One of the sessions was focused around Culzean’s education pond, a constructed feature which has been successfully reclaimed by nature. National Trust for Scotland Countryside Ranger, Karen Gardiner demonstrated how learners of different levels could study biodiversity, freshwater ecosystems and lifecycles on the site. She then explained that the pond is known for its Great Crested Newts which she said were an excellent indicator that the pond was pollution-free.
Karen Doherty, PSDO for Fife, said:
“Many teachers shy away from outdoor learning, even in summer months, so engaging during the winter may seem an uphill struggle. Despite the appearance of inactivity, the degree of biodiversity at the pond site was impressive – with one deft swipe of the net, we caught a thriving community of Common Newts and assorted invertebrates. I will be further encouraging the teachers who engage with this programme in Fife to make the most of our wonderful natural resources – it’s our responsibility and privilege to seek them out.”
The importance of high-quality, sustainable partnerships was discussed and South Ayrshire demonstrated its historic collaboration with community and industry to create meaningful and context-driven STEM opportunities for learners.
Neil Smith, Instructor at Dolphin House Outdoor Education Centre, South Ayrshire Council said,
“Quality taught science needs to link with other subjects. STEM brings different disciplines together, but I believe that outdoor learning has the power to link even more subject, as well as engage learners and contribute to raising attainment for all in schools.”