The University of Stirling is working with Polli:Nation, a UK-wide biodiversity project, to get schools across Britain to help save and protect the dwindling pollinating insect population by transforming their grounds and community spaces.
The £1.4million Polli:Nation project, developed by the charity Learning through Landscapes and sector partners, will equip children and local communities with the tools and skills to help scientists build a picture of the state and potential of habitats for pollinators. Grounds for Learning, the Scottish wing of Learning through Landscapes, based in Stirling University Innovation Park, helps oversee the project in Scotland.
The project evaluation and research is being led by Educational Researcher, Andy Ruck, under the supervision of Dr Greg Mannion from the School of Education.
"One of the main drivers of the decline in pollinating insects, like the bee, is thought to be the loss of natural and semi-natural habitats. This project will allow schools to play a key role in protecting these pollinator-friendly habitats and will teach young people how to make changes to their local environments to allow these precious insects to thrive and survive.
"I'll be researching the ways in which a project like Polli:Nation can be harnessed into school curricula to meet environmental education goals. I will use visual data collection methods to evaluate whether Polli:Nation as a whole has achieved its desired educational outcomes."
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded £1.4m to the project.
Drew Bennellick, HLF's Head of Landscape and Natural Heritage, said:
"The huge contribution that our pollinators make to the country often goes unacknowledged but recent research has shown that they not only help our environment flourish but also have a real economic impact. We need to do all we can to halt the decline in pollinator habitats and schools can play a crucial role in turning the tide.
"The project reaches an impressive 260 schools nationwide giving it the potential to make a real difference. But it will also equip children with the skills and knowledge to connect to nature, something which HLF sees as invaluable if we are to protect our pollinators for the future."
The secondary and primary school project gives pupils direct hands-on experiences; from creating vertical green walls and night-blooming flower beds to lobbying to change school maintenance regimes and debating pesticide use. Pupils will learn about the role pollinating insects play in eco system services and be able to use this information in the choices and actions they take.