CEH staff recently took a PBMS stand into a Lancashire primary school in support of National Science week. The stand involved a brief introduction to the work carried out by CEH scientists, information on the PBMS and three hands on activities for the children and teachers including:
- A ‘touch table’ where everyone could handle cleaned bird of prey body parts including eggs, wings, bones and skulls. They were amazed by how beautifully soft the wings are!
- A display of the flesh eating Dermestes maculatus beetle - in tanks, under the microscope, a lifecycle diagram and explanation what the PBMS uses the beetles for… see gruesome video link. Everyone had a look at the beetles – there was lots of discussion about how disgusting they are and about the smell!
- And a barn owl food web game – match the food item to the correct level of the food web. This activity really showed the knowledge that some children already have of ecology. Led by the questions of the older children, we moved beyond simple discussion of food webs, to talking about how pollutants might be transferred from prey to predators, and even about trophic cascades and knock-on effects of species loss within ecological networks.
The children had loads of stories about seeing different birds of prey in the sky, garden or at a visitor centre and had a good knowledge for their age. We left a stash of PBMS giveaways (a barn owl picture and pencils to colour it in, a bird of prey wordsearch, a PBMS postcard (to give to parents) and a lollipop!)
The PBMS team showing what Dermestes beetles look like under the microscope