Mar 22

Last week saw the ExCel centre in London host the 5th annual Big Bang Fair, the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK. The aim of the fair is to introduce young people to the wide range of career opportunities available in STEM subjects and quite simply show them how awesome STEM can be. Once again, the ARKive team were delighted to attend, and spent four fun-filled days engaging with the next generation of scientists.

Claire at stand

Over the course of the event, 65,000 visitors descended upon the show floor to take part in all that the Big Bang has to offer, including 60 interactive activity stands and 88 workshop sessions from 180 different organisations. Along with the hordes of children, parents and teachers, the Big Bang Fair also welcomed a famous face or two, including David Cameron, Professor Brian Cox, TV Presenter Liz Bonnin and Business Secretary Vince Cable who opened the fair on Thursday morning. Of course, the two most exciting VIPs in attendance were our very own science superheroes Root and Flora, members of Team WILD’s elite conservation task force.

Brownies

Picnic area at lunch

Root and Flora’s mission at the fair was to help the rest of the ARKive team recruit new members for Team WILD, an exciting new online game which aims to introduce young people to both environmental issues and potential job opportunities in conservation. Through the power of stickers (number distributed: 1,661), word quickly spread around the fair and the number of Team WILD recruits rose rapidly. The new team members soon proved themselves to be of a high calibre, achieving some very impressive high scores. Due to these incredible scores, Team WILD decided to award one special commendation to the top scorer in each of the four mini-games. These prestigious awards go to the following rookie recruits:

Root FloraJungle
Daniel Nichols: 1,237

Aquatic
George Murray: 2,278

Deforested
Elliott: 2,297

Savannah
James: 2,319

 

Massive congratulations to everybody at the fair who came along to take the Team WILD challenge. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to play on the day, or for those of you who want to try and smash your current high scores, why not head over to our Team WILD page and give it a go! If you need any convincing, Team WILD was described by one young fan as being ‘like Super Mario, but with animals’…what could be better?!

Superman

Missed out on The Big Bang Fair this year? Keep an eye on the official website for information about next year’s fair and for details on other similar events near you. See you all next year!

The ARKive STEM Team

May 28

Every year, members of the Wildscreen team pull together to help out at our local BioBlitz. BioBlitz events take place all over the UK, and are a race against the clock to seek, identify and record as many species as possible in a natural space.

Scientists with different areas of expertise set off to explore the surroundings with school kids and members of the public. From spiders to sparrows, foxes to fungi and bats to buttercups, the team has it covered!

 

Photo of Pete sweeping for bugs © Wildscreen

Pete, the "Bug Man" sweeping for bugs

 

What a perfect opportunity to learn more about nature on our doorstep. This year we were at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol, and the weather was spectacular! From 9am on Friday 25th to 3pm on Saturday 26th May, the experts were seeking out species from across the site.

Photo of Wildscreen Bristol BioBlitz 2012 Team (c) Matt Postles

Wildscreen Bristol BioBlitz 2012 Team

 

So, how did Wildscreen help?

Media Team

Recording everything that’s going on, from the best moments of the event to the latest species tally, was the Wildscreen Media Team. You can catch up with all of the action on the Bristol BioBlitz Blog, watch one minute interviews with some of the naturalists and have a look at the highlights of the event captured in the BioBlitz Bristol Flickr page.

Photo of Hannah and Ben from the Wildscreen Media Team (c) Wildscreen

Hannah and Ben from the Wildscreen Media Team

Guides

Some of the Wildscreen team volunteered as guides to help out the naturalists. A few of the activities included sweeping for insects, listening to bird song, identifying plants and completing the all important recording sheets to keep track of what’s been found.

Lauren helping kids collect insects (c) Wildscreen

Lauren helping kids collect insects

 

 

A few of our favourite photos from the event:

Pretty in pink

Photo of bluebells (c) Wildscreen

 

Harlequin ladybirds

Photo of harlequin ladybirds mating (c) Wildscreen

 

Taking a closer look

Photo of a John Bailey taking a closer look (c) Wildscreen

 

Funniest photo

Photo of kids with snail (c) Wildscreen

 

Total species identified so far = 454!

8 species have never been recorded in Bristol before and 1 species was a new record for Avon. The total is set to rise as specialists confirm unidentified species.

Savita Custead and Matt Harcourt from the BNHC revealing the species total (c) Wildscreen

Savita Custead and Matt Harcourt from the BNHC revealing the species total

A big thank you to Arnos Vale for hosting this year’s BioBlitz and to everyone else who was involved!

If you missed the Bristol BioBlitz, why not check to see where your local BioBlitz is.

Wildscreen Bristol BioBlitz 2012 Team

Apr 18

It’s all go here at ARKive Education recently. What with the preparations for National Science and Engineering week and our trip to the Big Bang, as well as becoming accredited to the CREST Star Investigators scheme, 2012 has been a great year so far.

TES Teaching Resources

Our resources are as popular as ever, with downloads on the up – we are thrilled to think how many students the ARKive content and conservation message is reaching! As well as making all our education resources free to download direct from our education section of our website, we also list them on a variety of external platforms, including the TES (Times Educational Supplement) website here in the UK.

What does the TES website offer?

TES Resources provides a platform for teachers, publishers and a variety of organisations to share free learning materials including lesson plans, activities, videos, teaching ideas and worksheets. There are currently over 1.9 million members on TES from 196 countries, who have contributed over 300,000 teaching resources.

TES allows teachers to search their enormous database for resources to suite a particular age group, or to cover a specific topic. All the resources are linked to the curriculum and we hope it allows ARKive Education to reach a whole new pool of teachers, and judging by our download stats it seems to be working!

Wildscreen resources on TES

We were therefore particularly pleased to be approached by TES about becoming an official content partner.

“The TES Resource team are always looking for content partners with amazing resources that are freely available, to help grow the number of high-quality resources on TES which inspire teachers, save them time, and help to raise standards in teaching.

“ARKive’s wildlife video clips and fun materials make a great addition to the offering of biology resources available on the site. The resource ‘Marvellous Mini-Beasts – Design a Species’ – which teaches students about how different invertebrate species have adapted to survive in particular habitats – has been particularly popular.”

Charlie Patterson, TES Resources Partnership Co-ordinator

Find out more

For anyone interested in finding out more about ARKive Education you can visit our education section, send us an email education@wildscreen.org.uk, or come along to the TES Resources North conference taking place later this week at Manchester Central (stand C42) where we will be exhibiting from the 20th - 21st April.

TES Resources North banner

Find out more about becoming a Content Partner on TES.

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer

Apr 17

It’s that time of year again (arguably our favorite time of year) when ARKive staff in the US have the chance to talk to thousands of science teachers from across the country and even abroad. Of course, we’re talking about the National Science Teachers Association, where nearly 10,000 science educators came to Indianapolis to celebrate all things science!

ARKive at NSTA

What did we do?

Over the course of three days, we spoke to over 500 teachers who told us stories about everyday life in their science classrooms and the different ways they plan on using ARKive in the future. One elementary teacher said she’d like to use the convenient, short video clips during transitions from rowdy outdoor recess to quiet and focused indoor learning. A college professor liked that many species pages include links to organizations that are working to save species from extinction and was brainstorming a conservation project for her students requiring them to reach out to an organization to identify an action that students can take today, in their hometown, to help save species.

ARKive at NSTA

We also hosted a session called “ARKive.org: Creating virtual learning experiences within conservation education” that was attended by a variety of educators who taught different age groups and disciplines.  As an introduction to the 30+ ARKive Education resources, participants put on their thinking caps and imagined all sorts of new mini-beasts as part of the Marvellous Mini-beasts – Design a Species lesson. One imagined species was a beetle with legs poking out all around its center making it “able to scurry in any direction with the blink of an eye!”

Our Creative Climate Change Twitter Challenge

During NSTA, ARKive was hosting the Creative Climate Change Challenge, encouraging young people around the world to come up with a unique way to spread the word about climate change, from rapping to poetry and more. We took a tech-savvy spin on this at our conference booth and asked teachers with Twitter accounts to come up with their best creative caption for the images below. By tweeting their caption, they were entered into a draw for a signed copy of Jane Goodall’s “Hope for Animals and Their World”.

Some of our favorite tweets included:

Polar bear: “Man, this iceberg used to be a whole lot bigger!”

Polar bear photo

Woodland jumping mouse: “Oh no, where has all the snow gone? Thanks a lot, climate change!”

Woodland jumping mouse photo

Emperor penguin: “Last one in is a frozen egg!”

Emperor penguin photo

We’re already making big plans for NSTA next year including the unveiling of a whole new ARKive Education program. However, we can’t spill the beans just yet, but be sure to stay up-to-date with ARKive in the coming weeks to find out more!

Liana Vitali, ARKive Science, Education and Outreach Officer, Wildscreen USA

Mar 20

National Science and Engineering Week celebrated in the UK last week, was rather busy for ARKive’s STEM Ambassadors, with the team running a myriad of activities at 9 different schools throughout Bristol and Somerset.

To add to our hectic schedule, last week also saw the NEC in Birmingham host The Big Bang Fair 2012 – the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths for young people in the UK. The fair is a chance for kids (and adults!) to get hands on with lots of practical and fun activities; from welding with chocolate, driving and commanding virtual tanks, controlling robots – and, of course, playing ARKive’s ‘Web of Wildlife’!

The Big Bang Fair 2012   The ARKive Team at The Big Bang Fair 2012

What were we doing?

We spent our time at The Big Bang talking to school children, college students, teachers, educators and a whole host of other organisations from the worlds of science, technology, engineering and maths. It was hard keeping track of exactly how many people we spoke to, but with nearly 50,000 people expected over the three days of the event, we imagine it was a lot!

Engaging the next generation

The Big Bang was a fantastic opportunity for us to enthuse some of the future scientists of tomorrow, and to teach them about how films and photographs are an invaluable tool in promoting appreciation of the natural world. We also had fun explaining all about ARKive and how it can be used in coursework, projects and in the classroom.

ARKive at The Big Bang Fair 2012      The Big Bang Fair 2012

We had an amazing response from all of the people we spoke to over the three days of the fair. Teachers were really interested to hear about our education resources, while kids and adults alike loved playing on the website, our Survival app, and our ‘Web of Wildlife’ activity.

ARKive’s next ‘superfan’?

No summary of ARKive’s time at The Big Bang Fair would be complete without mentioning one of our most enthusiastic young fans who, at just 6 years old, ran circles around the team at our own activities! Having unlocked and gained three stars for all of the characters on our Survival app, Arun eagerly proceeded to beat us at our own game and managed to complete all four food webs on our Web of Wildlife activity – in just 46 seconds!

ARKive at The Big Bang 2012      Arun with 'Survival' ARKive's Endangered animal app, The Big Bang Fair 2012

Our favourite quotes from The Big Bang Fair 2012…

“I don’t have a favourite species, I like them all! And you can’t really have one because new ones are being discovered all the time”.

School student

“I love ARKive; I use it all the time! I used it to teach reproduction to Year 7’s by using examples of external and internal fertilisation.”

Teacher – Shenley Brook End School (Milton Keynes)

We use ARKive as our go-to resource for looking up our ‘animal of the week’ for younger students”.

A Level Student – Rugby College

“I love ARKive, I follow you on twitter and Facebook and I have your app on my phone!”

Teacher – John Cabot Academy (Bristol)

Missed out on The Big Bang Fair this year? We’ll be back at London’s ExCeL centre in 2013 – we hope to see you there!

The ARKive STEM team

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