A marine day conference for teachers, led by Steve Savage, took place on the Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve to inspire teachers about our amazing coast and how they can implement marine studies into the school curriculum. Due to the popularity of last year’s teacher’s event we have repeated the training day.
The conference was attended by 16 primary science and geography teachers’, mainly from local schools. Due to the closure of the AOAC we changed venues using the Harbour club as a base – perfect for the indoor elements of the training with great views of the river and easy access to the beach.
We started with an indoor session introducing the teachers to the nature reserve and its role of protecting the rare shingle habitat and raising awareness through formal and informal education events. We looked at how the Sussex chalk was formed, how Britain became an island and how the shingle spit at Shoreham was formed.
Following an introduction to the shingle plants and wildlife, armed with ID guides the teachers searched for clues as to how these plants not only survive in this inhospitable environment but actually thrive. The teachers also explored the vegetation looking for and recording invertebrates, birds and lizards on the shingle habitat.
The teachers also tried out a new activity that helps children to understand the environmental conditions that help to shape the beach and also the conditions that might affect the shingle plants and wildlife.
They measured and compared the air temperature, ground temperature and temperature in the shade of sea kale. They also measured wind direction and force, sun and cloud cover, sea conditions including if the waves were constructive or destructive.
The delegates explored the tide pools and discovered a variety of marine creatures from crabs and shrimps to cockles and sea anemones. A workshop also examined the pebbles and the dynamic coastal processes that formed and continue to shape Shoreham Beach.
Following packed lunch on the beach we returned to the Harbour Club for the afternoon. The teachers were encouraged to evaluate the activities and discuss how they might apply these activities into their own teaching back at school.
We collected few of the marine creatures from the tide pools to place in a small aquarium tank to further investigate using the USB microscope cam enlarging crabs, barnacles and other marine life to the size of the screen. This was a chance to demonstrate the ‘live lecture’ style session that I can run in schools that are unable to visit the beach.
The teachers also collected some strandline objects which they examined back in the centre including crab shells, cuttlefish bone, ray egg cases, whelk eggs and even cuttlefish eggs. They discovered how these objects and even the beach pebbles have a fascinating story to tell.
The day concluded with a discussion about risk assessment, bringing the seashore topic into the classroom after a beach visit and a final chance for questions etc. The replies on the evaluation forms were very encouraging.
The conference was run in partnership with South East Grid for Learning Associates and who organized all the administration and bookings. The event was supported by Friends of Shoreham Beach, who kindly sponsored the room hire via the recent Heritage Lottery Grant. The event was a great success; the feedback from the South East Grid for Learning Associates evaluation forms all listed the quality and usefulness of the sessions and support materials as either good or outstanding. It is hoped that the conference will become an annual event.