Living things and their habitats , Celebrating scientists
What do you know about this scientist? Can you deduce anything from the photographs? The Who Is…? activities introduce children to a diverse range of scientists and engineers. Find out about their work and how this links to the primary curriculum.
Run the activity
If you are using this activity to teach about the Climate Challenge, think about the types of Positive Action that would suit your school and children. Prepare the materials you might need before the lesson.
1. Begin to discuss the question Who Is..? by introducing Mya-Rose Craig as a scientist and asking children what they think she does. Working in a small group or pair, can they look for clues about them in the photographs. These prompts may help you:
- Do you think she is alive today?
- Is there anything in the photographs which gives you a clue about the type of science she is involved in?
- Mya-Rose’s favourite bird is a harpy eagle. What birds do you like and why?
2. Share your ideas with the class. Did everyone agree?
3. Read the Background Science (you could do this as a class) to find out more about their life.
Top Tips:How to run Who Is? activities
When teaching children about the Climate Challenge, it is important that we give them the facts (age appropriately and sensitively). During your discussion, allow time for children to express their thoughts and feelings and have them validated.
Dr Mya-Rose Craig is an ornithologist, environmentalist, writer, speaker and broadcaster. As a child, Mya-Rose was taken out into nature by her parents, who are conservationists. She has always been interested in wildlife and nature, and enjoyed watching different species. Her older sister loved birds, so she decided to love birds too! The photograph above shows her favourite bird, the harpy eagle.
Mya-Rose Craig became inspired to become the Birdgirl when, at age 11, she started a blog about birds and began recording the birds that she saw on bird lists on the internet. Mya-Rose has travelled all around the world with her binoculars at the ready (as shown in the photograph above). She enjoys both birding (watching birds that are in their natural habitat) and twitching (travelling across the country or world to observe rare birds that may have migrated).
There are nearly 10,000 different species of birds. Birds are vertebrates with wings and feathers. Most birds can fly, but a few species are flightless. Instead of teeth, birds have beaks or bills that they use for building nests, feeding their young, cleaning their feathers, defending themselves and eating. Birds need habitats where they can obtain food easily, have access to water, and can create a shelter for nesting and mating. Birds hatch from eggs, and many build nests to protect their eggs and young from predators. Birds can live in different types of habitats including costal, wetlands, farmland, meadows, woodlands and even back gardens. At 17 years old, Mya-Rose became the youngest person to have seen half of the world’s birds.
Dr Mya-Rose Craig has published two books and several articles. She has been interviewed on television and radio, and has spoken at numerous conferences on the future of our world. When she was 8 years old, she started campaigning against palm oil, plastic and oil pollution, climate change and animal rights. The amount of plastic littering our oceans is increasing. Birds ingest plastic because the small particles look like prey, it floats and can sometimes smell like food. The number of seabirds dying as a result of plastic is estimated at 1 million per year.
Mya-Rose is half-Bangladeshi and is very passionate about people of all colours going into nature. In 2015, she organised a nature camp to encourage girls and people of colour to attend. She blogged about this and put it on social media, before starting her charity Black2Nature which continues to run nature camps.
Take it further
After giving children the information they need about Climate Challenge issues, give them time to express how they feel, empathising with them and validating their feelings before taking it further.
Learn more about Dr Mya-Rose Craig, her interest in the natural world and her work with birds in this video. Watch this interview with Mya-Rose at 11 years old on how she became interested in birds. Here Mya-Rose calls for action to help solve the climate challenge and here she talks to Global Action Plan about her journey to become a climate activist.
Watch this film for guidance on bird watching with your class.
For older children, working with a partner, can children write an answer to the question, Who is Mya-Rose Craig? An extra challenge could be to use less than 25 words (and more than 10). Younger children can just discuss the question, Who is Mya-Rose Craig?
Take part in the RSPB’s Big Schools Birdwatch and Big Garden Birdwatch. Children can track which birds they have seen using their survey sheets. Your class may want to go onto to achieve a Wild Challenge Award for going out and connecting with nature.
You may want to go on a wildlife hunt in your local area where children take photographs or draw what they see. These spotter sheets can be used to help identify and name different wildlife. Children could use their photographs to create classification keys. This BBC Teach lesson explains how to create and use classification keys of birds, with accompanying activity sheets.
Find out about other diverse scientists, in science-related jobs, using A Scientist Just Like Me resource.
Listen to Mya-Rose Craig reading ‘The Promise’ by Nicola Davies. Children could be inspired to create a collage showing how their school grounds could be improved to attract more wildlife.
Younger children could listen to this reading of Otto Blotter bird spotter by Graham Carter.
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Hear the sound of different birds’ wings flapping in the Sound of silence. Feathered friends Odd One Out compares three different birds. A home for baby birds looks at different nests.
Discuss with the children what could be done to help and if there is a positive action they can take themselves. Explain that when lots of people carry out small positive changes, it can have a big impact overall.
Children could find out about the effect of plastic pollution on the environment and more specifically on birds. This film from the Plastic Soup Foundation provides a summary. Then ask children to think about how we can reduce our plastic waste. Children could prepare an assembly to share their research and encourage others to reduce their plastic waste.
Children could take steps to improve their school’s grounds or local area to encourage more birds into the habitat. They could make a completely biodegradable bird feeder using an orange. They could plant a tree, shrub or even a hedgerow as these provide shelter, nesting sites and attract insects. The Woodland Trust provide free tree packs to help boost tree planting in the UK.
LondonAssembly via Wikimedia
Murilo Gualda via Canva