Little Researchers put the local environment under the microscope

Children from Thurnham Glasson C of E Primary School presenting their research findings
Children from Thurnham Glasson C of E Primary School presenting their research findings

Teams of ‘Little Researchers’ from the Morecambe Bay area took centre stage at Lancaster University last week to present their findings on an array of key environmental topics.

Everything from safe walks to school, preserving plants and wildlife, understanding marinas, the impact of water erosion on rocks and land and finding out how people make crucial decisions affecting the environment were covered.

The children, all aged seven to 11, delivered presentations on their exciting projects which were designed to help them appreciate the value of structured research as a tool for caring for their local environment.

The 'Little Researchers' initiative, which involved four primary schools and one nursery school in a pilot project, is part of the unique, community-created Morecambe Bay Curriculum (MBC).

Children from the schools’ own pupil parliaments, school councils and eco-clubs were invited to take part in the scheme which focused strongly on research in their local area and within the Morecambe Bay environs.

The pupils were asked to select their own research topics and were supported in their research work by a team of nine Lancaster University students.

Schools taking part in the pilot include Ryelands Nursery and Primary School, St Paul’s C of E Junior School in Barrow, Thurnham Glasson C of E Primary School and Caton Primary School together with Sandcastles Nursery, Morecambe.

The teams of ‘Little Researchers’ were invited to present their initial findings to an audience of special guests including Lancaster University academics, researchers and professional services staff together with representatives from the Eden Project.

The presentations took place over two days at Lancaster University, when the teams were also invited to take part in fun learning activities and see sustainability-focused research in the engineering department.

Lancaster University Project Manager for the MBC Carys Nelkon said: “It has been brilliant to see the research topics young people chose to investigate as part of this project. I love that the children have been supported to follow their curiosity about nature. We have had really positive feedback from teachers and young people and hope to broaden this programme in the future.”

Little Researchers is one of several projects introduced as part of the Morecambe Bay Curriculum launched in 2019, by founding partners Lancaster and Morecambe College and Lancaster University. The MBC project was inspired by Eden Project Morecambe.

The MBC aims to ensure that the different stages of the education system, from early years to postgraduate, provide the green skills, knowledge and behaviours required by industry to respond to the climate emergency.

It enables participating schools around the Bay to focus on sustainability and place alongside the National Curriculum.

Other MBC projects so far have included:

  • Educate to Plate – development of a community garden at Lancaster and Morecambe College which supports learners to understand how we can all grow food in a sustainable way
  • Eden Bear – who captures everyday stories of children’s lives and their aspirations and dreams for the future of Morecambe Bay
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