Environment Conference at St Bernard's High School

As part of their STEM week St Bernard’s High School, Westcliff on Sea organised an Environment Conference for the whole of Year 8, entitled ‘Care for our Common Home’. Through Eco Schools Garden Plotters were invited to run workshops during the conference to teach and inspire pupils about ecology in the garden.

With over 120 pupils to engage with over the day we organised three workstations 

  1. Designing gardens
  2. Creating miniature gardens
  3. Making bird feeders and identifying common garden birds

All pupils got the chance to rotate around the workstations and in addition to enjoying a creative day they covered multiple STEM disciplines in the process. 


Designing gardens

Thought provoking images and books were used to provide the girls with ideas about what a garden can be, how it can be used, the different styles of a garden and what habitats it can provide for wildlife. Using the internet they created concept boards to portray their ideas for their gardens. By the end of the day they had produced some really creative designs.

designing gardens with Year 8 at St Bernards

Designing gardens with Year 8  St Bernard's designing gardens with Year 8 at St Bernards

STEM disciplines

Design & Technology: using multi media to design, pupils used the internet to find appropriate imagery then applied design techniques to present

Engineering & Maths: considering a 'brief' or set of requirements to design surroundings, measuring certain elements and calculating / applying scale 

Miniature Gardens  

No matter what age you are there is something a bit magical about making a miniature garden, I think we had as much fun as the pupils!  Using seed trays, plug plants and seeds the girls were able to handle real plants, learnt how to sow, learnt that some plants climb and therefore need supports. They planted edibles including peas, carrots, strawberries, made pergolas from sticks and string and stepping stones from corks. One garden even had a hot tub!  

 miniature gardens  miniature gardens

miniature gardens‚Äč  miniature gardens

miniature garden


Bird Identification and making Bird Feeders

Once you start to observe birds and give them a helping hand by providing food it’s amazing the variety that come into our gardens. We looked at images of about 10 common birds and played the sounds of about 5….using phrases and sayings to help remember, e.g. A collared dove’s call has 3 syllables and sounds like “un-it-ed” whereas the wood pigeon’s call has 5 syllables and sounds like “a proud wood pig-eon” or as my grandpa taught me “who sowed those green beans”  probably due to all his green beans being pecked at!

Using recycled milk cartons and plastic bottles the girls then made and decorated feeders for bird seed. Some very imaginative creations appeared - the birds around St Bernard’s are in for a treat.

making bird feeders with recycled cartons making bird feeders from recycled cartons

Bird Feeding Do’s & Don’ts
DON’T put whole peanuts in your feeder, these can choke young birds. 
Peanuts should only be fed from a mesh feeder
DON’T use soft fats like margarine, lard or oils - it can cause problems if it gets smeared in their feathers
DON’T put out salted nuts or any food with salt - it becomes toxic to birds
DON’T give milk to birds (or hedgehogs) they can’t digest it
DO feed all year round
DO feed sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, mild grated cheese, sultanas, raisins and currants (soaked overnight), fat balls (remove green nets if they have them) and suet blocks, apples, pears, plumbs, grapes and other soft fruit, mealworms and wax worms are all fine
DO provide some clean water for them to drink and bathe in
DO clean feeders regularly to prevent disease