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BTO Schools Science Projects

Schoolchildren gearing up for the big dig

This June schoolchildren across Britain will take part in one of the biggest science projects of its kind, helping scientists at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) understand how important the tiny animals that live under our feet are for many of our birds.

Pupils of Thetford Grammar School taking part ©Sue Roochove

As part of the What’s Under Your Feet? project, school playing fields across the nation will be turned into living biology laboratories as the children dig-up 30cm x 30cm squares of soil and record every tiny creature they find.

Dr James Pearce-Higgins, Director of Science at the BTO, said, “The children taking part in this research provide a unique opportunity to collect the largest dataset of soil invertebrates anyone has ever seen, which scientists at the BTO will then be able to use to determine the role, if any, these animals have in the declines of many of our birds.

The What’s Under Your Feet? project is a partnership between the BTO and EDF Energy and is expected to engage over 15,000 schoolchildren in biological monitoring during the next two years, the results of which will be written up and published in scientific papers.

Dr Pearce-Higgins added, “We know that many of our birds feed on the invertebrates that live in our soil, what we don’t know is how dense the populations of these soil-living animals are in different parts of the country, or how they might respond to climate change, and it is really important we get a handle on this. Even though they are small they underpin the lives of many larger animals and thanks to the army of schoolchildren taking part it looks like we might be able to do just this.The success of the project hinges on schools taking part and submitting their data to the BTO, take part submit your data and make a difference."

For more information, resources for schools and to sign-up your class, please visit the Pod Website

Paul Stancliffe - BTO Media

20th June 2017