“When things get back to normal, we’ll …”.  How many times have you heard that recently?  It’s a fervent wish of countless millions of people, and yet, what will it look like?  Will every closed small business re-open?  Will every job still exist?  Will all charities survive the virus?  The financial health of the charity sector (which contains very many environmental groups) has to be of particular concern given how much they contribute to society.  Those that are dependent on significant income streams to pay commercial-level salaries are likely to be exposed as the economy contracts.  We wish them all well in these taxing times.  ∫∫∫

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Dame Polly Courtice, Director, of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership took up the ‘normal’ theme in a recent mailing to members and supporters.  This was a key passage:

“… It is tempting to talk about getting ‘back to normal’, but we will almost certainly not go back to the way things were.  In fact, going back to ‘normal’ is also not what many millions of people aspire to or deserve.  For many, the current system has failed to deliver health, wellbeing, and prosperity.  Now that the lack of resilience in the ‘old’ system has been revealed, alongside our ability to mobilise vast sums of money and resources when the economy is at risk, expectations will have been raised about what else is now possible in the face of other crises.

Globally, we have to take this moment to reflect on the need to change and transform our society; to explore lessons from the past and reset our expectations for the future.  The shocks to the system that we are experiencing now, and anticipate in future, raise so many questions about the things that we have taken for granted, and demonstrate what is possible when we need to respond urgently. Given how many system shocks we see as coming – this is a crucial time to be asking some big questions. …”  ∫∫∫

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The ASE has set up a coronavirus resources portal – a collection of links designed to assist its members, the science education community at large and the general public over the coming weeks and months.  It sees this as a living, growing resource to be added to over time.

On the page, you will find both a collection of materials created specifically by the ASE and a directory of links to assets and resources created by others including institutions, societies, and zoos.  A selection of these are set out here and many are also suitable for home learning for the primary sector.  There is also a selection for the secondary age group.

  1. Practical Action is an international development organisation with a schools hub featuring project-oriented activities and worksheets which could be adapted for home learning.
  2. ExperRimental is a series of short films that make it fun, easy and cheap to do science at home with children aged 4 to 11. It is provided by The Royal Institution.
  3. Trees for Learning is a resource for families and teachers of Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, providing activities associated with the four seasons.
  4. Nature Self-Isolation Activities  The Woodland Trust has many nature-based activities which can be used at home or in the garden.
  5. RSC – Primary Resources  The Royal Society of Chemistry has a large variety of experiments, cartoons, videos, podcasts and other resources to support primary science topics such as ‘states of matter’ and ‘properties and changes of materials’.
  6. IOP – Marvin and Marlo  The Institute of Physics has a range of ‘Marvin and Milo’ practical activity resources for primary aged children; search under the different topics such as ‘Light, Sound and Matter’ or ‘Forces and Motion’ for Age 5-11.
  7. RSB – Primary Schools  The Royal Society of Biology has links to various useful websites and informal activities which are available on the ‘biology for all’ and ‘outreach’ pages.
  8. Linnean Learning At Home  The Linnaean Society has short clips and information about the classification work of Carl Linnaeus suitable for Key Stage 2 pupils.
  9. STEMterprise – NFU Education provides free farming/STEM resources for teachers for years 3-6.
  10. The Geological Society  Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 resources for schools, including fossils, rocks, volcanoes, earthquakes and much more.  ∫∫∫

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The Economist has a series of home-learning resources for families.  These include: COVID-19, World Earth Day, The Climate Emergency, Is a Vegan Society a better Society?  Each is linked to the sustainable development goals and they aim to help develop students’ key skills and competences.  In the COVID-19 case, these are open-mindedness and scepticism.  You can access them here∫∫∫

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LfS Scotland has a list of resources that might help young people who are stuck at home.  These include:

1. The Top 10 Climate Change Documentaries to watch at Home Pebble Magazine have compiled a list of some of the best climate change documentaries if you havent seen them already.

2. National Geographic Kids NG Kids have loads of fun educational activities to keep kids (and adults !) happily engaged – quizzes, games, podcasts, articles, fun facts etc covering many different topics.

3. Audiobooks Audible books, by Amazon are offering a free service of a huge collection of children stories, in 6 different languages “ that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids.”

4. Birdsong If you are unsettled and bored, or on the other end of the scale, busier than ever with new stresses, take 5 minutes out for yourself and appreciate the world outside. If you can get out to your garden, balcony, allotment etc and just listen to to all the birdsong at the moment and breathe in deeply some fresh air…This RSPB weblink can provide you with some interesting stories and birdsong ID if you want to find out more.

5. Outdoor Learning Directory Are you keen to support children’s learning and play at home during COVID-19 restrictions? Keep checking the Outdoor Learning Directory news page, for new ideas and resources signposted regularly!

6. Fairtrade at Home The Fairtrade Schools team have produced ‘Home Learning Challenges’ to accompany their Fairtrade Schools films. These open-ended, creative activities are designed to keep young minds busy whilst learning about Fairtrade!

7. Learning Through Landscapes has now moved online and providing all they do for free. They have created two Facebook groups (one for families, one for educators and teachers). Through those groups they will offer ideas, lesson plans, webinars, training and even 1:1 online advice, for as long as the schools and nurseries are closed.

8. World’s Largest Lesson Community WLL have gone online too and want to build up a supportive community. A regular newsletter is being produced with creative challenges and ideas. Learning at home doesn’t have to be online all the time and they will include ideas for home based activities both inside and out. Of course there are comics and animated films on the website too – all with a Global Goals theme to help children keep focused on the wider world out there.

9. Talking to Children about the Coronavirus a useful document for parents and teachers on how to talk to children about the Coronavirus, from UNICEF.  ∫∫∫

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Sea Turtle Educational has a series of on-line presentations. These are geared towards different ages and cover the basics of sea turtle biology and ecology, threats, and conservation efforts – and what students can do to help them. The presentation is interactive and we include a Q&A at the end.  ∫∫∫

 

The SDG Impact Dashboard is a new benchmarking tool that will enable universities to analyse the data behind the Sustainable Development Goals as well as support their sustainability efforts through performance insights and best practice from around the world.  ∫∫∫

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The first confirmed speaker for September’s TEESNet conference is Arjen Wals, Professor of Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability at Wageningen University in The Netherlands.  You can submit summaries of your research for inclusion in the event by 29th May.  ∫∫∫

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COP26, due to be held in Glasgow in November has been put off until the Summer of 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.  Many world leaders and around 30,000 delegates, journalists and environmental campaigners will be at the meeting.  Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus (SEC) which was due to host the talks is now set to become a temporary hospital to house patients affected by the virus.  The decision was taken by UN officials and UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma, who is president-designate of the meeting.  ∫∫∫

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David Oldroyd’s SPACESHIP EARTH ACTION-TYCHY newsletter from Poland contained this comment on people, bricks, concrete and global warming:

“There are likely to be an extra 2 billion people on Earth by 2050, with most being born throughout Asia and Africa.  Developing countries will need hundreds of millions of additional homes over the coming decades, while global emissions will need to fall by 60% to keep average warming below 2°C.  Concrete is a wonder material, but like most of the innovations behind modern life’s conveniences, it is carbon intensive.  Fired bricks need temperatures higher than 1,000°C to cause chemical changes that give the material strength, and it’s as high as 1,450°C for cement.  Just producing cement is thought to account for between 5-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.”   ∫∫∫