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World Biodiversity Day at Bignold Primary School

24/05/2018

It was a real privilege to be able to host my first SAW workshop at Bignold Primary School, while celebrating World Biodiversity Day.

Being relatively new to SAW, this was the first workshop I had planned from start to finish. Having a background in ecology and a passion for the conservation and protection of the worlds biodiversity, the stars aligned when I was asked to present a workshop to Miss Clitheroe’s year 3 class on the 22nd of May, otherwise known as World Biodiversity Day!

My aim for this project was to inspire the younger generation to think more about what biodiversity means to us, as individuals. Ultimately, I wanted these young 7 and 8-year olds to become passionate about some aspect of biodiversity conservation, whether that be about the preservation of a species or reducing the amount of their own plastic waste, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think it was a success.

I approached the day full of nerves, questioning whether the games, activities and presentation I had devised were going to capture the student’s imaginations and evoke the response that I so desperately wanted to see. I needn’t have worried.

The children arrived in the classroom full of energy and with intrigued looking faces, excited to find out what lay ahead for the day. As with all SAW school workshops, the science part of the day came first. The students, the majority of which had predicted me to be an artist, sat with attentiveness as I took to the floor to teach them all about biodiversity.chart

As advised by long standing SAW veterans, Chris, Mike and Jenni, I broke my presentation up regularly with activities and games, to make sure I kept the students interested in the topic. These included a role play game making our own Yellowstone National Park, where students learnt about the links and connections within ecosystems by acting out the reintroduction of wolves into the park. Other games included a target game in which students learnt about the different drivers of biodiversity loss and which species are affected.

The science session concluded with the entire class making wormery’s, a task I think they very much enjoyed, given the amount of chatter and laughter that filled the classroom.

After the wormery’s were set aside, it was time for the art and writing. A key aspect to SAW projects is the use of scientific images. It took me a while to choose what images I wanted both Mike and Chris to work with during their sessions, purely because the topic of biodiversity is so diverse it was hard to narrow it down to images that portrayed it succinctly. I think we got it right though.

 The idea of the images is to provide a link between the sessions and inspire the art and writing, and the output from both sessions were amazing. The children wrote of imaginary animals, far off lands and the loss of species. Many of the children were so pleased with their poetry, that they stood in front of their class with clear, loud voices and read them to their peers, something I personally would not have dared to do at that age!

 Chris’s art activities had the children making their own collages of layered plastic pollution, and a frame decorated with layered tissue paper inspired by the image of cracks in sea ice.

 At the end of a very busy, energetic and long day, I was so happy to hear that each child had a different highlight of the day. They each took away a fact or snippet about biodiversity and my hope is that, that fact or snippet, stays with them.

 

I would like to say a massive thank you to Chris, Mike and Jenni for being so lovely to work with and keeping me on task, as well as to Bignold Primary School for having us especially ‘Miss C’, who accommodated us with such short notice. Finally, I would like to thank the entire class of jaguars, 3CJ, who constantly stunned me with both their level of understanding and enthusiasm.

Image references: Sea anemone & Bleached coral – Pixabay, Butterfly scale – Linden Gledhill Photography, Diatoms – CC-4.0, Julien Crespin, Weizmann Institute, Human Eye – Roger Wagner, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, Shark skin – Belgium mimicry, Deforestation - Yale, Ulet Ifansasti/Greenpeace

A selection of poetry from the students

A maze from bird’s eye-view.
Take a wrong turn and you’ll fall to your doom or run into lava!
No life for miles,
only the miniature lives here.
Twists and turns everywhere,
the thumb print of a giant.
Only a limited amount of oxygen,
just ten minutes!
After dark the moon disappears and there is no light.
Small tunnels leading nowhere,
tiny streams as thin as a pencil.
- by Oliver

Graceful ice cracking silently,
black night in the stars.
Look closely, what do you see?
I see a big block of ice cracking.
Polar bear is sad “don’t break!”
Polar bear is happy,
the ice has stopped.
Hurray, hurray, we are all happy!
- by Ebony

Darkness leading to light through steel pathways.
Steel scales rougher than rock.
Like crystals lighting up darkness,
nothing breaking it.
It is dragon’s scales protecting the dragon.
Sparkling light.
Destroy all it touches.
Getting every plant killed,
trees,
flowers,
fruit,
all gone.
All is dying, no more living things.
- by Alex


Butterfly’s, bee’s, flying past,
I wish I could fly.
Bright colours in spring,
the sun is so bright it’s in my eyes!

Octopus tentacles,
sharp teeth,
it’s gonna eat me!
Looks like coral its blue and pink.

Big volcano EXPLOSION!
BOOM BOOM goes the lava,
patterns look like leaves.
This is all biodiversity.
- by Ebony