One of the SSTP’s most important outreach activities is carrying out visits to primary schools around Scotland to teach pupils about Scottish sharks, marine conservation and our on-going shark tagging work. This work was started by James Thorburn in 2010 and has since grown from strength to strength: one thing has become particularly clear…kids love learning about sharks!
We feel that is extremely important that children have a chance to learn about their local marine life and native species, to achieve this we have put a lot of time and effort into visiting schools and attending youth events to give talks, play educational games and visit local shorelines.
During 2011 and 2012 this work was carried out by SSTP Project Coordinators Julie Hope (in Argyll & Bute) and Lewis Cowie (in Dumfries & Galloway). Over the past year the SSTP has carried out over 20 school visits throughout the Argyll and Dumfries & Galloway regions and engaged with over 450 primary school pupils between 5 and 12 years old.
Activities include shark egg case hunts carried out on local shores where pupils search the shore for egg cases and then use SSTP keys to determine which species laid each egg. Egg case hunts have proved extremely popular with pupils commenting that such hands-on activities make learning much easier because everything seems “more real and close to home!” So far we have found lesser spotted dogfish and thornback rays by the bucket load, a few spotted ray eggs and one bull huss egg.
Rock-pooling has been another extremely popular beach activity, though not specifically shark focused this activity is included to teach pupils about native sea creatures and the diversity of marine life living on their doorstep. Again this has been a real crowd pleaser, though from experience it often turns into a competition over who can find the biggest crab!
One highlight so far this year was a return visit to Auchencairn Primary school – before the visit Lewis set a small creel in a large rockpool on the shore at Rascarrel – this created great excitement particularly when the creel was found to be full of large shore crabs!
We all know the Scottish weather can be unpredictable at best and as such we also have a range of SSTP based classroom activities for those days when a shore visit is out of the question. This has ranged from story writing to designing posters or encouraging pupils to let their imagination run in our Design-A-Shark game.
Encouragingly we have been contacted by several schools requesting more visits. One thing return visits have really highlighted is how much the pupils learned from their first visit.
If you would be interested in arranging an SSTP visit to your local primary school then please feel free to get in touch at email@example.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible!