We are just beginning the development of our third ‘Future’ science garden which is a collaboration between staff, (Chemistry teacher Adam Astbury, Citizenship teacher Sheila Clark) a team of students and Newcastle University’s School of Natural & Environmental Sciences staff.
David Manning, Professor of Soil Science and Research Assistant Kevin Stott along with Dr Mark Goddard, now a Fellow at the University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment (previously Research Associate at Newcastle University) will be working with us to transform an unused patch of land into an area of carbon capture. All three developed the University’s carbon capture SUCCESS (Sustainable Carbon Capture: Engineering Soils for Climate Change) programme.
Following the SUCCESS programmes methodology, our new garden will consist of an artificial urban soil engineered to exploit the natural carbon capture potential and maximise the rate of calcium carbonate formation. Two main carbon capture materials will be used, first, is a waste product from a demolition site – crushed concrete and the second is dolerite (also known as diabase) which can be found all over the world and is quarried in the northeast of England.
The garden will be planted, maintained and monitored to measure the amount of carbon captured from the atmosphere and to complete the plot, meadow flowers will be grown on top to encourage pollinators.
Over a minimum period of two years, the students will regularly test the garden to assess the rate of calcium carbonate formation as well as checking the strength and permeability of the artificial soil. A few of the questions to explore will be which plants will survive in these conditions? Do some plants boost the carbon storage capability of the soil better than others – e.g. deep roots v shorter ones?
In preparation for developing the garden and helping students understand the best way to collect samples, we have now completed a test pit dig. On a very cold day at the end of March, we dug a metre square test pit. It rained, snowed and then there was hail….and we kept on digging!
The Sixth Form student team:
Elouise Southern Thompson