By Guest Blogger: Sandra Pape
We witnessed a historic moment: on Sunday the 11th of December the whole world signed up to tackle Climate Change in an agreement made in Durban, South Africa. Never before have people from all over the world – Ireland, China, the US, Congo, Brazil,... - found a topic important and urgent enough to overcome their differences in order to join forces for a common goal. They did it now in order to face our world’s biggest challenge: Climate Change.
This unification was a wonder in itself and still, won’t be enough on its own. The global target is to prevent a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial times. Scientists are sceptical that the agreements made in Durban will achieve this and warn that for every increased Degree 10% of the world’s species will become extinct.
Consequently, it is up to us, each and everyone of us, to do our bit. Don’t worry, you won’t need to turn your whole life around and there is a lot that can be achieved when working together. A great way to get started is joining our Climate action awards scheme! Get in contact and we'll send you a booklet full of ideas and small steps that you can take on your own, as family and in school. This booklet is for children of all ages, but will get adults thinking too. Children can complete a number of tasks and will be rewarded with a collection of colourful stickers and a special certificate. In addition, your efforts can be contributed to our Wildlife action awards.
So get involved, because the future depends on today’s actions!
Throughout the year we hold fantastic competitions for young people - details of all the different annual competitions can be found on our website. There's a competition to suit every strength, whether it be story writing, creating a piece of art, taking a stunning photo or writing a captivating poem.
More children than ever before entered our recent WildVerse poetry competition, seeing an impressive 30% increase on last year's entries.
As a result, the judges were overwhelmed by the fantastic response and quality of the poems that had been entered by young people accross the country - they had their work cut out deciding who should win accross both categories (under and over 8's).
So a huge congratulations are in order to Thomas, aged 7, from London for winning the under 8 category with Not an Otter Spotter!, and Ian, aged 13, from Linlithgow for winning the over 8's category with The Kingfisher.
You can listen to the winning poems, and the fantastic entries from the runners up, when they are read out on air on the Fun Kids radio station between 27th - 31st December.
Our competitions are open to all young people and would be ideal for participation at school or at home.
The Ellon RSPB Wildlife Explorer Group has achieved a lot since its launch in 1995 – winning “Group of the Year” in 2007 and achieving a Gold Wildlife Action Award in 2009, to name some of the highlights. So when two of the older members of the group were looking for a new challenge, they weren’t about to take on anything easy!CREST are nationally-recognised, project-based awards for the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which are organised by the British Science Association. They awards are designed for young people aged 11 – 19, but Ellie and Lewis from the Ellon Group decided to take on the challenge of achieving a Bronze CREST award at only 10 years old!After taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch earlier this year, Ellie and Lewis obtained data for the previous 15 years surveys in the same garden and decided to analyse this data to research how bird numbers had changed over this period of time. They focussed their studies on house and tree sparrows and set about trying to establish and test theories regarding the changes in numbers of these species.
Not only had Ellie and Lewis taken part in an interesting and innovative project, but they were also invited to present their findings to RSPB volunteers at a volunteer day in Aberdeen, speaking to four separate seminar groups!Ellie and Lewis have been a real inspiration to other members of the Ellon Wildlife Explorer Group, and have featured in our RSPB Leaders Guide to promote the CREST awards to other Widllife Explorer and Phoenix Groups in the UK.
To find out more about CREST awards, visit http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/web/ccaf/CREST/.
So it’s the last week before the Christmas Holidays, and many of you will be breathing a sigh of relief and looking forward to a well deserved break. But until that time arrives, I suspect many of you will be enjoying your students’ enthusiasm for Christmas and doing lots of festive activities with them.
Many of your students will have a variety of different experiences at Christmas, and I’m sure most of them will revolve around presents and food. Will they be so caught up in the holiday that they forget the nature around them?
Why not ask your class to give an extra Christmas present to the birds in their garden – This could be something you make in your class together or simply by asking them to share their Christmas dinner with the birds.
Most kitchen scraps and Christmas leftovers make ideal snacks for birds visiting gardens and can help them get the food they need to survive. Here’s a quick guide to what you can ask your students to put out:
Fat - fat from cuts of meat (as long as it comes from only unsalted varieties) can be put out in large pieces, from which birds such as tits can remove morsels. Make sure that these are well anchored to prevent large birds flying away with the whole piece.
Roast potatoes - cold and opened up, these will be eaten by most garden birds.
Vegetables - cold Brussels, parsnips or carrots will be eaten by starlings and other birds, but remember not to put out more than will be eaten in one day, otherwise you run the risk of attracting rats.
Fruit - excess or bruised apples, pears and other fruit are very popular with all thrushes, tits and starlings. Cut them up and leave them on the bird table or on the ground.
Pastry - cooked or uncooked is excellent, especially if it has been made with real fats.
Cheese - Hard bits of cheese are a favourite with robins, dunnocks, blackbirds and song thrushes. It will also help wrens if placed under hedgerows and other areas in your garden where you have noticed them feeding. Avoid feeding them very strong or blue cheeses.
Dried fruits - raisins, sultanas and currants are particularly enjoyed by blackbirds, song thrushes and robins.
Biscuits and cake - Stale cake and broken pieces of biscuits from the bottom of the tin are high in fat and ideal for birds in the winter.
If you ask your students to follow these next three golden rules, they won't go far wrong....
Last week RSPB Scotland hosted “Christmas Tweats”, a well-attended CPD (continuous professional development) event at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The event focused on how teachers and their classes can get school grounds wildlife-friendly ready for Christmas. Teachers enjoyed listening and learning with our singing birds’ Christmas Choir, made bird feeders, and built up knowledge about creating wildlife-friendly spaces, however big or small.
There was also an introduction to our international engagement through the “Save the Albatross” and the “Save the Sumatran Rainforest” appeals, and a heads up for our Big Schools Bird Watch in January 2012, which all received an enthusiastic response. Lots of ideas and laughter were shared, and tasty mince pies and mulled wine provided a heart-warming ending to the afternoon.
RSPB Scotland’s partnership with the National Museum of ScotlandDuring the 2011/2012 school year, RSPB Scotland field teaching staff - in partnership with NMS staff - will deliver a series of workshops to primary and secondary pupils visiting the museum’s new gallery spaces, which re-opened in July 2011 after extensive refurbishment.
The workshops are focussed on Scotland’s wildlife and special habitats. Primary pupils learn about creature adaptations and habitat creation, whilst secondary pupils discuss the effects of reintroduction projects on ecological systems, and examine in detail the reintroduction of White-tailed eagles.
If you are a primary or secondary school teacher and would like to book a workshop, please contact the NMS at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 0131 247 4041. The Youth & Education team at RSPB Scotland can be contacted at email@example.com.