small

Darwin Day occurred last week (February 12th) and we wonder how many schools took the time to mention this and celebrate it with their students.  Did yours?  The day is used to highlight Darwin’s contribution to science (and our understanding of life) and to promote science in general.

At a time when so many across the world deny the force of the arguments supporting the idea of evolution (see this), surely every opportunity should be taken to reinforce the significance of the idea of natural selection and all that has flown from it.  The Pew Research Centre has a post setting out the 6 six facts about the public’s views on evolution, as well as other aspects of the debate in the U.S. and elsewhere.  Aspects of it make for sobering reading.

.

The Countryside Classroom reports that Birmingham Botanical Gardens offered schools the opportunity to take part in a Chocolate Fun teaching session prior to Christmas 2018.  Pupils (and teachers) learnt about the history of chocolate from the bitter Mayan drink to the sweet treat of today.  They experienced the hot and humid conditions where cocoa trees grow in the wild (in the Tropical Glasshouse) and tasted lots of different samples that linked to the learning.  The Gardens plan to run the sessions again next December. Contact education@birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk

.

The GA says that flood risk and flood management are popular issues in the geography curriculum, and that regular news stories about flooding make this a topical issue.  It says that, from a teaching and learning perspective, flooding offers several important opportunities because, in order to make sense of these issues, students need to understand processes within the physical environment; analyse evidence that describes the risk; evaluate the various impacts of different flood management schemes; and be able to justify their decisions on the best way to respond to the issue of flooding.  The GA has produced resources in conjunction with the Environment Agency that address a number of flood-related issues in the context of river and coastal environments. The resources focus on the causes and effects of flooding and on our responses.  Details here.

.

Putting Forestry into Forest Education – the FEN Conference 2019 – will take place in the National Forest at Rosliston Forestry Centre, South Derbyshire, on Thursday 4th April 2019.  The day is designed to expand delegates’ knowledge and understanding of ecology and management of the UK’s forests and woodlands and provide practical advice on managing their own sites for the benefit of both nature and people, as well as activities to use with young people.  If you are a teacher, forest school practitioner, outdoor learning provider, woodland owner, or simply interested in Britain’s forests and woodland, this biannual event will provide sources of information, advice and valuable networks to improve your knowledge and practice.  Further details here.

.

At the end of last year, Think Global, the umbrella and networking organisation for development education and global learning in England closed.  However, the Development Education Research Centre and organisations including local DECs, agencies such as Oxfam, CAFOD and other universities are keen to keep a network going to encourage sharing of good practice, advocacy for the work of the sector and lobbying for funding.   An initial meeting of this network was held in November last year and a follow up meeting is planned in London on the afternoon of Thursday 28th of February.  If you would like to know more about this network and to attend this meeting contact Doug Bourn.

.

Here’s a link to the African Parks 2018 round up.  This is a non-profit conservation organisation that has responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities.  It manages 15 national parks and protected areas in nine countries covering 10.5 million hectares: Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Zambia.  The organisation was founded in 2000 in response to the dramatic decline of protected areas due to poor management and lack of funding.

.

In 2020, the Geological Society will explore the theme of life.  For billions of years, the evolution of life and the evolution of the geosphere have been closely linked. The Year of Life will showcase work exploring these links throughout the Earth’s history.  The Society welcomes proposals for meetings, events and other activities.  More details are available here.  For more information or to propose an event contact: David.Riach@geolsoc.org.uk  [#gslyearoflife].  The 2019 theme is Year of Carbon.

.

The Canal & Rivers Trust has a handy guide to what it’s safe (and ethical) to feed ducks.  The C&RT says: “We care about the nation’s wellbeing and our work makes sure that life is always better by the water.  However, we also care about the wellbeing of the wildlife who make their homes on our canals and rivers.  This is why we’re asking everyone who feeds our ducks to swap their usual white bread for something a little healthier.”  This includes frozen peas, rice (cooked and uncooked) and sweetcorn (tinned, frozen or fresh).   You can get a free duck guide here.

.

Do you know how to make a nest box?  Wildlife Watch can help.  We find the hardest part is often fixing it to the tree.

.

Have you come across the Green New Deal?  It’s the brainchild of progressive Democrats in the USA.  This aims to develop a carbon-neutral economy in 10 years, and necessitates huge reductions in the consumption of oil, gas and coal, but does not set a date for ending the use of fossil fuels.  The document also endorses universal healthcare, a jobs guarantee and free higher education.  For an even-handed view of it see this.

.

PS, don’t forget the South West Puddle Jumping Championships at Slimbridge.  These start at the weekend.