At our Freaky Nature with Bugs event this half-term (28 May – 2 June 2013), get the low down on the good, the bad and the ugly of the bug world; discover which bugs are plant-friendly and which definitely aren’t!
With long summer days on the horizon, get the kids playing outdoors with these educational toys – all on the theme of bugs! We’ve chosen 10 ideal gifts for young kids, which will see them interacting with the natural world, from snail kits to pocket microscopes.
Many have been specially designed by CBBC’s The Really Wild Show’s presenter Nick Baker. Even better, lots of them come in at £10 or under.
1. Bug safari, £10
Take your kids on safari in the back garden, with this kit full of useful tools such as bug tongs, a magnifying pot and a field lens. This educational toy encourages children to get up close to common bugs like woodlice, snails and ladybirds.
2. Snail world, £10
Set up a snail-friendly home and see right inside their fascinating world. Perfect for budding naturalists, Nick Baker’s kit contains all you need to observe and study snails, including a clear tank, tweezers and a guide.
3. Ant world, £15
See inside the amazing world of ants and discover their abilities to build tunnels and move mountains! This kit gets kids setting up a see-through home for ants, where they can observe their behaviour.
4. Enviro magnifier, £6.50
Suitable for younger kids, this colourful magnifying glass gives kids the chances to see bugs, leaves, flowers and more in great detail – getting them excited about the natural world in their own garden or street.
5. Pocket microscope, £11.50
A must for young naturalist in the making, this pocket microscope allows older children to see how the natural world appears up close. With a built-in light and some specimen slides, it’s ideal for looking at everything from leaves to bugs to samples of water.
6. Triop world, £10
Kids will be amazed by this opportunity to grow their own pond monsters. Simply add water to the little packet of ‘dirt’ in this kit to awake these ancient water-dwelling creatures, then watch them grow.
7. Ladybird log, £12.50
This is a great gift for teaching children about nature and encouraging them to study these fascinating bugs in a specially designed home. It’s also helpful for the gardener in the family, because ladybirds eat pesky bugs like greenfly.
8. Bug house, £13.50
Use this bug house to collect bugs from your garden or on nature walks. It’s perfect for housing insects like beetles and worms, where kids can watch them go about their daily adventures, then let them go at the end of the day.
9. Little Explorers’ Gift Bag, £17.50
The ultimate gift for a kid who’s interested in nature, this kit bag gets children playing outdoors, discovering the natural world around them. It includes a pocket microscope, an Eden-themed jotter and pencil for taking notes, a colourful drinks bottle to keep rehydrated, and a fun keyring.
10. Carnivorous plants seed kit
Okay, so this isn’t strictly for collecting or observing bugs, but these carnivorous plants do actually eat insects. The kit includes a mixture of seeds so that children can grow Venus flytraps, pitcher plants and sundews.
We’ve just shared an inspirational weekend with over 50 community-minded individuals from around the country, who joined us at the Eden Project for a three-day event on how to create positive change in their neighbourhoods.
Participants travelled from as far afield as Edinburgh and Manchester to take part in the free residential event and pick up new ideas, techniques and inspiration for community initiatives back home.
The weekend saw the enthusiastic group doing everything from learning new techniques to engage community members through play to understanding how to secure community funding. They got to take part in immersive sessions in the Rainforest Biome, our classrooms, as well as on the beach!
What united participants was their determination to make positive changes in their communities, and each person brought with them a real variety of experiences, ranging from throwing an annual Big Lunch get-together to setting up a youth club in their neighbourhood to starting a community garden to running a festival.
The immersive event was the first in a series we’ll be running at the Eden Project and around the UK over the next three years to help 900 people develop skills, build confidence and source ideas for their own community projects.
Funded by the Big Lottery, these Big Lunch Extras events build on the success of The Big Lunch, which has seen millions of people take part in neighbourhood get-togethers over the last five years.
The events are designed to support anyone who wants to create positive change within their community – including those who seek new ideas, techniques and inspiration to initiate something new as well as those looking to take existing community projects to the next level.
The group shared some incredible stories at the weekend, as individuals told us how they’re working to turn their communities around. Many have taken part in The Big Lunch Community Awards and Unltd Awards schemes.
Sarah Haliwell, for example, explained how she has taken a simple Big Lunch event and developed it into a monthly lunch for around 70 people living on her Sheffield estate. Andrew Williams, from Walthamstow, has set up a mentoring and support service for 16-24-year-olds in an area where gang crime is rife.
Having learnt from guest speakers, Eden experts and – most importantly – from each other, participants came away with a brilliant set of practical ideas from sessions focussing on subjects such as engaging locals in projects, getting funding, setting up your own growing scheme – and lots more.
Tamsin Macdonald, from Bramhope near Leeds, emailed us as soon as she left to tell us: ‘I am on the train home now and completely inspired and motivated to get on and make my project work!’
Daphne De Souza, from Vauxhall in London, said: ‘Having just uploaded the pictures and telling my community colleagues all about it, has made me realise again how lucky I was to have been able to attend.’
Mandie and Rob Groves, who’ve run a series of Big Lunches in Stanford-le-Hope, said: ‘We are both still revved up from it and have put into action our plan for the future.’
Take part in Big Lunch Extras
If you’re looking to boost your creative thinking, pick up new skills to create positive change within your neighbourhood, and meet others who are doing the same, a Big Lunch Extras event could be right up your street.
We’re looking for 900 people to take part over the next three years. Joining us means not only coming on one of our residential events at the Eden Project, Cornwall, plus a follow-up regional master class, but also being part of a community of practice that stays in touch to help maintain momentum and enthusiasm and overcome potential barriers together.
Are you a dog owner? You can bring your pet to Eden for the first time over the weekend of 18 and 19 May 2013! Up until then only registered assistance dogs have been allowed in but due to popular demand we’ve decided to relax the rules for that weekend only.
You can bring your dog, at no extra charge, to enjoy the miles of paths within the former china clay quarry but they won’t be allowed in the Biomes or other undercover areas. Dog litter bins and drinking water will be provided, and there will be activities including a display by a police dog-handler.
We’ve always aimed to be dog friendly by providing shaded parking shelters in four car parks. The shelters in Orange car park have a water tap, and stewards supply water to the other three car parks, Melon, Cherry and Lemon.
Eden’s Operations Director Ian Williams said: “Lots of visitors have asked us if we would consider letting dogs in. We will see how Dog Weekend at Eden goes and how it is well received by dog owners and general visitors and will then make a call on whether we have more dog days in the future.”
Eden is confident dogs will behave but is applying a few ground rules for owners.
Dogs should be:
- Kept on a lead at all times.
- With their handlers at all times.
- Only be walked on paths.
- Kept away from play areas.
- Not taken into buildings other than through the Visitor Centre.
Eden’s foraging expert Emma Gunn shares some easy foraged Alexanders recipes. Every part of this wayside plant – also known as horse parsley – can be eaten.
April and May is the perfect time to forage for Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum), a wild food which grows on cliff tops and in seaside hedgerows.
The beautiful, lime green plant was introduced to the UK by the Romans, who called it the ‘pot herb of Alexandria’, because every part of it is edible. People say it tastes similar to angelica and parsley, but there are many different ways of bringing out its flavour.
Recipes for Alexanders
Here are just a few ways to prepare this wild food.
Fresh stems, flowers and leaves
To enjoy these as a fresh vegetable – similar to asparagus – try peeling the stems and boiling them for five to ten minutes, or until tender. Do the same with unripe flower heads, or eat them raw.
Larger leaves can be blanched briefly, while younger ones can be eaten raw.
You can also candy stems like angelica, to use for decorating cakes or to eat as a sweet snack. First, boil the peeled stems in a pan of water and sugar (one cup of each) for 10 minutes. Then drain and lay them on a non-stick parchment that has been covered with caster sugar, and sprinkle some more on top. When they’re dry, shake off the excess sugar and store in a sealed, dry container.
Tempura flower heads
Both the ripe and unripe flower heads can be dipped in tempura batter and deep fried until golden, Japanese style.
The hard black seeds appear later in the year and can be used as a spice, much like black pepper.
Scrub, peel and slice the roots – much like you would with parsnips – toss them in sunflower oil, season, then roast at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes or so, until tender. Remember, you mustn’t dig up plants without the landowner’s permission.
How to forage for Alexanders
Alexanders, also known as Alisanders or horse parsley, grows on cliff tops and in seaside hedgerows. In the spring it produces yellow-green flowers and, in the autumn, black seeds. It grows to a height of 50 to 120cms with a hollow and grooved stem. Always take a good field guide with you – and read Emma’s golden rules of foraging – before you go.
Emma’s golden rules of foraging
- Choose easily recognisable plants
If you’re new to foraging, don’t choose plants that are easily confused with others. Some plants can be poisonous, especially mushrooms, so don’t risk it. As foraging guru Richard Mabey wrote in his brilliant Food for free book, ‘Indigestion brought on by uncertainty about whether you have done yourself in can be just as uncomfortable as real food poisoning!’
- Invest in a good field guide
Take along a guide that includes illustrations or photos, as well as Latin names. These botanical names can give great clues about the plant, such as its habitat. For example, the suffix montana means it grows in the mountains, maritimus denotes that it is found on the coast, halimus in the dunes, while officinalis shows that it is a medicinal plant.
- Keep hygiene in mind
Avoid picking plants which may be dirty or polluted. For example, pick from areas away from the road. Also, don’t gather from low down along a path, where dogs or livestock may have brushed past. Don’t forage straight after a heavy rainfall, when plants in the ground – and shellfish – may be contaminated with run-off from the fields, which can contain chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Always give your leaves, flowers, fruit, nuts and roots a good wash before use.
- Don’t be greedy
Remember, you’re sharing nature’s harvest with wildlife too, so don’t take all of it. Also, be careful not to damage plants. If you only need the leaves, don’t pull them up by the roots; use a pair of secateurs. That way there’ll be lots more to harvest next year too.
- Remember where you found it
Make a note of the lane, field or beach where you found the plant, so that you can come back to that hotspot next year as well.
At our Freaky Nature with Bugs event this half-term (28 May – 2 June 2013), get the low down on the good, the bad and the ugly of the bug world; discover which bugs are plant-friendly and which definitely aren’t!
Pollination is a very important part of the life cycle of plants. Insects, birds, bats and the wind take pollen between flowering plants, which means the plants can make seeds and reproduce (have babies!). The diagram below shows how:
What is pollination?
Learning about the life cycle of plants
We hope that adults will find our diagram useful for teaching children how pollination is crucial to life on Earth. Teachers of Key Stage 2 pupils (aged 8-11 years) should find it useful when teaching the basic elements of the life cycle of plants.
We’re inviting cyclists on bikes of all shapes and sizes to pedal through our iconic site for the first time, this Bank Holiday Monday (6 May 2013). You can arrive at any time in the morning, but to be part of the guided Tour d’Eden, please get to the the Visitor Centre (Eden’s main entrance building) at 11.45am.
The Tour d’Eden will take a route up the hill to Orange Car Park. Cyclists will then circle the Eden outer estate before hitting the downhill route to the Core, riding through the Eden site and then up the steep, winding land train route back to the Visitor Centre. Organisers emphasise that it is not a race, more of a cycling parade. This route is being opened to bikes especially for this day.
Locals’ Annual Pass back for one day only
We already give a discount for cyclists but for one day only, people from Cornwall and Devon – whether they cycle to Eden or not – will be able to take advantage of the return of the Locals’ Annual Pass which allows unlimited entry to Eden for a year, costing just £7.50. Proof of residence and a photo ID is required.
Cyclists who ride to Eden for the event but don’t live in Cornwall or Devon can still take advantage of a specially discounted rate of £15 for adults. Young cyclists aged 16 or under will be admitted free. Everyone who rides their bike to Eden on the day will get a special cyclists’ snack breakfast as part of the entry price.
Programme for the day
From 9 am – arrive at the Visitor Centre and park your bike in the designated area. To enter the Eden Project, if you’re from Cornwall or Devon you can get your Locals’ Annual Pass for £7.50 for year-long admission (proof of address and photo ID required). Cyclists from elsewhere get a special rate of £15.
Cyclists can fuel up for the big ride with complementary snack, available from the Eden Bakery (in the building between the Biomes) with the token you’ll be given when you pay at the Ticketing Desk and identify yourself as a cyclist.
11.45 am – cyclists return to their bikes at the Visitor Centre to prepare for the start of the Tour d’Eden.
12 noon – The parade of cyclists will be led by the Ramon of the Eden Project who will be riding a red bike. Please ride with care and consideration and follow Ramon at all times. Please obey the rules of the road and ride on the left. Eden will have traffic marshals posted along the route. The two-mile route goes around the Eden estate before descending into the pit and finishing back at the Visitor Centre after a steep and snaking ride up the side of the pit.
Other activities for cyclists on the day
10am-2pm – Gary Moger of Revolve Bicycle Works will be offering advice and tips on a variety of bike maintenance issues in the Visitor Centre.
11am-midday – Burn the Curtain theatre company will be running workshops in the Visitor Centre for people to decorate their bikes to look like animals in preparation for the big ride.
Use the Clay Trails!
Riders are being encouraged to come from all corners of the South West and they have the option to use the picturesque clay trails for their route through Eden’s surroundings. Eden, along with Wheal Martyn, Sustrans and a variety of local businesses, agencies and community members have come together to form the Clay Trails Partnership to make sure that the trails are available to cyclists, walkers and horse-riders alike. See the Clay Trails website for maps.
Start initiative’s Be the Start campaign
The Tour d’Eden is part of the Start initiative’s Be the Start campaign. Taking place throughout May, the campaign will help people find out about all the different, simple ways people can live a more sustainable lifestyle and be the start of the better, more sustainable future we all want. Start was inspired by HRH the Prince of Wales and its objective is to present an inspiring picture of a sustainable future.
Our Education Team has just had a great day running a teacher training session at Bosvigo Primary school in Truro, Cornwall, where 22 members of staff turned up a day early for the beginning of term for a very unusual mission….
….to explore a new planet (the playground) on a perilous space mission led by the intrepid Brigadier Barbie and Captain Ken Eden. It was tough journey into outer space, but the teachers survived the journey through the atmosphere – and once through the magic portal things started to take shape nicely.
Together, the space team worked out how to tell the time by making a simple sundial, studied new life forms on the planet and even got down to classifying the strange natural world around them.
This might all sound like a bit of a day off, but it was actually part of a special teacher training session to give Bosvigo’s teachers inspiration on teaching science outdoors. We designed each activity to introduce teachers to new ways of turning complicated subjects into a story that challenges pupils to use a range of skills, but which reaches the same curriculum outcomes as conventional learning methods.
We certainly had fun and the teachers told us the ‘enjoyable and inspirational day’ helped them realise that ‘the possibilities are endless’.
The team at Bosvigo showed that they could let their hair down and get stuck in to a day of muddy adventures – as well as engage in some serious discussion about learning outcomes and the National Curriculum.
Try this at school: Sound maps
Here’s one of the science-related activities that we introduced to the team at Bosvigo. It’s very adaptable and can inspire all sorts of interesting work in the classroom.
Many hunters spend a lot of time sitting still waiting for things to come to them. But this is a way you can hunt down sounds – and it works surprisingly well with the noisiest, most fidgety groups.
Resources you’ll need:
- Small pieces of paper or blank postcards
- Give everyone a blank postcard or small piece of paper and a pen and ask them to draw a cross in the middle of it to represent themself.
- Space the group out and ask them to sit quietly and record the sounds that they hear. If the sound is on the left then mark it on the left, or behind, in front etc.
- You can ask them to draw the thing that makes the sound – or, if you want to stretch them, insist that they draw what the sound looks like.
- You could expand the discussion to talk about a sound landscape, which other animals need sound, how visually impaired people use sound, and even how people who live in quieter places have much better hearing than us!
We love running teacher training days, so if you feel that your school should do more teaching outside take a look at our website or give us a call on 01726 811913 to find out about the different ways we can help – wherever you are in the UK.
Are you a keen leisure walker, wheelchair user, cyclist or horse rider who likes to explore marked/mapped trails? We’d really like to hear from you if you can spare some time to help us with our plans for a website (or maybe other digital resources) for trails in the ‘Clay Country’ which surrounds us here at Eden.
To help us work out how to build the most useful digital resources for potential users of the trails, we’d like to spend around 20 – 30 minutes talking to you about your experience of finding, planning and completing walks/rides on such trails. Where it’s practical, we can arrange the interviews face to face at Eden or in the St Austell area otherwise we can do them over Skype or the phone. In return for your time, we can offer free entry to Eden for yourself and one other person on a day of your choosing.
If you think you may be able to help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you’re interested and we’ll email you back with a few questions to find out more about you. We’ll be aiming to complete the interviews in the week beginning 22nd April. At the time of writing that’s next week so ideally we’d like to hear from you this week so that we can get the interviews planned in.
Come and have a free ride on an electric bike at the Eden Project later this month.
We’re giving visitors the opportunity to test-drive one of these new breeds of vehicle around the Eden Project site at our electric bike show, which runs from Saturday 20 April until Wednesday 24 April 2013.
Based in hilly Cornwall, we’re a big fan of electrically assisted bikes, which can give people that extra boost they need to get up a steep incline – as well as the confidence to take the first steps towards getting fit.
We’ve even got several A2B electric bikes here in the office for staff to get around on.
Janine Kelk, our Sustainable Transport Coordinator, said: ‘I meet lots of people who’d like to cycle more, either to cut costs, cut emissions or get more exercise, but aren’t sure where to start.
‘The new breed of bikes on display at the show demonstrates that an extra boost up hills can give everyone the confidence to get cycling, whatever level of ability they have. With no tax or insurance to pay for, electric bikes are efficient and affordable too.’
Entrance to the show is included in the admission price to Eden – and if you turn up on a bike, on foot or using public transport you get reduced entry to the site!
What’s on at the show
- Test-drive an electric bike: take a spin around our outdoor arena or up one of Eden’s paths, from 10am until 4.30pm each day. Visitors must be aged 14 years or over to drive an electric bike. Helmets provided.
- Check out the latest models: the top manufacturers are bringing their electric assisted bike ranges along, including a recumbent bike; those really kooky ones where the rider cycles in a reclined position.
- Talk to the experts: 12 companies will be there to answer all your questions, including Ocean Cycle from Torpoint and Falmouth-based ICE Trikes.
- Guided bike rides around the Clay Trails: Sustrans is leading a 10-mile bike ride – from Eden to Wheal Martyn Museum and back – on Saturday 20 April at 11am and 2.30pm. Electric and conventional bikes welcome! Book your free place by calling Brian on 07538 639901, and meet the group 10 minutes before the departure time at the bike racks in Eden’s Banana Coach Park.
The low-down on electric bikes
Definition: Electric bikes are basically conventional bicycles which have been adapted to include an electric motor. Cyclists still pedal on electric bikes, but the motor helps them go further than they would under their own power.
Speed: The motor on an electric bike takes you up to 15.5mph, which is a more than ample speed for a general commute. You can of course pedal faster than that or pick up more speed going downhill.
Range: Most electric bike manufacturers claim an average of 20-30 miles before they need charging. This all depends on the weight of the cyclist, the steepness of hills, the wind, how well the tyres are pumped up, and how much you pedal!
Charging: On average, it takes four to six hours to charge an electric bike battery using a standard 13 amp socket.
The law: Cyclists must be over 14 years of age to ride an electric bike. Electric bikes get the both of best worlds, being allowed to use off-road cycle paths and designated crossings as well as roads (apart from motorways).
Cost: Electric bikes start from around £500, going up to well over £3,000.
Why buy an electric bike?
- Get fit
Electric bikes can help people use alternative transport to cars, getting fresh air and being active. Sometimes having an electrically assisted bike is the first step someone needs to start cycling.
- Save money
While electric bikes do tend to cost more to buy than a conventional bike, running an electric bike is much cheaper than running a car. Electric Bike Magazine reckons it costs between 5 and 8 pence a mile, including fuel (ie plugging it in to the mains), parts, servicing and tolls, compared with anywhere between 26 pence and £ 2.38 a mile for cars. They are exempt from tax and insurance.
- Save time
Electric bikes go faster than conventional bikes. They are also much easier to park in town centres than cars.
- Reduce emissions
Electric bikes can take you up to speeds of 15.5mph using much less fuel than a car.
Join us on Sunday 5 and Monday 6 May to hear some wonderful choral music in our Mediterranean Biome courtesy of a range of male voice choirs, listed below. Entry to the performances is included in the normal admission price to Eden on those days.
For more info about the Festival see www.cimvcf.org.uk
Sunday 5 May: programme
- 10.30am, Westerton
- 11am, Harmonie LHH
- 11.30pm, Sydney Male Choir
- 12pm, Czech Boys Choir
- 12.30pm, New Mill Noon
- 1pm, SWGMC
- 1.30pm, Colne Valley
- 2pm, St Petersburg Boys Choir
- 2.30pm, Deurnes Mannenkoor
- 3pm, Basingstoke
Monday 6 May: programme
- 10.30am, Bristol MVC
- 11am, Leigh Orpheus
- 11.30am, Carlton MVC
- 12pm, Tideswell
- 12.30pm, Epsom
- 1pm, Synergy
- 1.30pm, Taunton Deane
- 2pm, Chorale des Mineurs Polonais de Douai
- 2.30pm, Builth
- 3pm, Dagilelis