The Flow Country is an amazing place which offers a great opportuntity for “Real World Learning”. The past, present and future come together when students discover how they are part of a living landscape. The Flow Country for Schools programme takes a place-based education approach, recognizing the great learning resource that the peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland represent.
We currently offer these programmes that look at different aspects of peatlands:
Broad General Education
Citizen Science: Tea Bag Index
The Tea Bag Index is an initiative that gives students a better understanding about how plant material decomposes. By doing a scientific experiment students contribute to scientific knowledge, with worldwide links.
The experimental design encourages students to compare decomposition in peatlands with a different soil type. At the heart of the learning is the concept of the Carbon Cycle. The characteristics of peatlands are then highlighted, and placed in the wider context of climate change.
Young Reporters Scotland
Peatlands are hugely important for mitigating climate change as well as for biodiversity. But balancing decisions about life and work in the peatlands with the demands of sustainable land use can be challenging. Young Reporters Scotland is an opportunity for students to report on such challenges through a choice of media. Students carry out this project in groups, and can enter their work in a national competition.
Finding out what is going on in the Dubh Lochan
The Flow Country for Schools can supply introductory lessons and facilitate fieldwork. Background material on the environmental issues facing peatlands is provided to get students started and provide some inspiration. Part of this project can be carried out by students independently, outside timetabled hours.
Peatlands and Climate Field Project
PCFP aims to give senior students a better understanding of peatlands in relation to climate regulation and change. It is based on Moorland Indicators of Climate Change Initiative (MICCI) which has successfully run in National Parks throughout Britain since 2008.
Students conduct fieldwork in their local peatlands, using established techniques for sampling and data gathering. Their samples and fieldwork results are then sent to a research institute. Their work will be collated with data from other participating schools and then used for analysis. In this way, students contribute to our understanding of climate change and the current state of the peatlands.
Project staff provide all materials, introduce the project and lead the outdoor fieldwork. Staff can also lead or help with the class based learning.
SQA course integration
For S4-S6, we can offer learning which ties in with SQA Units in Geography and Environmental Science. It is also possible to develop and offer learning (e.g. fieldwork) for Biology, History, and other courses, such as Art. Staff can also join you in the classroom, providing a local context for core topics as sustainable development, climate change, ecology and physical geography.
SQA identifies the local environment as a major resource for courses, and local peatlands are ideal for conducting practical fieldwork. Project staff are happy to assist or lead in delivering learning that allows students to complete practical research, demonstrate fieldwork techniques, and develop skills in scientific enquiry. The table below shows an example of Course Units for which class-based and outdoor learning can be provided: