Apr 24

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.

Super Star logo

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.

CREST Star Investigators logo

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 education pages with CREST logos


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

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

Mar 27

When the newest member of the ARKive Media Team, Kathryn Pintus, signed up to be a STEM Ambassador in January, little did she know that she’d soon be knee deep in monkey posters and surrounded by thousands of children at the Big Bang Fair. We find out how she ended up there and what she thought of her first National Science and Engineering Week.

I’m not quite sure what I expected upon my return from holiday, although Laura had warned me that it would be busy…perhaps I had imagined a short period of easing gently back into work as I shook off my jet-lag after two weeks away? As it turns out, this was not an option!
National Science and Engineering Week Logo

Instead I was greeted with a flurry of activity and excitement; it was National Science and Engineering Week, which meant all hands on deck to create and implement some fantastic activities for students across the Bristol, Bath and Somerset region.

The ARKive office was buzzing with our STEM Ambassadors finalising presentations, carrying out some last-minute research, and showing off their creative skills as they designed and built a variety of funky-looking habitats for our ‘Web of Wildlife’. Despite my body and brain not quite knowing what time it was, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to throw myself into the foray and contribute to the education of young scientific minds!


The Big Bang Fair

I had never celebrated National Science and Engineering Week before, so this was an interesting first for me. Various trips into schools had been planned, but the main event of the week was The Big Bang Fair 2012, held at the NEC in Birmingham. Our fearless yet fun STEM leader Laura was asked to be a judge for the National Science and Engineering Competition at the last minute, so I stepped in to help out on the ARKive stand for a day, and what a day it was!

ARKive stand at The Big Bang Fair 2012

Kathryn demonstrating the Survival app to eager students

I entered the massive exhibition hall at the NEC, and was amazed at the variety (and brilliance!) of the stands and events there – everything from a fork-lift truck simulator to a disease investigation unit. It was truly impressive.

As the doors opened, the first few early-bird students filtered past, glancing at the ARKive stand and others before scuttling off with their friends, free monkey poster in hand. “It’s rather quiet in this place; this is going to be a piece of cake,” I thought rather naively. Half an hour later, the rest of the team and I were perfecting our multi-tasking skills as we rolled posters, demonstrated the website, and explained all about ARKive to hordes of students and teachers all at the same time.

ARKive's Web of Wildlife

Claire helping students work out the Web of Wildlife

Helen demonstrating the ARKive website

Helen demonstrating the ARKive website










We had a fantastic response from Big Bang visitors, and lost count of the number of people we spoke to about our work at ARKive and all the wonderful images, videos and information we have on the site for them to use. The day whizzed by in a blur of eager young faces, Survival scores and colourful uniforms, and soon it was time for me to head home.


School Sessions

Yet my time on the road had not come to an end at Birmingham. The very next day, I teamed up with Becky Moran and travelled to Bath to teach the students of St Gregory’s Catholic School about ‘Adaptation and Movement’.

Adaptation slide image

A slide from the Adaptation with Movement presentation

All of the groups we taught were enthusiastic and engaged, and came up with some fantastically artistic and imaginative creations during our ‘Design a Species’ exercise. My personal favourite was Esmerelda-Lily-Pad, a colourful critter with plenty of awesome adaptations to life in the water.

Design a Species image

Esmerelda-Lily-Pad: one of the many wonderful creations by students at St Gregory's

Five teaching sessions and a school dinner later, it was home-time for Becky and I. Exhausted, but pleased, we headed back to ARKive to prepare for the next lot of STEM sessions the following week. No rest for the wicked, but certainly worth it and oodles of fun!

To find out more about what the ARKive team got up to at The Big Bang Fair, check out Laura’s blog.

We will soon be adding our new ‘Adaptation and Movement’ teaching module to our wide range of educational resources.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author

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

Mar 13

National Sceince and Engineering Week 2012 logo

With National Science and Engineering week officially upon us it is all go here in the ARKive office, and this year looks set to be our busiest (and best) NSEW yet!

We have 9 visits to schools scheduled over the next week and a half, from Bristol to Glastonbury, and Bath to Midsomer Norton, where we’ll be aiming to engage and inspire over 850 bright new minds!

Our STEM Ambassadors are busy putting the finishing touches to our new resources; including ‘The Power of Plastic’, a module examining the impact of human activity on the environment, and ‘Adaptation to Movement’ which explores how and why animals move and the extraordinary variety of ways in which they do so – and ties in neatly with this years NSEW theme ‘Our World in Motion’.

As if all that wasn’t enough, half of our STEM team will be travelling up to the NEC Birmingham for ‘The Big Bang Fair’ – the largest educational fair of its kind in the UK. Last year the event drew crowds of over 29,000 people during the three days, and this years event promises to be even larger. Our stand is in the ‘Go Global‘ Zone (GA13), so do please pop along and say hello if you’re attending the Big Bang later this week.

Big Bang Logo

Do you know which sharks can be found lurking in British Seas? Or which tree has seeds known as helicopters? Well, come along to our stand to tell us the answer or to find out for yourself. We’ll be running another brand new activity at the Big Bang – ‘ARKive’s Web of Wildlife’. We need your help to build our four food webs – whether you fancy trying to assemble the British Woodland or the African Savannah there are lots of fascinating facts to learn along the way.

ARKive Media Researcher Becky helping create ARKive's Web of WildlifeARKive's Web of Wildlife - in the makingWe’ll also be testing your skills on ‘Survival’ – our awesome endangered species app – how long will you survive?

Whatever you’re doing to celebrate National Science and Engineering Week we hope you have a brilliant time – we certainly can’t wait to get stuck in. Let us know what you’re up to, whether it’s at school or with friends and family.

Why not enter our Creative Climate Change Challenge and combine your scientific and creative skills by coming up with a unique way to communicate the problem of climate change and inspire change.

National Science and Engineering week runs from the 9th -18th March. The Big Bang fair is taking place at the NEC, Birmingham from 15th-17th March. Search for events in your area on the British Science Association website.

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer


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