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Plympton Academy

Geography students explore the wonders of Iceland as they enjoy once-in-a lifetime adventure

Geography students from Plympton Academy have enjoyed the overseas adventure of a lifetime as they visited Iceland to learn about the Earth’s plate tectonics.

Thirty enthusiastic pupils from year groups 10 to 13 had a sightseeing packed programme for their residential, which included a visit to the Blue Lagoon – one of the 25 wonders of the world, high-powered waterfalls, geysers that erupted, and an Icelandic town.

Chris Jones, who leads geography at the academy, praised the students for being so brilliant and ensuring everyone had a positive experience.

He said: "This trip was a once in a lifetime experience for the students, so it was encouraging to see everyone taking everything in and having an enjoyable time. The visit to Iceland is all about applying the geographical knowledge they have built in the classroom to a real-life situation. To see how things get made rather than seeing it in a text book makes all the difference."

Even though this was a memorable moment for the young people, the teachers will reflect fondly on the true impact it has had.

Mr. Jones added: "The smiles and expressions of amazement on the students faces were amazing to see. It’s moments like that that made me get into teaching – by giving the students life-changing opportunities."

Despite the trip being thoroughly planned, there were high winds on one of the days, which meant the group had to opt for an alternative and safer plan to visit an Icelandic town. This also provided an educational experience for the geographers, as they learned about the protection in buildings to ensure they don’t collapse when they experience natural events.

For many of the pupils, this was the first time they had been away from home without their families. Pheobe, in Year 13, says she was a little nervous to fly abroad without her family, but was soon overwhelmed by some amazing scenes.

She said: "Ahead of going on my trip for the first time without my family, it was a little stressful and I wasn’t sure whether I was over-prepared or under-prepared, but I knew I would be okay. Mr. Jones knew exactly what was happening, which was comforting. You could see him go into ‘airport mode’ when we arrived, which was funny to see, but he organised it well, which eased any nerves I had.

"My favourite part of the whole trip was seeing the waterfalls; they were incredible. We were on the coach, driving through the mountains and snow, and then, suddenly, there was this waterfall. There were so many spots for water falls too, and it just made you speechless. You see on social media people traveling places, and it was cool to be there myself to see it’s all real."

At one point, the group stopped nearby a waterfall and enjoyed standing there to study its grandeur and beauty.

But for Ben, also a Year 13 student, his highlight was at the Blue Lagoon, which everyone visited as soon as they stepped off the plane. He said: "To be outside in the cold but in the water of the Blue Lagoon that was warm was incredible. As someone who loves geography, I would recommend to anyone to go to Iceland as it has everything."

Ben also reflected on the glacier the department visited and says that moment was striking, saying: "When we saw a glacier, it really took my breath away. That’s the first time I have seen something that has been affected as a result of climate change."