The first month of the ECOMAD project has been extremely busy. The teaching staff were introduced to the new science curriculum, the ECOMAD project and the new science planning resources at Churchend’s staff training day in September. Teachers discussed the changes to the science curriculum and project in detail and started the process of identifying aspects of the environment to study that supported the new science and maths curriculum.
To kick the project off with the children, it was decided to use a whole school assembly and introduce a logo design competition. All the children were very excited about visiting the woods and therefore very excited about the competition. We received a large number of wonderful entries and so judging was very close. In the end, we chose a design that perfectly captured the aim and purpose of the project. The winning design was then converted in to a graphic to be used on the school website and was presented to the winner in a special assembly. In addition, we decided to select 3 children in each class to act as ECOMAD Ambassadors to help refine the programme and act as spokes people for their classes.
We have worked closely with OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) and an independent STEM Ambassador during the initial stage of the project to help understand the biodiversity survey opportunities that children can be involved in over the period of the project. As a consequence, Churchend school was invited to the OPAL campus, at Silwood Park near Ascot to take part in their “Discover Diversity” event. Therefore, we decided to take our ECOMAD ambassadors and 3 members of teaching staff on a Saturday in September to participate in an organised bug hunts and bird tagging. The ambassadors subsequently took this expert knowledge back to their own classes to help refine their own studies. In addition, to this expert insight from OPAL researchers, the children from Churchend School were filmed by Twig World (http://www.reachoutcpd.com) as part of a Government funded project to create teacher CPD videos to help teachers to understand how they can deliver the new science curriculum.
Further to working with OPAL, we have made contact with Tilehurst Globe and Conservation on Wednesdays, two local interest groups engaged in looking after the environment local to Churchend. This has allowed us to identify a number of volunteering opportunities for our pupils from planting daffodils, to creating child friendly walking maps of local woodlands and assisting with establishing an area of wild flowers to support pollinators. To a large extent, this is forward planning as these activities will begin in February.
Over the next 3 weeks, the majority of classes will be visiting the locations of Rushall Farm and Blundells Copse to perform their baseline surveys of birds, worms and insects, all of which are essential to sustaining plant life. These activities will enable children to compare the different locations through their maths skills and discussion.