Edinburgh primary school children receive award for citizen science.

13 Feb 2019 | No. 2019-06

Pupils at Broughton Primary School have been recognized by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and EDF Energy for their contribution to What’s Under Your Feet?, a national citizen science project.

BBC Winterwatch presenter Chris Packham visited the school in Edinburgh to thank the pupils for their work on What’s Under Your Feet?, a unique citizen science project to understand how climate affects the number of invertebrates in the soil. The children took part in the What’s Under Your Feet? project, digging up a small part of the school playing field and identifying and counting any invertebrates they found, with the aim of helping scientists at the BTO understand more about these incredibly important creatures.

Hundreds of schools across Britain have taken part in the project and have provided a huge amount of information about the numbers of invertebrates that live under our feet, such as earthworms, beetle grubs and ants, and how they vary through the year, and with the weather and climate.

Already this project has shown how the numbers of earthworms in the surface of the soil declines during the summer, and is linked to rainfall, potentially affecting the ability of birds that feed on them to find food. This work is now helping BTO scientists investigate whether there is a link between the abundance of these soil invertebrates, and declines in some of our bird populations.

Chris Packham, said, “I am in awe of these children, I would have loved to have had What’s Under Your Feet? when I was their age. Digging up the school playing field and rummaging through the soil for the animals that live there is my idea of heaven, and contributing to a national science project whilst doing it. These children are very deserving of their recognition.”

Blaise Marty, Research Ecologist at BTO, said, “These children have done an amazing job collecting the data they have. In doing the dig, counting the creatures they have found and submitting all this information, the children have become young scientists. The information they have collected has not only produced a published, scientific paper in an international journal, but will add to a much bigger picture that may be able to help us identify what needs to be done to turn around the fortunes of some of our best loved birds, such as Starlings, Song Thrushes and Mistle Thrushes. They really deserve this award and I can’t thank them enough for all they have done.”

Robyn Thorn, EDF Energy’s Education Programme Manager, said, “We’ve received a lot of really positive feedback from teachers about this activity, but it was fantastic to see first-hand just how fired up the children of Broughton Primary School were about it. Since the start of this school year alone over 350 schools from across the UK have joined in, but the more information we can get for the scientists, the better.”
 
If you would like to take part or for further information, please visit the Pod https://jointhepod.org/campaigns/whatsunderyourfeet2018

Contact Details

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Media Manager)
Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5:30pm Mon-Thurs), (9am to 5pm Friday)
Mobile: 07585 440910
Email: press [at] bto.org ()

Images are available for use alongside this News Release. 
Please contact images [at] bto.org quoting reference 2019 - 06

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews. 
Please contact us to book an interview. Office:01842 750050

Notes to editors

1. The What's Under Your Feet?
 citizen science project is calling on schools across the UK to help find out what’s living in the soil beneath their playing fields, or local green space, for an important scientific study for the British Trust for Ornithology. The experiment will look to map connections between weather, invertebrate abundance and birds - to test the hypothesis that our changing climate is having an impact on the UK's bird population. 

2. About The Pod
The Pod, EDF Energy’s  award winning environmental schools programme is a completely free resource (www.jointhepod.org) It aims to engage young people (aged 4 to 14) on energy, science and sustainability by providing free curriculum-linked activities and materials for teachers.
 
Since its launch in 2008, the Pod has registered over 22,000 schools and engaged with school children from across the UK, as well as schools in 56 other countries.  The Pod works closely with Eco-Schools to ensure Pod activities automatically count towards a school’s application for Eco-Schools Bronze, Silver, and Green Flag accreditation. The programme also works closely with the Met Office, Wastebuster and the British Trust for Ornithology to design and deliver its content and resources.   

    
3. The BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.

4. About EDF Energy, EDF Energy is the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity, meeting around one-fifth of the country’s demand and supplying millions of customers and businesses with electricity and gas.
 
It generates electricity with eight nuclear power stations, wind farms, one gas and two coal power stations, as well as with combined heat and power plants.
 
EDF Energy is leading the UK's nuclear renaissance with the construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C. This will provide low carbon electricity to meet 7% of UK demand. The project is already making a positive impact on the local and national economy, British industry, as well as boosting skills and education. EDF Energy also invests in a range of low carbon technologies including renewables and battery storage. It is applying research and development expertise to improve the performance of existing generation and developing the potential of new technologies.
 
The company provides gas and electricity for more than 5 million customer accounts and is the biggest supplier of electricity by volume in Great Britain and the largest supplier to British business. It offers innovative energy systems for commercial customers and digital innovation for customers at home.  EDF Energy has launched its own innovation accelerator, Blue Lab, which focuses on making customers’ lives easier.
 
To find out more about the UK's energy challenges look at www.edfenergy.com/energyfuture/.