Monday, 13 April 2020

Biodiversity and Barley 2

16th – 20th March, 2020

The children really bought into the project and gave up their lunchtimes to help prep the soil. They were slightly obsessed with the worms and enjoyed creating the “wondrous wall of Wicor” with the turf. They drew scaled diagrams of the plots, using keys to show what was to be planted in each one. Once the ground was thoroughly raked to a fine tilth furrows were created in which the barley was to be sown. Richard had advised us that the furrows should be 10cm apart and at a depth of 3cm. We carefully measured and managed to fit in 21 furrows into the first plot. Each child then “walked the plank” carefully sowing the barley seed 2.5cm apart. We covered it over so the birds couldn’t feast on them!

Preparing and sowing the first plot was a fantastic way to spend the last couple of “normal” days at school before the closure due to Covid-19. The children have been so enthusiastic and committed to the project and being able to gather round it at the end of the day on Friday and celebrate a job well done was something really special.

23rd – 27th March, 2020

But the project continues… with a different set of children. While the school closed for the vast of majority, it remains open for the children of Key Workers and this intrepid bunch were just as keen to get involved. Miss. Moreton had to maintain a social distance this week but, being the dedicated person she is, prepared the furrows for us in advance.

The same number of furrows was created as in the first plot and the barley was sown in the same way. So, once the project was explained, the children were ready to walk the plank, carefully spacing the barley seed at 2.5cm intervals. As there was a mix in ages, all the way from Reception up to Year 6, it was lovely to see the older children helping, guiding and supporting the younger. They ended up taking the lead and were meticulous in ensuring the seed was spaced well.

It was then covered over, and it was time to sow the wildflowers. We used a mix of cornflower and common poppy seeds. The children loved looking at them and comparing the different sizes. To sow them, I took inspiration from the Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel:

“How exactly does one broadcast wildflower seed naturally to achieve Ye Olde Cornfielde effect?...walk into the field, and just fling handfuls of seeds into the air as if I were a declaiming poet…Around and around I wandered, as happy as a sunbeam, throwing seeds to the wind.” P.102

Needless to say, the children (and I) loved this style of seed sowing and it was a pleasure to see the joy on their faces as they threw them to the wind. We trod them in and gave both plots a good water.

Biodiversity and Barley

Helping to launch Bees Needs week in Carnaby Street last year our pupils really enjoyed the activities set up by Reading University. We had a hard job moving them on from the pollinator awareness games and they came back literally buzzing about them to staff, teachers and pupils.

Simon Potts a professor of biodiversity and ecosystem at Reading kindly agreed to help up set up a cereal grain growing trial at Wicor to help us study insect populations among a popular farming food crop. Setting up three plots we will also study the wildflowers we will grow   Our whole school focus this year and beyond is insect decline. We want to help our local community learn more about it, learn how we can make a difference and gather some hard facts and research.

We will be growing barley and have Farmer Richard on hand to help with advice on preparation of the ground, supplying the same seed he uses and how and when to sow.

The plot was measured out on a blustery March day and plans are being drawn up…

After a week of serious turf stripping and digging we were ready to get the right tilth!

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Fish Keeper Fry - water change

After cleaning the filter we used the gravel cleaner to carefully clean the gravel. We carefully sucked at the gravel, removing dirt, debris, uneaten food and other unwanted waste. The water was syphoned through the tube into a bucket.
We were then ready to replace the water. We treated the water with a conditioner and refilled the tank using jugs.
Our fish now have a cleaner habitat. We finished by checking the water levels for ammonia and nitrogen. The water measured as safe for the fish.

Fish Keeper Fry - Cleaning

We noticed from testing the water that is was time to clean the filter.
We removed the filter and washed it out in a clean bucket.
We were amazed how much the water changed colour as we squeezed the filter.

Fish Keeper Fry Harlequins

We added new fish today - Harlequins.
They are silver and grey. We found out they will fit in with our Zebra Danios and Platies because they prefer to swim in the middle of the tank. The Zebra Danios swim at the top and the Platies swim everywhere. This means everyone has space and can get to the food. No arguments in our tank!

Friday, 14 February 2020

Fish Keeper Fry Platies

We were all very excited in year 3 to welcome our next group of fish; four Platies. The children worked well together to balance the fish in the tank whilst they were still inside their bag - it is important to acclimatise the fish to their new tank.
They then tested the water and checked the results against the chart. This all gets recorded by the children on our log sheet.
The children then cut open the bag and released the Platies to meet the Zebra Danios.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Fish Keeper Fry Zebra Danios

Year 3 are the proud owners of a tank and a selection of Zebra Danio fish!
The children have learned how to wash gravel, test the water levels and even plant the weeds ready for the fish.