Florally challenged

12th January 2007 at 00:00
How many of today's sixth formers know the difference between a lobster and a crayfish or a horse and a donkey?

Not enough, fear life sciences researchers at Oxford Brookes university, who have been dismayed by their first-year students' inability to identify wild flora and fauna.

To counteract the problem, they have created a high-tech "biodiversity tool", which helps children identify different species by answering a series of questions.

They hope the Wildkey software, which works on handheld computers and advanced mobile phones, will mean that future university entrants know their starlings from their thrushes.

Dr Neil Bailey, researcher at Oxford Brookes, said: "We have noticed that students joining the university have poor identification skills when it comes to wildlife.

"Schools are increasingly sticking to classroom-based learning, but looking at something under a microscope is simply not the same as getting outside and seeing it in its natural habitat."

He added that two 12-year-olds trying out the device in the Natural History Museum gardens in London had identified a species of native Australian ladybird that officials had not know was there.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now