Sep 2

What is SINNG?

The Student Invasive Non-Native Group or SINNG is a Local Action Group based at Cornwall College, Newquay. Launched in 2010, our goal is to increase awareness and reduce the impacts caused by Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) on native wildlife. We do this through practical fieldwork such as pond clearings, Himalayan Balsam removal and much more. We also continue to research the effects, spread and impact of INNS on native species.

Students clearing a pond of Parrot's feather

Students clearing a pond of Parrot’s feather

SINNG is mostly comprised of student volunteers from all seven Cornwall College campuses. We also have an international link with SINNG Helicon in The Netherlands.

My experiences at SINNG

I originally started helping out with SINNG to gain experience of working with children, as I want to become a primary school teacher. Therefore most of my work has involved the educational side of SINNG,  including volunteering at the ‘Saplings’ after school club, helping run workshops in schools throughout Cornwall and creating education materials.

At the ‘Saplings’ after school club we try to incorporate a broad range of INNS ideas. This has included looking at the effect pets can have on native wildlife if they escape or are released into the wild and become invasive. These after school clubs have also provided good opportunities to test out new materials we have made, including our Alien Invaders game and a game I created called ‘Guess Who’s Invasive’, which went down really well with the children, especially if they had played ‘Guess Who’ before.

During the school workshops that I have helped run, a wide variety of games and activities have been used to engage the children. Using microscopes and ID guides to identify invasive pond plants and native invertebrate always goes down well.

Local children enjoying activities at SINNG STEM club

Local children enjoying activities at SINNG STEM club

With the school workshops, the session is adjusted to fit what the children have been learning. For example, in a workshop at St Columb Minor, Newquay, they had already been learning about food webs, so we talked about the effect INNS can have on food webs and ecosystems as a whole. Using the invasive Australian Flatworm as an example, we showed how they eat native earthworms and the knock on effects that can follow. One important aspect of a workshop is showing pupils what to do if they find an INNS. On our website we have a ‘Submit a Sighting’ page which allows the public to record any INNS in their area.

How did it all go?

One of the great things about SINNG, is that I feel at the end of a session the children have leant something they didn’t know before. I think this is because the sessions are run in a fun and interactive way. Plus at the end of most sessions the children are tested, using our interactive activities, on what they have learnt.

SINNG pairs game

SINNG pairs game

Activities which require participation from the children, such as the bicarb and vinegar experiment, always go down well.

The most important part about the educational side of SINNG is that children can enjoy themselves whilst learning about important environmental issues.

Liam Burton

Find out more about SINNG by visiting their website or Facebook page.

Apr 17

Located in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the volcanic Galapagos Islands are a living laboratory of evolution and a template for conservation for the rest of the world. Consisting of 14 large islands and 120 smaller islets and rocks, and surrounded by the 53,000 square miles of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (a World Heritage Site in its own right), this isolated environment is home to many unique species which vary from island to island. Charles Darwin’s appreciation of this distinctive quality has given Galapagos a special place in history and the development of modern science.

Galapagos Islands Map

Galapagos Islands map

Since Darwin’s time, travellers and settlers have disturbed the Islands’ ecological balance. In some cases, natural habitats and endemic species have been decimated and invasive plants and animals have become established, yet Galapagos remains one of the best-conserved tropical oceanic archipelagos in the world.

1. Bay with Pinacle Rock

Bay with Pinacle Rock, Galapagos © Phyl King

The Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) is the only UK charity to work exclusively towards a sustainable future for the Galapagos Islands. Supporting projects in the fields of science, education and culture since 1995, we have been working in programme areas including habitat restoration, invasive species management, sustainable development and education both locally in Galapagos and internationally.

1. Giant Tortoises

Galapagos giant tortoises © Alex Hearn

In the UK, we raise awareness of conservation matters in Galapagos through our network of committed supporters and the media. This year we are set to launch Discovering Galapagos - a brand new bilingual educational resource for use in the UK and Ecuador through which school children, our future conservation ambassadors, will use Galapagos as a template to learn about global conservation issues.

1. Marine Iguana

Galapagos marine iguana © Vanessa Green

Over the next few weeks, we are excited to be sharing with you via our friends at ARKive some of the cutting-edge conservation projects that we are supporting right now in the Islands.

For more information:

GCT Email: gct@gct.org
Website: www.savegalapagos.org
Discovering Galapagos website: www.discoveringgalapagos.org.uk
GCT Blog: http://galapagosblog.org/
GCT Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Galapagos-Conservation-Trust/33337561833
GCT Twitter: @galapagossip

Mar 31

One of the best parts about sharing ARKive with educators from around the world is learning how educators are using the collection in unique and creative ways to engage students in science learning. So when we learned how one teacher was inspired by ARKive to create a series of comics about Adaptation that encourage STEM-based inquiry learning, we were all …

Zebra ear photo

you guessed it – EARS!

Laura Balliet is a science & math teacher at a school for at-risk youth in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. She often struggled with engaging her students in reading about science concepts and as a result, her students were often missing important information in their science curriculum.  She decided to make short, colorful, one-page comics that addressed specific topics that she knew were going to appear on the Ohio State Achievement Assessment and then handed the comics out to her students.

Adaptations comic - Cool School Rap

As it turned out, her students couldn’t get enough of her comics and requested new comics to read daily! In her search for new ideas and inspiration for her educational comics, Laura turned to ARKive and even started included research on ARKive as part of the learning process in her comics. Over time, she has organized her comics into a collection called the Cool School Rap.

We caught up with Laura to ask her a few questions about her comics and how ARKive has helped inspire her. Here’s what she said!

What first inspired you to draw comics?

I have always doodled cartoon characters, but it wasn’t until last year, a few weeks before the achievement tests, that I figured out how to channel it.  The initial intent of the comics was to help my students prepare for the test by reviewing key science topics, but their responses were so positive, I felt inspired to continue drawing and developing the idea.

How do your comics help to teach science to a variety of student ages and learning abilities?

As a teacher of at-risk youth, I face a wide variety of learning abilities, especially low reading skills and short attention spans.  My comics deliver content with illustrations, word bubbles and diagrams making them less intimidating to struggling readers and engaging to those who are turned off by lengthy passages.

Photosynthesis comic - Cool School Rap Consumers comic - Cool School Rap

What has been your most rewarding experience using comics in the classroom?

I think the most rewarding aspect of my comics is my students’ reactions when I present them with a new comic.  They are always excited and eager to read, and when I overhear them conversing about the illustrations and the concepts, I get butterflies because it is apparent they are engaged and learning.

How has ARKive played a role in your comics?

I have been using ARKive as a resource for information for some time now, but recently, I began incorporating this site directly into The Cool School Rap’s inquiry activities.  The adaptation inquiry is a great example.  My students utilized this site to research a specific animal of interest and gather information to build a model of their animal’s habitat.  My students find the site easy to navigate and enjoy browsing through the pictures and videos.

Student using ARKive for learning

NSTA logoLaura shared that her ultimate goal with Cool School Rap is to reach as many learners as possible and we are more than happy to help share Laura’s talent and passion with the world! She has created an Adaptation comic series specifically for ARKive that you can download from the Cool School Rap website. Laura will also be volunteering at the ARKive booth at the upcoming National Science Teachers Association Conference in Boston, MA on April 3-5. Hope to see you there!

Liana Vitali, Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

Nov 17

Happy National Geography Awareness Week! If you’re a fan and follower of the ARKive blog then you know one of our favorite blog series is ARKive Geographic where we take readers on explorations of different countries around the world almost every month to learn about the unique species that live there. This year’s theme, ‘Celebrate Geography and The New Age of Exploration’ ties in perfectly to what ARKive Geographic is all about but this month, we want to explore YOUR geography knowledge!

We’ve created a short quiz that will test how much you really know about species from around the world. If you get stumped, explore previous ARKive Geographic blogs for clues or dive into the ARKive collection and start searching. Will you end up a Wayward Wildlife Wanderer or a Species Seeking Extraordinaire? There’s only one way to find out:

Question 1

Mongolia’s top canid, members of this species can work together to take down prey up to ten times their size.
A. Coyote
B. Maned wolf
C. Dhole

Question 2

Dubbed ‘living fossils’, this reptile of New Zealand can live to be 100 years old.
A. Tuatara
B. Aeolian wall lizard
C. Black caiman

Question 3

This species is not only the largest but also the rarest crane in all of Africa.
A. Wattled crane
B. Sarus crane
C. Sandhill crane

Question 4

Found in Mexico, this incredible looking amphibian is able to regrow missing tissue, and even whole limbs, when wounded.
A. Blanco River Springs salamander
B. Axolotl
C. California tiger salamander

Question 5

Having been classified as ‘biologically dead’ in the 1960’s , the Thames river is rebounding and is home to this slippery fish.
A. Moray eel
B. Electric eel
C. European eel

Question 6

This insect, found in South America, can spend up to 10 years of its life in the larval stage, while its adult phase only lasts a few short months.
A. Wasp beetle
B. Long-horned beetle
C. Titan beetle

How do you think you did? Check off your answers with the key below and see where you land on the wildlife geography expert spectrum. Don’t forget to share your score on the ARKive Facebook page or Twitter feed!

Answers: 1. C,   2. A,   3. A,   4.B,   5. C,   6. B

Score: 1-2 points
Wayward Wildlife Wanderer - We hate to break it to you but your wildlife geographic exploration skills are a little rusty. How bout taking a dig into the ARKive collection like this banded mongoose for a little practice?

Score 3-4 points
Advancing Animal Adventurer – You’re making an effort to learn about wildlife and geography and it’s showing! Keep up the good work and never lose sight of the top just like this lioness!

Score 5-6 points
Species Seeking Extraordinaire – You have the mind and willpower equaling the world’s greatest explorers.  Be proud and consider yourself at the top of the world like this alpine marmot!

Liana Vitali, Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

Oct 25

We’ve been sending out sneak peek teasers about our newest educational adventure all week but the time has come to fully unveil it. The Engineering in Nature Challenge is now live on ARKive Education complete with a Starter Kit and the 5 different engineering challenges that students can complete during this 3 week event, all inspired by nature!

Challenges include building a beak, exploring seed dispersal, learning about light reflection in trees, designing a gliding bird, and engineer an octopus suction pad.

         All of the Engineering in Nature challenges are inspired by wildlife in the ARKive collection!

Now, before you dive right into the challenge, be sure to sign up using the link below:

Sign up for the Engineering in Nature Challenge!

Why sign up? 

For this challenge, ARKive has partnered with Iridescent, a science education nonprofit that links science professionals with under privileged youth through its innovative learning platform, the Curiosity Machine. Every student registered for the challenge will be paired with a real world scientist who will work with them to create their Nature in Engineering Challenge inventions and these aren’t just any scientists! The mentors for the Engineering in Nature Challenge are practicing science at distinguished institutions such as Harvard, Stanford and more!

Signing up for the challenge also includes an invitation to our weekly Google Hangout events where Iridescent and ARKive team members will be there to support you throughout the three week challenge period in any way we can.

Ready to go?

So, are you ready to bring engineering to the classroom in a WILD way? Then, sign up today and have a look at the challenge materials on ARKive!

 Download the Engineeing in Nature Challenge Materials

Our first rounds of Google Hangouts are starting up. Join us next Friday, November 1 at 4pm ET or 4pm PT! We look forward to “seeing” you!

Liana Vitali, ARKive Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

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