Posted on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
The GBG were delighted to exhibit at the Big Bang STEM [Science, Technololgy, Engineering and Maths] event held at the Rose Bowl, Southampton on 23rd June. This major STEM event, organised by Solent EBP, [Education Business Partnership] was aimed at secondary students across S W Hampshire and Southampton. The event was part of a series of Big Bang regional fairs held across the country.
Big Bang Solent aimed to educate and inspire young people, both those already interested in STEM and those not yet engaged, to choose studies and careers in STEM. Big Bang Solent worked in partnership with regional and local networks to showcase the largest possible range of exciting and inspiring STEM initiatives and engage widely with local schools, STEM providers, businesses and industry to highlight the many STEM opportunities that are available. Twelve schools brought 500 students and teachers and 20 organisations were represented with exhibits and activities. We even attracted some of the Hampshire County cricketers and there is now at least one GB poster in an office at the Rose Bowl. Rumour has it that one member of the team is a serious twitcher!
Our active display, 'Where Conservation Meets Community', showcased the work of the group and related careers. The focus was on local and global communtity work and the significance of partnership. The students were thoroughly engaged with our activities linked to the reintroduction of Great Bustards and were blown away by such a huge local success story. Some were aware of other re-introduction programmes such as the beaver and Sea Eagle and had seen the Great Bustards featured on last year's BBC Springwatch series. They related to the idea of Great Bustards being seen in Hampshire as well as Salisbury Plain. Several have visited the Hawk Conservancy and seen Fergus and his friends.
The GBG workshop, led by Tricia and Lynda, included measuring the wingspan of a typical adult male and comparing this with the students' own 'wingspans'. As ever, the live mealworms proved an immediate success as did our stuffed fox. The interactive food chain activity was very popular and some of the students were hoping this topic would come up in the science exam they were due to take the next day.
We took the students on a 'Great Bustard Journey', set in the context of ethics in science. The roles of the people involved, starting with the phone call from our Russian farmer to notify an abandoned nest and progressing through the incubation phase in the laboratory, the dehumanising process, chick transportation, quarantine and eventual release, provided a flavour of just what it all takes. The concept of white lab coats as the uniform of a scientist was seriously challenged when the de-humanisation suit was demonstrated and students were amazed at the effort taken to save our rarest breeding bird. Whilst the job of feeding chicks appealed we don't think that the suit will be on the catwalks in the near future.
The workshop activities stimulated interesting questions and discussions about scientific ethics, the law relating to reintroduction of species, imprinting and the many and varied people whose work links with the Great Bustard Group including landowners, farmers, vets, conservationists, academics and other scientists as well as STEM-related volunteering opportunities.
Teacher feedback shows that the exhibitors were highly thought of, due to the level of learning and the interactive tasks they brought. They felt the best part of the event was the interactive element and the challenges that were provided.
Many thanks to:
Robin Smith and the team at Solent EBP for organising the event and inviting us to participate and The Rose Bowl for a magnificent venue.
We look forward to working with SEBP at future events.