If you’ve been paying close attention to the ARKive Education pages recently you may well have noticed that a new logo has appeared beside a couple of the modules in the 7-11 age group.
This new icon signals that ‘Adaptation: Design a Species’ and ‘Marvellous Mini-beasts’ are now both CREST Star accredited. This means they have been assessed and found to meet all of the required criteria for accreditation so can now count towards a recognised award here in the UK, the CREST SuperStar Award.
During the accreditation process we have been working closely with the CREST Star Investigators National Programme Coordinator, Dylan O’Sullivan, so who better to help us explain the ins and outs of CREST Star Investigators.
ARKive: So what is CREST Star Investigators?
Dylan: CREST Star Investigators is a UK-wide award scheme that enables primary school children to solve science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) problems through practical investigation. The activities focus on a mixture of practical activities and discussion, and encourage children to work independently of adults; it’s all about hands-on fun investigation. They are designed to be used primarily outside of lessons and you don’t need a science background to run them which means they are great for clubs and home schooling; they do also have clear curriculum links and many teachers use them for practical lessons.
ARKive: What does your role involve?
Dylan: As National Programme Coordinator my role is to develop the programme to reach as many schools and children as possible. The main focus has been a move towards an online membership resource which will allow us to deliver more activities at an affordable cost to schools, and to provide other benefits to member schools; this will happen in September 2012. The other area we have been developing is our strategic partnerships; these fall into 2 main categories: sponsorship of new activities, and our rapidly expanding activity accreditation partnership programme which has grown to include some of the UK’s top science learning centres and online providers.
ARKive is one of a number of organisations that have accredited activities – including the Science Museum, Planet Science and @Bristol.
ARKive: What do you look for in potential partner organisations?
Dylan: Our main criteria for accrediting activities is that they must fit our guiding principles for CREST Star. Activities must offer the children the opportunity to:
- solve a relevant, science-based problem, set within a context
- work in pairs or small groups, independently of adults
- take part in practical, hands-on science activities
- think and talk about science, during the activity and when sharing their ideas.
We want to encourage children and educators to take science learning beyond the classroom, and to develop a love for the science that is all around us.
ARKive: What was it about Wildscreen’s resources that led you to contact us about becoming a partner?
Dylan: We love Wildscreen’s resources. The ARKive website is a great interactive source of wildlife and conservation information, and its strong visual focus makes it ideal for younger learners. The education resources are well thought out and very engaging, as well as a lot of fun. The accredited adaptation activities really get learners involved and thinking about how life evolves and adapts, and what could be a more fun way to learn about evolution and adaptation than designing your own species! We also firmly believe in the aims of Wildscreen and the ARKive project, so we are very happy to give our support to the organisation.
Our accredited resources can be found on our education page, along with our three newest modules – Nocturnal Animals, What is an Endangered Species? and Sizing Up Species.
For more information on the CREST Star Investigators visit the British Science Association website.
Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer