Oak Tree Farm Education Centre Open Day
This is a case study to show how an open day at Oak Tree Farm Education Centre had a positive impact on children and the curriculum they have in schools. The aim of this event was to demonstrate to children the work they do in schools directly links to jobs and careers later in life. Each demonstration was also linked to curriculum such as maths and science.
To start the day, eighty children from Cadishead primary school, Sacred Heart R C Primary School, Fairway Primary School and Fairfield Primary School arrived on coaches to
the Education Centre where we met in the exhibition hall. We spoke to the children and teachers about the day ahead and showed them a video of the animals they might see. We then split the children into two groups and moved on to the Tree Zone where we discussed with the children the job of a Tree Surgeon. Following this, we showed the children all the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and asked them what it was used for and how it could protect us. We then moved on to the tools a Tree Surgeon would use and discussed the differences in weight and effects on the environment between the electric and petrol-powered chainsaws, relating to sustainability. We then demonstrated to the children the chainsaws in action by cutting wedges of wood whilst discussing the differences in sound between the electric and petrol chainsaws. The children were very excited to see the chainsaws in action and were also able to watch a tree being felled and winched across the floor. We then moved on to the chipper where we discussed the weight of the chipper (1,280kg) and how this could be converted to different weights such as 1.28t. we also discussed the length of the chipper (3,561mm) and how this could be converted into meters. Once the children had converted the weight and size we then turned the machine on and chipped some of the trees, which the children thoroughly enjoyed.
We all then moved on to the Creating an Environment Zone which was presented by Mandy, joining us from the company Growing Outside. In this zone Mandy demonstrated to the children various plants and insects and the relationship they have together and explored habitats, for plants and animals. We started by discussing and growing seeds in paper pots in which we touched on recycling, counting, measuring and percentages. We looked at the lifecycle of plants, what they need to grow, what makes a healthy diet and what parts of plants we eat. We also talked about food growing in history and how ancient civilisations invented intelligent ways of growing food to keep their people alive. We then moved on to planting small herb gardens for each school looking at each plant and discussing what it could be used for.
After lunch, the children went for a walk down our one-mile nature trail through native woodland. On their journey the children were introduced to a few points of interest and looked for native wildlife. The first stop was a solar farm on the edge of the walk, here the children looked at the solar panels, their direction and how they worked. It was good for children to see things like this due to usually being used to rural areas. Next on the trail was a root plate system of a fallen tree. The children were able to investigate how tree roots grow outwards rather than down. They were also given some useful information regarding root plates. The next stop on the trail was a badger sett, here the children could see what badger setts look like and tell-tale signs that the sett is active. We discussed with the children everything to do with badgers and their setts such as how they look inside, cubs and terrines. The children were also able to watch a video of the badgers playing at night which was caught from our hidden infrared camera. Along the trail the children were able to see an electrical pylon up close. They learnt about the dangers of electricity and the pylons, how the electricity is carried through them, the voltages they carry and where the electricity comes from. Along the trail the children were encouraged to look at the nature around them, look for animal tracks, investigate the different trees in the woodland and see what wildlife they can spot.
The next zone was the Grass Zone where we looked at the job of a Grounds Keeper or Gardener and what their job entailed. We asked the children about the PPE in this area and what they needed to protect themselves. Next, we discussed some of the tools used in this area such as large triple mowers and small hand pushed mowers then discussed the differences in size for jobs. We also discussed the difference in weight and the effects on the environment between the petrol and electric strimmers and blowers. Here we linked the demonstration to measurements between the mowers and the areas each could cut and how long it would take them to mow a certain area.
There have been many amazing outcomes that have emerged from the open day, here are just a few;
- Introducing children to apprenticeships and to help pupils make a connection between what they learn in the classroom and how it relates to the world of work.
- Connecting children to nature linking to geography, maths, science and history.
- The children also learnt about health and safety and the equipment workers needed to keep them safe whilst working.
- Linking what was being demonstrated to the curriculum in school. This provides the children with a real-life link back to work they do in the classroom.
- Engagement of the children who sometimes have a hard time concentrating in the classroom.
- The demonstration was mostly hands-on and practical which engaged all the children.
There were many good comments from the headteachers and teachers on the day. Some of these include:
“An excellent day, informative and inspiring” – Miss Kayleigh Opdam, Sacred Heart R C Primary School
“It’s been a really fun and inspiring day, it’s great for the children to get a different perspective on the jobs they can do in the future” – Mrs George, Parent
Great Grounds will be holding more school events in the future to promote teaching and learning outside the classroom. We also present smaller tailored demonstrations to suite individual school needs that can be based around a variety of outdoor projects and school outdoor improvements.
If you would like to find out more, contact our Environment Coordinator James Smith by email j.smith@GreatGrounds.co.uk