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Lesson ideas

* KS1. Children will be fascinated by the pigeon's homing instinct. Use this story as a stimulus for their own way-finding activities, eg, they could use a plan to work out the best way to get back to their classroom from different parts of the school (PoS 2c).

* KS2. Lower juniors could use a compass to find North. Working as a pair, one pupil could then give the other different directions in which to walk (PoS 2b). Upper juniors could extend this activity to all points of the compass and could practise giving bearings. This ties in well with numeracy strategy objectives (Year 5: "Understand and use angle measure in degrees"; Year 6: "Recognise and estimate angles").

* KS3 and beyond. The use of a compass to orientate a map, to follow a route and to state the direction of a field sketch or photograph should become a standard feature of all fieldwork activity (PoS 2b, 2c).

This article also raises the theme of communication. Mapping the route from Brussels to Aachen taken by Reuters' pigeons and comparing their times with that of the train would be a stimulating introduction to the impact of modern communication systems using satellites, global positioning systems, internet and email (PoS 1, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority KS2 Unit 18, QCA KS3 Units 1 and 24). An introduction to GPS can be found at Explore the Atlas of Cyberspace at www.cybergeography.orgatlasatlas.html by starting in the geographic section.

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