These activities encourage pupils to use their problem solving skills to tackle two very different issues.

This week’s primary enrichment activity is based on the dispute between Cambodia and Thailand, over land surrounding a temple at the border of both countries. Using the concept of a ‘peace garden’ it encourages pupils to think of ways to resolve conflict and tolerate others.

This week’s secondary enrichment activity has and ecological theme, drawing on the problem of fruit bats damaging Australia’s plant life. It encourages pupils to think of humane and effective ways to deal with the problem.

***Primary Enrichment*** KS2: Religious Education

Throughout key stage 2, pupils learn about Christianity and at least two of the other principal religions, recognising the impact of religion and belief locally, nationally and globally. They make connections between differing aspects of religion and consider the different forms of religious expression.

Common ground

The borders between countries are often areas of dispute. Many things divide people from each other while bringing others together at the same time − politics and religious beliefs being even more powerful than economic need in affecting all our lives. This month, the news that Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to lay aside a century-long dispute over a temple complex on their border is, of course, welcome. Any event that reduces international disputes and tensions has to be a good thing for all the people involved. Thailand and Cambodia have both laid claim to The Preah Vihear Hindu temple, which was built in the 11th and 12th centuries on the top of mountains that form the Thai-Cambodian border. Now both countries are seeking that the site be recognised as a United Nations World Heritage site. While both countries have agreed to seek registration of the temple as a World Heritage site there still remains a serious dispute about the surrounding land. One answer to resolve this dispute could be to establish the surrounding land as a ‘peace garden’ where, in the words of the Dali Lama, the ‘need to create understanding between different cultures and to establish places of peace and harmony in the world’ can be supported.

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

If you had the task of designing a ‘peace garden’ what would you include?

  • What shape would your garden be?
  • What plants would you include?
  • Would you have lakes, ponds or rivers?
  • Who would look after the garden?

Your task is to design a garden that would help people of different, strongly held religious and political views feel safe and secure enough to talk to each other without fear − a garden where people could begin to see each other’s viewpoints. Where in the world would you build your first garden? Why there?


Thinking about gardens

Going further

A place for reflection and calm in a busy world is always a difficult place to find. Ask your children to suggest how such a place could be created in the school grounds, for use by children and adults. Support the construction of such a garden. Support the children involved in making the idea a reality.

The full temple story can be found here

Learning and teaching Scotland.
Religious education is concerned with the development of the understanding of religion as a significant area of human experience. It is also an aspect of personal growth enabling the individual to explore questions concerning the meaning of life and the value of the individual interpreted in relation to that which is beyond man.’

‘Moral education is the process whereby a person develops responsible attitudes towards others and skills of moraI judgement about what is considered right and wrong.’

Report of the Scottish Committee on Home-School-Community Relations in the Primary School

International Baccalaureate. Primary years programme.

Primary Years Programme, Curriculum framework

Five essential elements

  • gain knowledge that is relevant and of global significance
  • develop an understanding of concepts, which allows them to make connections throughout their learning
  • acquire transdisciplinary and disciplinary skills
  • develop attitudes that will lead to international-mindedness
  • take action as a consequence of their learning.

***Secondary Enrichment*** KS4: Science. Living things in their environment. Pupils should be taught:

Adaptation and competition

  • about ways in which living things and the environment can be protected, and the importance of sustainable development
  • that habitats support a diversity of plants and animals that are interdependent
  • how some organisms are adapted to survive daily and seasonal changes in their habitats
  • how predation and competition for resources affect the size of populations [for example, bacteria, growth of vegetation]

Changing bats

The grey-headed flying fox, Pteropus poliocephalus, is a fruit bat native to Australia. An adult member of the species can have a maximum wingspan of 6 feet and can weigh up to 1kg. The grey-headed flying fox is Australia’s largest bat. Wardens at an Australian park, as reported by the BBC, are to ‘wage war’ on Pteropus poliocephalus, accusing them of destroying trees. Officials at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens had estimated that there were about 11,000 of the super-bats roosting in the attractive Harbourside Park. But after inspecting damage to trees in the park they now believe there may be up to twice as many as previously thought. The Royal Botanic Gardens executive director Tim Entwistle hopes that the sounds produced by crashing bin lids will disturb the flying foxes and that they will be forced to move on.

The way to disturb them is to use noises, so we’ve used banging of rubbish bins in the past… two weeks of noise should encourage the flying foxes to go elsewhere,’ he said.

If and when the bats do move they will become someone else’s problem, unless a behaviour modification strategy is developed.

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

Instead of relying on their sense of sight for night-time vision, bats make rapid high-pitched squeaks called ‘ultrasounds’. These sounds are too high for most people to hear. If these sounds hit something, they bounce back. This is called ‘echolocation’. Not every species of bat is able to echolocate, but most can.

Things we know about bats

It is an offence to deliberately capture or kill a bat, or recklessly disturb a bat. Bats help control the insect population. About 70 percent of bats are insectivores. Most of the rest are fructivores, with a few species being carnivorous.
Bats perform a vital ecological role by pollinating some flowers. Bats rarely fly in rain − the rain interferes with their echolocation and they are unable to locate their food. At least two species of bat are known to feed on other bats: * the American false vampire bat * the ghost bat of Australia.
Studies show that bats make all kinds of sounds to communicate with others. Scientists in the field have observed bats and have been able to identify certain behaviour that the bats exhibit right after particular sounds are made. Bacteria in bat guano is useful in improving soaps, as well as being a fertilizer. The 20 million Mexican free-tail bats from Bracken Cave, Texas can eat 250 tons of insects in a night.
  • What method or methods would you recommend to the city of Sydney to solve the problem of managing the grey-headed flying fox population?
  • In solving the problem for Sydney, how would you ensure that it does not become a problem for someone else?


Modifying bat behaviour

Going further

It would be unwise to research your bat management proposals directly on bat populations. It would, however, be interesting to send your constructive thoughts and recommendations about bat management to Executive Director Tim Entwistle at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney NSW 2000 Research into the effect of banging metal dustbin lids together to prevent antisocial behaviour among humans might be an interesting project. If positive, your research results should be of interest to the Home Office or local environmental health officer.

The full BBC story can be found here

Grey-headed flying fox bat description here

Grey-headed flying fox bat information here

Department of Environment and climate change NSW information here.

Learning and teaching. Scotland.

Science contributes to Environmental Studies by providing a context for stimulating and encouraging pupils’ curiosity to explore and understand the world around them.

International Baccalaureate

Group 4. Experimental sciences

This e-bulletin issue was first published in March 2008

About the author: John Senior is the author of Enrichment Activties for G&T Pupils. He is a teacher with 26 years’ experience of teaching Gifted and Talented children, working with parents and carers as a consultant on high ability, and peer mentoring.