Tag Archives: Primary

“Science in the Park” at Paultons Park

Paultons-Park-school-science-dayOn Friday, 11th March 2016, Paultons Park hosted “Science in the Park”. This special event as part of British Science Week celebrated all things science; with over 420 students and teachers attending a series of free workshops as part of their school visit to the Park.

We were delighted to welcome a group of bloggers from Wellow School in Hampshire. Here is their account…

Continue reading “Science in the Park” at Paultons Park

Getting Ready for a New Season at Paultons Park

professor blast paultonsThe 2016 season is nearly upon the Paultons Park Education Team and there is more than ever to look forward to this year when booking a school trip!

From unique learning days to reward trips, Paultons Park offers a great day out for school visits to the New Forest.

Continue reading Getting Ready for a New Season at Paultons Park

Drawing from Nature

 

Illustration: Winter robin (lino print based on outdoor sketches)
Illustration: Winter Robin (lino print based on outdoor sketches)

The personal benefits we can draw from nature are huge. I find nature itself an endless source of joy and inspiration for my teaching but more importantly in my life itself. Recently whilst quietly observing and sketching a robin that regularly visits my garden I became aware of its large keen eyes, the striking rusty red bib that extends over its face and chest, and its familiar round body shape when it ruffles up its feathers. I was able to express this moment of joy and wonder by using my sketches to design a lino print.

We can all gain inspiration from looking closely at nature – even in the bleak mid-winter.  Drawing outdoors teaches us to be still, to be observant and respectful to living things. You’ll be amazed at how well people can draw when given time and space in nature.  Here are some tips to help you and your group get creative. Continue reading Drawing from Nature

Focus on ivy

Variety of ivy

At this time of year when deciduous trees and shrubs are only just beginning to bud, the glossy evergreen leaves of ivy and its tangle of climbing stems really stand out. Common ivy in fact provides a year-round place for a variety of creatures to hide, breed, feed and even hibernate. It is easy to recognise and is found growing almost everywhere – up trees and old walls, in hedges and carpeting woodland floors, and its value for wildlife makes it a great focus for investigations. Continue reading Focus on ivy

The Underground Farmers

Earthworm

Earthworms, as their name suggests, live within the earth in a hidden world but where they perform an essential service by not only turning over, aerating and loosening soil, but also by recycling dead things! Autumn is a great time to pull on your welly boots, get outdoors and discover these amazing but often overlooked soil engineers at work. Continue reading The Underground Farmers

The web weavers

Orb web

Nature has many beautiful designs and amongst these the intricate beauty of a spider web glistening with dew in the early morning sun is a visual masterpiece. Late summer and early autumn is the best time to admire and study these amazing web designs as they can be found everywhere – gardens, fields and forests.

Spiders are invertebrates with jointed limbs and belong to the class Arachnida. Continue reading The web weavers

Ingenious seeds, inquisitive minds

Winged field maple seeds

As the summer ends, many plants are preparing for the next generation and launching their offspring into the world. September is a great month to explore and investigate your school grounds and local wild space for different seed dispersal strategies.

Flowering plants are called angiosperms, which translates to a ‘seed in a vessel’. They are the largest and most diverse group of land plants with over 300,000 species, which represents approx. 80% of all known green plants living today.  As plants can’t move this has resulted in many ingenious seed containers to help plants disperse their seeds.

We’ve all seen wind dispersal in action as most of us once, and maybe still do, collect the fluffy seed heads of dandelion ‘clocks’ to blow their parachutes into the air – fairies that carry the seed and a wish aloft. Wind dispersal enables seeds to be taken away from the parent plant to reduce overcrowding and competition.

Other seeds with fluffy hairs (pappus) are rosebay willowherb and thistle which float in the air and are carried by the wind. However, most seeds don’t fall in suitable growing locations which is why plants that use wind dispersal produce so many seeds.

Others depend on the wind in different ways. The ‘salt-and-pepper shaker’ style pods of the common poppy and red campion rely on the wind to shake their long slender stalks, tipping the shakers and depositing the seeds away from the plant.

Whilst sycamore trees produce thousands of double-winged seeds (samara) also known as helicopters or keys. If tossed in air they spin around in the wind and have nicknames such as spinning jenny, whirlybird and wing-nut. Ash, common lime, hornbeam and field maple also have winged seeds which propel them through the air wherever the wind takes them.

Seeds have also developed to become hitch-hikers, with hooks or barbs to attach to passer-bys. Children love finding ‘sticky wickets’ or burr to throw and stick on unsuspecting targets.

Plants that grow near water produce seeds that can float and use the flowing water to carry their offspring away. Whilst others produce seed containers that explode and burst open which such force that the seeds are propelled from the parent plant. Listen out for the popping sound of exploding seed pods of gorse growing on the New Forest heathlands.

Animals also eat and help disperse seeds of fruits such as blackberries, hawthorn and rowan. The seeds inside, protected by a hard coating, are dispersed through their droppings – the perfect package of fertilizer to help the seedling grow! Another two part arrangement is when seeds are dropped onto the ground, such as acorns and hazelnuts, which are carried away by squirrels, jays and small mammals. Some are eaten, whilst others forgotten in their hidden cache enabling seedlings to grow away from the parent plant.

All seeds are dispersed in a variety of ways but with a shared aim of producing the next generation.

Ideas for investigations:

  • Seed socks: Working in small groups, a volunteer puts on old pair of big white fuzzy socks over their shoes. They then walk through tall grass or an area full of seed bearing plants and then return, carefully taking off the socks. The group then sorts the seeds – there will also be grass, twigs etc.. stuck to the socks – and study the seed pile. Lots of discussion: different types of seeds, look at shape and size, prickly or smooth?
  • Seed scavenger hunt: Split the class with one group exploring the grounds to collect and identify seeds to design a seed scavenger hunt worksheet. Then send the second group off in pairs using the worksheet to go seed hunting!
  • Seed library – the next generation: seeds collected from the seed sock activity or during the scavenger hunt can be sorted and then labelled for planting next spring.
  • Seeds on the move: Air borne seeds can travel great distances. Check out www.naturedetectives.org.uk downloadable  fruit and seeds pack for a seed dispersal worksheet with a chart to record seeds found and a simple activity to map seed dispersal distances from a tree.
  • Design your own seed vessels: A fun activity where the children become plants and design their own seed container to disperse seeds. A great activity for using recycled materials, sharing ideas and designing experiments to measure how far their seeds can travel.