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Europe’s ecosystem research network

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Taking science to school kids: the Slimy Science Creature Challenge!

Here's a fun, if messy, example of public outreach, aimed at getting kids interested in ecology.
Taking science to school kids: the Slimy Science Creature Challenge!

CEH's stand at the careers fair

Staff from ALTER-Net's NERC-CEH recently ran an event for school children that was based on trophic levels. They hosted a stand at a science careers fair in Carlisle (UK), during which budding young scientists were able to take on the Slimy Science Creature Challenge!

The main focus of the stand was a prize-based competition, which involved participants rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck into an ecology-related scientific challenge. Fifty fridge magnets with images of organisms from different trophic levels lay hidden in a large container of green goo (made from gellibaff, a harmless powder which holds 400 times its own weight in water). Contestants had 60 seconds to delve into the slime to save as many creatures from the goo as possible.  In extra time, competitors had to correctly transfer the creatures to the right trophic level, i.e. decomposers, primary producers, secondary producers, secondary consumers and top predators. Frantic decision-making often led the young scientists to build fantastical food chains, involving top predator pandas!

Accompanying the game was a poster presenting some of the varied work undertaken by CEH staff, and a microscope was available enabling children to take a closer look at common organisms found in soils and compost heaps.

You can see pictures of the event here: http://cehsciencenews.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/slimy-science-creature-challenge-at.html.

For more information contact Andy Sier.

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