Animal science undergraduates have used their own experience of learning in lockdown to develop digital education material for home schooling.
The results of their three week project, which include an animated cartoon, a video with sign language and an animal based exercise programme, were so professional that they were released to the public via Reaseheath’s mini zoo Facebook page.
Many of the 20 undergraduates involved are considering careers in education and feel this practical experience will be a great asset for the future. The group are in their final year of study for BSc (Hons) degrees in Animal Management, Zoo Management or Wildlife Conservation and Ecology and the project was part of their scientific communication in zoo education module.
HE Academic Registrar Yvette Foulds-Davis, who led the project, explained: “Part of our degrees have been delivered digitally all year and these students have embraced the concept, with outstanding results.
“I’m very proud of the ideas and materials they have developed for this project. Their brief was to produce a range of digital education resources which could support fun home schooling and they have come up with some very professional and potentially valuable pieces of work.
“This sort of skill will make these students really employable, as it proves that they are digitally competent and can produce material which meets an actual need. It is also very current, as zoos will have to adapt to this way of engaging with the public in the future.”
Matthew Thompson worked with fellow undergraduate Kira Grimshaw to develop a video for primary age children linking animation with live footage and the sounds of animals met by two explorers. He is already interested in using the media and technology to support teaching and feels that the task has enabled him to develop a further avenue into education.
He said: “I feel that I have learned some very useful skills such as how to plan resources and use different styles for different age groups. The whole exercise was very inspiring and rewarding.”
Shannon Musselwhite is one of eight undergraduates who worked together on an ambitious video using Makaton, a language programme of signing, speech and symbols to help hearing people with learning or communication difficulties. Their storyline, supported by sub titles and signing presenters, follows the adventures of a young sheep as he meets some of the animals at Reaseheath’s mini zoo.
Shannon said: “I felt a personal connection with making a Makaton video because I have a cousin who uses it and a nephew who finds it difficult to communicate. Helping to choose the concept and content was really interesting and designing it was great fun. I’d like to go into zoo education and it will be great to include on my CV.”
Two CBeebies-style animal based movement videos which have young children slithering like snakes, jumping like frogs, snapping like crocodiles and bounding like meerkats were the brainchild of Zoe Thompson and Eden-Jeremy Southernden. The high energy programmes come in two versions – reptiles & amphibians and mammals, invertebrates & sea creatures – and are designed to encourage young children to get active while learning about each animal they are imitating.
Zoe, whose ambition of becoming a zoo keeper will mean engaging with the public, says: “This module has been perfect to show employers what we’re capable of.
“I have four younger siblings so I know how difficult it is getting them to learn on-line, but I’ve found that getting them to do something physical really helps. Eden has a nephew too, so we’ve both been able to trial the videos and they’ve been a hit! We’re looking forward to see what reception they get from a wider audience.”
First to be offered on-line were workbooks about ring tailed lemurs and tapirs by Ellie Evans and Abigail Starsmeare. The work books describe the challenges that the two species face in the wild, feature linked videos and music and encourage their young readers to become conservation superheroes. The videos can be found using the following links: The Powers of Conservation: Lemurs and The Powers of Conservation: Tapirs
Other pieces of work included a storyboard about a world where everything is recycled and a video on enrichment for pets.
All of the resources, including those linked above, were promoted on our Reaseheath Mini Zoo Facebook page but if you missed them, they can also be found on the educational resources page of our website and are free to download.