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Earth Day 2022 - Creatures Great and Small

On Earth Day, we came together to focus on the plight of the world’s largest land animal, the African Elephant, as well as some of the smaller creatures found on Earth, from birds to butterflies, bees, and a host of other pollinators.

Our day began with an assembly led by Saba Douglas-Hamilton, from the charity Save The Elephants (STE). Saba is a Kenyan wildlife conservationist, anthropologist and television presenter who, together with her family, runs Elephant Watch Camp in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve. In a packed 20-minute Zoom call we learnt so much about the work of STE and we held a breaktime bake sale to raised funds for one of the charity’s initiatives that helps limit conflict between elephants and humans with the aid of the African bee! We had the most amazing collection of cakes, many in wonderful bee and elephant shapes.

In thirty sessions across all six year groups, pupils took part in practical initiatives ranging from creating seed pots, bug hotels and bird feeders to planting raised beds, making and placing bird boxes and solitary bee homes, creating mini ponds and digging a hibernaculum.  We planted seedlings to raise in the polytunnel and greenhouse and filled planters and raised beds with plants to tempt pollinators. We included dedicated areas of longer grass together with a wildflower patch to help insects thrive.

The pupils learnt about the work of pollinators; during our sessions we discussed our reliance on them for so much of our food production. We discovered more about natural resources that are harnessed in food making and the consequent importance of avoiding food waste. Our catering team and suppliers held sessions with the children about local and seasonal food and demonstrated how quick and easy it is to produce a nutritious meal from a handful of local ingredients. Our lunchtime menu championed Scottish produce and our pupils learnt more about what, where and when we are growing.

Some of the sessions involved working on environmental posters and canvas postcards. We painted the sunset landscapes of Kenya in a homage to the elephants of Samburu and created beautiful bee cards and elephant posters.

Two year groups headed off campus: our 1st Form pupils walked to the nearby Royal Botanic Garden where they learnt about native species whilst a year group of younger pupils went to see the amazing work of the Granton Community Gardeners, who have created gardens that feed and nurture their local community.

We had experts joining us from Edinburgh Zoo for a virtual session that focussed on little and large, mini beasties and rhinos, and the team from Wild Outdoors lead two fantastic sessions, involving us making and installing bird boxes as well as a variety of habitats for insects.

We learnt so much during the day that we’ll take with us into our home gardens and we will build on this work in the weeks and months to come.