Going Wild about Scotland through March

April 27, 2015 § Leave a comment


Jamie with pupils from Williamston Primary his old school

Jamie with pupils from Williamston Primary his old school

We’ve been up and down the country in March visiting schools in Perth and Kinross, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire and the Scottish Borders.

Our beaver sessions were a particular favourite in Perthshire, where many pupils (and teachers!) had seen signs of beaver activity in the local area. It was therefore interesting for them to learn more about beaver ecology and discuss the impact they have on the environment. The Tayside beavers were not part of the official re-introduction trial but are thought to have been living in the area since 2006, probably originating from an accidental release from a private collection. The Tayside Beaver Study Group (TBSG), made up of land owners and conservation groups, including the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), are now monitoring the population.

We enjoyed a fantastic day welcoming aboard members of the public at the Loch of the Lowes Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve near Dunkeld. A beautiful, peaceful area, it was great to share ideas with their staff and volunteers on a similar mission to connect people with nature.

Anna, a PhD student from the University of Edinburgh, joins us for British Science Week 2015.

Anna, a PhD student from the University of Edinburgh, joins us for British Science Week 2015.

Another highlight was visiting Williamston Primary in Livingston. The pupils were very excited to learn that this was our education officer Jamie’s old school! We also celebrated British Science Week by having PhD students from the University of Edinburgh join us at schools. It was great for the children to meet working scientists and learn about the day-to-day tasks involved in carrying out scientific research.

We visited schools in the Borders for the first time this month, meaning our bus has so far reached twenty five out of thirty two local authorities in Scotland! Here we carried out our first mini-beast session of the year. With not many leaves on the trees yet, the children got stuck in and got their hands dirty digging for creepy-crawlies under rocks and in the soil. We look forward to seeing what else will emerge as the weather gets warmer…

Bus driver DaveFrom the driver’s seat

Each month our ‘Wild about Scotland’ bus driver David gives you a wee insight into what it’s like to drive our double decker the length and breadth of Scotland.

Our bus in a former life on the streets of Newcastle. Photo by Daniel Stazicker

Our bus in a former life on the streets of Newcastle. Photo by Daniel Stazicker

An interesting assignment for me this month was meeting with bus enthusiast Daniel Stazicker and friends. He has followed our bus since it was first used on city services in Newcastle in 1995 (pictured). After many hard years of extensive use, it was transferred to Stagecoach Scotland West where it became a school bus in Kilmarnock, before being withdrawn and donated for the Wild about Scotland project. It was good to know the history of the bus as many visitors are curious about its transformation!

#Brodie knows best

BrodieKnowsBestEach month Brodie the bus mascot answers your questions about science and nature.

Q. Where do mini-beasts go during the winter?

A. Mini-beasts or invertebrates (animals without a backbone) are ectothermic, this means that unlike us they cannot generate their own body heat. So over winter they have a wide range of strategies to cope with the cold weather. Some invertebrates avoid the cold altogether by migrating to a warmer area. Others undergo a form of hibernation, lowering their metabolic rate to an absolute minimum where all growth and development is suspended. Some hibernate as adults, for example, ladybirds cluster together underneath rocks or in amongst rotting wood. Others, such as caterpillars and beetles, hibernate as larvae and burrow in leaf litter or further underground. Some can even replace the water in their bodies with glycerol – a type of anti-freeze! Dragonflies and damselflies are nymphs over the winter period, staying deeper underwater in rivers and ponds to avoid the freezing surface water. Honey bees stay together in their hives, vibrating their wings to generate heat. So mini-beasts are still around over winter, they are just more active and easier to spot in the warmer months!

Submit your questions for next month on Twitter @WildaboutScot using #Brodieknowsbest

Top teacher comments and tweets

“Fantastic delivery- children really enjoyed it! Thank you!” St Columba’s Junior School.

“The range of activities not only challenged the children, but encouraged independent learning”, Sacred Heart Primary School.

“Great curriculum links to habitat work. It is great for the children to connect their learning in a Scottish context”, Beith Primary School.

“A fantastic workshop that all pupils thoroughly enjoyed. The practical stations engaged and motivated all”, Clarkston Primary School.

“Curriculum for Excellence places lots of emphasis on learning about Scotland” Deanburn Primary School.

“Children loved the concept of learning on the bus” Langlee Primary School.

“Thanks for coming, great to see the children so enthusiastic and working in a team!” Lauder Primary School.

Next month – April

We are visiting schools in Aberdeenshire, Glasgow, South Lanarkshire and Perth and Kinross.

Upcoming Public Events where you can see the bus:

  • Thursday 21st May – ‘Puffin Fest’ at the Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick.
  • Saturday 23rd – Sunday 24th May – Scotland’s Big Nature Festival, Levenhall Links, Musselburgh.

For more information about the Wild about Scotland project and to see when the bus is next in your area, visit our website at www.rzss.org.uk/wildaboutscotland, follow us on twitter @WildaboutScot, or like our Facebook page.

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