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Muddy boots science

The Muddy Boots Science initiative is led by Rebbecca Willison. Find out more about Rebecca below.

Science in and about nature

Science is all about understanding our world, so where better to study the natural world than outside, immersed in it? As part of the Apple Tree Initiative, our goal is to develop a cohesive range of projects that will increase children’s scientific enquiry within our outdoor spaces. As our learning spaces develop, so does the opportunity to explore more subject areas - and science lends itself, perfectly, to an outdoor learning approach.

Developing our new science projects will enable us to bring more of the primary science curriculum to life in the great outdoors, enriching existing classroom-based science. Sitting in our new open air classroom we are able to observe natural phenomena, and when working on projects outdoors we can explore scientific themes in context. We can observe the pond teeming with life, the plants growing in the new polytunnel and the effects of the changing seasons on our woodland ecosystem. All of this can be explored with the freedom, enjoyment and adventure that learning outside provides.


We want to make science relevant and fun for all ages and abilities, in accessible, engaging contexts. So we will also be reaching out to a wide range of individuals and groups to share our opportunities - including other schools in the area; home educated children; children with caring responsibilities; our Apple Tree Initative volunteering and social groups; local families, including parents and toddlers; individuals who find a formal learning environment challenging; the elderly and the vulnerable.

Getting a head-start in science

One important aspect of empowering children in their learning journey is to provide them with an increasing understanding, through Key Stages 1 and 2, of how to work scientifically. A good grounding in this assists a confident transition into secondary school science. With this in mind, we have developed a collaboration with Mr Muir, who works as a science teacher at Bideford College and is Stage 3 coordinator for the college's science faculty. He has kindly offered to act as a consultant in the development of our outdoor science projects.

Field studies at Northam Burrows

Another important part of a learning journey through science is taking part in field studies and real-world surveys and research, to promote an understanding of scientfic enquiry. So we are very excited to be extending our collaboration with Rose Roberts, Deputy Ranger at Northam Burrows Country Park, to increase opportunities for field trips to this valuable local resource and facilitate the children's participation in surveys and projects. We will also be making greater use of the excellent learning resources and activities that Rose has developed.

A science-focused career outdoors

Rose has also supplied information on her career path and current job role. This profile is the first of a number of career profiles we will be creating for the website, relating to different project areas. These profiles will give children the opportunity to explore a wide range of outdoor careers, and consider the qualifications and experiences that would prepare them for one of these roles.

Weather station

This fun, new weather project begins in the Autumn term. It comprises a pilot phase, using weather recording equipment loaned by the Royal Meteorological Society, followed by a permanent weather station and weather club being established at the school. These activities will help the children to learn more about the weather and support important aspects of the primary science and maths curricula.

Our sustainable school

We all know that ours is a fragile planet. It is important that the primary curriculum incorporates learning opportunities to help children understand sustainability issues - but it is also important that we empower these children to feel confident that they can be agents of change. By introducing a comprehensive sustainable school initiative, we will be offering more opportunities to explore, understand and implement easily achievable, real-world solutions within the school, in addition to focusing on the larger global issues.

Classification stations

Understanding classification systems is a key learning goal within the primary science curriculum. The easiest way to understand the theory of classification is to put it into practice, through outdoor learning opportunities.

This project, set in the school grounds, involves developing a toolkit of outdoor display areas, exhibition gardens, learning resources, reference library and plant labelling, all dedicated to assisting the children in practicing their classification skills on living things within the woodland, pond and gardens.

The Muddy Boots Lab

We call this project the Muddy Boots Lab because our aim is to establish a covered and well-equipped science workshop in the woods. The lab will give children access to science equipment and learning resources, that they can freely use as an integral part of child-led discovery and experimentation outdoors. With access to microscopes and other high quality resources, they can explore the nature, processes and methods of science, within contexts that they find personally engaging. We have already applied for funding to purchase the necessary equipment ( keep your fingers crossed) and we can utilise a new wooden building next to the open-air woodland classroom to house it.

A gift from a science teacher

Lynne Popham Reed taught science, primarily biology, at Bideford College for many years. Some of you may have been taught by Lynne.

Lynne heard, through social media, that we were looking for help with our science projects, and kindly donated her science books to the initiative.

Do you have any plant or animal identification books on your shelves that you can spare, or any other suitable books for our science projects?

There are lots of ways to help

Penny and Evie used some money they raised, by selling toys they no longer wanted, to buy a book to use in the Muddy Boots Science lab we are creating. Thank you for your help girls.