It's been a busy 7 months for 'Celebrating Nature with Schools' team and I'm delighted to say we have reached the milestone of engaging 750 local primary pupils from Perth & Kinross, Dundee, Angus and Fife with the project. Thanks to £20,000 of funding from players of the People's Postcode Lottery and People's Postcode Trust we have been able to provide transport for schools to join us at locations around the Tay Estuary, including Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve.
Each session has taken pupils on the yearly life cycle of the white-tailed eagle, beginning with learning about the size, weight and different types of feathers of a sea eagle.
Pupils then explored pair bonding and choosing a nest site (blindfolded to add to challenge of building trust), before building a life size nest using their bare feet and mouths just like a sea eagle! Ok maybe we didn't go that far, but it was fun to see how many children began to take their shoes and socks off when it was suggested!Pupils then learnt about the incubation period, tuning in their hearing and highly developed eagle sense of sight, by using sit spots to record what wee beasties they could see and hear around them. Bell Baxter High School wrote this amazing group poem during their collective sit spots, whilst undertaking their John Muir Award and exploring the eagles' hunting ground.
Predator and prey games, including the action packed 'food pirates' activity drew out the competitive spirit of each class.
Errol primary were particularly lucky to even see Turquoise Z fly by on a hunting mission during one such game! He was being mobbed by some local crows, which he deftly saw off with two 360 degree barrel rolls and a flash of his talons skywards.
Owen, our Sea Eagle Officer who out visiting the project for the first time, must have been our lucky charm as it was the only time we saw any sea eagles during a teaching session.
After dodging some particularly heavy thunderstorms we wrapped up the programme with a series of outreach sessions at Fife Coastal and Countryside Trust's Loch Ore Meadows. St Patrick's, the local primary school walked down to the park as part of their health week and learnt that sea eagles (just like humans) need shelter, food, rest and relaxation to remain healthy.
So now with the summer holidays upon us, it's time to reflect upon the success of the project and plan for next year's delivery. It's been great fun sharing our passion for these magnificent birds with the next generation of nature's champions, and I'm pleased that the feedback from schools has been really positive. Following their trip the pupils of Inverbrothock Primary School said;“Seeing where the eagles hunt made it all seem so much more real.”
“Doing the activities was a much more interesting way to learn about the eagles than talking about it in class.”
“I am amazed how big their wings are!” and
“It is brilliant that the eagles are returning to Scotland!”
Their class teacher reflected further on the experience;"The children had a fantastic experience learning about white-tailed eagles in the beautiful outdoor surroundings of Tentsmuir Forest. They were able to understand the life-cycle of the eagles through active learning activities including a race to find food, making a life-sized nest, and using the five senses to think about our surroundings.”We are hoping to be able to replicate a similar programme next year, so any primary teachers please do get in touch and register your interest with Community Outreach Officer, Sara Rasmussen; firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, once again thanks to the People's Postcode Lottery, Kirsten, Elizabeth, Conor and Lynsey (our amazing team of volunteers) and all our supporting partners who have made the project possible; Forestry Enterprise Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Fife Coastal and Countryside Trust . Enjoy the summer!