We have a nature theme to this week's highlights, to link with our recent English unit!
This week, the year four children had a really exciting opportunity to showcase their writing skills. They had been working hard in English to produce a descriptive recount detailing an underwater dive through a variety of habitats, leading to the eventual discovery of a unique giant species of turtle. All of the children showed fantastic ambition in order to produce work that they could share with the Natural History Museum, and the year 4 teachers were very impressed by the quality of every child's writing. It was extremely hard to choose children to read out their work and we wish we'd been able to choose them all!
We had our video call with Kate, the events manager from the Natural History Museum, who loved hearing and reading the children's work. She was very impressed by the standard of writing and couldn't believe that they were only 8 and 9 year olds! The children behaved impeccably throughout the call and were excellent ambassadors for the school.
Kate then showed us some of the different specimens that the museum keeps preserved in jars. We saw different types of coral (exactly like those that many of the children described - one looked just like a brain!), various fish, sea urchins, crabs and a beautiful seahorse. She also told us about Archie, a giant squid preserved in the museum's basement! https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02v2sf8
Some of the children had questions for Kate, and she emailed answers to these along with some links, which you could have a look at with your child.
Q: Can I donate a piece of bone I found to the Museum?
A: We already have lots of those types of bones in the museum, but if you find interesting things when you're outside, you can log them and find out more about them with this website: https://www.inaturalist.org/
Q: How many specimens do you have in the museum?
A: There are over 80million specimens in the Museum.
Q: Do you have any living animals in the museum?
A: We have limited living creatures on site and have to be very careful about pests, however there are some – one is a set of flesh eating beetles which are used to clean the bones specimens when they are added to the collection. We also have our wildlife garden which includes a range of creatures such as newts and foxes, plus a range of mosses and fungi, and my department also have a tank of tropical fish (non-official). There is more info on all our living specimens and how we looked after them during lock down here https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/the-natural-history-museum-in-lockdown.html
Q: How do you stop the dead animals and plants from rotting?
A: The specimens in the jars are stored in alcohol which preserves them and prevents rotting. Some specimens like the squid are also injected with chemicals which maintains their integrity. We have 23 million specimens preserved like this.
Q: Have you ever met Andy from CBeebies?
A: Andy visits outside of the Museum's opening hours. His clock can be found in Hintze Hall. https://www.nhm.ac.uk/events/andys-clock.html
Q: What's the oldest type of animal in the world?
A: The oldest fish in the world is the Greenland shark, with a 392-year-old female specimen being the oldest ever discovered.
Q: What is your favourite thing in the museum?
A: My favourite thing in the Museum is Hope the Whale who hangs in the main Hintze Hall. Not only because we know so much about her and she is a symbol of hope for conservation but she can also be lit beautifully, which I love for events and gives me the best event space in London https://www.nhm.ac.uk/events/nature-live-online-hope-the-blue-whale.html
Have a fabulous weekend,
The Year 4 Team