4 October 2018

Abingdon Science Partnership has co-ordinated a successful bid for a prestigious Royal Society Partnership Grant allowing schools to work with practising scientists and engage in real research.

The research partner is Tanesha Allen, a D.Phil. student at Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and the project will involve using camera traps to study wildlife behaviour at a variety of school sites around Abingdon.

The first training workshop was held in the Partnership Lab, attended by teachers and pupils from Abingdon School and Larkmead School and partner teachers from Caldecott and Thomas Reade Primary Schools. A representative of Science Oxford also attended as the pupils may help with a wildlife camera survey of their new education centre site in Headington.

Tanesha taught the pupils and teachers how to use the cameras, gave a few suggestions on correct deployment and also discussed some aspects of wildlife behaviour for pupils to investigate. The pupils were also asked to test the sensitivity of their sense of smell by sniffing three unwashed shirts, kindly donated by Tanesha's colleagues, and trying to identify the sex, age, health and dominance of the owner! Results were mixed, but one Larkmead pupil managed to score full marks for one of the samples.

The Royal Society grant has been used to purchase ten camera traps for loan to each of the schools involved. Over the next few months, pupils at each school will survey their own school sites and report back at a seminar early next year. Tanesha will then return to explain the next stage of the project and how they can help her with her own research into badgers.

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