Back in November a group of Year 7-10 students took part in the Erasmus programme called Humans First. The aim of the programme was to look at sustainability and in particular, renewable energy, whilst working with students in Spain, Italy and Germany. You can read about the experience here: ERASMUS ‘Humans First’ – a project on Sustainability and Renewable Energy | Northgate High School. This project was held online and whilst it was a really valuable experience, it was not the same as doing it in person.

In April, however, some of the team had the opportunity to travel to Dortmund, with Miss Brooks and Miss Lynn to work with some of the students again (from Italy, Germany and Spain).

Here, we have a day by day account of what they all got up to, with contributions from a few of the team.


Day One 

Travelling is tiring!

Minibus to Stansted then a flight to Cologne. Finally, a train journey to Dortmund. 11 hours in total, after a delayed plane and waiting for the train!

The youth hostel is way better than some of us thought! They prepared a meal for us, even though we were an hour late.

Miss Brooks brought dessert to our rooms!!

Tomorrow we will meet the other students from Italy, Germany and Spain.

Just off the plane, waiting for a train in Cologne to take us to Dortmund.

A mural we saw on our daily walk to the school – there are lots of things like this in the area.

The community football pitch and surrounding houses which are decorated with Dortmund football players.

Day Two 

Early start with breakfast then walk to School.

We were introduced to the teachers and then the project. The Ruhr area was dominated by coal mining. Also steel manufacturing.

We formed groups to research different topics including: miner’s housing, environment damage, renaturalisation of industrial areas, immigration to the Ruhr area, formation of coal and more!

(Each group has a mix of students from each of the four countries: 1 English student, 1 German student, 1 Spanish student and 2 Italian students)

After lunch we walked to the underground station to get the train to Phoenix Park. It was an area once used for steel manufacturing; now it is a large lake and grassed area where people walk their dogs and cyclists and walkers enjoy the path round the lake. Surrounding the lake are very expensive houses; many footballers and managers like Jurgen Klopp have property there.

We were all very tired and glad we got a train back to our hotel that evening!


Day Three 

After breakfast, all the students and teachers met up outside the hostel and we walked to Leopold Strasse to meet our tour guide, Martin; he took us round Leopold to see all the art and graffiti on the walls. Along the way, he talked to us about the particular locations of the city!

During the tour, we saw a playground which previously wasn’t a safe place for children until a super team of unemployed adults were given jobs to look after the area! Their jobs included cutting grass, supervising, removing litter and just keeping the place safe for young children.

Later, we arrived at blocks of flats that had been decorated and had Dortmund football team players painted on. There was also a community football pitch built. Around midway through our guided adventure, we stopped at a Turkish food shop. They were nice enough to let us try some of their bread and baklava which was really good!

After an hour, we left the school to return to the hostel to complete any work or catch up with our families!

Day Four

We had a very early start today!

We got a train and a bus to the Hydrogen Research Centre. On one side of the road was the remains of an old coal mine and the other side had the new Hydrogen lab!

We split into two groups and had a lecture about the production and use of hydrogen and how this can be applied to scenarios in the future. We also learnt about fuel cells and how hydrogen is stored in a compressed canister.

We went on a tour to see how wind energy is used to create the hydrogen (taken from water) and stored.

They are also looking into using magnesium as a way of storing heat that can be used when solar energy is not available. They have an electric car that creates electricity through the hydrogen fuel cell. Some of us got to have a ride in it!

Later, we completed an experiment with distilled water. We separated the hydrogen from the oxygen, collected it in a container then used the hydrogen we produced to power cars.

We had some time off in the afternoon before all of the students and teachers went bowling!

The Hydrogen powered car.

Experiment at the Hydrogen Research Centre – to create a hydrogen powered model car.

Day Five

Thursday started at school working on our presentations and Kahoot quizzes.

After lunch we headed to a training mine; this was made underneath the coal spoil heap.

We got to experience some of the smells and noise that the coal miners had to work with. The conveyors and cutting machines were very loud!

We had to wear white cotton jackets, this is so others could see us and because cotton does not create friction. Friction is very dangerous as coal mining produces methane which will burn.

Day Six

Friday! Today we had a short time to refine our presentations and then we went to 2 different English classes to present our work and involve the students in our Kahoot Quiz. The first time we were nervous but we settled in and gave incredible presentations!

The school in Dortmund is a digital school and each student has an iPad so it made playing the quiz easier.

After our time at the school, we went for lunch at the hostel then had time to pack, explore and shop!!!

In the evening we went back to school for a barbeque. As it was still Ramadan we all waited until 9pm so we could all eat together.

We all had a great week and it was such an amazing experience! We are all incredibly grateful for the opportunity and have made friends for life!

Our students before going down the mine – they had to wear white coats and hard hats.

In the training mine.