Introduction to My Geoscience Outreach and Engagement Project
“Sigiriya and Pidurangala in Sri Lanka” by Ellie Sutton licensed under CC BY-SA.
I was so excited to enrol on the Geoscience Outreach and Engagement course in my final year as an undergraduate student. My background is in Ecological and Environmental Science and so this provided the perfect opportunity to apply my interests to a real-life project whilst learning key skills through workshops. I am passionate about the climate, animal conservation and sustainability and now find it more important than ever to educate others to take action or make informed decisions. Getting involved with various charities and NGOs through volunteering- be that here in Scotland or overseas- has opened my eyes to the number of people already working to protect our planet and the species that reside here.
“Frog in Edinburgh and butterfly in Iguazu falls, Brazil” by Ellie Sutton licensed under CC BY-SA.
When choosing a topic for my project, I knew that I wanted to focus on environmental education of children in particular. Having previously worked with young people, I knew that this was something I really enjoyed and that was rewarding. From this course, I can now gain great experience and create resources that incorporate my passion for the environment. During the Summer of 2020, I developed environmental education resources for children in Fiji and so was keen to do something similar in Scotland. After speaking to members of staff from the course, I realised that there had been lots of projects in the past that were aimed at primary or secondary schools. I then questioned whether nurseries had received this level of attention in terms of environmental education. Exposing children to nature and teaching them to love it and protect it from a very young age could help shape how they interact with it later in life, hopefully fostering environmental stewardship. I was aware of the nursery on Kings Buildings’ campus where I study and I pass it almost everyday. I had already shown interest in working with this nursery as I saw real potential to develop their outdoor learning programme. This then motivated me to research more into the values of Arcadia nursery and their learning approaches to see if they could act as potential clients. Project ideas that interested me included developing resources and lesson plans for local biodiversity, plastic recycling and general environmental education.
“After-school club at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, Malawi” by Ellie Sutton licensed under CC BY-SA.
After being assigned my supervisor and tutor, we arranged a virtual meeting with the Arcadia staff early in November to discuss the initial ideas I had for my project. The staff seemed really on board with the prospect of environmental education at the nursery and were approachable and friendly! They were particularly interested in getting the children involved with local biodiversity as they already take a group up to Blackford Hill twice a week. This gave me the perfect chance to find out more about these trips and the activities that the children took part in. Shortly after the meeting, I was invited to join them on one of the trips in December to to meet some of the children and discover more about their ‘child-led’ learning approach- something that I would need to consider when developing the resources. Organising an in-person meeting with my client has not only allowed me to make progress early on in my project, but has allowed me to form a relationship with them which I hope to develop as the project unfolds.