A cure for English weather

Posts like buses,¬†a wait then three at a time ūüôā¬† More post this week, but just wanted to make a little comment about last weeks teaching because¬†if¬†¬†I am being true to expressing my feelings on this blog I think I owe it. Well, even though the rainforest exhibit was completed, and¬†after waiting a while it more than made me happy to see it looking like it should, I was still feeling a bit down in the dumps. I think that¬†long, dark, cold¬†English winter¬†had finally caught up with me. C’mon, we all need a bit of sun and warmth, not just those tropical frogs. Well, Thursday¬†came and I got¬†a request from a special needs school near Warrington to ask if it was possible to bring in a couple of kids with autism¬†at short notice.

Of course, the answer was yes. Well, I met the teachers and the two young lads at reception and my day started to brighten there and then. Over the next hour or so, I chatted one to one with them and showed them some of the special animals I use for our sessions.  Their excitement and the positive way they reacted was overwhelming. I can honestly say that I have never had such a rewarding teaching session than with those two young boys. It was pure Magic. I drove home that day heartfilled and whatever cloud had been there was totally lifted. I never need my faith in nature restoring but it never fails to amaze me the effect appreciating nature can have on people, not just me. This is why I love sharing it, and why I love my job.  Friday brought 70 biologists to teach and boy were they in for some positive teaching from someone buzzing from the day before!

Talking of good energy, did you know that one of the easiest and most productive ways to go green¬†is to change the supplier of your energy? Check out http://www.goodenergy.co.uk/. Why not think about changing today, its so simple¬† – and then don’t forget to pass on the info to all your friends!¬†

Photos from biology student teaching on Friday Click Here

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Undergraduate teaching

Over the past weeks I have been teaching¬†various aspects of Zoology and Biology on an undergraduate course for the Faculty of Life Sciences¬†at the University of Manchester.¬†I have been¬†teaching on such courses¬†for over¬†ten years, and the¬†live animal sessions, such as the one I will be conducting¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† this afternoon,¬†are something I¬†really enjoy delivering.¬† Todays¬†practical session is aimed at introducing first year students to¬†taxonomy, ecology, and biodiversity in general. During the sessions I use a wide variety of¬†live reptile and amphibians¬†to illustrate adaptations and highlight specific characteristics. Apart from learning all about these two groups of animals, and developing the student’s¬†knowledge and skills¬†in producing dichotomous¬†keys, these sessions also¬†give the students the opportunity to¬†see and get up close to a wide variety of very unusual species, which they seem to really enjoy.¬†I hope today will be no exception. Delivering the practical also very much relies on my colleagues, and¬†I would¬†really like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff and demonstrators who¬†help me deliver these sessions. Thank you!

To see further images from these and other Student practicals please see ‘Undergraduate sessions 2010’ under Teaching at the top of the page.

New Rainforest Exhibit

Frequent visitors to the Vivarium will have seen that our main rainforest exhibit has been completely reconstructed over the past month or so. The work has meant stripping out the old exhibit which leaked and professionally re-sealing the whole structure. A false floor has been fitted by specialist contractors to allow for the new exhibit to be extensively planted out, whilst still allowing for an automated spray and humidity system to operate which mists the exhibit to create the perfect environment. The latest specialist lighting together with dedicated ventilation and extract also ensure the double glazed viewing glass panels remain clear and accurate temperature/humidity control is maintained.  

 The work is now finished and plants and animals recently added. The exhibit focuses on Central American rainforests and highlights sustainability and the need for conservation. A brand new graphic panel and information graphics on the glass have also been incorporated to reinforce the messages we hope visitors will leave with.  Apart from Cone Headed lizards and butterflies, two species of Poison-dart frog have been introduced, Dendrobates auratus (El Cope form) and Oophaga pumilio (Cayo de Agua) and these appear to be thriving.  The large group of captive-bred green and bronze Auratus are particularly bold and stunning specimens. These beauties we recently obtained specially for the exhibit from Mark Pepper in Canada.  The new exhibit appears to be quite a hit with staff and visitors alike, so if you do get the opportunity to visit please come and have look at our rainforest in the heart of Manchester.  For further images and video clips of the stages of exhibit reconstruction from beginning to end please Click Here.

BBC’s ‘Human Planet’ series

If you have opened this page to watch ‘Baraka’ please scroll down to find the link.

Whilst down in Bristol this week it was also good to meet up with BBC¬† producer Tom Hugh-Jones and to support the filming of the new¬†BBC natural history series Human Planet. I have worked with Tom on¬†many series,¬†such as David Attenborough’s ‘Planet Earth’ where I took his film crew to Costa Rica to film the gliding leaf frog ¬†Agalychnis¬†Spurrelli¬† for the very first time. Tom’s always great fun to hang out with. This time we were in the Natural History Unit’s studio¬†filming a Giant Monkey frog’s amazing large¬†eyes.

 

It’s also great that the Manchester Museum has been able to support the making of a series that helps people’s understanding of other cultures and which highlights the incredible relationship humankind has with the natural world.

 

and if you liked that, prepare to be spellbound by –

¬†Something I first saw 10 years ago: WATCH ‘BARAKA’ HERE

See also: Living cultures at the Manchester Museum

Many thanks to our frogblog visitor who kindly provided the following info:

The BBC have also produced a version of the Human Planet series for younger children.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/littlehumanplanet/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00xxmgf/Little_Human_Planet_Helping_in_Mali/

Little Human Planet is the little sister series to Human Planet. Each programme follows the lives of young children from around the world, giving the CBeebies viewer a glimpse into how their counterparts live wherever they may be. The programme celebrates how children differ and what makes them the same around the world in a colourful and often surprising voyage of discovery. The films were recorded by the Human Planet team whilst on their journey exploring the variety of human existence across the continents. A challenging and exciting venture for CBeebies, that has produced exceptional insights and beautiful footage which they hope will delight adults and children alike.