More than just a (work) experience!
Jess did a fantastic job with fellow student Miles, as they spent a week with us on work experience. This is her blog:
Having just finished my AS level exams, I started a week’s work experience at the Isis Education Centre helping with teaching the classes that came every day.
Activities ranged from pond dipping with Year 7s to meadow sweeping with Year 5s, sending promotional postcards advertising charity runs to local gyms as well as occasionally helping with cleaning up the surrounding environment (and looking for a lost quadrat in an acre of grassland). Luckily the weather stayed warm and dry so most of the sessions took place in the beautiful grounds, making the day feel more like leisure than work.
Pond dipping took place on-site, where many organisms such as baby newts, water boatmen and pond skaters were captured for a few minutes to help students analyse and investigate the wildlife. While the creatures seemed somewhat confused, they were let back into the water unharmed at the end.
In the mornings, I helped set up the classrooms for the schools as well as clearing up some of the litter that is sometimes left behind from events that also take place on the grounds. Items found include two footballs, a thousand pieces of glitter (fabulous!) and a boomerang.
When in the meadows, children used large nets to find and capture insects hidden in the long grass to then put them in a pooter (plastic pot). Ladybird larvae, grasshoppers, shield bugs, caterpillars, aphids and moths are just some examples of the bugs found. My job was to help the classes catch and look at the insects (without them getting squashed) and to tidy up at the end to minimise the number of pooters abandoned in the grass at the end for another group to find.
As a student studying both Geography and Biology, the content covered was well within my range of understanding, giving me good opportunity to assist the classes with their work, as well as being able to answer questions and gain experience in teaching and communication. Not only was this enjoyable, but it also gives me something to talk about on my CV (yesss!!).
All in all, I would definitely recommend applying for work experience or volunteering at the Isis Education Centre in Hyde Park as not only is it a really good excuse to relive the childhood fun of pond dipping but also counts as valuable experience in terms of ecology and teaching. The system of having classes outside gives a visual and practical aid to learning while encouraging participants to get involved hands on.
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