Imperial’s Silwood Park Campus welcomed a record number of visitors to its annual Bugs, Birds & Beasts Day outreach event on 26 July 2022.
The Silwood Park campus, located in the picturesque surrounds of Sunningdale village, near Ascot, is a leading international centre for research and teaching in ecology, evolution, and conservation. For Bugs, Birds and Beasts Day, the campus welcomed over 550 visitors from the general public, who enjoyed activities ranging from bird of prey flight shows, bug and butterfly hunts, pond dipping and aviary tours, all on a beautiful summer’s day.
The aim of the family-friendly event, organised by the team from Imperial’s Georgina Mace Centre for the Living Planet, is to encourage visitors of all ages to engage with the natural world through a range of science-focused activities. By interacting with nature and science from a young age, the aim is that these youngsters may become the ecologists and conservationists of tomorrow.
Professor Vincent Savolainen, Director of the Georgina Mace Centre, said: “This event is a unique opportunity for children and families to learn not only about nature, but about the evolution and importance of biodiversity in our day to day lives”.
It inspires the kids to take part in ecology and conservation. Lorenz Decena, Biological Sciences graduate
Visitors discovered the world of nature hidden beneath the surface of the water at the pond dipping area and had the opportunity to ask questions about whatever they caught, whilst learning about the ecology and different organisms at Silwood.
Lorenz Decena, Biological Sciences graduate, said: “It’s been great seeing the kids get so excited about what organisms are in the pond. It’s not only about having fun, it also inspires them to take part in ecology and conservation. When they grow a bit older they might think about some of the organisms in the pond being endangered species – so we’re teaching them a bit about what we do”.
Another stall focused on carnivorous plants, including pinguicula plants, Venus fly traps and sundews.
Olivia Morris, PhD student, said: “The Venus fly trap has been the most popular, we have meal worms that you can feed the fly traps in and the trap is full!
The event is a good way to teach kids about the natural world – none of them have heard of a plant that eats insects before so they have all learned something new!”
Connecting with the community
This is a fantastic and really informative day for children – the activities are really practical and hands-on, well-explained and they make it easy to understand the science. Ciara, mum from Maidenhead
The annual event attracts local residents and also those from further afield, all inquisitive about what the campus has to offer. Ciara, a mum from Maidenhead who had brought along her two children, said: “This is a fantastic and really informative day for children – the activities are really practical and hands-on, well-explained and they make it easy to understand the science".
Uva Fung, Masters student in Computational Methods in Ecology & Evolution who was manning the face paint stall, said: “It’s great to get the chance to engage with the local community, to get young people interested in science”.
75th Anniversary celebrations
This year’s event was part of the celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of Imperial’s collaboration with Silwood Park. Silwood Park is an integral part of the Department of Life Sciences and is home to the Georgina Mace Centre for the Living Planet.
2022 has been an especially bumper year, it is the 75th Anniversary of Imperial College's purchase of the Silwood campus!’ Professor Guy Woodward Deputy HoD
Professor Guy Woodward, Deputy Head, Life Sciences, said: “Bugs, Birds and Beasts Day has become cemented in our diaries as a really key event in our year - it is a great opportunity for us to engage directly with the wider public outside our ‘academic bubble’, and especially to strengthen our links with the local community. The event has grown rapidly over time and 2022 has been an especially bumper year, which is particularly timely given that it is also the 75th Anniversary of Imperial College's purchase of the Silwood campus!"
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Department of Life Sciences