Discover a virtual jewel of the north

8th August 2008 at 01:00

The location of May Isle at the mouth of the Firth of Forth puts it out of reach of many schools, so Scottish Natural Heritage has brought in education consultants to develop an extensive online resource and virtual tour.

The site is divided into two: the Jewel of the North, which concentrates on the natural history, and Island of Lost Souls, which focuses on the social history, with activities aimed at science and social studies (levels C to E) and, occasionally, technology.

The Jewel of the North can be used for science projects and to demonstrate basic scientific approaches. Pupils can investigate how researchers studying wildlife will often rely on a key to identify species, from which pupils can build up groups. There are identification cards for different birds.

But the site can be used for more than science. Producing a guide book about the island provides an opportunity for cross-curricular work. Exercising their grasp of language, pupils will also use and extend their knowledge of seabirds and geography.

An art project suggests making banners with images of birds and seals, which can be done by tracing or sketching; and the eternal popularity of puffins can be utilised for poetry, referring to Norman MacCaig's poem on the birds.

In Seabird City, they can look at how seabirds have adapted to minimise competition for resources; while in Everything's Connected, they can investigate the food chain.

The Island of Lost Souls invites pupils to investigate the varied social history of the island, from its role in Christian conversion to its importance in both world wars.

The largest operational gathering of warships took place off the Isle of May in 1918. Pupils can investigate the "battle" of May, the disastrous naval exercise in January of that year, when ships and submarines collided in the dark, leading to the sinking of two subs and damage to several other vessels. More than 100 men died in the "battle" - but there was only one side involved.

www.nnr-scotland.org.uk reserve.asp?NNRId=34.

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