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News Schools competition is an opportunity to explore the natural world

Pupils with an interest in science and nature are being asked to use lockdown as an opportunity to think about supporting their local wildlife.

Dr Skingsley's garden bee hotels
Image: Dr Skingsley's garden bee hotels

For the competition we’re not just interested in the things that jump, are furry, have feathers or scales, we’re also interested in supporting the other animals, insects or plants that are an essential part of our biodiversity.

Dr Dave Skingsley, Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences

The Explore at Home competition has been organised by Staffordshire University in association with Big Bang and will be judged as part of the Explore Staffordshire University event which is taking place online on Tuesday 16 June and Wednesday 17 June.

Dr Dave Skingsley, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Life Sciences and Education at the University, said: “We’re challenging young people to think about how their gardens, or community spaces, can actively support wildlife and how they can encourage more wildlife to come into the areas they are using.”

“For the competition we’re not just interested in the things that jump, are furry, have feathers or scales, we’re also interested in supporting the other animals, insects or plants that are an essential part of our biodiversity.”

In a special promotional video, Dr Skingsley introduces his bee hotels constructed from bamboo and pots. He explains how stacks of bricks and old crockery can become habitats for earwigs and centipedes and how, by creating these spaces, we can help wildlife thrive.

Entries, consisting of a photograph and brief caption, can be accompanied by a short five minute video which shows further research carried out as part of the Explore at Home competition brief. Entries must be accompanied by a completed consent form and emailed to by midday on Monday 15 June.

All primary and secondary school pupils are invited to enter the competition for the chance to win Amazon vouchers and trophies which will be mailed out to winners in several categories.

This year more than 2,000 pupils are registered to attend the virtual Explore Staffordshire University event which will consist of real-time quizzes, live interactive workshops, shows and fun Q and A sessions geared around science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.

Staffordshire University Director for Student Recruitment and Admissions, Alyssa Phillips, said: “Big Bang West Midlands is our biggest on-campus schools event and last year we had more than 2,800 pupils attending over the two days. While COVID-19 pandemic has forced cancellation of the physical event, as a digital and connected university we are doing what we can to give young people a planned online STEM experience that gets them excited about their futures. This includes the Explore at Home competition – and we urge any budding ecologists or pupils with an interest in the natural world to take part.”

To register to attend  Explore Staffordshire University click here

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