This year we were delighted to be asked to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge at the Millennium Library in Norwich. Organised by The Reading Agency and delivered in partnership with public libraries, the challenge is aimed at primary school children and designed to encourage them to read for pleasure over the school summer holidays.

With this year’s theme being ‘Gadgeteers’ and having a strong STEM focus, we were excited to help merge science and reading to inspire and encourage children’s curiosity by running three workshops; i) What’s the Problem with Plastic?, ii)Delightful Dung Beetles and iii)Wonderful Water.


What’s the Problem with Plastic?

A young workshop participant with their filter feeder.

Fresh from our time talking about plastic pollution at Latitude Festival we decided to use our first drop-in workshop to introduce children to the topic of microplastics in the ocean. We were also able to make use of SAW’s latest book; ‘Help, Our Planets in Peril!’, which features activities on plastic waste.

With a focus on single use plastics, children discovered that plastics don’t simply ‘disappear’ in the environment but instead break down into smaller and smaller pieces which can become polluting microplastics. We explored this by looking at the impact these microplastics have on creatures that live in the ocean.  After looking at a range of sea creatures in the libraries reference books, children created their own filter feeding fish and conducted an experiment using grated wax crayons to see how microplastics get into the food chain.

Children loved creating their own filter feeders and left with the knowledge that it’s always best to pick up our litter and use greener alternatives to single use plastics!


Delightful Dung Beetles

All set up to learn about dung beetles!

Led by SAW intern Nathan McConnell and featuring his newly printed book ‘Disgusting Derek’, children were invited to join our second drop-in workshop ‘Delightful Dung Beetles’ to learn all about, you guessed it – dung beetles!

Children were able to get up close with an array of different types of dung beetles under the microscope and look at a whole host of diverse insects in the libraries reference books. Then they made their own beetle out of clay, complete with mini habitat to take home. They also learned about the benefits of having these ‘delightful’ beetles around, such as their important role in keeping soil healthy by turning waste material back into soil and clearing away smelly messes that others wouldn’t like to do!

Want to hear more about Nathan’s internship with us? Sure thing! Check out his blog here.

Wonderful Water

Making potato’s float!

Our last bookable workshop was focused on the topic of water and invited children to explore aspects of this precious, life-giving resource. To begin, we looked at how much water is on planet Earth and how much of it is actually available for drinking. The children were  shocked to learn that this was actually only around 1%!

The children taking part conducted their own experiments looking at water density, surface tension and buoyancy.  The take-home message was that water is magical stuff and we need to look after it and keep it clean!

In true SAW style, we ended the workshop with a series of creative art activities inspired by the science topic. Children used water to make tie dye tissues and played with the process of wax resistance and marbling inks to create watery-word pieces of art.


We loved being involved with this year’s Summer Reading Challenge and hope those who took part in our activities enjoyed them. A special shout out to the kids who attended ALL three of our workshops – it was great to see young people so enthusiastic to participate in science during their school holiday! Thanks also to Adam and Apryl at the library for making us so welcome 😊