A project to restore oysters around the UK coastline has launched school lesson packs to inspire children to protect oceans
The restoration project working to help restore healthy, resilient coastal waters around the UK is hoping to educate more than 12,000 school pupils about the ocean through its new education programme.
Its Wild Oysters Project education packs – created by conservationists and education specialists at ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) – support the national science curriculum and encourage children aged 8-14 to care for the marine environment and spread the word about the importance of a native oyster population in the UK.
“Across the UK, native oyster populations have declined by more than 95%,” says ZSL’s Wild Oysters Project manager Celine Gamble.
“Despite their small size, oysters are capable of filtering 200 litres of water a day helping to clean our seas. Healthy oyster reefs are hugely productive and support an array of marine biodiversity.
“We have created new teacher resources to enhance and support classroom teaching by providing real-world context to science, geography and citizenship topics within the local environment for classrooms across the UK.”
Available to download in PDF or presentation format, the resources give teachers the tools to highlight the significance of a healthy ocean to their students – helping them to understand that oceans are home to 90% of our planet’s wildlife and why it’s important they absorb one third of the carbon dioxide that we produce.
Created to make sure students recognise the reasons oyster numbers declined and how these tiny superheroes can help the marine environment in future, the lesson plans include ‘the variety of life that lives in the ocean’, and ‘nine ways students can reduce ocean plastic’.
Using artefact-handling, whole class discussion, games such as bingo, individual and small group work, the lesson plans for KS2 and KS3 link to National Curriculums for England and Wales, and BGE in Scotland – including Living Things and their Habitats, Biodiversity and Interdependence for KS2 and Topical Science and Biology for KS3.
Students who complete the lessons will be able to understand the incredible adaptations of oysters and be able to describe an oyster food web, using the terms producer as well as primary, secondary and tertiary consumers.
For schools local to The Wild Oysters Project restoration sites – Tyne and Wear in the North East of England, Conwy Bay in Wales, and the Firth of Clyde in Scotland – local project officers from Groundwork NE, Bangor University and Clyde Porpoise CIC are available to deliver the lessons themselves before schools are invited on a field trip to visit their local oyster restoration hub where student will get to connect with nature.
“As part of this ambitious project we have already restored 4,000 native oysters; suspending them under marina pontoons in oyster nurseries, a micro habitat acting as a maternity ward to the next generation of oysters, to support our oceans, says Celine.
“Local schools can visit the sites where these oysters are housed across the UK to better understand the marine environment and the incredible wildlife that the oysters live alongside.
“We hope the lesson plans and field visits will inspire the next generation to care for our oceans and understand how a healthy ocean can support our ecosystem.”
International conservation charities ZSL and BLUE and their partner, British Marine, received an award of £1,180,000 raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery – awarded as part of the Dream Fund to boost British native oyster populations and engage thousands of volunteers, students, and local community groups.
Click here for more information and to download the Wild Oysters Project educational materials.