New Job, New Ideas

Firstly I’d like to share something with you , something I’ve worked pretty hard on! It is a project/ piece of coursework where we were asked to present an idea that we would like to implicate into a primary school, as if in a staff meeting. I took this opportunity to be a bit creative and based this project on environmental education. So along came World Conservation Day! I put forward the idea of a school having one day off timetable to look at the world we live in, local conservation issues, world wide conservation issues and finding out about the people who make conservation happen. I have planned and resourced an activity for every year group, linking closely to cross curricular attainment targets from the new Primary National Curriculum.

This is something I have become passionate about and feel sad that I am unable to put this into practice, in the near future anyway. Therefore I have uploaded the PowerPoint that gives a brief outline of the day and why it would be a highly beneficial day for children. I have also uploaded a more detailed essay, explaining the activities in more detail and the underlying theory.

I have done this in the upmost hope that someone takes and uses the idea! If you teach and you like any of the given activities please use them! Or if you are really inspired by the day please implement the entire day! All I ask is that you contact me before hand so I can share with you the resources I have found to go with it; including a fantastic activity from Steve Van Matre’s brilliant book Rangers of the Earth, which is a great way to introduce the day to the children. Also if you do use any of these activities, feedback would be truly appreciated!

Of course, if you aren’t a teacher but like the idea, feel free to pass it on! Any feedback would be wonderful.

World Conservation Day Detailed Summary

World Conservation Day Power Point

On another note. I started my job as a presenter at Paignton Zoo on Friday. A few days in and this job has already brought up many different feelings; honoured, excited, overwhelmed. Firstly the good bits! This is my first ever ‘real’ job (excluding years of babysitting and part time waitressing), so you can forgive me for acting like a kid in a candy shop when I was told that I have my own desk and email address! I met my colleague for the summer, who is incredibly likeable and even more bubbly and excitable than myself (did not realise this was possible)!
However this was also where the feeling of being in over my head set in. My new colleague is far more qualified than myself, with experience in all kinds of positions in zoos. Therefore there is a little bit of me that just hopes I wont be holding him back this summer! My second worry is my university studies. I am writing my dissertation for May and I have to admit, fitting academic studies in around work is going to prove difficult.
But that said, I work hard, I learn quick and I am so honoured be an employee of such a zoo that there is no doubt that I will be putting 100% into this! I just need to make sure that my academic studies do not slip in the process.

A very influential teacher on my last placement once told me that I thrive on stress… Let’s hope she’s right!


Not your average day at the zoo!

This weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to an educators day at Dartmoor Zoological Park (Plymouth, Devon). Dartmoor Zoo is a small BIAZA zoo set in beautiful Devonshire countryside. The zoo used to be better known for the mistreatment of its animals. But since it was bought by Benjamin Mee, who successfully refurbished and reopened it in 2007, this little zoo makes for a great day out with a lovely collection of well looked after animals. I was very much looking forward to seeing if the education side of the zoo matched the successful development of the site.
First off we had a short introduction talk, which is where we got our first surprise! A young Rhea, named Zazu, strutted its way into the room. I can only imagine the excitement of children if this happened during a lesson at the zoo!
Next we were shown the close encounters room. This room had a wide range of reptiles and insects that we could get close to, hold or feel. This would be a fantastic experience for children, especially to face some fears! I think it is essential that children learn about the importance of the not so cute and cuddly animals such as frogs and cockroaches. The only criticism I have of this room is that it is quite small and maybe would not fit a large class or a child in a wheelchair.
Next we were taken to the dissection room to watch a sheep dissection. This is something that Dartmoor Zoo are clearly proud of, and rightly so. Andy, who is pictured chopping up the sheep, is interesting, humorous and a natural performer. During the dissection I was so engrossed that I very quickly forgot any nerves I had about feeling uncomfortable or queasy. Unfortunately the sound system used to listen to Andy talking from behind the glass is dated and in desperate need of an update. The system completely cut out during our talk and even though a solution was quickly found I fear that if this happened during a talk with children that their attention would be quickly lost. This would be an utter shame because I can safely say I learnt a great deal in the short time we had and it is a truly unique experience.
We then had a demonstration from the company which Dartmoor zoo use for bush craft sessions, who were entertaining and knowledgeable. They also demonstrated their ability to differentiate their lessons for all ages, when a stray child walked along and decided to join in with the session! I leant some new fire lighting techniques such as short circuiting a torch with wire wool. Unfortunately the group I was in did not do overly well in the fire lighting competitions, but it was all great fun!
Finally we were taken to see Grow 4 Good’s section of the zoo. Grow for Good is a project that leases land from the zoo for horticultural purposes. What makes this project special is that their volunteers are usually children who are struggling in society, the work they do helps to ‘reduce the likelihood of (these children) becoming marginalized or offending’. What makes it even better is the salad grown is bought by Dartmoor Zoo and sold in the cafe.
All in all I was incredibly impressed by what the zoo offers for education. The zoo uses its size to it’s advantage, the selling point being that the experience children will have will be personalised and unique! The zoo provides children with experiences I don’t think they would forget in a hurry.
A truly valuable and interesting day. Thank you very much Dartmoor Zoo.