Maltby Academy has been successful in an application to the Royal Society, for a grant to set up a partnership with the University of Sheffield. This exciting project has been designed by Dr Naylor in the MA science department and Dr Nicola Hemmings who is a post-graduate research scientist in the Animal and Plant Science department at the University of Sheffield.
Over the past few years, Dr Hemmings has worked with a large number of schools, including Maltby Academy, and her outreach work has recently been recognised with the 2014 Science Communication Award from The Society of Biology.
The aim of this project is to set-up a long-term ecological study site at Maltby Academy. The ultimate aim is to provide for generations of Maltby students the opportunity to engage with real behavioural ecology projects. As well as igniting a passion for natural history, the approach will integrate technology, maths, computing, geography and other disciplines into a practical biology framework.
Year 7 and Year 12 students will establish a “field laboratory” around the Maltby Academy site, to allow them to test hypotheses about wild bird behaviour that they will create themselves and to develop a range of practical biology skills, including field observation, experimental design, data collection and interpretation. This will be achieved by setting up several nest boxes around the Academy site with webcams. Working directly with a range of field ornithologists at all levels, including undergraduate zoologists and active field researchers, students will learn independent research skills and the importance of wildlife monitoring. The students will also be invited to the University of Sheffield to share their data with the scientists, with the ultimate aim of getting some data published in a scientific journal.
The project will start this term in collaboration with the technology department and an after school club of year 7 students will start making the nest boxes and then will help to set them up around the Academy site. The monitoring of the boxes and visits from the scientists will begin in September 2015.