Now in its 18th year, the British Science Association’s National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW) is a UK wide celebration of the sciences, which aims to engage people of all ages with science and show how it can relate to everyday life.
The theme for NSEW this year was ‘communication’, so with this in mind we sent our team of intrepid STEM Ambassadors out into schools across Bristol to introduce ARKive and explore the many methods of communication employed by animals.
‘Communication: the imparting or exchanging of information’
Animals (and plants) communicate with members of their own species as well as with other species via a variety of means – visual, acoustic, physical and chemical. Courtship dances, as seen by the superb bird of paradise and warning colouration are methods of visual communication, while the red deer and the lion both utilise acoustic communication to exhibit their dominance and territoriality. After investigating how and why animals communicate we then challenged the pupils to write an Attenborough-style narration for video clips we provided, each showing an example of a species communicating. Once they had researched their species and crafted their script, the groups had to perform their pieces to the rest of the class.
Alongside our communication workshop we ran sessions tailored to suit the particular needs of the schools. When we were asked to plan a penguin themed lesson for a group of Year 2s we jumped at the chance to get creative – I think we enjoyed making penguin masks almost as much as the kids did!
Examining mini-beasts and their adaptations was also a big hit and our ‘Create your own mini-beast’ activity yielded some extraordinarily imaginative organisms, including an ocean-dwelling, toe-eating critter and a chameleon-inspired flying insect able to change colour to match the sky at all times – an awesome example of camouflage in action.
In total the ARKive STEM team have worked with over 600 children this week, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we definitely have a newfound respect for teachers! Our expanding team of fully-fledged STEM Ambassadors have now got the taste for teaching and are raring to go, so if there are any schools out there that like the sound of an ARKive-inspired lesson please do let us know!
Meadowbrook Primary School, Bradley Stoke
Begbrook Primary School, Stapleton
Broadlands Secondary School, Keynsham
Kingsfield Secondary School, Kingwood
City Academy, Bristol
Laura Sutherland, ARKive Media Researcher