By Janet Watt
Excited pupils from Norfolk primary schools go on an exciting bug hunt thanks to an initiative by the RSPB which encourages exploration of the natural world.
The RSPB Schools Outreach Programme in Norwich includes a session called BioBlitz, where pupils spend 30 minutes in their school grounds searching for as many living things as possible. It’s a truly exciting, action-packed session where pupils have the opportunity to experience ‘being a scientist’ in the real world.
Pupils love this session and regularly explain how much they enjoy it. Two Year 6 classmates from Brundall Primary School, said it had been loads of fun. “It’s a lot better than spending time in the classroom!” they exclaimed. They had never noticed so many “bugs” on their school sports field before. “We found a snail, spider, ant, ladybug, wasp and a hoverfly,”
Pupils get to use real equipment and enjoy the freedom to work independently, going where the creatures are! They love using their scientific skills such as observation, recording and team work. In a real world Bioblitz, scientists record every species they see in 24 hours. The RSPB session encourages pupils to do the same in the space of a lesson and they always relish the challenge! As well as copious numbers of invertebrates, hiding in the school grounds which pupils have never seen before, they enjoy a new world opening before their eyes. Pupils revel in being able to name trees, plant and birds. Following the tracks and signs left behind by more elusive creatures, is also a favourite part of a Bioblitz which can lead to interesting discussions about the scientific value of poo! Then, if we find hedgehog poo (which is more often than you may think!) the excitement just bubbles over!
The children are introduced to the activity by the RSPB outreach team. The class are divided into pairs and given brushes and small transparent “pots” with a magnifying glass on the lid. Staff explain, “we’re not giving you the brush to paint the insects – it’s for you to gently brush the insect into your pot so we can study it.” Once they have finished studying the insects, the pupils are told to place them back carefully where they had found them.
Class teachers say the resources and learning are great and that the exercise provides a welcome change for the pupil. They often say that pupils take this learning home, looking for bugs and birds in their garden.
RSPB Schools Outreach Project Officer, Clare Whitelegg said "Bioblitz was a fun way to explore and discover." She said "The project is run at schools in Norwich and nine other cities around the UK. It’s so valuable for pupils to have a wonderful time outside, whilst learning important topics on the curriculum but in a real, live, brilliantly fun way with real examples. One great example, is that pupils can classify their real world finds into (loose!) taxonomic groups which is on the curriculum at Year 5. This means so much more to them then a paper exercise. It’s so rewarding for my team and I to be able to offer this sort of learning. The pupils love it and they also benefit so much in terms of personal and social well-being. We get brilliant feedback from them.” Here’s just a small sample!
‘Wow! the jade colour of the beetle is almost iridescent‘
‘After the nature hunt , I went home and watched bats in my garden. I also found some places where bugs live. I think they like places to hide in the dark.'
‘Exciting as I really want to help animals.’
‘Seeing the toad was the highlight of my life!’
‘I can’t believe I found a centipede’
‘Man, that was the best lesson ever!’
If you would like you school to take part, find out more and fill out the on-line enquiry form at https://www.rspb.org.uk/fun-and-learning/for-teachers/school-outreach-visits/
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