How children will discover the science of nature

The RSPB Schools outrreach programme is opening up children's eyes to the wonders of nature.

The RSPB Schools outrreach programme is opening up children's eyes to the wonders of nature. - Credit: Archant

Clare Whitelegg explains how children are set for Science Week fun with the RSPB Schools Outreach this month.

Pops! bangs! and sssmoke ... are some of the traditional, exciting things school children up and down the country might be expecting to experience in the upcoming British Science Week.

British Science Week is a ten-day celebration of science, run by the British Science Association (BSA) and taking place from March 9-18. Across the UK, everybody from school pupils just starting to learn the wonders of science, to college students considering future careers, and people like you and me, who still hold a fascination with the subject will be getting involved in fun, hands-on activities which celebrate science. However, British Science Week celebrates more than just science, focusing on other Stem subjects - technology, engineering and maths – areas that sometimes seem alien to many children, but that remain the crux of so many aspects of our lives, and are important to encourage careers in.

Absolutely anyone, from schools to community groups, can organise a Stem event, with lots of resources on offer from the BSA. Many schools across Norwich are getting involved showcasing these central subjects to their pupils in the hope of inspiring Rachel Rileys and Steve Jobs of the future.

Maybe something we don't traditionally consider as falling into the Srem umbrella, is nature conservation. Here at the RSPB, much of our work is seamlessly intertwined with science, technology, engineering, and maths. From data scientists who research species populations, to our reserve ecologists who engineer landscapes for the benefit of wildlife, to wardens who work on the ground daily surveying for wildlife and undertake habitat improvements.

These roles, and the science behind them, are essential in the mission to save nature. So in the hope of inspiring the next generation of nature conservationists, the RSPB is delighted to be supporting British Science Week events through our schools outreach programme.

Over the course of the ten days, we are working with four different schools providing teachers and pupils with our 'Giving Nature a Home' outreach session.

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Giving Nature a Home teaches children all about habitats, supporting the primary curriculum. It introduces

children to the scientific term 'habitat' which as they learn, describes an animal's home in the wild which provides what it needs to survive. Younger pupils absolutely love, learning and using real scientific terminology. They love the idea of being scientists for the day in our sessions. 'Habitat' is also such a great word to add to their lexicon as it is a nice easy one to spell!

After learning the terminology, we head outside for 30 minutes of fresh air, on a habitat and homes for nature hunt. Pupils get the opportunity to look at the habitats currently present in their school grounds, creating a map as they go – another neat link to the geography curriculum – often showing natural homes such as trees and hedges or homes for wildlife which have been created like nest boxes and bug hotels.

During Science Week, we will be looking at the habitats of Norwich High School with their pupils. Teacher Anni Ueckermann said: 'We are really looking forward to having the RSPB run a workshop during our Stem week as we feel it's important for our pupils to work with members of the local community to care for the environment in a tangible way. We hope the workshop will develop pupils' knowledge of habitats and encourage them to help care for wildlife on our school grounds.'

Over the last few years, it has been so inspiring to work with many schools who are starting on a journey to enrich their school grounds for nature. With their creations, schools are at the same time enhancing the pupils' learning opportunities and quality of pupils' environment. Just think of the learning for science here: how wonderful to have a nest box for teaching life cycles - especially if you have a nest camera, planting wild flowers to learn about pollination, or creating a pond to learn about wonderful world of invertebrates, (another great scientific term which pupils love to learn). We may not be about explosions, but we hope our work will inspire schools and families to learn about science and nature and to create an explosion of new homes for nature in school grounds and gardens.

To book an inspirational RSPB outreach sessions (currently available to primary schools in Norwich and the Broads) visit: