By Orna Herr, Communications Officer (Education) at the British Science Association


We celebrated World Environment Day a week ago on 5 June, a great opportunity to foster children’s relationship with the natural world around them. Of course, it’s important to develop this relationship all year round.

This is something St Canice’s Primary School in County Derry, Northern Ireland, knows all about, as they celebrated British Science Week 2023 with some outdoor CREST activities!

St Canice’s received a grant through our CREST Awards scheme to help them access a range of resources  to run some of our inspiring CREST Star and SuperStar activities for primary pupils, and to also cover the cost of submitting their completed projects  so that every children could receive a special Award certificate for their achievements.

CREST grant funding, and a range of other support, is available to eligible schools who teach a high proportion of children from backgrounds often underrepresented in science.

Find out more about our support for schools in challenging circumstances.

Bug hotels and bird feeders – a recipe for success

CREST Star activities are designed for the youngest scientists, aged 5-7; while CREST SuperStar activities are slightly more advanced for older primary school children, aged 7-11.

The youngest pupils at St Canice’s in years P1 and P2 – aged 4-6 – got hospitable by building bug hotels, learning about minibeasts and their habitats in the process. This activity also means the children can continue to monitor their new bug residents over time, extending the engagement past British Science Week.

The P1 and P2 pupils also went on nature walks during the Week. Studies show that giving small children the time to simply enjoy being outside can be an effective, low resource way of developing their appetite for learning, and caring, about the environment.

Older St Canice pupils in years P4 and P5 – aged 7-9 - also played host to some outdoor friends by building their own bird feeders from recycled materials. This taught them not only about birds, where they live and what they eat, but also about the value of re-using materials we already have and giving them a new purpose.

The bird feeders were hung from trees outside the classroom windows, which will allow them to birdwatch throughout the year, using binoculars bought with the CREST grant. The funding was also used to buy bird food, torches and gardening supplies for planting sunflowers around the school grounds.

This brightened up the pupils’ environment and was a hands-on lesson in flower life cycles!

Leanne Quigley, World Around Us Co-ordinator (Science, Technology, History and Geography lead) at St. Canice’s Primary School said:

The children had a fantastic time getting involved in a whole host of sustainability-related projects throughout the week. It’s great to see them growing their own passion for protecting the environment and sustainability.

CREST has made it easy to engage pupils with sustainable topics thanks to the great bank of activities to choose from and the CREST grant scheme. The Awards encourage them to act like real-life scientists, allowing them to shine whilst gaining valuable critical thinking skills and taking responsibility for their own learning.

Protecting the planet: Embedding a whole-school approach

Running CREST for British Science Week is just part of St Canice’s commitment to providing an environmentally-friendly education for its pupils.

The school has an Eco Committee which encourages more environmentally-minded projects and helps the school protect the planet and promote environmental literacy.

These projects include reusing scrap paper in art projects and reducing use of single-use plastics, to teach pupils about sustainability.

Helping you inspire STEM learning through nature

The primary CREST resource library is full of outdoor activities which can inspire a love of nature, and fit right into the curriculum, so why not use them during this last stretch of the summer term?

Check out our new blog, rounding up all of our CREST Star and SuperStar nature activities.

They’re also a great recommendation for parents who want to keep their children learning  – and entertained - over the summer holidays!

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*This story was also covered in the 6 June 2023 issue of the County Derry Post, and in The Irish News on 7 June.