October 2011: Metabolism and Migration

The Science Club was born of the amazing success of the Dunbar Science Festival earlier this year, when literally thousands of fascinated children, parents, and people of Dunbar were treated to a window into the fantastic world of science. There was a huge demand for the excitement and momentum to carry on throughout the year, and we have finally arrived here, at the first of Dunbar Science Club’s Saturday morning workshop sessions!

We hope everyone who attended enjoyed themselves as much as we did; it certainly looks so from the photographs.

First of all we were off to Hallhill field to talk about heart rates and metabolism, measuring our pulse rates and feeling how warm our bodies were inside our clothes. We talked about food as fuel for the body, and how animals coped in the winter with lack of food. Older children measured their heights and looked at graphs of different animals’ heart rates plotted against their length, finding out where they lay on the curve.

Then we scrambled under the fence onto the pitch to learn about what birds do in the winter, and migration. The children were shown photographs of four species of bird (Swallow, Arctic Tern, Kittiwake, Robin), and then given a slip of paper each with one of the birds on. They then had to run (younger session flapping like a bird too!) across the rugby pitch to one of four points to find out where each of the species migrated to (Africa, Antarctica, North Sea, Dunbar). There was much hilarity and a little competitiveness here, as everyone raced around trying to find their bird’s location.

Migrating across the rugby pitch

All the children gathered together again to discuss a pigeon skeleton, thinking about how it is adapted for its lifestyle, looking at the keel bone for flight, and thinking about how we would have to change our bodies in order to fly too.

Looking at the pigeon skeleton

We then thought about how other animals coped in winter. We all walked across to the woods to talk about other strategies animals, who couldn’t escape the winter might use. Mark had laid a trail of stick arrows for the children to follow through the woods (this was widely rated as the best bit!) to a squirrel’s cache of nuts and other foods in a tree hollow, and then over a log to a hedgehog’s hibernation nest (there was even a stuffed to hedgehog waiting to be found!). We thought and talked about heart rates and other adaptations in hibernating animals. Then it was time to return to Hallhill; the older ones had obviously not tired themselves out enough and were able to have a run on the way back and measure their elevated heart rates.

Thanks to Mark Huxham and Jonny Pearson for leading this excellent adventure, and we’re looking forward to next month’s session: Rockets!

Talking about winter

Walking in the Woods

The balancing log

The hedgehog hide

3 Responses

  1. lucy richards
    lucy richards October 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm |

    It was really interesting and cool! My favourite part was the bit when we measured each others height. I didn’t know that the smaller the animal is the faster their heart beat is. thanks,see you at the next one.

  2. anya richards
    anya richards October 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm |

    I found it interesting and i really liked the nut’s that were buried in the tree stump.I THINK IT WAS EXCELLENT!!!!! I think the walk in the woods was great (but tiring!) I also liked the hegehog house now that was interesting.Thanks,see you next time!!!

  3. Freya McLachlan
    Freya McLachlan October 16, 2011 at 11:30 am |

    I liked being an Arctic tern!
    I am looking forward to rockets!


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