The Great Plant Hunt and Survival Rivals

Project aims:

- To engage young people across the UK in practical science experiments that relate to both to evolution, and the existing science curriculum.

- To help teachers to embed new practical work into their teaching of the relevant parts of the curriculum and increase their confidence in teaching this subject using practical, investigative techniques.

Summary of activity:

Great Plant Hunt kits were sent to all UK state Primary schools (23,000). Three different Survival Rivals kits were produced for different age ranges. Collectively these were ordered by c 70% of all UK state Secondary schools.

Evaluation approach:

Independent evaluators undertook telephone surveys and more in depth case studies looking at how many schools used the kits, their perceptions of them, learning outcomes and likelihood of future use.

What went well:

1: 60% of all primary schools repprted using the kits midway through the project. Of the c70% of secondary schools that ordered one or more kits, 40% had already used the kits midway through the project.

2: The overall quality of the resources, both in the kits and online, was very high and widely praised by teachers and students. The Great Plant Hunt has been taken up as an adapted version in India and Survival Rivals experiments have been carried out in Portugal.

3: The partnerships between Wellcome Trust and delivery organisations Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Guardian Professional and Findel Education, as well as all of the contributing scientists and educators were what led to the resources being very well thought out, both targeted and sufficiently flexible to ensure a high uptake.

What was learned:

1: The short timescale for development of resources was a risk. It paid off but mainly because of the sheer weight of effort and talent of the project team. Next time I would try to provide longer development timescales and start talking to potential partners earlier on in the process.

2: The sheer scale of the project meant that navigating the contractual issues involving tax, performance incentives and organisational structures was time consuming. Next time we'll have draft contracts in place before we even send out an invitation to tender.

3: The direct marketing and peer-to-peer marketing to teachers appeared to have had more impact on uptake than the articles in broadsheets, launch events and tv coverage. It was hard to get significant media coverage even with Sir David Attenborough as project champion.

About this project


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Project type:

Started (approximately):

October 2007

Ended: (approximately)

October 2010

Tags for this project:

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  • About the contributor

    Amy Sanders
    Wellcome Trust

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