Typically completed by 5-11 year olds, CREST Star and SuperStar challenges relate to everyday experiences. Children complete eight activities to gain a CREST Award, with each activity taking between 45 minutes and one hour to complete.
The activities are designed to be easy-to-run and low-cost. You don’t need to be a teacher, have a science background or have access to specialist equipment to run them. The packs contain helpful hints and tips for you to use, explaining the scientific themes and offering guidance on conversation topics for your children.
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The OPAL Biodiversity Survey By The Open University with Hedgelink Introduction Biodiversity is the variety of life. Hedgerows can be important havens for this, both in the countryside and in our cities. We want to look at the condition of our hedges and see if some are better than others for wildlife. For example, are hedges in the countryside home to more plants and animals than ones in urban areas? Which hedges support the most biodiversity? By taking part in the OPAL Biodiversity Survey and contributing your results, you can help us find out more about the hedges in your local area and you can learn more about this habitat and its importance to wildlife. About the Biodiversity Survey There are four activities in the Survey: • Activity 1 What does the hedge look like? • Activity 2 Is the hedge a source of food for wildlife? • Activity 3 What wildlife can you find? • Activity 4 What else is living in the hedge? Please do Activity 1 and as many of the others as you can. Instructions for carrying out all the activities are found in this guide. The workbook contains more background information and space to write down your results. This symbol shows you when you need to write something down. The survey starts here You will need • This field guide, the workbook and the guide to common invertebrates in hedges. • A tape measure. • A pale-coloured collecting container to catch any invertebrates which fall from the hedge. You could use a tray, sheet or large piece of paper, or alternatively a dustpan and brush to sweep invertebrates off the hedge. Useful items to take outside (if you have them) • A map and/or Global Positioning System (GPS) device if available. • A mobile phone (in case of emergencies). • A camera. • A spy pot – see page 6 of the Field Notebook. • A pooter – see page 6 of the Field Notebook. Remember – please be careful not to harm the environment or any wildlife you find. When you have identified the invertebrates, carefully return them to where they were found. When you have finished your survey, please take all your equipment home with you. Safe fieldwork Exploring hedges is great fun. However, it is important to be safe especially near roads. oo Young children must be supervised as hedges may have prickles and thorns. oo Do not do this survey on your own. oo If you find broken glass, litter with sharp edges or other undesirable objects find another spot to do the survey. oo Cover any open cuts before starting and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and especially before eating. More safety guidance can be found on page 5 of the Field Notebook. Read this before you start. Choosing a hedge If you don’t know of one near you, there are some ideas on page 4 of the Field Notebook to help you. Make sure that you have the landowner’s permission if required. Marking out the start and end of the 3 m stretch Choose a 3 metre stretch which is typical of the whole hedge. Mark out the start and end of the 3 m stretch before you start the activities. Activity 1: What does 15 minutes the hedge look like? Record information about the hedge by answering Questions 1-15 on pages 10-12 of the Field Notebook. Use the photographs on the other side of this guide to help you. You could also take a photograph of your hedge and upload it with your results to the OPAL website. Activity 2: Is the hedge a 10 minutes source of food for wildlife? Use the images on the other side of this guide to help you identify the shrubs you find in the hedge. Record your findings on page 12 of the Field Notebook (Question 16). Estimate the total number of flowers, berries and nuts within the 3 m stretch of hedge. Be aware that some of the berries are poisonous to humans. Estimate the amount of food in the hedge Record your findings on page 12 of the Field Notebook (Question 17). If you are not sure of an identification then post a description, ideally with a photograph, on www.iSpot.org.uk and someone will help you to identify it. Activity 3: What wildlife can 15 minutes you find? Catching the invertebrates You can catch invertebrates in the hedge by 1 Either gently shaking the branches above your container so that the invertebrates fall in 2 Or using a dustpan and brush to gently sweep the outer leaves of the hedge to knock the invertebrates into the dustpan Take care not to disturb nesting birds. Using a palecoloured container Using a dustpan and brush Identifying the invertebrates Use the guide to common invertebrates in hedges chart to help identify what you have found. Record your findings on page 13 of the Field Notebook (Question 18). If you are not sure of an identification then post a description, ideally with a photo, to www.iSpot.org.uk and someone will try to help you name it. If you have not got a photograph then please give as much information as possible, (especially if it has wings, the number of legs, the colour and any special markings). Activity 4: What else is 10 minutes using the hedge? Use the tape measure in your pack to measure the size of all holes in the ground along your stretch of hedge. Record your findings on page 13 of the workbook (Question 19). Record any animals (other than invertebrates) or plants you identify (Question 20). You can either name the species or simply put ‘bird’ or ‘mouse’. Now complete your survey To complete the survey, either enter your results on the OPAL website www.OPALexplorenature.org, or send your recording sheets back to us by using the Freepost address given on page 6 of the workbook. The results will be used to calculate an index of your hedge’s importance for wildlife. If you enter your results online this information will appear instantly. As the survey progresses, more results will be added, so please return to the web page regularly to see how your hedge compares. Thank you for taking part and adding your results to the OPAL Biodiversity Survey. The survey ends here Measuring holes along the hedge Designed by FSC Publications www.field-studies-council.org What do your results mean? The activities in the OPAL Biodiversity Survey tell us about the importance of hedges for wildlife. A national survey like this has not been done before so your results will help us find out more about hedges throughout England. You may have collected information from a hedge that has never been investigated before, especially if it is in an urban area. Activity 1 is designed to collect information about the size, location, surroundings and management of each hedge. A score will be calculated from your results to show the condition of the hedge. For wildlife the ideal is a continuous, dense hedge of bushes with occasional trees. The bushes provide cover and food for small birds, mammals and invertebrates; whilst the trees provide nesting sites for larger birds and protection for a range of invertebrates. Hedges which are cut too often, or not often enough, have greatly reduced leaf and berry production. Credits Activity 2 assesses the importance of the hedge as a food source for animals. An estimate of the quantity of food produced by the hedge will be made based on the amount of berry- and nutbearing species present and the condition of the hedge. Some animals and plants are only found where certain hedge bushes grow. Activity 3 shows what invertebrates are living in the hedge. The invertebrates you find can be a food source for birds, mammals and other invertebrates. Although we have chosen the most common types of invertebrate found when sampling a hedge, it is possible you will find many creatures that are not in our guide. For more help with identification, use iSpot www.iSpot.org.uk. Activity 4 assesses the importance of the hedge as a source of shelter and protection. Different animals make holes of different sizes. A hole under 2 cm in diameter is likely to have been made by an insect, 2 – 5 cm by a mouse or vole, 5 – 10 cm by a rat, 10 – 30 cm by a rabbit and over 30 cm by a fox or badger. Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) is about inspiring people to spend more time outdoors exploring the natural world around them. We want to encourage and support people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to enjoy and study wildlife in their local area and to observe and record information about the local environment. OPAL’s research and education programme is delivered through a network of organisations, providing resources, training and events. To find out more please visit our website: www.OPALexplorenature.org. Text: Graham Banwell 1 , Martin Harvey 1 , Jenny Worthington 1 , Jonathan Silvertown 1 , Janice Ansine 1 , Rob Wolton 2 , Jim Jones 3 , Linda Davies 4 , Roger Fradera 4 , Gill Stevens 5 , Simon Norman 6 . Photographs: Graham Banwell, Simon Norman, Jim Jones, Gill Stevens, iStockphoto. 1 Open University, 2 Hedgelink, 3 PTES 4 Imperial College London, 5 Natural History Museum, 6 Field Studies Council. © OPAL 2010, 2013. All rights reserved.