In December, Year 1 visited the woods at Rushall farm for the day to look at the effects of autumn and count bugs. In their study, they compared the number of species found on the floor bed, under rocks and logs with the number of species found in higher areas - on leaves and trees. Children discussed the possible reasons for why there were more bugs on the ground as oppose to higher up and came to the conclusion that the animals were better sheltered and safer from predators and the harsh weather. They also predicted how summer and spring may affect the animals' location - weather less harsh, lots of food available etc.
Year 1 also searched for various leaf types using leave identification charts and ordered them into piles before creating autumn colour rainbow, organising the leaves in to colour showing the effect of Autumn - from green, to yellows, to browns and then to blacks. Following this activity, they made predictions of the effect of spring and summer on leaf colour.
Working with one of the school governors, we have organised a number of opportunities for the spring term to pursue the interests of children, to generate exciting lessons with visit experts and extend our own knowledge of teaching science. Consequently, we are now working with Reading University, Prospect School and Kew Gardens. Some of activities and CPD opportunities now extend beyond the immediate project but fall under science. For example, Reading University will be assisting us in teaching the new curriculum topics of Fossils and Evolution, while our local secondary school has agreed to assist in the development of engaging lessons about light and sound. More within the project remit, Kew Gardens have agreed to come out to the school as part of their Grow Wild programme to work with children to plant and grow wild flowers that are common to the UK.
Using a staff meeting, we discussed the benefits and challenges of the ECOMAD project, across the school. Teachers are really behind the project and are already seeing increased levels of engagement amongst children in science. The children have been extremely excited about learning outside and are therefore highly motivated in the preparation leading up to visits and in lessons analysing their results. With the initial studies complete, teachers were very enthusiastic about volunteering to run further project activities from creating child centred walking maps for local woodlands to reinvigorating the school’s own wild area. These projects will start in the spring term.
Coverage: The ECOMAD project has again been covered in the local press – Get Reading - under the heading “Children are Science Stars”.