This week saw the 300th primary school in Scotland play host to the ‘Wild about Scotland’ bus, a specially designed mobile classroom aimed at teaching children about Scotland’s endangered species and how to protect them.
The award-winning campaign is part of a partnership between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and Clydesdale Bank to help engage the next generation of conservationists, while also bringing the expertise available at RZSS to communities that might not otherwise be able to experience it.
The bus arrived on Shetland this week but has also stopped throughout Aberdeenshire, engaging 550 children from schools including Fyvie, Pitfour, Crombie, Logie Duro and Tipperty primary schools. Teaching up to 26 children at a time, the on-board specialist education team gave interactive lessons on native Scottish species, their habitats and environments.
Bells Brae on Shetland marked the 300th school to experience the campaign since launching in August 2014 in Glasgow.
The visit to Shetland also means every local authority in Scotland has engaged with the campaign. It has travelled more than 17,000 miles and has been made available to the public via a number of drop-ins at venues across Scotland. Including drop-in sessions, a total of more than 30,000 people have engaged with the Wild about Scotland programme.
Typical lessons include searching for wildlife species, mini-beast hunts and building beaver dams in addition to learning about endangered Scottish species such as the Scottish wildcat. As part of the legacy of the campaign, pupils are also left with tree saplings to plant in school grounds to help offset carbon emissions from the Wild about Scotland bus.
Additionally, the Wild about Scotland Virtual Learning Environment, an online digital learning resource, has also just launched. It can be accessed by any school for Scottish biodiversity resources for use in classrooms or school grounds. It also provides resources for pre and post the bus visit to extend the children’s learning, allowing teachers and pupils to continue teaching and learning about Scottish conservation, even after the bus has left the school.
Barbara Smith, acting Chief Executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “We are delighted that the Wild about Scotland project has visited 300 schools across the country, engaging thousands of children and young people across Scotland with native biodiversity. As part of our outreach education work, and in keeping with the mission of our Society since its inception over 100 years ago, we want to reach out as far and wide as possible to inform and connect people to nature, hoping to instil in them a lifelong appreciation and respect for wildlife and the environment.”
Helen Page, Propositions and Marketing Director at Clydesdale Bank, said: “Visiting the 300th school in Scotland is a testament to the success of Wild about Scotland programme and the appetite for learning about Scotland’s biodiversity. The campaign teaches children valuable lessons on Scottish nature and our endangered species. Hopefully in doing this, we’re inspiring the next generation of Scottish conservationists all over the country, including Aberdeenshire.
“The Virtual Learning Environment will provide teachers in Aberdeenshire with the additional resources needed to help keep children engaged in with Scottish wildlife across the country and in their own communities.”
To see when the Wild about Scotland bus is visiting your local primary school or request a visit, or to access the Virtual Learning Environment, please visit: http://www.rzss.org.uk/rzss-education/wild-about-scotland