Friday, 31 May 2013

'Schools Go Wild': OPAL Competition Encourages Budding Scientists to Study Ecology

Over 130 school pupils from around Devon and Cornwall got the chance to explore the fascinating world of science and nature at an event on campus recently.
OPAL South West and the School of Biological Sciences held a free day of activities for local primary, secondary and special schools to teach and inspire young people about the natural world around them.
Children from 14 different schools attended and were able to examine tropical bugs in a University laboratory, have a go at making a cloud and go on a spider hunt in the old walls around campus. Children were able to discover some local wildlife, and talk to scientists and researchers from the School of Biological Sciences about the important of science and understanding the world around us better.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Plymouth Woodland Project is launched

Alison Smith has secured a £55,000 grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund to start the Plymouth Woodland Project. At the moment, Alison is the community scientist with Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), based in Biological Sciences at Plymouth University.

John Randall and Fran Dansie, from the Friends of Ham Woods, Malcolm Allen, from The Woodland Trust, and
Alison Smith, from Plymouth University at Ham Woods at the launch of the Plymouth Woodland Project.
About 20% of Plymouth is covered by woodland. The Plymouth Woodland Project will work with Plymouth City Council, The Woodland Trust, the National Trust, local schools and community groups. The idea is to encourage citizen scientists to get involved in the city's woodlands, and learn about biodiversity, monitoring methods and sustainable management.

Alison herself has recently started a PhD with Paul Ramsay on woodland monitoring in Plymouth and rural Devon. An important part of her PhD involves the use of sophisticated scientific monitoring to refine the methods that could be used by citizen scientists in the future.

It is anticipated that undergraduate students on our courses will have the opportunity to help out with the project and some will be able to do their own research work as part of the wider Plymouth Woodland Project.

You can read more on the grant and project launch in an article from the Plymouth Herald here.

Incidentally,the University was awarded more than £600,000 last year by the Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery Funds, as part of the The Parks for People programme, to restore Drake's Reservoir as a city landmark. More on this project here.