This unit of work is designed to be taught at S3 broad general education (BGE) level over twelve sessions. It will look at red squirrel conservation in the forest whilst simultaneously highlighting the use of timber as a sustainable material which can be used to manufacture feeder boxes for these animals. The unit will explore the issues pertaining to the red squirrels’ current plight as an endangered native species and look into the methods conservationists are utilising in order to protect the species from extinction.
Red squirrel conservation and sustainable forestry have been selected as the foundations of this unit of work in order to inform the learners of the cyclical nature of the forestry which may hold the key to saving the native red squirrel population from extinction and which simultaneously provides timber which, when managed correctly, provides a sustainable material. This Interdisciplinary learning (IDL) unit will incorporate learning for sustainability, authentic learning and outdoor learning in an attempt to ‘maintain challenge and enjoyment’ whilst advocating ‘the highest possible expectations of what young people can achieve’ (Scottish Government, 2008, p36). Learners will develop ‘higher order, critical and holistic thinking skills’ and therefore the ability to comprehend ‘how ideas and information from relevant disciplines relate to each other and the problem’ (Harvie, 2012, p6). IDL opportunities will help to augment the learning and teaching, with particular emphasis on Biology and Geography thus enabling deeper understanding whilst demonstrating to the learners how these distinct disciplines overlap. The utilisation of real life clients and design challenges will create a unique opportunity to sample authentic learning and it is envisaged this will help foster engagement with the content. The benefits of a circular economy as a way of tackling climate change and introducing learners to potential future careers in this sector will also be highlighted. STEM subjects were intentionally selected for IDL as the Government seeks to actively promote and encourage STEM in education. There is a severe shortage of UK based STEM graduates and this needs to be addressed. According to Hickey and Robson, learners will then be able to use knowledge from across the STEM subjects helping to stimulate innovation and equipping them to make an important contribution to today’s economy (Hickey and Robson, 2013). It is intended that this unit will be delivered in an enterprising manner, with learners creating meaningful hand crafted artefacts for the Forestry Commission and the Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST). Ambassadors from the S3 BGE will be given the opportunity to represent their peers and present this unit of work to the Merchants of Edinburgh competition.