at cave art, which got us thinking about how man has been inspired by nature from as far back as history is able to tell us, and spent time in sites of natural beauty such as Sandall Beat Wood so that we too could be similarly inspired.

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Martin Said, Expedition Lead

During the first case study we read ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’ and learned about the massive impact that Darwin’s theories had on the highly religious Victorian British society. Just as Darwin did on the Beagle, we kept a scientific journal, recording stories from our fieldwork, as well as notes and sketches about the many areas of the curriculum we studied.

We discovered how mathematical ratios and sequences such as the Fibonacci numbers are found throughout nature and learned how to express sequences algebraically and how to manipulate ratios.

In the second case study, we spent a day a week at Potteric Carr, with our expert Kat Wooley, helping to build the paths and fire pits in the new Bestow Plantation area. Kat also told us where to find our species at Potteric so that we could observe their behaviour before writing about them.

To aid with our writing, we studied the animal poems of Ted Hughes and used similar linguistic techniques in our first person narratives to bring our animals to life on the page, alongside a scientific description of their adaptations, habitat and place in the food web.

Finally, we created scientifically accurate, multi-colour prints from lino to complete the work included in this book. We hope you find this field guide both purposeful and beautiful.

Learning targets

  • I can describe how genetic inheritance results in species variation
  • I can explain how natural selection and evolution results in characteristics of different species
  • I can compare and contrast Evolution with other theoriesI can use a range of mathematical principles to describe observations found in nature
  • I can analyse and appreciate a wide range of poetry
  • I can accurately represent aspects of nature using scientific drawings
  • I can discuss the social and historical impact of Darwin’s ideas


‘Grand Designs’ was sold as a book, both at Potteric Carr and in the XP Shop. It is still available to buy here. Students visited Potteric Carr two months afterwards etc.