For over a decade – Andrew Smith (a qualified school teacher, arachnologist, writer, field collector and natural history film director) has been coming into primary schools, secondary schools, special schools, nurseries and libraries with his exotic and interactive Minibeast and Rainforest Workshops. By exotic, we mean that as Andrew Smith spends one month abroad, every year, collecting tropical insects and spiders, we promise you that he will turn up with a host of astonishing animals. All of which, will mesmerise the group and supply you with stimulating material for hours of follow-up work. And yes – you can film Andrew and use the material for additional audio visual support projects in your classroom.
Andrew’s Science Days
You can be assured that having been a school teacher for 22 years, he will strive to ensure that every workshop is national curriculum linked, exciting and is relevant to what is going on in your classroom.
All of the animals that are used in Andrew Smith’s workshops are chosen for their suitability for working with children (both mainstream and special needs) and much thought goes into the health and safety of both the children and the animals concerned. We do not use giant reptiles, which are capable of inflicting painful bites (and reinforce negative attitudes), we do not put snakes around children’s shoulders/necks and we would never place a tarantula spider on child’s hand. This, of course, is not only good practise but also common sense – and, in today’s world, we understand that professionalism is everything and health and safety must be paramount. Nevertheless we take great care to ensure that your children will not miss out on safe, exciting and very rewarding interactive encounters with live reptiles, amphibians and an astonishing collection of invertebrates – most of which they would normally only encounter in a media context. Only a classroom teacher will understand the sense of wonderment that fills a room as her/his charges gaze mesmerised at a collection of hermit crabs, as they emerge from their shells – or a particularly withdrawn child gleefully holds an Australian dolly lizard in her arms or has a beautiful small corn snake glide through her fingers. Your children will even stroke the gorgeously hairy legs of a tarantula spider – but the spider (one of a number of very mature Mexican ladies) is cupped in Andrew’s hand and only the legs spill over to be touched. That is what we mean by professional and why you can be assured that when you hire a teacher, you can expect him to deliver what other teachers want.
Habitats and basic adaptation: With much emphasis on a wide range of habitats we present a whole host of different animals and demonstrate how they have slowly changed over great periods of time in order to adapt, evolve, survive and reproduce in their environment. This workshop basically revisits and dramatically redevelops ideas that were explored in our earlier locomotion and habitat workshops.
Classification – invertebrates: This workshop briefly explores the historical background of classification and briefly discusses Carl Linnaeus and the Curiosity Cabinets of Europe’s wealthy eighteenth century merchant elite and the first attempt to sort out all the world’s animals and plants into groups. After comparing the children favourably with a toad, we then kick off with an enormous collection of invertebrates – introducing the children to new words such exoskeleton and arthropods, as we discover differences between snails, millipedes, crabs, insects and arachnids. We even look at different types of insects – those with three stages and those with four stages to their lives – touching upon metamorphosis when we discuss the latter. You will not be disappointed at our collection of cockroaches, stick insects and tropical beetles and that’s before we show you our West African forest scorpion and Mexican tarantula.
Food Chains, Food Webs and Food Pyramids: Using an exciting range of animals Andrew demonstrates how the sun, plants, herbivores and carnivores are inextricably linked in a given habitat or ecosystem. Key ideas are introduced such as photosynthesis, and the notion that energy passes through the food chain in decreasing waves as the predators grow larger and range over greater distances in search of food. We also discuss food webs and with the class create a food pyramid.
Adaptation: This is one of our most popular and exciting workshops, being red in both tooth and claw. With a wide range of fascinating animals Andrew explores the whole concept of adaptation and survival – the ability to adapt, evolve and change – linking this idea with four key themes, habitats, food chains, reproduction and time. Key ideas, words and concepts are introduced along the way – including Charles Darwin, extinction, common ancestor and natural selection – we demonstrate this idea with a most fascinating gecko!
If you are interested in a Science Day or a Science Workshop at or near your school, please contact Keeley Ferguson at Authors Abroad – email@example.com