Feb 27

Physics trip to CERN 2012

Physics trip to CERN 2012


On Monday 16th July 21 students and two staff met at Bristol Temple Meads station for the first stage of our journey to Geneva. On arrival at the hostel we were given and promptly lost our room keys, and settled into our rooms. The first activity was a treasure hunt around Geneva, which involved around four hours of pleasant strolling around the city, discovering treasures all over the place, from the four giants of the Protestant Reformation in the old town to the Geneva flower clock and the golden onions of the Russian Orthodox Church.


The first activity on Tuesday was to negotiate the breakfast buffet, after which we took a tram up to the UN, the second largest of its headquarters in the world (only New York is bigger). We all went through airport style security and walked across the site (complete with resident peacocks) to meet our guide. He took us to the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room, decorated by famous artist Miquel Barcelò, the Salle des Pas Perdus, from which you can see the monument commemorating the conquest of outer space, the Assembly Hall and the Council Chamber, where many important historical negotiations have taken place. We found out about the current activities of the United Nations and the history of the Palais des Nations, formerly the headquarters of the League of Nations. Outside we found the Broken Chair, symbolising opposition to land mines and cluster bombs acting as a reminder to politicians and others visiting Geneva. We then found some fountains, which were particularly useful for cooling off in the heat!, before our stunning boat ride on Lake Geneva.


Wednesday brought the long anticipated visit to CERN. We started off in the visitor centre, ’The Globe’, using the interactive displays to learn more about what goes on at CERN. From there we visited ‘Microcosm’ and learned more about the contributions that research at CERN has made to the wider world. We then sat among world class physicists as we ate our lunch in the CERN cafeteria (best lunch all week!). After lunch we met a contact of Miss Wales’ who took us on a behind the scenes tour including the office where he worked with Tim Berners Lee when he proposed the WWW in the late 1980s, with the original poster on the door. In the afternoon we had our official tour. This started with a video introduction to the history of CERN and a questions and answer session with an undergraduate researcher. Two of our students were quite satisfied to spot a mistake in the particle masses quoted on one of his slides! We then piled into the CERN minibus to take a ride to two of the experimental facilities. The first one was the newly built control centre where students were quick to spot the rows of champagne bottles (empty!) from celebrations of each milestone in the development of their research. The most awe-inspiring part of the trip was at the CMS facility. We were able to go underground (although not right into the tunnel as it was active and highly radioactive) and see the heart of the world’s largest physics experiment. A display of all the people involved (they looked normal and just like us!) in the CMS project hopefully inspired some of our students to be part of the CERN team in the future. In the evening we were treated to more of Mr Gregson’s games to keep us entertained.


At the CMS detector


After breakfast on Thursday morning (and a bit of a lie in following the excitement of Wednesday) we all walked along the bank of the lake to the History of Science Museum for a journey into the city’s scientific past. The museum displays an intriguing collection of scientific instruments from the 17th to the 19th century, including microscopes, telescopes, sundials, astrolabes and a vast collection of glass eyes! In the early afternoon we went off in small groups to do our souvenir shopping, or even to take a dip in the lake, whose water has just melted and run off a mountain and so was still pretty cold! In the evening we went to Hotel Eidelweiss for a traditional Swiss meal. Most of us had fondue of some sort, accompanied by a local alpine horn player and yodeller! Back at the hostel we gave prizes and gifts for people achievements and contributions, Miss Wales receiving a ‘real’ Higgs Boson from the whole group as a thank you for organising everything. We departed early the next morning, retracing our steps to Geneva airport and back to Bristol, where after much frantic phoning, everyone was met and taken off home to continue their summer.


Many thanks to all who came and made the trip so enjoyable.

Nov 14

Year 9 Battlefields Trip October 2012

Year 9 Battlefields Trip 2012


Everyone who went on the trip to the battlefields thoroughly enjoyed it and found it a really interesting and moving experience. We experienced with our own eyes what it was truly like to be fighting in WW1, rather than just reading about it in a textbook or watching a presentation in a classroom. None of us will ever feel quite the same about WW1 again.


We set off from school early in the morning and travelled to Belgium. Our first stop was the Flanders Field Museum in Ypres, a museum about the war in the West Flanders area of Belgium. We spent a couple of hours there which enabled us to experience the full horror of what it must have been like for the soldiers, fighting and dying in the deep mud of the trenches. We also learned about the impact of the war on the surrounding area – at the end of the war the whole of Ypres was about 1m high, if that.


Hill Farm Cemetery
Essex Farm Cemetery


After breakfast the next day, we set off for Hill 60, a battlefield. We noticed how lumpy the ground was because of all the shelling. We saw a giant crater from a mine, which was 40ft deep and learned about the battle which caused four Victoria Crosses (medals for extreme bravery) to be won in just one day. We went on to Railway Cuttings / Larch Wood cemetery and saw the graves of Commonwealth soldiers who were killed nearby. It was really moving and sad. One of the graves was for a 17 year old. All of the gravestones were the same style and size, to show that on death we are all equal, and that these people all died fighting for us, no matter what rank or class they were.


Railway Cuttings Larch Wood Cemetery
Railway cuttings at Larchwood Cemetery


After visiting the cemetery, we set off to the Passchendaele Memorial Museum, where we visited reconstructed dugouts (which some of us didn't particularly enjoy because they were quite dark and claustrophobic). We spent the afternoon visiting cemeteries in the area. We visited Tyne Cot cemetery, which is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery ever. Thousands of soldiers are buried and remembered there. We were each given a memorial cross to place on someone's grave; some people were given names of Bristolians who had died, so placed their crosses on their graves. Some of us, me included, put our crosses onto the graves of unknown soldiers as it felt really sad that they had no one to remember them.



Trench experience at Passchendaele Memorial Museum
Trench experience at Vimy Ridge


We also visited Essex Farm Cemetery, near which the poet John McCrae wrote the poem In Flanders Fields. There we saw the grave of a 15 year old boy which was really sad and quite scary as it showed that if we lived one hundred years ago some of us could have been fighting. At Langemark, a German war cemetery, we noticed it was much smaller than the other cemeteries we had visited. After the war the Belgians were not keen to give the Germans land to bury their dead, as the Germans had invaded ending in the deaths of thousands of soldiers and Belgians. However, there were still thousands buried there. There is a mass grave containing over 24,000 soldiers. The cemetery is a very dark and depressing place. At the back of the cemetery there is a statue of four soldiers mourning their dead comrade. The statue used to be at the front but it was moved to the back where it looks as if the figures in the statue are watching over the dead, remembering and protecting them. 


This cemetery hit me and my friends the hardest as it showed that the Germans were not just soulless robots who actually wanted to kill people, like they are sometimes portrayed (history is written by the winners, after all), they were just like our soldiers. One day they walked out of their door and away from their families, went to fight and never came back. We all felt really sad after our long day, so it was time to visit the chocolate shop in Ypres. We all bought lots of chocolate then had our evening meal in Ypres.


I felt really lucky as I was one of four people (Beth, Sam, Ryan and me) who were going to lay a memorial wreath for the school at the nightly remembrance ceremony at the Menin Gate, where the names of thousands of Commonwealth soldiers that were killed in West Flanders are engraved on a massive gate and arch. I felt really proud, but also nervous. Thankfully, the ceremony went without a hitch and we were all really happy that we had been part of it and helped to remember those who died and honour their memory. You can watch how it went in this video.



The next morning we left Belgium for France. On the way we stopped at Fromelles cemetery, which was only created last year after a mass grave of Allied soldiers (mainly Australian), was found nearby. This was the first place I found someone who may have been related to me, they had my mother's maiden name. It was good to see that these people had been remembered and properly buried at last. We also visited a cemetery where Nathan's relative was remembered on a memorial. 


After visiting Fromelles, we drove down to Newfoundland Park, a battlefield from the Somme owned by the Canadian government and remembering the Newfoundland regiment who fought and died in the Battle of the Somme. We walked along the trench line, learned about the Battle of the Somme and how many people died. We saw the Danger Tree which is the furthest any Allied soldier got before they were killed or injured. This was very sad as the Danger Tree isn't actually very far from the front line and it just seemed like a massive waste of life. 


We left Newfoundland Park for the Ulster Tower memorial for the 36th Irish Ulster division. Two of us dressed as a WW1 soldier and a Red Cross nurse and we had a talk about their uniforms and what their equipment would have been. Afterwards, we went to Thiepval memorial where Allied soldiers with no known grave are remembered on it. There were thousands and thousands of names which was really overwhelming and incredibly sad. We then visited Citadel, the area in which Siegfried Sassoon fought and the cemetery where many of his close friends were buried. We read a poem by Sassoon about the trenches and saw the places where he fought. It was really interesting because I already knew a bit about him and his experiences of WW1, but seeing it really brought it to life.


Thiepval Memorial

Thiepval Memorial


The next morning we visited the Wellington tunnels in Arras. These are a system of tunnels under Arras which Allied soldiers lived in for eight days before they attacked the German trenches in the area. The tunnels were amazing and like a sort of underground town. There were beds, bathrooms and directions painted on the wall. We then travelled to the Vimy Ridge site, stopping on the way at a cemetery where Mr Shaw's great grandfather was buried. Vimy Ridge is owned by the Canadian government as it was the first time all four Canadian divisions fought together in the war. It was really interesting because the trenches had actually been preserved and we could walk around them.


Mr Shaws great great grandads gravestone Douglas Wilbur Smith surgeon in the Royal Army Medical Corps died on the Somme

Mr Shaw's great great grandad's gravestone, Douglas Wilbur Smith, surgeon in the Royal Army Medical Corps who died on the Somme


After looking at the Vimy Ridge Memorial which is amazing, we began our long journey back to Bristol. Although tired, we had all really enjoyed the trip which had changed our perspective of WW1 and those who experienced it. If I could do the trip again, I would as it is an amazing experience and really helps you to understand WW1 and the events which changed our world.



Year 9 Student


Group photograph at Passchendaele Memorial Museum

Group photograph at Vimy Ridge



Oct 9

Year 10 History GCSE Development Field Trip

Year 10 History GCSE Development Field Trip


The Year 10 History GCSE Development field trip was a huge success, from visiting exceptional museums, watching a demonstration in the Old Operating Theatre (a role I so eagerly volunteered for), to the excitement of the London Dungeons.  All followed by a fantastic meal at the Hard Rock Cafe, which on my table was also really funny!

The Year 10 History GCSE Development field trip is likely to not only entertain you and your friends but also inform you, enhancing the Medicine through Time topic.  Who knows, it could inspire you and be part of your history!

Year 11 Student
   Year 10 students at the old operating theatre

Images L-R: Buckingham Palace, Herb Garret and the Hard Rock Cafe.  

Jul 10

Hampton Court 2012

Hampton Court 2012

The Hampton Court trip in February was one of the highlights of my year!  The castle was beautiful and it was amazing to think that famous kings and queens, such as Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I actually walked on the stone tiles that I too was walking on.

The palace was stunning.  There were so many rooms that you could look into and each room had a history.  My favourite was the room where guns and weapons were used to make patterns on the walls.  You could walk all around the castle and also see where Catherine Parr and King Henry secretly got married.

The gardens were enormous and one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.  It was a really amazing trip and I only wish I could have stayed longer and that Mr Shaw had turned up in a Wolsey costume!

Seannah, Y12 Student


May 11

Rome trip in March

Rome trip in March

Students in Year 12 and 13 had a very successful trip to Rome in March. The sun was shinning, the ice cream was delicious and the city lived up to its reputation as being one of the most beautiful in Europe.

The trip was designed to support the studies of students studying Classical Civilisation  and History at A level. Year 12 students were wowed by the Greek statues in the Vatican Museum, Discobolos, the Trevi Fountain (see below) and Apoxymenos, comparing them with the pictures they had up to this point seen only in their textbooks back at school. Year 13 focused on the ancient Roman sites; the Forae, the Pantheon and the Ara Pacis. These are set sources for the exam syllabus so they merited careful perusal! Other students particularly enjoyed the visit to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican City. All this was interspersed with frequent visits to piazzas, gelateria and the occasional café.

The Trevi  Fountain
As well as being particularly useful for our studies, the trip was also a great social opportunity and allowed us to make friends with students that we would not normally interact with. We were granted plenty of free time where we could experience Rome for ourselves, including its markets and fountains. This was really great for enjoying the culture of Italy without restriction. If you are considering going on the Rome trip then you won't be disappointed. There is so much to see, one trip will not be enough.

Enjoying Rome!