Review of the 2017-2018 Educational Year

It’s been an amazing year with many challenges. This year 1663 children aged 3 to 18 attended with 472 wonderful adults and teachers. A big thanks for all the parents, teachers and staff that came along to help out with the school visits. Your help is essential and much appreciated.
As well as our excellent Education manager, Caroline Gellor, we have a new field teacher, Sam McCabe, to help with the tremendous number of visits. Sam has proved to be a great asset and he has enjoyed his teaching so much this year that he has agreed to stay on. We are all delighted. Sam has great experience and is a woodland and forest garden specialist.
“What an amazing trip! Sam was very informative and hands on which allowed the children to be also. The whole class, adult supporters and teachers thoroughly enjoyed it and we will be booking again for next year.”
A few of our volunteers took over some of the teaching this year. They equipped themselves very well and got fantastic feedback as can be seen from these comments:
“It was a very informative and interactive trip. We learnt a lot about a range of mini-beasts and the natural world around us. It’s great to be instructed by volunteers who are very passionate in the work that they do too.”
“My children had a fantastic time and absolutely loved it. It was ideally suited to their age group, and the expert knowledge of our guide Sally Gillman was second to none. Thanks so much!”
Our nursery visitors became explorers for a morning experiencing a woodland nature walk, playing the wriggly worm game and discovering who lives under a log.

Irish yellow slugs love the dark damp habitat under the logs

Our KS1 Woodland Explorers investigated the woodland habitat discovering who lives in the woodland and why trees are important to wildlife and to humans. Some of them did pond dipping too and were amazed at the variety of creatures living in the ponds.

Cushion bracket fungi, one of many organisms that live on a tree

Older children in KS2 explored animal life cycles and pollination. Some year 6 children investigated animal and plant adaptation and evolution while year 3s discovered the history of the earth through our rocks and soils course, getting hands on experience of all the major rocks and a whole host of fossils dating back 550 million years! Lots of year 2 and year 4 children did our habitats and adaptation course finding out what lives in the ponds and discovering their wonderful adaptations. Dragonfly nymphs and flatworms never cease to engage the children’s attention. Here’s what some teachers said after their visit.
“We all thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Barnet Environmental Centre. The day was very well planned, educational and great fun.”
“Caroline is highly engaging and her lessons were ‘pitched perfectly’ to hold and maintain our children’s attention. She has a wealth of knowledge which she shares with great enthusiasm. We will be booking again for next year.”

The bright yellow eyes of the predatory dragonfly nymph and a tiny flatworm

A-level groups this year looked at water quality and aquatic diversity using chemical test strips and the biotic index. They investigated diversity in the ponds using Simpson’s Index of Diversity. The students worked hard and were very interested in the subject matter. This is what their teacher had to say about the course:
“This was an inspiring day for our students. They came away saying they would never look at a pond the same way again. Others students were so inspired by what they learned about plastic pollution that they have started a campaign at school to spread awareness. They also managed to collect evidence to pass their AS practical requirements. Thank you Caroline, you had a big impact on them!”

Plastic bags or jelly fish? Concern grows about the level of plastic pollution in our oceans.

This year we extended the reach of our youth visits to include Boys Brigade, Woodcraft Elfins, Brownies, Rainbows, Cubs and Beavers. They all took part in different activities ranging from Woodland walks and pond dipping to stick art, natural sounds and star gazing. If you know a group who is interested in visiting the reserve please email the Education Manager, Caroline, info@fobec.org.uk .
Over the year children have seen some fantastic wildlife. Here are some of the highlights.

Violet ground beetle trundling across the meadow Field vole snuggling under a habitat plate
Smooth newt hibernating in the woodland Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice taking shape

The final phase of the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice has begun. The new building is looking stunning and is sure to be an architectural icon for Barnet.