An ambitious restoration project working to help restore healthy, resilient coastal waters around the UK, is aiming to educate over 12,000 students about the ocean through a new education programme.
The 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 years old) to care for the marine environment and spread the word about the importance of a native oyster population in the UK.
Celine Gamble, Wild Oysters Project Manager, ZSL said; “Across the UK native oyster populations have declined by over 95%. 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 a PDF or a 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 ensure students recognise the reasons why oysters 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 the 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 students will get to connect with nature.
Celine Gamble continued; “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. 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 and awarded as part of the Dream Fund, to boost British native oyster populations and engage thousands of volunteers, students, and local community groups.
For more information and to download the Wild Oysters Project educational materials visit wild-oysters.org/education-materials/